A message from Roland that you may have missed

The thumbnail version:

  • It’s a changing market and new opportunities abound
  • You have to look around outside your shop to see what’s going on

The full version:

Look outside your shop to see what’s going on.

In the 2nd September post I mentioned a changing trend in the industry that Roland had mentioned in an article on their website. Below is an excerpt from the same article that you may have missed. It’s good advice that should be heeded, so here it is . . .

. . . every shop and situation is different, and sign and graphics providers should be aware of what’s happening on a more local level—identifying the immediate customer needs in the locale that are not being met. The sign industry has a history of adapting to fit changing times and an essential new need for facemask products, outdoor signage, social distancing signs, and other previously niche products is an indication that graphics providers should be paying close  attention to what’s happening outside their shops. Now more then ever, bringing new ideas to your shop is important, as well as looking at what competitors are doing and talking to customers and colleagues to find new leads, ideas and revenue possibilities.

We’re in volatile times. But it’s not all doom and gloom. The sign industry in particular has new opportunities created by the virus. The question though is whether your shop is up for the challenge.

COVID-19 is here to stay?

The thumbnail version:

  • We have to adapt to a new normal
  • There is going to be no quick-fix to the pandemic and the current situation
  • This means that it’s time to re-think our business model

The full version:

For those of us who had been hoping for a return to something akin to “normal”, we’re now six months into this thing and the development of the pandemic remains dynamic and unpredictable. Maybe we have to adapt to a new “normal.”

This is what Samuel Earle, writing for the Guardian, suggested today:

Time to rethink the business model?

“We would do better to abandon the fantasies of a quick-fix entirely. This is not a race, not even a marathon: there’s no finish line to cross, no shorter route to take. As we brace ourselves for a second wave and a second lockdown, we need a more realistic appraisal of where we are and where we’re headed, a rough map to see us through the darkening winter days without taunting us with illusions that only end in disappointment. Our desire to put the pandemic behind us makes sense, but the virus and its unsettling associates — masks, social distancing rules, hand-sanitizer dispensers, quarantines, lockdowns — aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Our future plans must begin from this fact.”

Time to rethink the business model?

Beware of gambling money away on social media as a marketing tool.

The thumbnail version:

  • “Free” social media marketing is not free, it can be expensive
  • Cost/benefit is important to assess
  • Traditional branding and marketing may be a better option

The full version:

Don’t gamble away your branding and marketing efforts on low-return social media promotion.

I’ve just read yet another article in which the author recommends social media as an inexpensive way to brand and market a small business such as, for instance, a sign shop. It sounds so simple and, most importantly, the fact that it’s free seems to be the hook.

“Free” will appeal to any small business owner but what’s touted as “free”, is mostly not free. It just means that you don’t have to pay to post, but what about the valuable time you spend posting? Scroll down to the post of the 26th of August for more on this.

I’m all for a good website, a well-done blog, and a comprehensive e-mail list; I’ve seen plenty of evidence that these tools are essential for most businesses that care about appearing legitimate; the rest of social media is, however, a different kettle of fish.  To give you some insight into the time-cost/benefit aspect of promoting on social media check out these observations I’ve made over the past few months monitoring the posts by some of my 850+ connections on LinkedIn:

  • Seldom do the posts of non-famous names (i.e. if you’re not Bill Gates, Fortune Magazine, or an attractive 25-year-old blond doing videos) get more than a few views and even fewer “likes.” And by “few” I mean two or three.
  • These same posters just keep doing it over and over again for the same meagre response. Surely their time could be better spent on a more productive marketing strategy?
  • Most people on social media seem to be there to sell, not buy.

Now, admittedly, this not a controlled, scientifically-based survey, just my observations. And also, there may be some types of businesses for which social media posting could be worth the time and effort, but as far as I can see, not many.

So, don’t gamble with time and effort the way “social media experts” are trying to get you to do. Pause and give social media marketing careful cost/benefit consideration.

It may not be worth investing hours of time and effort in promoting your brand on social media; with the exception of a good website, a well-done blog, and an email list, more traditional branding and marketing options may still be more productive for your shop.

 

Floor graphics — some important considerations

The thumbnail version:

  • The floor graphics rush is on
  • There are important material issues to consider
  • Injury and a suit could result from unsuitable materials

The full version:

A law suit in the making!

Floor graphics are more in demand than ever, thanks to COVID-19. It’s all about safety of course but, and it’s an important “but”, they can’t just be about a safety message. They have to safe in and of themselves.

It would be a bit ironic if someone got injured slipping or tripping over a floor graphic with a safety message. So, the material and the adhesive are critically important. The first shouldn’t be prone to slipping and the second shouldn’t be prone to giving way so as to allow the decal to curl up and trip someone.

Therefore, in the scramble to participate in the growing floor decal market, be careful about your material selection. And make sure that any local bylaws and health and safety regulations are met.

Digital and graphics printers diversifying

The thumbnail version:

  • One-stop providers gaining popularity
  • Is this a trend to be taken seriously?

The full version:

You have some thinking to do.

The September edition of Signmedia magazine features Fully Promoted of Peterborough, Ontario.

According to Signmedia, Fully Promoted is described as a one-stop marketing company. They help businesses tell their story through branded promotional items such as embroidered apparel, screenprinted mugs, digital services including websites, and social media management.

Reading between the lines though, is there a message that this is a developing trend in the industry? Are customers, particularly corporate customers, going to gravitate to one-stop providers as opposed to dealing with a number of providers for their signs and promotional requirements? If this happens, it could sideline limited-range or single-product shops in the future.

Time to do some research and forward planning.

Free offer from Roland

Roland is offering “build your own” packages to help sign shops produce social distancing signage. Although the full package includes equipment, software etc., you’re not obliged to buy any of it in order to access the free design templates.

The templates allow for the printing a range of items such as floor graphics, decals, wall and window signage , and yard signs for social distancing and other COVID-19 related materials.

The free design templates (vector PDF’s) can be downloaded for free.

Why wouldn’t one take advantage of this offer?

Sign industry trends affecting big and small shops

The thumbnail version:

  • COVID-19 is giving rise to changes in the industry
  • Bigger shops are thinking smaller
  • Smaller shops are thinking bigger

The full version:

Big and small shops eyeing changes

COVID-19’s persistence is having an impact on the industry, perhaps a permanent impact. Roland is reporting some interesting changes  that you should know about.

They say that some of the bigger shops are redirecting resources to niche personalization services such as face masks and T-shirts while the smaller end shops are upgrading their equipment to print larger applications. Smaller shops are now expanding into floor graphics and signage for canopies and outdoor dining. This is an interesting trend that can be described as . . . Bigger shops thinking smaller and smaller shops thinking bigger.

How is your shop adapting to the changes in the lingering COVID-19 environment?

Thinking ahead about qualified staff available on the job market

The thumbnail version:

  • Competitors are failing
  • There are unemployed, talented people in the market
  • You may need more staff as demand grows
  • Plan ahead for finding the best staff

The Full version:

Make sure to find the good people on the job market and stay in touch.

We don’t really know when the economy generally and the industry specifically may return to “normal” but when it does, your shop could be busy. There will likely be fewer competitors to deal with a pent-up demand.

And because some of your competitors will no longer be around, there will be qualified staff on the job market. One or more of them may be a great addition to your shop when things get busy again.

So, here’s the plan . . .  You already know who your competitors are and you know who their good people are. (At least you should know). So assuming that you do, make sure you know the status of your competitors; check regularly. And if they lay off staff or go out of business, make sure you stay in touch with their now unemployed but talented people so that you have the inside track with them when things rev up again.

Just another post-COVID-19 planning tactic!

Facebook. Worth your time?

The thumbnail version:

  • Facebook (and other social media platforms) can drain your time
  • More and more writers are addressing this phenomenon
  • It’s time to re-think whether your social media strategy adds any value

The full version:

There’s a growing body of opinion that suggests that Facebook is a serious drain on small business owners’ time. And that generally social media is an overrated marketing mechanism for small businesses (which includes most Canadian sign shops).

Not only is there the book by BJ Mendelson, Social Media is Bullshit, or the opinion of Alex Lieberman, CEO of Morning Brew: “The best marketers don’t just understand Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. The best marketers understand anthropology, sociology, and psychology”, but recently screen printing writer and consultant, Marshall Atkinson weighed in on the topic as well.

Wasting business time on Facebook and other social media?

Atkinson, in an article titled “Stop Doing This For Better Results”, suggested that shop owners should stop posting on Facebook “all the time”. Here are a couple of excerpts from his article that say it all: “I swear, it looks like more than a few folks in this industry are professional Facebook posters. You are posting all day long! Holy smokes” and “Just imagine the productivity your business could receive if you channeled that same energy into changing something that actually drove more money into your bank account.”

Time to re-think your social media activity? I think so.

A good designer versus a great designer . . .

Only what’s necessary.

Here’s some great short-and-sweet advice for new designers and a reminder for experienced designers from Mike Monteiro, co-founder and design director of Mule Design . . .

A good designer finds an elegant way to put everything you need on a page (or sign or billboard). A great designer convinces you half that sh*t is unnecessary.”

Do your customers get this advice from you?

Always deliver more than expected . . . especially now.

The thumbnail version:

  • Competition is tough right now
  • One way to gain an advantage is by delivering more than expected

The full version:

Deliver more than expected. Delight the customer!

Larry Page (co-founder of Google) is quoted as having said, “Always deliver more than expected.”

This is very good advice, particularly now in the market conditions induced by  COVID-19. You are in tough against your competitors. All of you are now chasing fewer customers in a depressed market. It’s time to stand out from the crowd. It’s time to go the extra yard to impress. And one of the ways to do it is to deliver more than expected—more quality and more service. Delight your customer.

Take the guy’s advice. He’s worth almost $70 billion so we can safely assume he knows what he’s talking about.

You can talk to Stanley’s about Roland equipment

The thumbnail version:

  • Roland offers great equipment for sign shops
  • Stanley’s are the people to talk to about Roland equipment

The full version:

If you’ve been in the sign game for some time you probably have a Roland or two and love them, but if you’re new to the industry and perhaps considering opening a sign shop, you should know that Roland offers impressive equipment.

They have advanced eco-solvent printers and printer-cutters such as the TrueVIS VG2 printer-cutters and the and VF2 printers, both equipped with cutting-edge FlexFire™ print heads. And Stanley’s can help you explore them, get information for you, and help you make a selection.

So keep in mind that Stanley’s is your go-to place for Roland equipment for your sign shop. Got questions? All you have to do is call and ask away. And even in the unlikely event that you have a tricky question that stumps them, they can get an answer from the manufacturer directly and quickly.

The Calgary and Edmonton branches are where you’ll find the Roland gurus: Calgary 403 243 7722; and Edmonton 780 424 4141.

 

Thinking of starting a home-based print shop? Think again!

The thumbnail version:

  • Starting a home-based business is not as easy as some writers will have you believe
  • Beware writers with a vested interest in selling you start-up equipment
  • Consult with Stanley’s about you home-based print shop ideas

The full version:

I think it’ll be nice to start a home-based sign printing business . . .

“4 Great Reasons to Start a Home based Business” was the title of a recent article presented as a series of well-designed graphics. It all looked very enticing and would have played well with any starry-eyed, blue-skying, naive, would-be, home-based print shop entrepreneur.

The truth is that starting a home-based business is not the plain-sailing, get-rich-quick experience this type of article would have you believe. A dead giveaway is that usually the writer has a vested interest in your naivete such as, for instance, selling you equipment.

An equipment supplier once told me that every time the economy took a downturn, he sold a lot of mug presses to people who planned to start a mug-decorating business in their basement. He also told me that he knew that usually after pressing just a few mugs the press ended up idle and gathering dust. For many would-be business owners, this is what happens.

Stanley’s doesn’t operate this way. This is why you should discuss your home-based printing business plan with them first so that they can make sure you have the right equipment and that you have the best possible chance of succeeding.

You also need to take advice on all aspects of business ownership; there’s probably a ton of things you haven’t considered. This isn’t to discourage you, it’s to urge you to be cautious and realistic.

Printer cleaning

The thumbnail version:

  • Liquid-ink printers are designed to be in continuous production
  • Idle printers must be cleaned manually before being pressed back into action
  • There are 5 steps to cleaning to restore the printer to top form

The full version:

This is a good time to take note of an article by Bryan Ballreich for Sign Media Canada about getting idle printers (thanks mostly to COVID-19) back to top form.

Ballreich writes that: “Liquid-ink printing devices are designed to be in continuous production . .  . ” which obviously gives rise to a problem in times of idleness, such as during a pandemic lock-down. The article provides a lot of helpful instruction for dealing with the problems resulting from idleness under the following 5 headings:

  1. Empty the waste tank
  2. Check and agitate the ink cartridges
  3. Perform a manual maintenance cleaning process
  4. Test the printheads and clean as needed
  5. Print several known test images and review results

And here is an important excerpt that answers the question: Why is manual maintenance cleaning for inactive machines essential before any regular cleaning or operation?

Your idle printer’s solution

“Before one starts the cleaning process on a device that has been idle for some time, it is important to understand that failure to run a manual maintenance cleaning can cause accumulated ink to ‘gum up’ on may parts , including printheads, wiper, and cap tops. This buildup, which occurs naturally, even during automated sleep mode cleanings, cannot be corrected without manually cleaning these deposits off the parts. If one skips this step before resuming normal printing operation, dried ink can get pushed into the printheads, causing potential damage and part failure.”

Hey shop owner, how open is your door?

How open is your open door?

These are rough times. But in addition to the fact that you as the shop owner or manager must cope with the circumstances and stress of COVID-19, you can’t lose sight of the fact that your staff (and maybe even your customers) need your leadership and will be looking to you for ongoing reassurance.

And we cannot underestimate the impact of this virus on mental well-being. There are an increasing number of reports of mental illness becoming a concern as this pandemic drags on.

Now more than ever you need to manage with an open door. So, allow me to remind you of our post of April 8, 2019 in which the theme was: “You need an open door if you are to reap the benefit of the improvement ideas your staff have.”

COVID-19 has added a twist to that theme— you still need an open door but now it is so that you are approachable for dealing with the pandemic stresses and fears of your staff.

If your shop’s website is not on this list, shouldn’t it be?

 

The thumbnail version:

  • The best Google position for your website address is on the first page
  • It requires some effort to position it on the first page but it can be done
  • A website quickly found by a searching customer can result in business
  • Is your shop’s website in the lists below?

The full version:

As a matter of curiosity I Googled “Sign printers” to see what came up in various locations around the country.

It’s said that ideally you want to have your website come up on the first page when someone searches your topic. Now, of course, it takes resources, effort and probably some outside consulting help to have your website come up on a first Google page. But I wouldn’t dismiss the idea until I’d researched the matter to see if your shop could come out on the right side of a cost/benefit analysis.

It may even be worth placing an advertisement, as some of the larger players do, but again, it would need an assessment to determine if it’s worth your while. For now though lets ignore paid-for advertising and just address regular, no-cost ranking on Google.

Here are the results of two of the searches in which I specified a city name (“Sign printers” plus city name):

Calgary websites;

  1. printshopcalgary.ca
  2. a-1signs.ca
  3.  theallinprinter.com
  4. bigprintsigns.com
  5. signarama.ca
  6. mysignsolutions.com
  7. aerosign.ca
  8. calgarysignsbanners.ca

Vancouver websites:

  1. thesignplace.ca
  2. signarama.ca
  3. multigraphics.ca
  4. fastsigns.com
  5. nutrends.ca
  6. printprint.ca
  7. printingcenter.ca
  8. signmastersigns.com

If your website is not listed above and you’re in Calgary or Vancouver, shouldn’t you at least consider doing something about it? Same applies to whatever other part of the country your shop may be located.

 

 

Compassion is a better tactic than toughness

Emma Seppala writing for HBR about 5 years ago, gave us something to think about—compassion is a better tactic than toughness when dealing with employee mess-ups. It’s worth revisiting the concept.

I once witnessed a screen shop owner make an expletive-laced general announcement that the printing staff had in the previous two weeks made so many costly mistakes that if he sent them home and mailed them their cheques every two weeks he’d be better off. It was meant to be tough but it was unpleasant and awkward—an absolute morale killer.

Seppala’s point is that compassion yield’s better results. It’s a fairly detailed article but it essentially boils down to three key points:

  1. Take a moment to compose yourself when an employee makes a mistake.
  2. Put yourself in the employee’s shoes.
  3. Forgive.

It’s worth thinking about and worth a read.

Printing United scheduled for October cancelled, now going online.

There is reason to be optimistic about the future of the printing industry.

This is what Andy Paparozzi, Chief Economist, PRINTING United Alliance has to say about the U.S. which, hopefully, will apply to Canada as well:  “According to the consensus of economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal, they expect the American economy to grow robustly in 2021 — by its fastest pace in nearly 40 years. That will give the printing industry a big boost, flipping the mindset from cost reduction and survival to capital investment and growth.” 

However, getting ready for 2021 has taken a slightly different tack due to COVID-19. Printing United scheduled for 21 -23 October in Atlanta has been cancelled and an online event will take place instead.  You can find out more here: PRINTING United 2020.

 

15 Expert tips for VersaWorks 6

If you haven’t visited the Roland website lately, now would be a good time to do it.

You will find an article and 15 videos with tips for using VersaWorks 6. You will not be disappointed. The videos are crammed with useful information and I’ll bet that no matter how experienced you are or how much you think you know, you’ll learn something.

Here are the 15 topics covered:

  1. System requirements and optimization tips
  2. General tab
  3. Cutting tab
  4. Understanding and using quality settings
  5. Cut all paths
  6. Clipping and duplicating art
  7. basics of working on print/cut files
  8. Using the tiling function
  9. Spot colour library
  10. Basic setup for UV spot colours
  11. White ink basics
  12. Colour preset basics
  13. Raster and vector basics
  14. Special color plate generation
  15. Creating a cut path an Adobe Illustrator for VersaWorks 6

Okay, good stuff, right? So check it out.

BOCSIes deadline extended to 31st July. There’s still time to enter!

We encouraged you to enter your shop back in June. If you didn’t enter you should know that the deadline has been extended to the end of this month, Friday, 31st July. So, there’s still time to make a name for your shop.

The Best of Canada’s Sign Industry Awards (BOCSIes)  run jointly by Sign Media Canada and the Sign Association of Canada honours the top work of sign companies in 12 different categories.

Yours is a sign company that produces work in at least one of the twelve categories. Why not enter and make everyone associated with your shop proud? Besides, doing well in competitions of this sort can only be good for business.

Here’s your link to more information and the way to enter: www.bocsi.ca

Some insight from a pandemic success story

This story comes to us from Cardiff, Wales . . .

3 Sixty is a 10-year-old graphics printer which during the pandemic lock-down got to work while some others threw their hands up and asked, “What now? How are we going to survive?”

3 Sixty’s floor graphics production surged by 80 percent, according to a report by Printing News Magazine. That amounted to about 100,000 floor graphics per week. How has your graphics shop been doing in these strange and challenging pandemic times? Did you see opportunity in the surging market for pandemic-related decals?

3 Sixty’s owner has an interesting perspective on the success of his shop: “Control of overheads is key and not to let sales run the business. Clients, staff, and suppliers all need to work together to make any business work.” I’m assuming he means that he won’t make sales at just any price.

But the bottom line is that with a sound business philosophy and an eye for an opportunity, even in apparently adverse times, success will follow.

 

Have you checked out Roland’s new VF2-640 large format printer?

Under the descriptive title: “Deliver Perfectly Branded Displays, Promos, Wraps, and More with the Color Power of the VF2-640”, Roland announced its new addition to the family of printers.

And Stanley’s can get it for you.

The Roland website has a full description of this impressive printer, so here, to encourage you to go find out all about it, is an overview:

“As part of the new generation of TrueVIS technology, the VF2-640 large format printer has been developed for an unprecedented gamut expansion, exceptional close-up detail, and the unique ability to achieve both vividness and natural color reproduction. The VF20640 answers the exact color requirements of your clients and rises above the quality standards of your competitors”

Click here to see more.

The future and sustainability revisited

We have to pay much more attention to the sustainability in the future than we did in the past.

Three years ago I posted about an article by Denise Gustavson writing online for PrintingNews. She asked what “green” means for the sign industry that uses chemicals and produces a high volume of disposable signage.

Quoting from the original post: “The gist of the article is that sustainability initiatives are a necessity for those shops wanting to demonstrate to their customers that they are ready to be partners in the growing call to action for a much more eco-friendly industry. But, in addition to that, it’s an obligation because, as is now evident, we cannot continue to pollute the earth as we have done in the past. The earth’s capacity to absorb the assault is dwindling fast.”

Now, some years later, the question we need to ask ourselves about the industry generally and our individual shops specifically, is: How much have we progressed in implementing sustainability initiatives?

Well, how’s your shop doing?

Masks and other textile items

The new fashion item at this time is a mask. It has quickly morphed from a medical-quality mask available from drugstores to a textile fashion item or a corporate advertising accessory. And now digital and graphics shops can get in on the act.

If you visit the Roland website and read the latest blog you’ll find a post that explains how to not only get on the mask bandwagon, but also to produce other textile fashion items such as ties, bow ties, and scarves with your Roland DG Texart printer.

This could be a chance to diversify by tapping into the textile market.

A business-boosting idea

As we all return to work we’ll likely find that we have to do more marketing and selling than before COVID-19 turned up because our customers are having the same slow time that we are. So what are we going to market, the same stuff we did before or are we going to look for opportunities in the “new normal”?

Well here’s an idea for your sign shop to keep your Roland printer/plotter busy . . . Look around your city/town/village for businesses such as I described two posts ago on 24th June. These are places whose current signs don’t readily explain what the business does.

You’re going to introduce yourself as a sign expert. You’re going to point out why their current sign isn’t likely to to draw in customers looking for whatever product they’re offering. You’re not going to suggest that they change their existing signs (they probably paid a lot for their fancy but inadequate signs and will balk at another big bill), rather you’re going to suggest vinyl lettering in a prominent place (such as a storefront window).

So, for example, for the coffee shop I mentioned in the 24th of June post, you’d offer him lettering that spells out C-O-F-F-E-E in his front window.

A lot of small businesses don’t seem to understand that unlike major multi-national brands, their store name doesn’t matter to most people.  What matters is what they sell. If the store sign doesn’t tell what they sell, you have an opportunity to get your Roland some work.

Sell a concept to your local authorities (you do the signs of course).

Here’s and idea that popped up on LinkedIn.

It could be a good project for your shop that goes something like this:

  1. Approach your local municipality and remind them that your city/town/village has a littering/graffiti/dog poo problem.
  2. Tell them you have a great idea for helping to solve it by raising awareness in an eye-catching humorous way.
  3. Show them a mock-up of a sign like the one here.
  4. Crunch some numbers and give them a price for you to produce the signs.

If you do it right, it could pay off very nicely.

When signs are wasted money

A sign that tells you exactly what the business does.

Does your shop offer sign advice to prospective customers? Apparently some sign shops do not because I’ve seen some really pointless signs that don’t come close to doing their job of promoting a business.

I interviewed a coffee shop owner in South Africa when I was writing my book, Characters Who Can Make Or Break Your Small Business.  He told me that the elaborate sign on the outside of the shop had been designed by his girlfriend who was a graphics art student. The sign consisted of a coat of arms in intricate detail with the name of the coffee shop in very small wording. It was beautifully rendered but here’s the problem . . .  It was totally useless as a coffee shop sign.

This coffee shop was situated on a fairly busy road with passing vehicle traffic but very little foot traffic. What he should have had was a sign in big letters that simply said “Coffee”. Anyone in a passing car only has a second or two to see what his business is about. A fancy crest with no particular message was not going to entice anyone with a need for a caffeine fix.

I don’t have an image of the coffee shop’s sign but I’m including an image of a florist’s shop in Adelaide, Australia that makes the point.

Join the SAC!

We’ve reminded printers of this before but it’s important enough so we’re dong it again . . . Join the SAC (Sign Association of Canada) if you’re not already a member.

Membership in at least one trade association is an important way to stay in touch with the latest developments in the industry. Knowing what’s happening, what’s new, and what is being discussed is how your shop keeps pace with the competition. There are of course other benefits too such as membership savings. And don’t underestimate the creativity that can be awaken in you just by leafing through the monthly magazine—an article, an ad, the editorial; they can all do it.

Covid-19 spawns a new business service—certifying that you’re safe.

I swear, I’ve got a great service for you!

A couple of  months ago I read an article that warned of a flood of post-virus selling activity. The writer warned too that some of the products and services would be questionable and unnecessary.

I was reminded of this article a few days ago when I received an email from a company playing on business owners’ concerns about safety of their employees and customers as we begin to reopen. The email came from a company with a name that implied that if they took care of the sanitizing of your premises you would be certified as “safe”.

Here’s an excerpt from the email: ” <name of company> takes a detailed second look at your safety plans and procedures.” Really? Surely every small business owner is capable of implementing safe distancing, face masks, and sanitizing without the “advice” of an outside service?

Beware of bogus services and products offering to solve issues that can easily be solved without their intervention.

The business wisdom of Robert Townsend 50 years later

Robert Townsend was born 100 years ago this year. Fifty years ago this year he published his “World’s number one bestseller” crammed with great business advice.

Here is his section titled “Telephone Operators” which although written in the not-so-PC language of the time and referencing technology that has since changed, nevertheless has a message about your business telephone that’s as relevant now at it was then:

“TELEPHONE OPERATORS

If I ever design a head office, executives row will look like the cubicles of a Trappist monastery, and the telephone switchboard area will look like a Turkish harem. Money spent on offices for the management is largely wasted. If they are any good it will be apparent to anyone after a few minutes no mater how plain or fancy their office is.

On the other hand, how would you like to try doing the telephone operator’s job for a day? Remember, you’re the company’s first contact with the outside world—you’ve got to be alert and bright and helpful and quick. You’ve got to know where everybody is all the time. I’d spend money to make the switchboard girls comfortable. The best operators in the area would be lined up for the job”