Act big!

Who’d know that she’s just a one-person sign shop?

The Canadian sign industry has a number of big players but there are a vast number of smaller shops, some are even one-person and home-based shops. And it’s commonly assumed that the little guys can’t compete with the big guys because they’re not as “professional” or as “business-like” as the big guys. But this doesn’t have to be true.

Sadly, this perception exists in spite of small shops matching the big guys for quality and price. The reason? The little guys perpetuate it by their behavior, by how they present themselves. So what can small shops do about this?

Well, first off, pretending to be bigger than you actually are is phony and if caught out will be a customer turn-off. But you can level the playing field by acting big, by matching the big guys in professionalism. Well-designed stationery (letterheads, quote pads, business cards etc.), a well-designed and printed business name sign (you’re in the sign business, remember), a professional-looking portfolio, and an appropriate dress standard when visiting customers all help to give customers confidence.

And above all, pay a lot of attention to communication. This means answering emails promptly and answering phones immediately. Make sure that when someone calls the phone is immediately answered by a real person. This might mean contracting an answering service, but whatever arrangement you make, an immediate, polite response to a call is vital. These things equate to “professionalism” in customers’ minds.

So while you shouldn’t pretend to be big, you should act big.