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 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



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?


Vehicle wraps migrating from business to consumer

The thumbnail version:

  • Wraps for private vehicles are taking off

The full version:

The Roland website recently featured some incredible vehicle wraps. The idea was to celebrate the long way vehicle graphics have progressed in recent years. They’re more sophisticated and installed with greater efficiency than ever before.

Image per Roland DGA

Coincidentally, Sign Media Canada in a recent article titled, “A market the industry has just started to tap,” addresses this growing aspect of the sign industry as well. They define vehicle graphics as “the practice of supplying a specially designed vinyl-wrapping film directly to the painted surface of a vehicle. The purpose is to change the colour or appearance of the vehicle for personal preference or to display a commercial message.”

The point here is that whereas wraps were almost exclusively for commercial purposes, the upward growth of this aspect of the sign industry is due to consumers decorating their private vehicles. And while one might assume that a wrap could improve the appearance of an older beater with a deteriorating paint job, brand new, high end vehicle’s such as Alpha Romeos, Range Rovers, and Jaguars are being wrapped.

Is your sign shop on board with this new business opportunity? You have the Roland equipment. What’s holding you back?

Making lemonade in the time of COVID

The thumbnail version:

  • COVID and some sign companies taught us a lesson
  • Are we going to learn from it?

The full version:

As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold a year ago and businesses felt the impact through forced quarantines and lockdowns, we began urging sign shops to see it as an opportunity.

You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that there was going to be a big demand for a whole new range of signs—”stand here”; “wait there”; “walk in this direction”; “wear a mask”; “sanitize your hands”; “social distance”; and “only 5 admitted at a time”, to name just a few. Suddenly floor signs were in demand in huge numbers.

The new range of signs were easy for sign shops—same basic product, just different emphasis. At the outset of the pandemic there was a desperate demand for PPE—a little less easy to produce than signs, but also doable.

Now articles are beginning to emerge about sign shops that successfully hit the reset button. They not only survived the past year, but actually thrived. And therein lies a lesson for the rest of the industry if I may recall a trite expression—when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Employee rewards—dump the predictable and routine

The thumbnail version:

  • Employee rewards are a great way to boost morale
  • The usual, predictable, annual “rewards” like the Christmas party are not appreciated as much as you might think they are
  • Reward thoughtfully throughout the year

The full version:

Joel Slutzky, the former Chairman of Odetics Inc, now chair of Maxxess Systems, is quoted in 1001 Ways to Reward Your Employees, as having once said, “I prefer things that are spontaneous. Things I hate the most are the routine, expected things like an annual company picnic.” He could have added other examples like another Canadian favourite—the annual employees’ Christmas dinner.

Can this thing just be over, please?

Some of these events are among the most awkward and unenjoyable ever attended in my career. You can end up having to make small talk with the boss’s wife, or deal with a drunk supervisor trying to hit on your date, or worse still . . . I think you get the picture. Even if your employees think that you’re a good boss, it doesn’t mean that they want to socialize with you.

So dump the predictable and routine “rewards” and do something unusual and spontaneous. And do it throughout the year; don’t wait for the year end. A day off on their birthday, a gift certificate for a nice dinner with their partner (without you there making it awkward), or tickets to an amusement park for their kids are all better ideas than the usual and predictable employee “rewards.”

But even if you have a staff that really enjoy an annual dinner or some other predictable event, it doesn’t let you off the hook for showing your appreciation with rewards throughout the year.

The impact of COVID-19 and your mental health

The thumbnail version:

  • Business is stressful; COVID has compounded the stress
  • Do not neglect your mental health

The full version:

We’re all looking forward to the end of this pandemic that seems to be dragging on forever. And we’re all talking about how to survive now and how to prepare for the post-COVID period. But we should be talking more about another important topic that’s not addressed often enough—our mental health.

The impact of stress can creep up on one, particularly over a period of continual stress as has been endured by many business owners and managers over the past year. In my chapter, Healthcare Professional, in Characters Who Can Make or Break Your Small Business, I wrote, “Even among small business owners who handle stress quite well, there are those—particularly men—who are foolishly macho about their health and seek help from a healthcare professional long after they should have, if they seek it all. Don’t be one of those people.”

It’s as valid today as when I wrote it three years ago. Don’t be one of those people.


Drupa also goes virtual

The thumbnail version:

  • Drupa 2021 replaced by a virtual event.
  • Presents an opportunity to attend the online event

The full version:

The print industry conference and show that takes place every four years in Düsseldorf, Germany has become another COVID victim. The 2021 event (re-scheduled from 2020) has been replaced by a virtual event to take place on 20th to 23rd April, 2021.

To remind you, Drupa is described by Wikipedia as “. . . the largest printing equipment exhibition in the world, held every four years by Messe Düsseldorf in Düsseldorf, Germany.”

It covers all types of printing. And because this year it is virtual, it may present an opportunity to find out a bit about trends and technological advancements internationally, attend virtual networking events, and attend presentations without having to incur any travel expenses.

Visit the Drupa website for more information and to register.

Umbrellas and canopies

The thumbnail version:

  • Roland promotes some good business ideas via their website
  • Right now canopies and umbrellas are hot

The full version:

if you’re not checking in on the Roland site regularly, you should be. Roland is pretty good about posting printing ideas to boost your shop’s profitability. A recent such idea involves what they say is a lucrative product, particularly now in these COVID-019 times—umbrellas and canopies.

Image per Roland DGA

Restaurants, golf course, and other entertainment businesses are encouraging outdoor dining, drinking and gathering to comply with COVID regulations. This has increased the demand for umbrellas and canopies—something that’s expected to grow as the warmer weather arrives in Canada.

Regardless of the type of Roland equipment you have, you can participate in this market. Everything from vinyl graphics to dye sublimation have possibilities. You can add logos, custom patterns, messaging and personalized graphics to umbrellas and canopies.

Check out the possibilities on the Roland site.

FORWARD — The ISA Sign Expo 2021- Virtual

The thumbnail version:

  • A sign industry virtual event you don’t want to miss

The full version:

April 7th to 9th is the ISA International Sign Expo 2021- Virtual. It’s a full month from now so you have plenty of time to plan to attend.

Join the hundreds of attendees who have already registered to hear thought leaders with their takes on what the future holds.

The Game Changer Session will feature Sheryl Connelly who will address coming trends that will revolutionize your business. Ms. Connelly’s job is Global Trends and Futuring at Ford Motor Company.

The Titan Talks Session will feature two industry executives, Guayente Sanmartin, General Manager of HP large Format Business, and Denise Rutherford, SVP of Corporate Affairs at 3M.

Go to ISA Sign Expo 2021 and register for free now before you forget and later regret it.

Reminder — April 30 deadline for scholarship applications

The thumbnail version:

  • A scholarship program for students of the sign industry
  • April 30th is the application deadline

The full version:

Printing United Alliance’s Student Scholarship Award program is accepting applications for the 2021-22 academic year. The deadline is April 30th, 2021.

Make a graphics student happy

If you currently have a student associated with your shop or if you have your eye on a student that you hope to snare for your shop once they graduate, it wouldn’t hurt to share this information.

Last year there were seven recipients from Ryerson University in Toronto. In total there is $50,000 available for educational assistance scholarships for graphics communications students.

These are the criteria they have to meet:

  • Currently attending a Printing United Alliance educational institution member school;
  • Enrolled to attend a college/university for the fall of 2021 semester as a full-time student (registered for 12 or more credits);
  • Committed to pursuing a career in printing or graphic communications; and
  • Maintain a cumulative 3.0 grade point average or higher on a 4.0 scale.

Sign Association of Canada’s “Breaking Barriers” endeavour

The Sign Association of Canada established a task force in 2019 to “support women in the sign industry, increase their visibility, and promote the industry as viable employment for women.”

Since inception the task force has been offering webinars and chances to connect. At a recent webinar expert guest speakers discussed the difficult times we’re dealing with right now, and how it is essential to practice kindness and offer support to team members. They also shared insights into balancing workload with motherhood, and how to look out for mental health issues (an area of increasing concern as the COVID pandemic drags on).

This is an important topic and just another example of the benefits of belonging to an industry association such as the Sign Association of Canada.


Magnetism and your sign shop

A recent article by Mike Gertz, writing for Sign Media Canada, discussed all the ways that magnetism can be used effectively in a sign shop.

Magnets . . . the key to greater efficiency in a sign shop.

Printable magnetic sheets immediately come to mind. They are of course a good substrate for promotional products, vehicle signs, calendars, menus, and a variety of of other applications—and they have been for many years.

But magnets are generally simple, reusable, maintain permanent power, have different strengths that can be matched with specific requirements, and are cost effective. This make them suitable for many applications that are not frequently mentioned and don’t readily come to mind.

For instance, here are some applications for magnetism in a sign shop:

  • Magnetic strip for holding non-metallic material in place.
  • Magnetic sign holders that are easily relocated and don’t require the drilling of holes in banners or walls.
  • Vehicle wrap magnets for holding wraps in place during application.
  • Tool holders such as a magnetic heat gun holder.

You can probably think of a number of additional applications in your shop, if you put your mind to it. It sounds like something worth doing.

Who prints these signs?

The thumbnail version:

  • Bad signs are not hard to find
  • Comprehensive quality control is important

The full version:

At least once a day I seem to be confronted with “what were they thinking?” signs. Sometimes they’re signs on businesses, sometimes they’re alongside roads, and sometimes they’re part of a crowd of signs at intersections near villages and small towns (this is common in rural Nova Scotia, for instance).

Often they’re hard to read because of bad colour choices, small text, and cluttered graphics, Sometimes when they can be read, they have silly mistakes, like the example here.

All of this makes one wonder why the print shops that produced the signs didn’t do better quality control. Surely a good shop doesn’t only offer great customer service and design advice, but also quality controls every aspect of a sign?

Sure, some of these sign errors are funny when exposed on the internet, but they don’t reflect well on the shops that produce them. How’s your shop’s quality control?

How are your digital objectives for 2021 doing so far?

The thumbnail version:

  • Your digital objectives need to be determined and implementation planned
  • It is never too late

The full version:

Okay, so you put it off and put it off and now it’s already halfway through February and you haven’t formally set your digital objectives for 2021 yet. Well, it’s not too late and, really, the calendar year 2021 has nothing to do with it—the neat and tidy January to December timeframe is an artificial construct for things like planning a digital strategy. it should be an ongoing exercise unconstrained by timeframes and deadlines.

Work on your digital strategy. It’s never too late.

So, what should you do now about your shop’s digital strategy? First decide what your digital objectives are and then set about determining how you’re going tot achieve them. This may require some outside assistance from an expert; don’t underestimate how much some outside guidance can save wasted time and money.

What you’ll likely be doing is: revamping your website (about 50% of people in some surveys say that a good website is a factor in gauging the credibility of a business); setting up blog or newsletter; perhaps do videos for your You Tube channel; set up a customer mailing list on a service such as Mail Chimp and schedule regular mailouts to your customer base; and implement reporting systems to keep track of responses and progress.

Time to get going; it’s the digital age.


Installing a mega sign (video)

The thumbnail version:

  • See the video of a huge sign installation

The full version:

Most sign shops will never be called upon to build and install a sign this size, but that’s not the point in bringing you this video. Anyone in the industry should find this project interesting. It seems that there are few limits to what the sign industry can do.

Click here and be fascinated. 


Your customer base as a barometer on the industry

No business, regardless of the industry they’re in, can can afford to keep their head down and allow the world beyond their walls to pass by unnoticed. So to try to stay in touch, the usual sources of industry intelligence they turn to include trade shows, trade journals, blogs, conferences, and even industry websites. But as useful as these  sources can be, they tend to provide intelligence from the “inside”—from the industry’s perspective.  What about the most important perspective—the customer’s perspective?

Customers see your shop and  industry from the perspective of their needs. They care more about what they want than what you have. And if you don’t have what they want, you don’t have a business.

Are you listening to your customers?

This is why customers’ questions, requests, inquiries, complaints, and product suggestions should be seen as a must-have source of intelligence. Business has a history of telling customers what they want instead of asking what they want. There’s an old and famous story about the appliance manufacturer whose sales were tanking until they went out and asked customers where they wanted to have the knobs on a stove instead of telling them where they would have them. They hadn’t been tapping into the intelligence available from their customer base and paid a price. They didn’t know what customers were expecting from them and their industry.

It’s a simple but powerful concept—gather intelligence from your customer base.