CUSTOMERS Thank You Notes
1 Mail thank you cards to clients after every completed job. These little gestures go a long way in establishing customer loyalty. And if you really want your thank you notes to leave an impression — literally — press your logo into sealing wax on the back of the envelope (see page 44).
INVESTMENT Labor and Capital
2 One sign company suggests that if you need to make a new hire or purchase/replace a piece of equipment to make it easier on your employees, do it. No matter the cost or stress, they say, it’s worth it. It doesn’t make sense to run good employees into the ground because you can’t hire a new one, or because they have to use equipment that’s outdated or broken. Take care of your employees and they will take care of your clients and your business.
DESIGN The Chorus Grows
3 “Charge for design and site surveys up front,” advises Raychel O’Donoghue, Lexington Signs & Graphics (Burlington, MA) — joining a number of sign pros who subscribe to the practice. Doing so weeds out tire-kickers and leaves you with quality, serious clients, she says.
MARKETING Freebies Pay Off
4 Give some of your best clients new sign products that you offer, with their logo on it, suggests a member of the Brain Squad who has done this many times. “One product in particular, we gave a die-shaped, pan-formed and illuminated sign to hang up in an office,” the industry pro writes. Shortly thereafter the client hired the company to provide signage for a new facility. “We ended up furnishing and installing the same scaled logo in the form of a 15 x 10 x 35-ft.-tall pylon sign as well as a similar wall sign among many other signs for the project,” the Squad member adds.
GOLDLEAF Sizing Hack
5 Water size in a spray bottle! “I saw it online in a post from New Bohemia Signs in San Francisco where they shout out Paul Banks in the UK for the idea,” says Seth Vargas, Sleight of Hand Signs (Oakland, CA). “But I have adopted it and it works great for patching holes in your gilds!”
For those not in the know, water size is distilled water mixed with gelatin used to bind goldleaf sheets to glass. “Usually it’s applied to glass via flooding with a brush or mop, but a bottle seems to work great as it doesn’t disturb the existing gold in place (flushing it out of place or away),” Vargas says.
SALES Specialized Order Forms
6 Work with property management companies that are always changing tenants? Usually the specs, fonts and colors don’t change on these types of orders, but nailing down all the signs a tenant needs to be updated on (directories, suite signs, directional signage) can be time consuming. So, create order forms for your loyal property managers to streamline the process.
COMMUNICATIONS Beyond Order Taking
7 Follow-ups and deep dives are critical. Many times when we just “take orders” we miss a ton of opportunities to help our clients on a larger scale and really move the needle for both their company and ours, one sign pro advises.
STAY CALIBRATED Keep An Eye on the Long Term
8 When an economic downturn hits, the most important thing to do is keep an eye on the long term, Sven Smit, a McKinsey senior partner, said during a McKinsey Podcast in 2020, noting that no recession in recent history has lasted more than two years. “In a recession, the response is, you go crazy. Cut, cut, cut. But don’t forget that the actions you take toward the future are as important as the actions that you take to respond to the event. In a recession, it will look very ugly very quickly. Ugly makes you respond with ugly, while the beauty, the prosperity, is ahead.”