2022 Sign Contest: Best In-House Design and Fabrication, Non-Illuminated

2022 Sign Contest: Best In-House Design and Fabrication, Non-Illuminated

FIRST PLACE

This 24-ft.-tall cover subject and Best of Show winner took about two months to construct; however, because it was fabricated in four sections, it only took Ross Johnson Design (Rapid City, SD) a few short hours to assemble on site. Visitors can climb the themed, welded-steel staircase for an Instagrammable moment.

Fabricators
Imagination Corp. | Chilliwack, BC, Canada
imaginationcorporation.com | Michael Ulrich, Ben Keller

Designer: Dan Sawatzky

Installer: Ross Johnson and team, Ross Johnson Design Co.

Client: Sprockets Fun Foundry

Fabrication Equipment/Tools: MultiCam Plasma cutter, MultiCam 3000 series router, Miller welders and hand tools

Materials/Components: Welded steel, 30-lb. DUNA-USA Precision Board HDU, fiberglass reinforced concrete, Sherwin Williams acrylic paint

Software: Adobe Photoshop, SAi EnRoute Pro

SECOND PLACE

Staying within strict size parameters, the team translated the company’s picket-fence-style logo into an aluminum accordion shape, then mounted it on a concrete footer. A CNC router, Accu-Bend Model 26, plasma cutter, MIG welder, Roland VP-540 plotter, Multicam 3000 and BestCutter 2000W fiber laser were integral in the making of this piece. A slightly darker shade of green creates a shadow illusion on one side of the “pickets” for additional depth, while the business’s name and logo float horizontally in front of the folds.

Fabricator
Ion Art Inc. | Austin, TX | ionart.com

Designer: David Boulton

Installer: Ion Art Inc.

Client: Urban Simple

Fabrication Equipment/Tools: CNC router, Computerized Cutters Accu-Bend Model 26, paint booth, plasma cutter, MIG welder, Roland VersaCAMM VP-540, Multicam 3000, BestCutter 2000W Fiber Laser

Installation Equipment/Tools: Crane truck, ladder truck

Materials/Components: Aluminum, Matthews Paint, concrete

Software: Adobe Illustrator, Rhino5, CorelDRAW, SAi EnRoute

THIRD PLACE

Five individual custom cabinets painted dark teal, fixed to a custom 2-in. raceway and mounted to an existing concrete base are the basis for this project. Each of five layers of ¼-in. aluminum, custom-painted flat cut-outs (FCO’s) was individually painted a different color. Stencil painted grass adds a natural note.

Fabricators
RiNo Sign Works | Denver
Joe Banks, Nnamdi Ray | rinosignworks.com

Designer: Audrey Cramer

Installer: Ryan Zabrauskas

Client: Castle Rock Development Co.

Fabrication Equipment/Tools: Multicam CNC router, various Milwaukee power tools, paint booth

Installation Equipment/Tools: Various Milwaukee power tools

Materials/Components: Aluminum, AkzoNobel sign paint

Software: Adobe Illustrator, SAi Flexi, SAi EnRoute

PHOTO GALLERY (10 IMAGES)

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Published first here: https://signsofthetimes.com/2022-sign-contest-best-in-house-design-and-fabrication-non-illuminated/

New Fiery DFE for imagePRESS Lite C270 Series Printers

Electronics For Imaging, Inc., is introducing a powerful new EFI™ Fiery® digital front end (DFE) that helps make it easy for businesses to produce professional color prints and to bring print back in house, which can help limit the time and cost of outsourcing.

The new Fiery-powered DFE—the imagePRESS® Server M20—is a great choice for excellent color quality for workplace users to unleash the capabilities of the Canon imagePRESS Lite C270 Series and enhance output quality and color management.

New Fiery TrueBrand™ technology included with the DFE gives users outstanding control and accuracy in reproducing corporate brand colors using Microsoft® Office applications, a task that was previously a challenge for many office workers.

“Adding the advanced Fiery DFE technology to the imagePRESS Lite C270 Series printers from Canon can provide customers with excellent quality and even greater control over their output,” said Shinichi “Sam” Yoshida, executive vice president and general manager of Canon U.S.A., Inc. “The new, user-friendly imagePRESS Server M20 can help users to produce professional-looking output while limiting the need to outsource, and gives users the power to easily reproduce accurate brand colors in workplace documents.”

Available now, the imagePRESS Server M20 supports and enhances the imagePRESS C270 Series’ output quality to help meet professional printing needs in the workplace. It is also great for use in graphics shops and corporate in-plant production centers, as a walk-up device or with an operator. The core Fiery technology used on the server, EFI’s Fiery FS500 platform, gives users the power to quickly and efficiently handle complex printing needs with simple, intuitive tools.

“EFI Fiery—a leading DFE solution in print—makes getting terrific looking color prints easy and fast; and the new, Fiery-based server reduces the time needed to accurately print documents, including complex files and color-critical PDFs,” said John Henze, vice president of sales and marketing, EFI Fiery. “The server’s Fiery capabilities means users can have the ability to reduce outsourcing costs and make great impressions in print with high quality newsletters, sales flyers, booklets, corporate stationery, tradeshow promotions, personalized communications and more.”

Print It Right, the First Time, with Outstanding Color Quality

The imagePRESS Server M20 includes a powerful Fiery JobExpert™ software option that makes professional printing easy with its ability to automatically choose the optimal and most efficient way to produce every job.

Additional features include:

  • Upgraded security, including secure erase and data encryption that can help users protect company assets;
  • Fiery Edge™, an advanced and automated color profiling tool that helps provide stunning colors with smooth blends, outstanding shadow details, and superb image definition for even less experienced users;
  • Personalization capabilities using EFI’s award-winning variable-data print application, Fiery FreeForm™ Create; and
  • Fiery VUE, which simplifies the process for assembling multiple files into a single document.

In addition to the operational improvements that come with the new Fiery FS500 DFE platform, customers can benefit from the streamlined and efficient control and management capabilities of version 6.7 of Fiery Command WorkStation®Command WorkStation®—a widely used digital printing job management interface. Using Fiery Command WorkStation, users and managers alike can manage and submit jobs to any Fiery Driven™ printer on the network from a single desktop interface.

The imagePRESS Server M20 is available now from Canon U.S.A., Inc. and authorized Canon U.S.A., Inc. dealers.

—Press Release

The post New Fiery DFE for imagePRESS Lite C270 Series Printers appeared first on Sign Builder Illustrated, The How-To Sign Industry Magazine.

Published first here: https://www.signshop.com/graphic/digital-printing/new-fiery-dfe-imagepress-lite-c270-printers/

2022 Sign Contest: Best In-House or Outside Designed/Shop Fabricated Vehicle Wrap

2022 Sign Contest: Best In-House or Outside Designed/Shop Fabricated Vehicle Wrap

FIRST PLACE

Created using CorelDRAW and Onyx software, printed on 3M materials with an HP Latex machine, and applied to the company owner’s family bus using a squeegee, this rusty-looking wrap takes cues from Cousin Eddie’s ride in NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION. Design to completion only took four days, but the RV has since gone viral, with some TikTok and Facebook videos reaching more than four million views.

Fabricator
GCI Digital Imaging (GCI) | Cincinnati
gci-digital.com | Brett Otto

Designer: Jeff Rowland, GCI

Installers: Justin and TJ, GCI

Client: TJ Bedacht, GCI

Fabrication Equipment/Tools: HP Latex printer

Installation Equipment/Tools: Squeegee

Materials/Components: 3M vinyl

Software: CorelDRAW, ONYX

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SECOND PLACE

The base layer of this graphic was printed and laminated with a matte finish, while the text and logos were printed and laminated with a gloss, contour cut on a plotter and installed over the matte full coverage layer. Dimensional letters cut from gloss black acrylic make the company’s name stand out.

Fabricator
Puzzle Creative Solutions | Akron, OH | wearepuzzle.com

Designer: Puzzle Creative Solutions

Installer: Puzzle Creative Solutions

Client: Puzzle Creative Solutions

Fabrication Equipment/Tools: HP Latex 365, AXYZ 5 x 10-ft. CNC router, Seal 600 laminator, Mimaki CG-FX 60-in. vinyl plotter

Installation Equipment/Tools: Baker Scaffold, Image One Impact Extreme Magz, RollePro and Wet Edge squeegee, Pro Bond Adhesive Promoter, 3M Vehicle Channel Applicator Tool (VCAT-2)

Materials/Components: Avery Dennison MPI 1105 EZ Cast Vinyl, Avery Dennison DOL 1060Z Gloss and 1380Z Matte Cast Laminates, RTape application tape, Chemcast 1/4-in. black acrylic, 3M VHB tape

Software: Adobe Illustrator, ONYX Thrive 21 (RIP), Mimaki FineCut, Aspire CAM Software, Pro Vehicles Outlines

Other Components/Tools: Dupli-Color Matte Black Wheel Coating

THIRD PLACE

3M vinyl with luster laminate fully wrap one of three Christmas-themed Kiss Mobiles. The oversized Hershey Kisses are constructed from fiberglass with a rough texture and the graphics were applied to the entire body of the faux candy and plumes.

Fabricators
Stoner Graphix | Hummelstown, PA | stonergraphix.com

Designer
William Fox Munroe Inc.
Shillington, PA

Installer: Stoner Graphix

Client: The Hershey Co.

Fabrication Equipment/Tools: HP Latex 560 printer, GBC 2064WF-1 wide-format laminator

Materials/Components: 3M Vinyl and Scotchcal Luster Overlaminate

Software: Adobe Illustrator

PHOTO GALLERY (17 IMAGES)

The post 2022 Sign Contest: Best In-House or Outside Designed/Shop Fabricated Vehicle Wrap appeared first on Signs of the Times.

Published first here: https://signsofthetimes.com/2022-sign-contest-best-in-house-or-outside-designed-shop-fabricated-vehicle-wrap/

2022 Sign Contest: Best In-House Design and Fabrication, Illuminated

2022 Sign Contest: Best In-House Design and Fabrication, Illuminated

FIRST PLACE

Open-face aluminum letters, LED cove lighting, carnival-style LED bulbs and a programmed flasher come together in this sign for a drive-thru coffee shop that operates out of an Airstream trailer. Set on an adjacent building, the sign’s LED perimeter illuminates the sequins placed on its interior backs.

Fabricators
Ace Sign Co. | Springfield, IL
acesignco.com | Shad Eskew

Designer: Ryan Swaar

Installer: Tyson Horacek

Clients: Ashley Kochniarczyk | The Coffee Can

Fabrication Equipment/Tools: Laser, CNC, Matthews Paint

Installation Equipment/Tools: 35-ft. Elliot

Materials/Components: Sign sequins, open-face fabricated aluminum letters, LED cove lighting, carnival-style LED bulbs, programmed flasher

Software: Adobe Illustrator

SECOND PLACE TIE

Designed to replicate the 1928 marquee, this project involved building a new structure that could support a combined 14,162 lbs. — including a 42-ft.-tall blade with service ladders and bump bars that mimic the original. The lower marquee is home to two EMCs, a hand-carved HDU centerpiece, stained-glass boxes illuminated by low-lumen LED modules, and a multi-level bulb raceway ceiling.

Fabricators
Wagner Electric Sign Co. | Elyria, OH | wagnersign.com

Designer: Eric E. Larsen

Installer: Wagner Electric Sign Co.

Client: Capitol Theatre

Fabrication Equipment/Tools: CNC routers, shears, hand tools, welders

Installation Equipment/Tools: 140-ft. crane, 35-ft. service truck

Materials/Components: Aluminum, steel, acrylic, HDU, LED marquee bulbs, electronic message centers

Software: CorelDRAW

SECOND PLACE TIE

The team crafted this entrance monument sign with an Onsrud CNC router and a metal brake. Natural stone veneer and stained wood boards provide rustic textures, while aluminum routed in the form of a buck, tree and leaves was painted for an iron look. Routed, push-thru acrylic letters with an opaque black vinyl inset help the text stand out. LEDs light up the silhouette at night.

Fabricators
Bakers’ Signs & Manufacturing | Conroe, TX | bakerssigns.com

Designer: Thomas Turner

Installer: Bakers’ Signs & Manufacturing

Client: Desert Rose Properties

Fabrication Equipment/Tools: C.R. Onsrud CNC router, Computerized Cutters Accu-Bend channel bender, metal brake, HP digital printer, plotter

Installation Equipment/Tools: Two crane trucks, footer auger, concrete truck

Materials/Components: Steel pylons, concrete, aluminum, white acrylic, white LED modules, digitally printed and laminated graphics

Software: Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, SAi EnRoute

Other Components/Tools: Commercial paint equipment

PHOTO GALLERY (13 IMAGES)

The post 2022 Sign Contest: Best In-House Design and Fabrication, Illuminated appeared first on Signs of the Times.

Published first here: https://signsofthetimes.com/2022-sign-contest-best-in-house-design-and-fabrication-illuminated/

If You Don’t Like My Prices, Here’s a Box of Crayons

Things you wanted to say to frustrating clients, but didn’t.

“I’ll provide you with an old paper bag and a box of crayons.”

To the customer who balked at my price and informed me what they thought a yard sign ought to cost. For that price they might just be able to afford to make their own sign.

Woulda Coulda Shouldas are collected from the Signs of the Times Brain Squad and shared anonymously.

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a signage and graphics company in the US or Canada, you’re invited to join the Signs of the Times Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute survey each month, you will receive access to some of the industry’s freshest data on sales — including your fellow members’ comments on what’s selling and what isn’t — and can make your voice heard on key issues affecting the sign industry. Sound good? Sign up here.

The post If You Don’t Like My Prices, Here’s a Box of Crayons appeared first on Signs of the Times.

Published first here: https://signsofthetimes.com/if-you-dont-like-my-prices-heres-a-box-of-crayons/

I’m Asking the Questions Here! Shop Owner Turns the Tables on Signs of the Times

Scan this code to watch the Media 1 Wrap This YouTube episode featuring Dale interviewing Mark at the ISA Expo.

I CAN’T EVEN begin to tell you how many columns I have written for Signs of the Times magazine. Over decades, it must be hundreds … on all kinds of sign-related topics. During my career as an ST columnist, I have covered topics ranging from specific Media 1 Wrap This projects, to tutorials on how to run, organize and hire for your business. (Well, they weren’t actual “tutorials.” They were just me spouting off on our adventures in the sign industry, good and bad.)

We’ve made it a point over the years to be as candid and open as possible about our triumphant successes, with an equal and opposite sprinkling of our epic failures and pitfalls. Hopefully, we have saved someone out there in Sign Land some heartache, learning from our (mis)adventures.

But in all this time, I have never written a column about Signs of the Times itself. That is, until now!

This past May, my business partner Rick Ream and I had the privilege of attending the 2022 ISA International Sign Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. We secured press passes and brought our YouTube series video production company along for the ride. Our purpose there was to interview some heavy hitters in the industry, such as 3M, HP, AkzoNobel, Grimco, Glantz and Tubelite, so people who couldn’t make it to the show would be able to watch our episodes on each, and find out the latest and greatest in the industry.

One of our first stops was the Signs of the Times booth, where we enjoyed a sit-down with Editor-in-Chief extraordinaire, Mark Kissling. Well, it was actually a stand-up. Mark told me they were saving the chairs for the important people : ) Here are some quick facts from that interview that even we didn’t know!

First, did you know that ST was founded more than a hundred years ago — in 1906 — by the same company that founded Billboard magazine? Yep, the music industry behemoth! (Mark said he wasn’t the editor back then, but I believe he was typesetting the Gutenberg press at that time…)

Also, after four generations of ST Media Group/Swormstedt-family ownership, in September of 2020, the company was acquired by SmartWork Media, a New Jersey-based company already specializing in business-to-business publications in different sectors.

Starting with a major redesign of both look and content in April 2021, the magazine has changed dramatically. And I, for one, am loving those changes. The magazine now reflects a very slick, modern, international look and feel — like someone who is not in the industry would want to pick it up and read it. Turns out, that was their master plan all along.

One of the major changes is something called the Brain Squad — a group of 200-plus (and growing) owners and managers of sign companies in the US and Canada — who are sent monthly surveys that delve into various industry-specific issues, allowing members to provide sales and other data, questions, advice, projects and more for inclusion in the magazine and on the website. The survey results from the members offer readers “from-the-trenches” info that is sure to be of concern to them as well. The Brain Squad has created a dynamic way for all of us to learn and grow together on an ongoing basis.

But why am I making you read all this when I know you want to watch the actual interview with Mark? Never fear … just scan the code above. But you might want to bring your own chair!

EDITOR’S NOTE FROM MARK: I’m happy to report that Media 1 co-owner Rick Ream has just become one of the newest members of the Signs of the Times Brain Squad. Maybe that’s because Rick is the “brains” of the operation and Dale is just the “pretty face.” Just kidding, Dale! We love your columns and the readers love them, too!

For more on the Signs of the Times Brain Squad, visit signsofthetimes.com/brainsquad.

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Signshop Becomes the Target of False Attacks on Yelp

DURING NEARLY THREE highly challenging years of business ownership, Arthur Kim of Everett Signs, just north of Seattle, barely had time to contemplate the reviews his company was receiving on Yelp. But over the past five weeks, he had spent considerable time — pondering the onslaught of negative comments and low ratings that had recently begun without reason.

A naturalized US citizen who had arrived in this country as a four-year-old child from Seoul with his parents and older sister, Arthur had grown up, been educated and started work in Seattle before moving to Everett, where he began with Everett Signs as a fabricator 11 years before, at age 22. When the owner decided to retire in the summer of 2019, Arthur used his savings and a loan to purchase the business.

Just as he felt he was settling in, the pandemic began with its well-documented disruptions and opportunities, which compelled Everett Signs to take on both new products and new employees. One such hire, Mark Cho, who was brought aboard about a year ago as many restrictions were being lifted, had just left the company after a contentious 10 months with the shop. Though well skilled in construction, Cho possessed an annoying trait: constantly knocking customer-submitted or approved designs that “should look better…” or that “only the customer will think is good.”

ABOUT REAL DEAL

Real Deal scenarios are inspired by true stories, but are changed to sharpen the dilemmas involved and should not be confused with real people or places. Responses are peer-sourced opinions and are NOT a substitute for professional legal advice. Please contact your attorney if you any questions about an employee or customer situation in your own business.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Created by ROLF L’MAO, Signs of the Times’ mascot. Email him at editor@signsofthetimes.com.

Sporadically, Arthur would tell Cho to keep his negative thoughts to himself and that his criticism of company output was harming morale. But because Cho showed up on time and generally did good work (if while complaining) — and, as with all sign companies, finding qualified people was next to impossible, Arthur kept Cho on.

Then Cho abruptly stopped showing up the previous week — no calls, texts, nothing. And for the shop, his timing could hardly have been worse. An all-hands install was scheduled for this week and Cho had been someone Arthur was counting on. Arthur had to ask his sister Jane to come up from Seattle for an extra set of hands he could really rely on.

On the day of the installation, Jane arrived at Everett Signs an hour early to catch up with Arthur. When she entered the shop, he was on his computer, sweating that morning’s latest bad Yelp review. “I don’t get it, Jane,” Arthur said. “No customer has ever called or emailed or refused to pay. And yet we have all these sh-tty reviews online that have to be turning prospects off…”

“Have you noticed any anti-Asian discrimination here?” Jane asked. “We’ve had some at home, not as bad as in other places.”

“Not that I can think of,” Arthur said. “Nothing I or anyone I know who lives here has experienced … fortunately.” After some thought, he added, “After the first three reviews, each of the others is from a separate account.”

“Let me see,” Jane replied. Arthur scrolled up and turned the screen toward her. After several minutes, Jane said, “It’s interesting that it started with three in two days, all related to poor design, but the others are more spread out, seven or eight days apart, over the last two months, and all about very different things.”

“I noticed that, too,” Arthur said. “Made me wonder about Mark Cho, who ghosted us last week. He used to complain about design, but not these other things. You think he might be behind them all, that he was trying to sabotage us but quit before I found out it was him?”

“I don’t know,” Jane answered. “From what you’ve described — no other customer complaints — and then this pattern, at first a tight cluster on his pet peeve but then spaced out, with each posted in a new and unique area…” Jane looked at Arthur and shook her head. “Doesn’t it seem, what’s the line? … ‘Desperately random, like the elaborations of a bad liar?’”

“Well, no matter who it is,” Arthur replied. “I’ve got to figure out what to do about these reviews.”

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The Big Questions

  • What can Arthur do to address the false attacks on Yelp?
  • Should he publicly respond, or send a direct message to the user(s)?
  • Can or should he report the negative comments and try to have them deleted?
  • What about the consequences in the eyes of potential customers for not addressing bad reviews?
Mark P.
Fairfax, VA

This is all too real. This was a “Real Deal” for us. No complaints, only good reviews. Then all of sudden we get the negative complaints — after we had to “let an employee go.” We contacted Yelp directly and explained the situation. They investigated the reviews and removed the false ones. I have no idea how they investigated it, but thankfully they cleaned it all up. I knew there was no way for me to prove who sent them, so thankfully Yelp [handled it]. They get a 5-star approval from me.

Linda B.
Fall River, MA

If it was a legitimate complaint he could respond to the review, apologize for whatever and offer to fix it — re-do whatever to show online viewers that his company stands behind their work and wants the customer to be satisfied. But since he can’t do this because the problems are made up, he should address that in a response online stating this is the work of a disgruntled [now former] employee and that his company prides itself on customer service and customer satisfaction … and then work with Yelp to have them taken down.

Shana G.
Austin, TX

Our company was dealing with harassment from a disgruntled neighbor. We realized that in addition to the verbal and social media harassment, they had also been posting fake Yelp reviews badmouthing our company. Technically, the only people who can review your business on Yelp are people who are actual customers, so we flagged the various fake reviews and reported them to Yelp and they were taken down. Even though the reviews you found were anonymous, you can still report them to Yelp and let them know that you suspect it’s a disgruntled former employee and that the statements do not match any customers you have worked with. Yelp takes their reputation as a reliable place for authentic reviews very seriously, so it’s very likely that they won’t allow the false reviews to stay up.

Tracey K.
El Cajon, CA

They should contact each submission separately and ask how they could improve and/or fix their issue. After reading/hearing from the responses, write a public response about trying to address each complaint. Do not blame the former employee publicly, even if you know for sure that’s who did it. If that is the case, present the information to Yelp to have the comments removed.

Don O.
Coquitlam, BC, Canada

They should have responded earlier to each one as they appeared! He should make a public statement that he suspects the posts are from a disgruntled employee. He now needs to respond to each one publicly, asking the poster to identify themselves so that the shop can correct any deficiencies. If any are real they need to be dealt with right away. Any that don’t respond he should approach Yelp and ask to have those posts removed.

Ricardo H.
Veracruz, Mexico

I think you should contact each of your clients and ask about the negative comments and see if they really were [from] them. If so, see how to correct them and leave them satisfied. If it wasn’t them, then you’ll know that it was the former employee, and take legal action for trying to harm your company and assets.

Ben P.

Seaford, DE

“Ahh, the digital age.”

Rose S.
Columbia

I would call the person out; tell them you want to talk to them directly. This will let you know if it is a “real” customer or not. Most customers are willing to talk out a compromise to make them happy. And a good manager is willing to compensate a customer to keep them happy. If you get no response, then consider it a fraud.

Mike S.
Glendale, AZ

Respond stating the truth. You don’t have a customer with that name or a job with that info. Maybe they have the shop confused. Then flag them as fake and let Yelp know it’s a former employee. Also offer to discuss with the reviewers but obviously [you] will never be responded to.

Susan L.
Singapore, Singapore

Confront the ghost online. Apologize and be accountable. Ask the customer for a job invoice and reference, which you can check back to the system and review the order with the team. Be transparent and let the customer know that Everett Signs will make-good on the job until the customer is satisfied. If this is a real order, people will know that the Everett store is credible and wants to make-good. If this is a ghost review, most people will know the difference too! : )

Stephen R.
North Charleston, SC

Reply to each negative comment with the truth. Too much defense will make you look guilty, so you need to word the responses carefully. This may or may not be who you think it is so avoid pointing fingers as well. Just ask for instance what issues there were and say if there is a problem with the sign it could possibly be rectified if you know what the problem is.

Dan S.
Long Beach, CA

I had a similar problem with Yelp reviews. I was getting 100% positive 5-star ratings and then I got some nonsensical negative reviews that I challenged with Yelp, and they took them down right away.

Jake Z.
Randolph, VT

In my experience most customers are not idiots. They are well aware that online reviews present, at best, a distorted view of the company, and at worst outright bulls**t as petty revenge against perceived slights, or just straight up bot postings. Serious customers know to ask around about a shop to see what people are actually willing to say in person about their experience with that shop, and customers that are not willing to do this simple due diligence step are most likely going to be more trouble than they are worth anyway.

David P.
Riverside, CA

First, I must say we don’t advertise on Yelp. They are the least effective medium we have used to gain business. Google AdWords is much better spend.
Second, the type of client that Yelp draws is the bargain shopper, low-end client looking for a deal… This in turn brings bad reviews.
Last, when hit with a bad review, I respond to the review immediately, apologizing to the client for their bad experience, then reiterate what we understood on our end, and how our perception of the incident went, without attaching the client, but apologizing, and asking them to come by so you can resolve the issue for them. It usually ends right there, and your other prospective clients usually can read through the … review complaint and get a better understanding of what is going on, as well as view your comment that says you will be happy to remedy the situation if you can.

Ben P.
Seaford, DE

Ahh the digital age. Full of pros and cons. Definitely makes it easier to do business. But also makes it way too easy to attack you anonymously with little recourse for you to respond and set the record straight. Being in the sign business for over 40 years, I don’t push for getting online reviews. Everyone tells me I am making a mistake [by] doing this. Because reviews like this are so easy to manipulate, I don’t put much faith in them. As this looks very much like the disgruntled ex-employee is doing this, I would contact them and confront them about it. Might not do any good but at least they would know my suspicions of them and maybe they would stop. Stuff like this makes me yearn for the simpler days. Bring back the fax machine!

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Published first here: https://signsofthetimes.com/signshop-becomes-the-target-of-false-attacks-on-yelp/

It’s Chaos Out Here – Don’t Lose Focus of What’s Most Important in Your Shop

RECENTLY MY COMPANY has been going through convulsions. We’re enduring the pandemic, the “Great Resignation” (not a fan), and are also in the midst of acquiring another sign company — the greatest challenge of my sign-ownership career! While every day is a battle against the enemies of culture shock, training hurdles, new client relationships and production snafus, I’m trying to remember that my real job is taking care of people: customers and teammates.

We sell signs. Our days are filled with materials, hands-on fabrication, coordinating installs and all the other tedious priorities. Nevertheless…

My appeal this month, to me, and to you, is never to lose sight of people, which make things actually matter.

It’s a complaint that many entrepreneurs have — “If it weren’t for the employees and customers, business would be great!” The solution to almost all problems I’m encountering these days is to put my time and energy into the people around me:

  • Time for Training — Forcing myself to invest time in training — whether on the fly, with some advanced planning or by way of a program — is crucial. I really must find the discipline to avoid “it’s easier to do this myself” and never getting around to delegating the work.
  • Coaching and Camping — While I’d rather slay the email dragon to help me sleep at night, taking some minutes each day to check on teammates or customers and give them my attention and focus is much more valuable. Time spent connecting and coaching will be paid back. By “camping” I mean taking time for personal conversations, hellos in the morning, “how are you?” questions during quiet moments (see St, February 2022, page 43). I can hardly do too much of this, but often it ends up last on my list!
  • Inspecting What I Expect — I can be ignorant of what my team is dealing with when I always assume “they will let me know if they need help.” Sometimes they won’t. When I’m busy, they are loath to interrupt me. I must make sure I’m checking in on their work, getting the results I expect and coaching them to where I want them to be. Getting my head out of the sand and into the details is important.
  • Managing Like a Mentor — OK, so yes, every day I’m “managing,” but managing people means conversations, ideally face to face. Am I glossing over issues that may seem “small” when I’m dealing with a crashed project? Am I avoiding what might be a hard conversation because I’m “too busy?” I am checking myself daily to be sure I’m really acting in the best interest of managing people and resources!
  • Self-Managing: Recharge! — Pay attention to what activities you do every day that “recharge” your own batteries and try to reserve your most energetic hours for the most challenging work. Some people would rather build a 100-column spreadsheet than ask someone, “How are you feeling?” Know your own strengths and what drives you, try to plan your day around bursts of energy you can predict, and recharge in your way when you can.

These are “soft skills” that are hard to measure, and even harder to hone. This challenge is universal in business, but making even small progress on it can impact your state of mind and your bottom line. While we are in the “business of signs,” I am always reminding myself, with great urgency and repetition, to be in the business of people every day.

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Say This to Vehicle Wrap Clients After You Ask What Their Budget Is

“It’s OK; people don’t shop for vehicle wraps every day.”

WHEN TO USE IT: When you ask clients about their budget, they may get defensive. This go-to phrase is a way to reassure them the reason you’re asking is because you can work with any budget.

Source: Becky Duke, Ap Corp, Sykesville, MD

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Your Next Client Is Your Neighborhood Breakfast Joint

2 is National Food Bank Day, celebrated since 2017 on the first Friday in September. On this day you are encouraged to contribute to the cause that believes no one should go to bed hungry. Donate and use #NationalFoodBankDay to give your local food bank support and a shout-out on social media.

15 From SEPTEMBER 15 through October 15, we recognize National Hispanic Heritage Month, to honor the contributions made by members of the Hispanic community. Festivities begin on the 15th, the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

20 National Voter Registration Day on SEPTEMBER 20 urges citizens to register to vote. The National Association of Secretaries of State established the first such day in 2012. It’s every US citizen’s responsibility to vote, but you’ve got to be registered first!

26 is the year’s second National Pancake Day. In addition to surprising your employees with a flapjacks-and-syrup breakfast, the celebration offers the opportunity to serve up some temporary signage to any restaurant in town offering a pancake promotion.

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