Three years ago signmedia.com reported findings by the SGIA under the above headline.
How is your shop doing versus the digital trend?
The survey reported that just over 55% of respondents described their business as entirely digital. You can bet that this number has grown since then. Multi-technology printers with no dominant technology numbered only 17%. Overall, digital printing was used by almost 99% of respondents and screen printing by 36%. These numbers almost definitely continued trending in favour of the evolution to digital sign printing.
Now, three years later, where does your shop stand in this regard? Is your shop keeping up with the digital trend and is it staying competitive?
How comprehensive is your shop’s online presence? Are you constantly reminding customers and potential customers that you’re around and ready to do business?
There was a time when a website was sufficient for an online presence but things have progressed rapidly in the online digital world over the past decade or so with the growth of the reach of social media platforms; Facebook launched only 15 years ago and Instagram only 9 years ago. Both of these as well as other social media platforms like Pinterest (launched 9 years ago) and YouTube (launched 14 years ago) accommodate businesses. And your shop should be making use of them.
Hey, we’re still here and ready to do business with you!
A comprehensive online presence for your shop could include a website with a blog, and a regular presence on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and perhaps even videos on YouTube. In a competitive market in which customers are bombarded daily with online information you need to constantly remind your customers and that you’re still around or you will be lost in the noise and clutter.
Remember a saying that’s been around since 1563 and is as true now as it was then: Out of sight, out of mind.
None of this needs to be costly but there will have to be a time commitment if you assign it to an employee or do it yourself with the help of some of the many tools and how-to guides available, you guessed it, online. On the other hand, you can pay a social media expert to get you set up after which you can maintain your shop’s online presence.
The route you decide to take to establishing and maintaining a comprehensive online presence is an important decision, but the really important decision is the one you take to actually do it.
Wikipedia describes step and repeat banners quite well: “A step and repeat banner is a publicity backdrop used primarily for event photography, printed with a repeating pattern such that brand logos or emblems are visible in photographs of the individuals standing in front of it.”
All it needs is your print.
So, here’s an idea for your shop . . . through your mailing list or any other method you have for reaching customers, promote the idea that at their next trade show or event, they set up a step and repeat banner and have a photographer shoot pictures of visitors in front of it. Then they should email the images to these visitors and encourage them to post the images on their social networks, thus having their logos or emblems displayed. Knowing how vain so many people are and how readily they’ll post pictures of themselves (especially with a “Hollywood” type step and repeats backdrop) it seems like a sure thing.
The whole point of course is that your shop will produce the step and repeat banners.
What will a potential customer expect to see?
If you’re retained to design and produce the signage for a trade show booth for a customer, or if you have to do so for yourself, foamcoreprint.com promoted a very interesting approach to the project.
It requires a 180 degree change from the way we tend to design show booths.
They suggest that the design and content should be based on a potential customer’s perspective. In other words, don’t design the booth according to what you’d like to show or how you’d like to show it, design it according to what and how a customer would like to see it. This of course requires that you understand your target audience very well.
As a guide they suggest picking two or three if the following list of elements upon which to base your content and design:
- High tech
- Cutting edge
Great way to go about it, don’t you think?
I’m sure you’ve also seen signs so poorly designed, printed or positioned that you’ve wondered which sign shop the advertiser used and how that shop can still be in business.
As you can see, the sign won’t get you maximum attention in this location . . .
The problem of course is that they got very poor advice or no advice at all. That is not how your shop does business, is it? You tell your customers that you’ll design and print their sign to the highest standards to help boost their brand. But, it will all be wasted if they don’t do certain things with the signs while keeping the image of their brand in mind.
For instance, they must locate the signs for maximum effect. Then they must keep track of their signs so that pranksters (or competitors) don’t relocate the signs to where they wouldn’t want them located. They must follow the local community and municipal rules so as to not to incur fines or damage their reputation. And they must maintain the signs in good condition because a damaged or defaced sign can reflect badly on their brand.
This is one way in which you differentiate your shop from the competition—added value in the shape of good advice.
How often have you had to deal with a “customer service” rep who didn’t have a clue what the job really involved?
Haven’t you found that some of them are so poorly trained or unsuited to the job (which is really a management problem in either case) that you, the customer, far from receiving “service” is left irritated and angry.
It takes a number of qualities to deal with an angry customer.
When this happens, you should be making a pact with yourself to ensure that no customer of your shop is ever left feeling this way.
So what does it take from you or a customer service employee (which could be everyone in your shop who interacts with customers at any level) to deliver the type of customer service that keeps customers coming back? And remember that word of mouth is an effective and inexpensive business builder so you want customers to tell other people about your great customer service. But, word of mouth can also be a devastating business destroyer.
So, here’s a list of qualities needed for providing great customer service (this is just a list, you need to explore them in more depth):
- Top notch communication skills
- Good listening skills
- A thick skin
- A willingness to take ownership of customer problems
- Politeness (good manners)
- Product knowledge
- Adaptability and creativity
What will people say in a survey about your shop’s customer service?
The holiday period – time to put your feet up and relax.
The crew at Stanley’s want you to know that they have enjoyed serving you this past year and that they appreciate your business.
And as we get ready to head into the new year, they also want you to know that they welcome inquires about new products or technologies in the industry at any time. If they don’t know the answer right away they have a great selection of brand-name manufactures from whom they can get answers quickly.
In the meantime, if you’re going to need supplies in the December-January holiday period, please keep in mind that all four branches will be closed from noon on Tuesday the 24th of December until Monday morning, the 6th of January.
If you are going to require a courier delivery, please check with the Stanley’s office in your area well in advance of the holidays to make sure that a courier service will be available closer to the 24th.
That’s too cool!
A recent article about trade show booths included the following counter-intuitive finding; “Research shows that people often don’t look up, but they will look down when they catch sight of your floor decal.” It went on to say: “Everyone will have a sign, but you can be the one of the few who also has stellar floor decals.”
So what does this mean to you, the graphic shop owner? Well, obviously, it suggest that there’s an opportunity to educate customers on their proposed booth signage and garner some additional work producing floor decals.
With a little research, perhaps some reading, and a bit of design creativity, you could have another winner to offer customers.
Go ahead, ask me anything!
In literature about hiring sales people it’s often stressed that in-depth product knowledge is an absolute necessity; what it does, how to use it, what customers want from it, how to adapt it to unusual requirements, and so forth. But in many cases, given that the Canadian graphics industry largely consists of small businesses, that salesperson is usually you, the owner.
So, if you’re going to enter a conversation with a potential customer you’d better know all there is to know about every aspect of the technologies and materials that your shop uses. You must know what can and cannot be accomplished with your resources and, above all, you must have a firm grasp on the economic aspects of all that stuff.
It’s not just a case of can we or can we not do this, it’s very much a case of can we or can we not do it profitably. Without an in-depth knowledge of every aspect of your business you’re neither well equipped for salesmanship nor ownership.
Doming decals. Image credit: Roland DG South Africa
If you’re looking to diversify your shop a bit into additional revenue streams you may want to explore doming. Roland and other suppliers offer kits to dome everything from lapel pins to vinyl lettering.
In certain circumstances doming can add an additional dimension to an otherwise flat product and move it up a notch or two in intrigue and class. It could also provide an opportunity to provide a companion product to an existing order such as say, domed lapel pins to an order for signs.
A little creativity coupled with a technology like this might provide your shop with another revenue stream.
Why are you bothering me? I don’t need or use signs in my business!
If you sit and wait for business and are not out there looking for it, then this post won’t interest you. But if you’re looking to target new customers you will want to keep in mind this story told by Seth Godin in his book This is Marketing.
A well-known comedian’s agent gets him a booking at a gig in New York City. The comedian turns up and delivers his best material. The audience doesn’t react at all. No laughs. The comedian is distraught. He thinks that perhaps he is failing and should give up comedy. Then he finds out that his agent wasn’t paying attention. He wasn’t targeting his audience properly; it was an Italian tour group. They didn’t speak English and couldn’t understand the comedian. It was a waste of everyone’s time.
Are you targeting the right audience?
Leaping from employee to owner. You need all the help you can get.
You’re about to buy or launch your own shop, or perhaps you became an owner some time ago. In either case I’m going to give you a huge tip that is guaranteed to make your ownership adventure easier and more successful. It might not be something you particularly like doing but, like exercise or dieting, it may be difficult at first but once you get into it, you’ll be excited by the results.
We’re talking about reading technical and business books, articles, and blogs or listening to podcasts and audio books. The technical stuff because you must stay up to date, and the business stuff because you’re no longer just a technician, you’re now also a business person with a lot to learn.
But don’t just take my urging alone, see what Charles William Eliot, who was the president of Harvard University for over 40 years, said: “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
Stanley’s is pleased to announce that they now have Apolan squeegee blades. If you’re a graphics screen printer you’re going to appreciate the solvent resistance of these blades.
The range of profiles and durometers is also extensive. There’s a squeegee for every requirement you may have, including special squeegees needs.
The Stanley’s staff at all four branches can tell you what you need to know about Apolan squeegee blades and help you find the ones best suited to your needs, both standard and special.
Call any of Stanley’s 4 branches and ask for about Apolan squeegees: Edmonton 780-424-4141; Calgary 403-243-7722; Cambridge 519-620-7342; Richmond 604-873-2451; or call Alfred Gunness directly at 416-832-3162.
Future employees at Sign Manufacturing Day.
October 4th was Sign Manufacturing Day.
We encouraged you to participate. If you did then you’ll know that it was a great success. Participating print shops report that they found new employees, accepted interns, and forged stronger relationships with local schools.
If you didn’t participate this year, plan to do so next year. You can take the first step by contacting the Sign Association of Canada at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-470-9787.
They are your competitors who won multiple awards in the Best of Canada’s Sign Industry Awards (BOCSLes), just announced.
The November edition of Signmedia Canada magazine has all the results and, as one glances over the winning entries (and who doesn’t?), these three names are repeated a number of times. It’s not just about the bragging rights and the staff morale booster either, it’s invaluable and credible exposure in a format bound to attract many more eyes than even an expensive full-colour magazine advertisement.
Let’s have your shop’s name there next year. Make it a goal now!
Countering the wind.
It has long been a practice to slit banners as a counter-measure to the pressure of wind on the banner surface. These are usually semi-circular cuts in the substrate.
However, not everyone agrees that this is an effective practice. The chief criticisms are that they detract from the aesthetics of the banner, they weaken the banner material and they don’t do much to lessen the impact of wind pressure. Apparently, slits only reduce the wind pressure by 10 to 15%.
An alternative to slits is a heavier weight banner material and better installation methods. For instance, weave the rope through the grommets and tension and tie the rope to keep the banner taught. A banner that flaps tends to tear. Another method is to secure the banner with bungee cords. It’s said to work well by stretching and preventing the wind from tearing the material.
How am I supposed to get hold of your amazing product if you don’t answer me?
Last month (September 18th) we posted information about an advertisement about a product that appeared to be a great idea—magnets rather than tape to hold wraps in place. It still sounds like a great idea but it’s not the idea that has fallen flat, it’s the really bad customer service behind the product that has fallen flat.
Twice we emailed the advertiser to inquire about the magnets and ask if they’d be willing to supply a sample for testing. We undertook to post the results of a test and give them more coverage. So far there has been no response at all.
Here’s the lesson for us all . . . If you don’t follow up immediately on inquiries it doesn’t matter how amazing your product may be because you’re only going to have limited success getting it out into the market. Additionally, any money you spent on advertising would have been wasted.
Do you have surge protectors for your sensitive production equipment?
Extreme weather conditions are a way of life in Canada. Summer thunder storms, winter blizzards, ice storms, tornadoes and hurricanes, we have them all.
And with these weather events we have power disruptions. And with power disruptions we have power surges. And with power surges we have potential for damage to our sensitive electronic and digital equipment. So it’s not unusual to have surge protectors for computer equipment but what about production equipment like plotters, printers, and engravers?
Plotters, printers, and engravers have sensitive electronic components that can be fried by excess voltage from power surges. Even brief spikes can be damaging.
Is the sensitive production equipment in your shop protected from power surges by surge protectors? If not, right now might be a good time to do something about it.
It’s amazing how easily front line staff can become impatient with customers. It’s not hard to see examples a few times a day in stores and other businesses.
Of course customers are going to be annoying from time to time. Who hasn’t had to deal with an angry, venting customer? What about the windbags who take forever to explain the problem? And then there are the ones who’ll damage something and try to blame everyone they can think of except themselves while expecting a full refund or a new replacement?
This calls for patience. Patience is one of the most important attributes front line staff need. Lose patience and you stand to make a bad situation worse and possibly even lose a customer you might not want to lose . Of course if you want to lose the customer that’s a different matter, but even then it can be accomplished without losing patience.
As this anonymous quotation says: “Patience is when you’re supposed to get mad, but you choose to understand.” And as the napkin says: “Patience is power.”
This is amazing! Great ink at a great price!
Remember how Trevor Smith of Calgary said he was amazed at how the Marajet after-market ink just dropped in to replace the Roland cartridges with no fuss and no loss of quality?
Well, you can be amazed too while enjoying a great saving because the cost-saving OCTOBER SPECIAL is still on . . .
For the rest of October, Stanley’s is offering a BUY-4-GET-6 special on Marajet ink cartridges for your Roland. You already save about $68 per cartridge with Marajet so paying for 4 and getting 6 is a BIG deal.
Call any of Stanley’s 4 branches now and take advantage of this special: Edmonton 780-424-4141; Calgary 403-243-7722; Cambridge 519 620 7342; Richmond: 604-873-2451; or call Alfred Gunness directly at 416 832 3162
The 31 teams in the NHL each play 41 home games in a season. A standard NHL rink has almost 510 feet of boards on which there are between 45 and 60 individual rink ads. This means that at any one time during a game there are about 1,400 sq. ft. of ads. And some of the ads are replaced during the game which only adds to the total square footage.
This is a lot of large format printing. Who’s getting it? Is your shop? If not, why not? Have you looked into it? And once more, if not, why not?
Credit: Peter Bourgeois, Signmedia.ca
A balanced, communicative, efficient staff
Earlier this year Sign Media Canada featured an article on communication strategies that emphasized the importance of communication to a cohesive, efficient workplace, even in small shops.
One point the author raised as necessary to ensuring a communicative, efficient workplace is compatible personalities. This means requiring prospective employees to take a personality test. The purpose is to ensure that the personalities of the owners and employees are compatible and conducive to a communicative workplace.
If you’ve ever managed a staff you’ll appreciate the sense in this concept. If you’re not hiring staff by this method it’s probably time to give it some consideration. A well-balanced, compatible body of employees is key to a well-run business.
If you look back through this site you’ll find that we featured five popular films under the Stanley’s Print Media brand.
You’ll find that there’s an attractively-priced film for just about every one of your applications:
- Stanley’s SoFlat Frontlit Non-Curling Scrimless Banner
- Stanley’s Blow-440 Super Smooth Blockout Banner
- Stanley’s B02-440 Premium Frontlit banner
- Stanley’s BLO-610 Premium Blockout banner
- Stanley’s SAV-140G Print Vinyl
You can find out more about these film and order them from any of these Stanley’s offices: Edmonton 780 424 4141; Calgary 403 243 7722; Richmond 604 873 2451; or by calling Alfred Gunness directly at 416 832 3162.
The Roland Texart RT-640M.
Sign shops looking to diversify beyond the traditional sign market can do so with Roland’s Texart RT-640M. We’ve told you once before about this printer from Roland. It’s time to give it some more consideration.
It’s a dye sublimation printer for soft signage, apparel and textiles with some impressive features:
- ErgoSoft Roland Edition 2 RIP software
- Advanced 8-channel print heads
- Adjustable front roller and media take-up
Stanley’s can tell you all you need to know about this machine and the process. Diversifying to offset a competitive market place might just be the shot in the arm that your shop needs.
Assess the site and costs properly before recommending retrofitting.
J. Bryan Vincent writing for Sigmedia.ca offers good advice on calculating the return on investment (ROI) on replacing fluorescent with LED in illuminated signs. Changing illuminated signs to LED is easier and more cost effective than ever, but one needs to understand the nature of the site in order to properly advise the customer on costs and ROI.
You should read the article but, in the meantime, here’s what you should take into account when costing a LED retrofit and before recommending it to your customer:
- Evaluate the site to determine how difficult it is going to be to service the area.
- Research code restrictions. Some jurisdictions have restrictions applicable to new signage that also apply to retrofits.
- Gather maintenance data to determine likely ongoing maintenance costs.
There’s much more in the article. It’s well worth the read.
Happy Roland users!
How about this for an OCTOBER SPECIAL?
For the month of October, Stanley’s is offering a buy-4-get-6 special on Marajet ink cartridges for your Roland. You already save about $68 per cartridge with Marajet so paying for 4 and getting 6 is a BIG deal.
And why should you consider Marajet? Well, Trevor Smith of Calgary did and was amazed at how the Marajet just dropped in to replace the Roland cartridges with no fuss and no loss of quality.
Call any of Stanley’s 4 branches now and take advantage of this special: Edmonton 780-424-4141; Calgary 403-243-7722; Cambridge 519 620 7342; Richmond: 604-873-2451; or call Alfred Gunness directly at 416 832 3162
Blind faith. No way to buy equipment!
According to one industry equipment supplier, print and sign businesses, more than ever, want to see equipment in action and test its capabilities extensively before deciding to buy. This expert believes that there are 4 reason for this:
- Having made purchases before without proper research, printers have learnt from the experience and now want to know much more about the equipment’s capabilities before buying it.
- The market has become so competitive that printers want to make sure that the equipment they buy is going to give them a strategic advantage or at least enable them to keep up with their competitors.
- There is a growing awareness that a way to increase margins is to reduce the cost of finishing. They need to find out how new equipment can help them do this.
- The competitive nature of the industry is making printers look for equipment that can add new revenue streams.
This is just another reason to attend shows, visit equipment manufacturers’ facilities, and work with Stanley’s to be sure that any new equipment purchase is going to meet your needs. Buying blind (or even half blind) has never been a good idea. Your competitors are waking up to this realization, so should you.
It’s a great idea!
I saw an advertisement recently that offered an alternative to tape when wrapping a vehicle—magnets.
If you’re still using tape to hold the wrap in place while positioning and installing, you may want to consider trying magnets instead.
The magnets being advertised are strong with a 25lb pull capacity but they have a handy grip so that in spite of their strength, they can be easily positioned and re-positioned.
Worried about scratching? Not a problem! The magnets are encased in polystyrene.
This is one of those ideas that may just work for your shop. You can check it out in more detail by clicking here.
If you haven’t made arrangements to be in Dallas for PRINTINGUNITED, you still have time.
It’s where thousands of digital and graphics industry players will be gathering to discover printing solutions across all segments, see new product launches, see live demonstrations, be exposed to everything going on in the industry now, and attend a vast array of workshops.
See the September 2019 edition of Signmedia or the www.printinguinited.com for all the details.
You don’t want to miss this one.
You can do that?
An article by Eva Padula in the September edition of Signmedia includes a point well worth considering seriously.
She writes that once a shop has maximized its efficiency by ensuring that its hardware, software, and workflow are up-to-date, it’s time to show customers what they are capable of. The way to do this is to produce: custom displays with integrated printed graphics; floor, window, and wall applications; soft signage and fabric displays; and window graphics.
What she’s really writing about is a life-size portfolio. Sounds like great advice.