There is still a phone-answering problem

Don’t make your customers leave messages; answer the phone.

 

The problem is that smaller shops will allow calls to go to voicemail instead of answering them. Voicemail is not a good substitute for a real, live person. Customers and potential customers are an impatient lot and many will not wait for the return call or they’re skeptical and don’t believe the message about calling back soon. They’ll just go to one of your competitors. So if you absolutely can’t answer all your calls, sign up with a call-answering service; it’s bound to be cheaper than losing customers.

Advising sign customers against “cheap”

Cheap signs might be naive and short-sighted. Your customer needs to know this.

 

Does your shop just accept orders without question or does it offer advice to customers who may be going “cheap” at their own peril? Customers should know that signs reflect the nature and character of their business. Signs with poor design and an overall “cheap” look because of trying to trim the budget too much, might do more harm than good to a customer’s cause. Naive and inexperienced customers might not have given this much thought and might appreciate your advice. The trick is for you to sound like you’re helping, not upselling.

Roland — time to upgrade or expand?

Too many customers for your equipment to handle?

So your Roland (or Rolands) are doing very well for you. But have you looked at the possibility of upgrading or even adding to your equipment? We all like to see more demand for our business’s services or products but when we can’t deliver on time or can’t handle the volume, it can turn customers off and inhibit our growth. If this describes your situation, it’s time to call Rob or Graham at Stanley’s and see what they can do for you with additional equipment ideas.

Rob is at Stanley’s Edmonton – 780 424 414. Graham is at Stanley’s Calgary – 403 243 7722.

Thinking of exhibiting?

Why are you confusing us with so many choices?

 

Foamcoreprint.com puts out a lot of good material for printers and print users. For instance, here are the results of a study that support the idea that you need to keep your show booth simple and uncluttered. On consecutive Saturdays a high-end grocery store offered jam samples to customers. The first Saturday there were 24 flavours to choose from. The second Saturday, just 6. On the first Saturday 60% of people passing stopped to taste the jams. On the second Saturday 40% of people stopped and tasted. But, and its a BIG but, on the first Saturday when there was a big choice only 3% of tasters bought jam. On the second Saturday when there was a limited choice, 30% of tasters bought jam. So, the conclusion is that more isn’t better. The trade show booth lesson is to focus on a few key items and get rid of the unnecessary junk. People value simplicity when making decisions.

Stuff you should know

I should be telling my customers that!

 

Roland can be a great source of stuff you should know. For instance, here is something to refer to in your marketing and sales efforts; it’s straight from Roland: “The effectiveness of outdoor signage is supported by data results from a popular FedEx survey, revealing that 76% of people enter a store or business based on its sign, and 60% of the public are deterred from entering a store or business if it doesn’t have a quality sign.”

How not to boost profits in your sign shop

Cutting quality is no way to improve profitability.

Here’s a common story. See if you recognize it . . .  A sign shop is not meeting profit expectations. What is the first thing the owner does? Looks for more sales and cuts costs, right? And what is the obvious cost-cutting target? Material costs. But therein lies a problem inasmuch as cutting material costs usually means buying poorer quality materials which brings with it the risk of poorer quality output. And poorer quality output is not going to improve sales. So, rather than focusing on cutting material costs and risking lower quality output, look at overheads for savings, look for improved efficiency in operations, look for price increase opportunities, and look for an additional market area. But never cut quality; it’s false economy.

Who is your market and why should they be?

This Is Marketing as shown by Amazon

Seth Godin in his book, This Is Marketing, offers a simple template to develop a three-sentence promise as a basis for your marketing. You just have to think about it and complete these sentences:

First sentence: My product is for people who believe ………………………………………

Second sentence: I will focus on people who want …………………………………………..

Third sentence: I promise that engaging with what I make will help you get …………………………………….

Before you can market your sign shop, you must be clear about who your products and services are for. These sentences can help do that.

Stanley’s SAV-140G Print Vinyl

SAV-140G — Stanley’s workhorse vinyl.

SAV- 140G is quite simply Stanley’s house brand of print vinyl. It is sturdy, cost effective, and popular for indoor jobs. It offers an opaque finish. What else is there to say except to call Stanley’s if you want to know anything else about this workhorse vinyl?

What do people say about you?

 

Seth Godin, in his book, This is Marketing, points out that what you say about yourself, your business (in this case your sign shop), and your products, is not nearly as important as what people say about you. This is similar to the old adage that people like doing business with people they like.

Rewarding employees

 

Per Michael LeBoeuf: “With so many ways to reward people, you may ask, ‘How do I decide to reward each person?’ The answer is simple: Ask them.”

How do you go about rewarding your employees?

In the field with wrinkly vinyl and no heat gun?

Not just for grabbing, good for heating too.

 

Here’s a tip from Fluoresco Lighting of Tuscon . . . If you find yourself in the field applying vinyl and it decides to wrinkle, what can you do if you don’t have a heat gun? Well, try covering the area with your hands for about thirty seconds and that should be just enough to enable you to lay the wrinkle down.

Stanley’s BLO-610 Premium Blockout Banner

This is an 18 oz. banner with great printability and ink reception. It’s durable and well suited to outdoor applications, even in Canada’s aggressive weather. It copes well in wind as well. Call Stanley’s Edmonton, Calgary, and Richmond offices for more details or how this film can help you deliver great work to your customers.

The future of graphic design in a digital media age

Responding to opinions that the days of printed graphic media are numbered in an article on the future of graphic design, someone wrote: “As for print media, I still stand firm on it. There are just some things you can’t do in digital media: providing billboards, postcards, business cards, all sorts of media that you can feel and put in your hands. Sure, the volume may be less, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant.” Where do you stand on this?

Typeface trend for 2019

Typeface trend from U.K. for 2019

From Printsome in the U.K.: “After several years of domination in the Digital and Graphic world, sans-serif typefaces are giving way to the likes of Bookman and Old Style fonts once again in an effort to reclaim originality and expression, You’ll find the best uses of these styles in food packaging, artistic websites, fashion brands and luxury products. Digital products are excellent opportunities to break the mould of sans-series usage . . .”

What do you think? Give you any ideas?Worth taking note of for Canada?

Stanley’s B02-440 Premium Frontlit Banner

This is a white substrate for frontlit display and billboard applications. It offers a smooth surface and stable performance for vibrant and consistent print quality. Call Stanley’s Edmonton, Calgary and Richmond offices for more details or to discuss how this film can be used in your shop.

Recovering damaged roll of premask

Here’s a tip from Northstar Truck & Lettering of New Jersey. If you have a roll of premask tape that has been damaged by excess cold or heat in, say, your van, about 15 to 25 seconds in the microwave will apparently restore it to original usable condition. If the roll is too long, cut it in half as it’s better to have two smaller rolls than no roll at all. BUT DO NOT TRY THIS WITH CLEAR TRANSFER TAPE.

Stanley’s super smooth blockout banner

Here’s another in the family of Stanley’s films. It’s the Stanley’s Blow-440 Super Smooth Blockout Banner. As the name implies, it’s a super smooth 13oz blockout banner. It offers a true matte finish on a tightly-woven base fabric with a special coating for high resolution printing. Use it for hanging banners, post banners and displays. It’s printable on both sides. Rolls come in two sizes – 38″ or 54″ by 300 foot rolls. Fir more information, call or pop into Stanley’s Edmonton, Calgary, or Richmond branches.

Roland enters direct to garment printing.

Roland VersaStudio BT-12 Direct-to-Garment Printer.

At the recent Long Beach Show Roland showed their new direct-to-garment printer—the VersaStudio BT-12. This could be of interest to digital and sign shops looking to diversify. It obviously can’t offer the speed, volume, and diversity of textile screen printing equipment but for a digital and graphics shop asked to do small garment orders, it might be ideal. Wendy at Stanley’s, Calgary can tell you more but the essential details are that its print size is 8.5 ” x 11″, it prints on 100% cotton substrates, and costs about U.S.$5,000.

Stanley’s SoFlat Frontlit Non-Curling Scrimless Banner

With the popularity of roll-up displays this is a banner substrate you should know about. It’s seamless, super smooth, and non-curling at the edges. Solvent, eco-solvent or UV inks? No problem, use any of them. It comes in 36 inch wide x 300 foot long rolls. Stanley’s staff at Edmonton, Calgary, or Richmond can tell you more.

Simplicity in outdoor sign design.

Any doubt what is being sold here?

Leonardo da Vinci reportedly said: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Simplicity is also urged in effective sign design. For instance, just a few simple steps can deliver effective signs: understand the brand you are marketing or what you are selling; reduce it to a single thought and translate it into a single image; remove everything else (potential distracting clutter); use bright colours; use very few words; make the product or logo bold.

Stanley’s Print Media features five popular films

Do you know that Stanley’s offers a family of five popular films under their own brand name? Call or pop into their Edmonton, Calgary, or Richmond offices and ask about their film. They have: Stanley’s SoFlat Frontlit Non-Curling Scrimless Banner; Stanley’s Blow-440 Super Smooth Blockout Banner; Stanley’s B02-440 Premium Frontlit Banner; Stanley’s BLO-610 Premium Blockout Banner; and Stanley’s SAV-140G Print Vinyl. We’ll be featuring each of the five films in upcoming posts.

Henry Ford was wrong.

You need the break. Business 24-7 is unhealthy.

Henry Ford is reported to have said: “I do not believe that a man can ever leave his business. He ought to think of it by day and dream of it by night.” If he did indeed say this, and was implying a 24-7 business preoccupation, we must hope that he wasn’t addressing small business people like digital and sign shop owners. Today we know more about burnout and balanced, healthy lifestyles. And neglecting family, recreation, and ongoing education to be totally preoccupied with your business, hardly seems balanced or healthy and is flirting with burnout.

A little advice can go a long way.

Needs eye-catching colour and message and to be positioned on the sidewalk!

So your coffee shop customer asks for a window cling to promote a new selection of pastries. The coffee shop is on a street with a lot of passing foot traffic and the owner figures that a nice big window cling will do the trick. But this is where you come in . . . How many passers by are going to turn their head to look at the window? Wouldn’t the message be more easily seen if it were in their line of vision like, say, an A-frame sitting on the sidewalk? Value-added service such as good advice can impress and snare a repeat customer.

Printed signs holding their own against digital.

Digital signs and some of the amazing interactive technology associated with them seem to be stealing the limelight nowadays. But you wonder sometimes whether it isn’t a case of technology running around looking for an application. In other words, are all digital signs practical, cost effective, and a justifiable alternative to printed signs? As industry blogger, Arthur Piccio, noted in a 2016 post, “It’s usually far cheaper to print signs instead of investing in digital ones. Furthermore, digital signs have very particular maintenance issues and consume power even during the day.”

Add non-graphic content to your graphics

Have you noticed a growing eye-catching trend in advertising graphics such as wall murals, floor graphics, and signs? It’s where a non-graphic item is introduced to attract attention and compliment the graphics. For instance, an Adirondack chair in front of a mural promoting tourism in Newfoundland or skis, boots, and helmet with a resort promotion. Give you any ideas?     

Shop size

It’s an industry of mostly smaller firms.

Have you ever wondered how your shop’s staff size compares with the rest of the Canadian digital and sign industry? More than half (56%) have 10 or fewer employees. Another 15% have 11 to 20 employees. There are the 4% with a 100 or more employees but it’s still an industry of primarily small businesses.    

Where are the females?

I wonder why there are still so few of us in this industry?

Do you know that the sign industry in Canada is apparently dominated by men? And it’s not even close—77% of people employed in the Canadian sign industry are men according to Sign Media. There doesn’t seem to be any rational explanation at a time when in other industries parity is becoming the norm, and rightly so. What’s the ratio in your shop?

Typical employee benefits in the industry

The benefits where I work are great!

How does your shop compare when it comes to employee benefits? Of the 20 benefits enjoyed by employees of the sign industry in Canada listed by Sign Media, paid vacations topped the list at 77%—not a big surprise there. But here are some others: dental/group benefits 60%; medical insurance 55%; bonuses 53%; mobile phone 52%; paid sick leave 47%; and life insurance 46%. At the bottom of the list is an interesting item, gym membership 5%.   

Sign maker of the year

This could be you.

You know how we encouraged you to enter Sign Media’s Sign Maker of the Year competition? And you probably said, “Nah, don’t think so. We’re just a small shop in a small town.” Well, Speedpro Signs of Grande Prairie, Alberta has just been announced as a regional winner. Your shop too could win and enjoy the free publicity and bragging rights. But you have to enter. Target next year.