Category Archives: Uncategorized

We’d both have bragging rights

The thumbnail version:

  • The BOCSIes entry deadline is 24th July (just over two weeks away).
  • If you win, we win.

The full version:

This is your last reminder to enter the Best of Canada’s Sign Industry (BOSCI) awards to honour the top work of sign companies in 12 categories. Entries close for this year on July 24th.

We urge participation because being mentioned as a winner will give your shop a visibility boost which is bound to be good for business. Then there are staff morale benefits and half dozen other good reasons too. And from a purely selfish point of view, as one of your suppliers, Stanley’s would be able to claim bragging rights too.

So how about it? Enter before the 24th. It makes business sense.

Would you have spotted the error?

The thumbnail version:

  • Quality control is essential to delivering a good product
  • But stuff happens, even to a high-profile industry magazine

The full version:

Much has been written about quality control in the shop. Often this is assumed to be the quality of the print. But what about the quality of the artwork?

The cover of the June 2021 edition of Sign Media magazine is a lesson in how errors can sneak through where you’d least expect to see them.

Sign Media is published monthly by the Sign Association of Canada and is well worth reading. Membership of the association is well worth it too. But back to the cover . . .

Can you spot the quality control lapse?  No?

How do you spell “business”?

How good is your shop’s quality control?

Inspiring designs found in simple places

The thumbnail version:

  • Once in a while a design stands out.
  • It can then be used to inspire

The full version:

Once in a while you’ll see design work that makes you stop and take notice—a design that can inspire; it certainly happens to me from time to time. Yesterday was such an occasion.

We were at lunch in Mahone Bay when Margaret ordered cider. It was delivered in the can in the illustration. Not only did the overall design intrigue me, but when I picked up the can to take a closer look it felt good to handle because the “chain link fence” background and the name “Intrepid” were textured. I’m assuming it was screen printed.

All-in-all the design and printing of the can was as impressive as the contents apparently were.

Well done, Chain Yard Cider Inc. of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Perhaps the design and printing of this can will inspire a print shop artist or two elsewhere in Canada.

Protecting your customers’ data

The thumbnail version:

  • There are plenty of bad guys trying to get their hands on your customers’ information.
  • You have an obligation to protect it.

The full version:

Protect your customers’ information from this guy

If you gather customer data—few can operate at all without doing this—you have an obligation to protect it. And in today’s digital world, that can be easier said than done. Nevertheless, it doesn’t relieve you of the obligation.

Courier recently published a good paper with various ways in which you can protect your customers’ data. We just have space for an overview here—you really need to explore the topic in more detail.

  1. Understand what data you’re dealing with.
  2. Understand the laws you’re subject to.
  3. Secure your WiFi network and passwords.
  4. Encourage use of a VPN by staff when using any kind of public WiFi.
  5. Install the right anti-malware and anti-virus tools.
  6. Make it someone’s responsibility to stay on top of online security.
  7. Communicate to your customers what information you collect and why.
  8. Educate your employees in spotting scams, password security etc.
  9. Back up your data offsite.
  10. Prepare for the worst in case an attack happens, have expertise on standby.
  11. Keep updating your software.

Being aware of the above measures is a start. You have work to do.

Rewarding employees with time off

The thumbnail version:

  • Employees are stressed after almost a year and a half of pandemic precautions
  • The end is not yet in sight
  • You can help provide relief by rewarding time

The full version:

Thanks to the pandemic in particular, your employees have been dealing with elevated stress levels at work and at home. And for now, in most jurisdictions, the stress of working in masks, social distancing, and dealing with customers just as irritated as everyone else, all in increasing summer heat, is going to go on for some time.

And while some jurisdictions are rushing to lift restrictions, remember that the recent pattern has been for spikes in new COVID-19 infections to follow relaxed restrictions. This is discouraging and only compounds the stress on people.

Time . . . Your to give

So how do you deal with this and reward employees, especially when the shop’s budget is under strain and trying to recover from eighteen months of pandemic?  Time off. Time is the one commodity you have to give and it’s a commodity always appreciated.

Here are some ideas:

  • Provide an extra break.
  • Give the occasional two-hour lunch and perhaps order in pizza or a dessert.
  • Give two-hour lunch one day a week for a month.
  • Give a day off.
  • Give a three-day weekend.
  • In an exceptional case give a week off.

You can probably think of many more ways to use time to help your employees in the current stressful circumstances.

Printing on canvas

The thumbnail version:

  • The demand for canvas prints is on the rise
  • You have the technology and the material

The full version:

It seems to be catching on among photographers and artist—having their work printed on canvas. And the good news is that your Roland printer can do this.

Your new customer

Canvas prints are particularly suited to art usually produced on canvas in the first place—it gives the print a more authentic look. But this doesn’t mean that usually “smooth-finish” pieces such as photographs can’t or shouldn’t be reproduced on canvas with a pleasing result; they certainly can. I know a Calgary bird photographer that regularly receives orders for prints on canvas.

Stanley’s stocks a canvas supplied by Roland for use on your Roland equipment. So why not consider positioning your shop as a canvas printing specialist and go after that market of photographers and artists that seems to be growing?

The impact of COVID-19 on your marketing plan

The thumbnail version:

  • COVID has changed customer behavior.
  • Your shop has to adapt.

The full version:

The customer has changed the way they want to do business and how they want us to supply them

BDC confirms that CVID-19 is having a significant impact on customer behavior. It requires that businesses recognize that online sales are trending sharply upwards and that customers’ preferences are changing. This requires an adaptation of marketing plans.

Quoting Martin Wiedenhof, BDC offers 5 adaptations to help businesses meet the challenges of this changing marketplace;

  1. Survey your customers to find out what you have to change to meet their changing demands.
  2. Create a revised sales forecast using the information gleaned from customers.
  3. Plan for a variety of scenarios such as fewer than anticipated sales or greater than anticipated sales.
  4. Revamp your marketing plan once you have worked through steps 1 to 3 above.
  5. Get online and be creative in finding ways to market.

There is obviously more to this topic than we can cover in this format, so you have homework to do. Many of us don’t readily embrace change, unfortunately though, we’ve reached a point where we have no choice but to react to the changing circumstances of the marketplace.

It was happening anyway, but COVID has given it impetus. Now we all have work to do.

 

Blade and cutter settings

The thumbnail version:

  • There are things you should know about blade and cutter settings
  • If the information below is not enough you can refer to Roland

The full version:

According to Lily Hunter of Roland, one of the most common questions asked by printers new to the business or unfamiliar with Roland equipment, is about blade and cutter settings.

Roland provides a Cutter Blade Reference Guide on their support page but, not surprisingly, it is often overlooked (even printers seem to have the try-it-first-read-the-instructions-later habit). So Hunter recommends three things in particular that you should note:

    1. Blade Extension – The tendency is to set the blade in the blade holder with the tip of the blade visible. While this sounds intuitive enough, it’s incorrect. We don’t actually need to see the blade. A colleague of mine described this the best – you should feel the blade, but not see it. Run the blade over a scrap piece of vinyl and see if it cuts it. Our reference guide (page 2) states that the best amount of extension to use as a starting point is half the thickness of a credit card. Next, do a cut test to determine if additional downforce is needed and/or more blade extension is required.
    2. Cut Force – If you’re doing a CutContour (contour cutting), the media should be cut with enough force/pressure that you do not see cut lines in your liner. Cut force is measured in grams force (gf). For some media, like our HeatSoft™ heat transfer material, too much cut force actually pushes the cut media edges into the liner, resulting in cut media that is difficult to weed. On page 3 of the guide, there are recommended blade settings for different types of media.
    3. 45º or 60º Blade? Offset? The angle of the blade design is referenced in degrees. The offset—the measurement from the middle of the blade to the edge of the blade—determines the turning radius. Typically, a 45º blade is a multi-purpose blade for most media <3 mil. A 60º blade is best for thicker media (>3mil.)

For a more detailed discussion of cutter settings refer to the Roland website or reference guides.

Publicity

The thumbnail version:

  • If the market doesn’t know your shop exists, it can’t do business with it.
  • Publicity is essential.

The full version:

This is not a new topic, but it’s an important one—publicity for your shop.

It’s just common sense, the more widely you promote your shop, the more it will be known, and the more it is known, the more likely you are to attract business.

And publicity doesn’t have to be costly. For instance, magazines like Sign Media will publish stories about your shop and it’s more interesting work. But the media isn’t the only avenue for publicity. There are many creative things you can do to attract publicity for your shop, all you have to do is commit to giving the matter some thought.

We all have different comfort levels but you may try pushing a bit beyond your comfort level for the sake of publicity, However, you might not want to do something as extreme as Richard Branson when he was filmed water skiing with a naked woman clinging to his back as a publicity stunt. That kind of thing may not fall within your comfort level, but there are things you can do to publicize your shop well within your comfort level. It does however require a commitment and some creativity.

If the market doesn’t know that your shop exists, it can’t do business with it.

Vehicle wrapping is still an expanding sector of the industry

The thumbnail version:

  • The demand for wrapping is growing
  • Advancements in material have made wraps easier to do

The full version:

Sign Media Magazine has published an update on the vehicle-wrapping sector of the industry; it’s well worth the read.

The demand for wraps is growing and it’s not confined to vehicles.

The bottom line is that it is still growing. As one printer is quoted as saying, “Even though most businesses have company vehicles, many still don’t wrap their vehicles to advertise their services.” I’d say that this provides a marketing opportunity.

Advances in materials have made it easier for installers. Pressure-sensitive adhesive vinyls are no longer so prone to trapping air bubbles, premature adhesion, and other installation problems of the past. In addition, they can now be removed quite easily leaving no damage to the original surface.

As you look to expand your shop’s offering, if you’re not already wrapping, it may be something you want to explore. In fact, nowadays wrapping is not limited to vehicles. Sign Media quotes one printer (wrapper?): “I travel all over the country wrapping cars, walls . . . all sorts of things. The market has really expanded over the past several years.”

What additional incentves do you need?

Emerging from the pandemic . . . time to consider rebranding?

The thumbnail version:

  • Rebranding may be the boost your shop needs
  • Also, it may not; it depends.

The full version:

Richard Gradner, writing for Mustard, a  creative and digital agency, recently noted that 2021 may be the time to rebrand. He quotes McKinsey who apparently showed that businesses with strong branding outperform competitors, and a Harvard Business School study that apparently found that consistent branding is one of the most valuable characteristics of modern brands.

He offers 5 reasons to consider rebranding: (1) Vision (take your business in a new direction?); (2) Competitors (What are they doing? You may want to rebrand to differentiate your business); (3) Target market (Has your target market changed since you launched your brand?); (4) Mergers (Is your brand part of a family of brands? Does it need to rebrand to communicate a stronger message?); and (5) Boring (has your target market become bored with your brand?).

So does this automatically apply to a small business such as, say, your sign shop? Well, that depends. If business is lagging and your shop is struggling, sure, rebranding may give it a new lease on life. On the other hand, if customers are beating a path to your door and you can’t keep up with demand, there’s an old saying that applies: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Give it some thought and then decide whether you should consider rebranding and, if so, what it would involve.

E-commerce; the shipping whens and hows.

The thumbnail version:

  • Shipping is an essential aspect of e-commerce
  • Customers generally have unrealistic delivery expectations

The full version:

FedEx recently hosted a webinar for the benefit of small business. One of the ten topics dealt with shipping. This is not surprising because, as you’d expect of an organization that moves 16 million packages a day (air and ground services combined), they’d know a few things about shipping.

First of all, you must develop your shipping and return policy and state it clearly on your website. Then you need to cater to the typically impatient customers who always seem to have unrealistic delivery expectations. Be clear when the order is expected to ship, when it will likely be delivered, and what it will cost. Allowing them to trace the shipment is a big added-value item. And then, having committed in this way, make sure your shop meets the customer’s expectations.

Something important that was not mentioned in the webinar but should have been, is attention to how you package your shipments. We can’t all go to the extent required to match, say, Apple’s legendary packaging, but we can make an effort to pack effectively, in a box that gives a good impression, and perhaps toss in a surprise such as a bag of cookies, candy, or even a chocolate bar. You’d be surprised how inexpensive it is to make a favourable impression.

And why should you do all this? Because if you don’t, your competitors will get the sign order next time.

One-on-ones

The thumbnail version:

  • Employee management is hard.
  • One-on-ones can make it easier.

The full version:

Employee management is hard. The whole thing from hiring, to training, to retaining, to firing—it’s all hard. So any tips or concepts that can make it easier should be welcome.

Here’s a concept that’s bound to make the managing aspect a bit easier; it’s known as one-on-ones. One definition goes like this: One-on-ones are recurring discussions (every two weeks or so) between you and someone who works directly below you. In them, employees are given the time, space and platform to talk about whatever’s important to them – work-related or not.” I’m not entirely convinced about the “or not” part, but you use your discretion.

Even during a pandemic, or between remote locations, you can still do one-on-ones.

The aim is to build a relationship on an individual level, and for you to show that they’re important to the business and that you’re committed to their development. They benefit the employees but letting them know that they have the space to air their opinions, thoughts and problems. For the employer it’s an opportunity to better understand their employees’ strengths and weaknesses, what they need to do a good job, and how to best handle them in terms of assigning tasks.

The key of course is to be genuinely committed to the concept and to then manage the one-on-ones properly. If it comes across as a pain in the neck that you’re only doing because you read somewhere that it is a good idea, then you’d be better off not doing it. However, commit to doing it genuinely and properly, and you’ll likely boost morale and find that employee management becomes easier.

Your shop doing e-business? Considered cyber insurance?

The thumbnail version:

  • Cybercrime is running rampant
  • Even small businesses are targets
  • You can now get insurance coverage

The full version:

Protect your e-commerce site against this character

I was recently told about something I wish I’d had about almost 15 years ago when my e-commerce site was hacked. It took two months of downtime and $8,000 to restore the two hundred or so vandalized files.

A cyber insurance addition to our regular business insurance policy would have helped a lot. According to the broker who told me about this, it’s and easily and relatively inexpensive (he mentioned an additional premium of about $200) addition to a business policy.

Given the extent of cybercrime nowadays, if you’re doing business online, cyber insurance is something you should call your broker about today. If you’re already covered, it wouldn’t hurt to revisit the policy to make sure that the coverage is adequate—it could save you a lot of frustration, lost business, and money.

Roland’s Versaworks 6 Job Assistant

 

The thumbnail version:

  • Versaworks 6 is a powerful RIP Software
  • It drives Roland DG’s equipment and inkjet technologies.
  • See the recent upgrades

The full version:

Since Versaworks 6’s launch the program has routinely been updated with improvements, new features, and added functionality.

Last year a feature called the Job Assistant was added to the program. This tool provides an intuitive way to create and modify CutContour and PerfCutContour paths within a PDF that’s had no previous cut line preparations.

In short, as explained by Roland:

  1. PDF files containing vector data can be loaded into the Versaworks Queue
  2. From there you can right click the file and open the Job Assistant
  3. This opens a new window where you can then select a PDF page and create cut line data with primitive shapes or vectors referenced in the file
  4. You can finally assign them as the cut path type of your choice

Here, by way of a fuller explanation, is Roland’s video on Versaworks 6: Click here for the video.

Diversified your sign shop into direct-to-garment printing with a Roland VersaSTUDIO BT-12?

The thumbnail version:

  • Should you pretreat your garments?

The full version:

Roland’s BT-12 direct-to-garment printer.

According to Roland, one of the most frequently-asked questions about direct-to-garment printing with their BT-12, is whether one has to pretreat the garments.

Printers ask because it is well known that generally when direct-to-garment printing on dark garments it is advisable to pretreat. This is because it helps white ink adhere to the garment before CMYK colours are applied as well as helping with colour vibrancy.

However, as Roland points out, the BT-12 is a CMYK printer primarily intended for printing on light substrates and therefore pretreating is really a moot point.

But, if in spite of this, you have reason to pretreat your garments just know that there are things you need to know before pretreating. You have research to do.

Three things to consider for a successful resumption of “normal” business

The thumbnail version:

  • We may finally be getting close to business as “normal”
  • There are three things you must consider as you get ready for “normality”

The full version:

We’re at different stages of resuming “normal” business across the country. But as the vaccination numbers go up we should be anticipating returning to “normal” business. But this reminds us to remind you of something we pointed out last year when at one stage it appeared that we were getting closer to “normal” than it turns out we were:

You are going to need three key things to effect a successful reopening:

  1. Safety (social distancing, hand washing, masks, notices etc.);
  2. Liquidity (cash to operate); and
  3. Creativity (adjusting to and taking advantage of a changed way of doing business)

If you’re not sure how to deal with any or all of the above, seek advice. They’re all going to be important for your shops’ survival for at least the foreseeable future.

When your Roland is going to be down for a while

The thumbnail version:

  • Downtime requires preparation.

The full version:

Following on after the previous post, here are tips specific to your Roland printer that should be taken before it stands idle for any length of time. These maintenance measures will ensure that when you’re ready to fire it up again, it will function properly.

A common concern is about clogging. Manual cleaning before shutting down would have helped ensure that clogging and related issues don’t occur now when you get going again. Yes we know, 20-20 hindsight is great but perhaps you can keep it in mind for the future. In any case, regular cleaning even during normal operating times is essential to keep the equipment in good operating condition.

In addition to all this, turning off at the front panel but leaving the primary power source on (per the switch at the back) will allow the automatic maintenance system to kick in while you’re away.

And, of course, if away for an extended period of time, keep the equipment covered as protection against dust.

Preventative maintenance is a very good habit to develop for all equipment but particularly so for sensitive printing equipment.

Who knows what the future holds with regards to shutdowns, so even if you missed some of these measures before, keep them in mind for the future.

Cleaning liquid-ink printers before resuming production

The thumbnail version:

  • Liquid-ink printers have been idle for periods during the recurring pandemic lockdowns
  • These printers are designed to be in continuous production
  • Idle printers must be cleaned manually before resuming production

The full version:

Okay, so don’t let him anywhere near your printer . . . but you get the message—clean your machine

With increasing talk of easing restrictions on businesses as more and more people are vaccinated against COVID-19, this is a good time to repeat the important points in an article by Bryan Ballreich writing for Sign Media Canada last year. What he wrote then applies in equal measure now.

Ballreich wrote 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?

“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.”

BOSCIes are back

The thumbnail version:

  • It’s time again to enter the BOCSI Awards.
  • It’s a must for serious shops.

The full version:

Every year we encourage Stanley’s sign printers to enter the Best of Canada’s Sign Industry Awards. It’s that time of the year again. This year there are 12 categories to cover every aspect of the sign industry.

So why should your shop enter? Morale booster for the staff, good exposure, excellent exposure if you win or place, a goal to shoot for, and a purpose to pursue. There are probably other reasons too but do you really need more?

So, here’s the link for details and to register

 

Webinars on demand from Roland

The thumbnail version:

  • Knowledge gives you an advantage over the competition
  • Roland webinars offer knowledge

The full version:

In today’s fast-moving, competitive sign industry, having an edge over your competitors can pay big dividends. Superior knowledge is an obvious edge. One way to gain knowledge is by allocating time every day to learning something new. Unfortunately, the all-too-common excuse for not doing so is: “I’m just too busy!”

But as a business author recently noted when told that someone was too busy to read about a particular topic that could benefit their business, “Saying that you’re too busy to acquire new knowledge is a bit like saying you’re too busy driving to stop for gas.” Similarly, owning a piece of production equipment and not bothering to update yourself on the latest information on what it can produce, is like being to busy driving to stop for gas.

One of the benefits of owning Roland equipment is that you have access to an archive of webinars. All you need to do is prove that you’re an owner by entering the model and serial number when asked, and you’re on your way to discovering more about what your equipment can do.

So, click here and pick your webinars. 

Lessons about staff retention from a fast food chain

The thumbnail version:

  • A lesson from an outstanding performer in its industry
  • It’s all about the training and retention of staff

The full version:

A “well-trained, happy staff” lesson from a fast food business

Pal’s Sudden Service is an exceptional performer in the fast food business. With locations in Tennesee and Virginia it’s pretty much your standard burger joint but with a difference—it’s noted for its speedy service (about 18 seconds at the drive-up window and about 12 seconds at the handout window) and it’s exceptionally low error rate (about 1 in 3.600 orders).

This level of performance is said to be almost entirely due to the long-serving, well-trained staff. The CEO draws parallels between professional athletes and his staff—the smooth, fluid way in which they perform all comes down to training and and skill building. And because so much is invested in them, the staff are happier and stay longer.

In his interview with Bill Taylor who wrote an article about the absurdly low rate of staff turnover at Pal’s, the CEO said: “People ask me, ‘What if you spend all this time and money on training and someone leaves?’ I ask them, ‘What if we don’t spend the time and money, and they stay?'”

How’s the training and staff retention in your sign shop?

Sign of the times? Going online?

The thumbnail version:

  • Competition is tough in the sign business.
  • The pandemic is forcing a revision of business models.
  • Should your business model now extend your reach and include an online service?

The full version:

Ordering a sign on your e-commerce site

What about this for a business model addition for a sign shop. Imagine mulling over this idea . . . What if my shop offered signs online? We could include all the techniques and substrates we offer now. Maybe we can even expand our offering. We’ll have an e-commerce site for customers to order from anywhere in North America,

Sounds like a good idea? Take it a step further . . .  We could have them order online and offer next day shipping. They can create custom sings on our site or use one of the ready-made designs we offer with just few clicks. We will offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Still sounds like a good idea? Well, it is, and sign shops are already doing it. For example, check out www.squaresigns.com in California.

Difference between monomeric and polymeric vinyl (or a video about pizza dough)

The thumbnail version:

  • The difference between monomeric  and polymeric vinyl explained

The full version:

If you don’t quite understand the difference between monomeric and polymeric vinyl films, or if you want an easy way to explain to it someone else, or if you’re just curious about what heck pizza has to do with it, watch this (click here). 

 

Profiling your shop

The thumbnail version:

  • Potential customers can’t become customers if they don’t know you exist
  • Sign Media Association of Canada wants to profile your shop

The full version:

One way to generate business is to bring your shop to the attention of as wide an audience as possible. And one way to bring your shop to as wide an audience as possible is to take advantage of Sign Media Association of Canada’s offer to profile it in their magazine.

It’s a service for members, which is just another reason why you should be a member.

Almost 20 years ago Seth Godin wrote Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. The premise was that in a field of regular cows, a purple cow would stand out, it would be noticeable. The “purple cow” concept applies to your shop inasmuch as if you make it noticeable (as in having it profiled in an industry magazine and other places) it can only help generate business.

Customers can’t do business with your shop if they don’t know it exists.

 

This Roland app makes scheduled maintenance easier

The thumbnail version:

  • Scheduled maintenance is probably not what you’d do for fun.
  • Roland has an app that may not make it fun, but will make it easier.

The full version:

Roland has a maintenance app you can download from the Apple or Android app store to guide you through scheduled maintenance of your printer.

The Roland Mobile Panel 2 app covers all the steps in detail—everything right down to opening and closing the covers is spelled out in detail for you to follow.

This means  that not only does the Roland Mobile Panel 2 make it easier for you to perform the necessary tasks for keeping your printer in optimal shape, it also makes it easier for you to train a new hire, or production staff, on the best practices for these devices.

The Roland Mobile Panel 2 is something you should definitely explore.

A year of pandemic yields advice on crisis management

The thumbnail version:

  • The pandemic is yielding survival tips.
  • Diversification and an online presence are on the menu.

The full version:

It has been just over a year now and how-to-survive stories are appearing.

It’s always useful to know how colleagues and competitors in the industry have fared, not only as a yardstick against which to measure your shop’s performance but also as a planning tool for the future. You can be sure that COVID-19 isn’t going to be the last “disaster” the industry and your shop is going to have to negotiate.

Sign Media Canada interviewed sign shop owners who, among other advice, offered this:

Geoff Orlick of Quality Designs in Campbell River: “Diversify, diversify, diversify. The sign industry is vast and fast moving. Listen to your customers’ requests for products you don’t sell, and when the same product request is made repeatedly, it’s time to broaden your production base.”

Ernest Florentino of Sign Den Graphics of Mississauga: “One great lesson I learned with this pandemic is the importance of having s strong online presence. You need to have an effective website, and you should make use of social media, particularly Instagram, to post recent jobs and highlight products you specialize in.”

There you have it. Some good advice from colleagues.

Young Professionals Network

The thumbnail version:

  • Under 35? Join the YPN!
  • Email address for inquiries below.

The full version:

If you are 35 years old or younger, you can join the Young Professionals Network (YPN). Or, if you’re older than 35 and concerned about the future welfare of the industry, you may want to encourage younger employees or associates to join.

YPN’s goal is to strengthen the signage and graphics industry for the next generation. They aim to do this by providing networking events with industry leaders, providing education and mentorship opportunities, and providing online resources for professional development.

The only prerequisite is that the applicant should be a Sign Association of Canada member, which should be a given anyway.

The quickest way to get more information on this great idea is to email carla.wintersgill@signs.org

 

 

New equipment — look before you leap

The thumbnail version:

  • In the excitement of buying new equipment there are important considerations you should not overlook.

The full version:

I really want that new equipment but . . . .

A recent article by Mark Wallis writing for Sign Media Canada had some sound advice for shop owners thinking of acquiring additional equipment. The article is well worth a read because it covers the kind of thing that many small business owners tend not to consider in any depth when making important business decisions such as buying new equipment. Here is an overview of those things:

  1. Who will operate the machine?
  2. Will you have to hire more people and will there be a cost of training involved?
  3. What about maintenance costs?
  4. What does upkeep involve (regular services etc.)?
  5. Do you have enough power to run the equipment?
  6. What additional equipment will you need to make the new item run?
  7. Are you going to run into safety issues?
  8. Do you have the space for the new equipment?
  9. What is the depreciating factor? Will you be able to recover your money if you sell it?

This is all good advice to consider in advance of committing to any new equipment.

 

Generosity as a business marketing strategy

The thumbnail version:

  • Generosity generates business
  • Do you use generosity as a marketing strategy?

The full version:

A recent article in Sign Media Canada about how some shops coped with the COVID-19 pandemic to date and are planning for the post-COVID world, mentioned something in passing that prompted me to ask this question: “Do you use generosity as a marketing strategy. And if not, why not?”

The owner of the sign company featured in the article mentioned that every year they give away thousands in donated and discounted signs. This struck me as incredibly generous but then I realized that it is also a clever marketing strategy. Generosity generates positive impressions, and positive impressions generate business.

So, to repeat, do you use generosity as a marketing strategy and, if not, why not?