For thirty-two years, I have enjoyed a career as a sign professional. I have managed to maintain a positive balance in my happiness account for almost the same amount of time.
Lately though, there have been some challenges in my business that have lowered my happiness levels.
Let’s begin with the economy. I have lost several long-time accounts due to closures, downsizing, “right sizing”—or whatever the catchword of the day may be. Losing one client can impact your cash flow, and losing clients in the “tens and twenties” is challenging indeed.
But where are these companies going? What has happened to the appeal of their products and services? Where did their market go?
Prices of our sign products are under extreme watch these days. One of my long-time clients recently told me that I was “significantly higher” on a few items I have been providing for them.
“Significantly higher?” That would translate to a competitor who is pricing under the market.
Of course, where is the market today? For example, prices for truck decals are all over the map (depending upon size, colors, and quality). Unfortunately some clients today are opting for lesser quality, fewer colors, and maybe going to simpler shaped decals, rather than custom die cut products.
As company profits are watched with eagle eyes today, many of our clients can—and do—order their signs, decals, and banners from Internet sources. Of course this can be a “shot-in-the-dark” when it comes to quality, but there’s always a 50-50 chance the product could be acceptable to the buyer who is budget-minded.
As a result, it’s important to take care of our valuable clients. Getting out of the shop and visiting your long-time clients and customers can raise happiness. They really do want to see your face every now and then. They want to see something new from you too.
Drop in with some ideas about vehicle graphics, pole signs, channel letters, and marquee signs. Show your clients and prospects the sign products that will advertise their own business—and ring their own cash register. We want more sales, and we know our clients want more sales, so let’s help them achieve their goals.
Study the marketing trends of your clients. How do they attract their customers? Think of the possibilities you and your client can bat around to increase their—and your—business.
If they’re short on signage, why not create a proposal showing a brand-new pole sign, complete with an electronic marquee? How about a brand-new vehicle wrap design for their box truck?
Another idea worth investigating is to attend the industry tradeshows that your customers attend.
Let’s say one of your largest clients is in the janitorial supply business, and you know they’ll be exhibiting there. Great! What an opportunity for you to meet others in the same business who own trucks, buildings, and other facilities that may be in need of a signage “face-lift.”
Take hundreds of business cards, your notebook, and perhaps a digital voice recorder with you. Walk around and ask the attendees if they’re looking for a great source of vehicle graphics, building signs, or whatever it is that you enjoy producing and delivering.
Sporting and school events are some great places to find more business. Wear your embroidered or printed shirts and caps. Pass out business cards by the handful. Act enthusiastic when telling others about your sign and graphics business. Invite them over to see your shop. Sell your capabilities and sell your products.
Every business owner needs more customers. Every business owner needs more profits. Why not step up and take charge of your client’s success by helping them in every way to increase their business.
As their business increases, yours will too!
Mark Roberts is a thirty-two year sign veteran and the owner of The InterSign Group in Houston, Texas. For more information, visit www.theintersigngroup.com and www.signprice.com.