Small doesn’t justify sloppy

The thumbnail version:

  • You can’t be sloppy and expect to compete with the big shops.
  • Improve your image and improve your competitive edge.

The full version:

It’s not the size. It’s the presentation.

The sign industry consists of printing companies large and small; some as small as one-person home-based shops. The problem for the smaller shops is that they are often competing for the same business as the bigger shops. And often the smaller shops are their own worst enemy in these situations by being sloppy about the image they put forth.

Bigger businesses tend to present polished images because they know that a “business-like” image gains them credibility with potential customers. Sadly, many smaller business just don’t get it. I’m not suggesting that you fake it by pretending that you’re big when you’re not because sooner or later you’ll be caught out and your credibility will be shot.

But there are measures you can take to present a polished image that will help to generate confidence. Nowadays a lot of people want to support smaller businesses but they don’t want to have to deal with sloppy. Here are some image-building things to which you should pay attention:

  • Make sure a polite, attentive, human being answers your shop’s phone within a few rings (you, an employee, an answering service—doesn’t matter who, just make sure it is answered).
  • Answer email inquiries promptly, even if it is to say you have the inquiry and will be in touch. Then follow up promptly.
  • Have professionally-designed and printed stationery  (cards, letterheads, envelopes, brochures etc.)
  • Dress in at least business-casual attire for meetings or customer visits.
  • Have an impressive well-put together portfolio of examples of your best work.
  • And of course it should go without saying that your product prices, quality, and service must be top-drawer.

You shouldn’t pretend to be big, just match big standards.