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Tip Sheet

A Nifty Trick for Applying Vinyl Graphics, and More Tips for Signshops in August

Plus, why it’s good practice to let your employees whine every so often.




VINYL Sticky Solution

1 “Ever find yourself trying to apply vinyl graphics to an aged, chalked-up vehicle and the lettering won’t stick?” asked Meri Lindenmuth of G&L’s Sign Factory (Bethlehem, PA). She’s got the answer: “Carburetor cleaner. Spray it on just as you’re getting ready to apply and wipe it off,” she said. “The graphics will stick like a dream to the vehicle.”


2 Look for items you are buying to see if a piece of machinery can be cost-effective to make the same parts, suggested John Johnson, A-Plus Signs (Fresno, CA). His company recently bought an “iron worker” to make parts they had been buying for 10 years. “The machine paid for itself in seven months and we can turn the parts around twice as fast,” he said.

PRODUCTIVITY Don’t Answer Email on Your Smartphone

3 Beware the urge to reply instantly to every email that drops into your smartphone’s inbox. There are two reasons: 1. It’s more efficient to use your desktop than your mobile’s tiny keyboard; and 2. You should be fully engaged when you are dealing with staff or customers and not distracted by your phone, said the Harvard Business Review’s “Guide to Getting the Right Work Done.”

STAFF Time for Fine Whine

4 What do you do when a staff meeting turns into a complaint session? Roll with it — for four minutes. As Steve Errey wrote on, “When I’m in a coaching session with someone, it’s pretty obvious if they’re in a bad mood. When that happens, I say to them, ‘Right. You have four minutes to bitch, moan and whine all you want. When the four minutes are up, there’s no more moaning. Deal?’” Taking just a couple of minutes can get everything out there, everything that’s bubbling beneath the surface. The key is not to pause or think. Often you’ll find that the whiner will run out of steam before the four minutes are up and sometimes end up laughing. Either way, when you’re done, you’ll all feel lighter.

SALES Avoid a Simple “No”

5 Many people are used to getting what they want, so do whatever you have to in order not to give customers a flat “no.” At popular New York City drink spot Please Don’t Tell, staff are instructed to always try to find a way to say “no … but,” as in, “No, we are all booked up at 8:30, unfortunately, but how about 11?” or “No, we don’t have brand X, but we have brand Y. Would you like to try it?”


WEBSITE Small, But Powerful

6 Does your website have a favicon? That’s the little icon that appears next to the URL in a web browser — like Facebook’s blue box with the “F.” If you haven’t set one, you might have a generic one from the browser or one that indicates your web host or content-management platform. A favicon is a small, but noticeable, professional touch for your business. Create your 16 x 16-pixel square masterpiece, name it favicon.ico, and place it in your web server directory. Bam, you’re looking better already!

MONEY Keep a Separate Card for Auto-payments

7 Most banks have accommodating policies for credit card theft. However, it can still be a pain to cancel your card and all of its automatic payments. NerdWallet writer Virginia McGuire has a solution: Designate one credit card exclusively for automated bill payments. “I now keep that credit card at home — well-hidden and protected by a burglar alarm — and carry a different credit card for daily spending,” she said. “That way, if my wallet takes a walk without me … I won’t have to change the payment information on my Netflix account yet again.”

MARKETING Adverbs to Avoid

8 According to Seth Godin, these descriptive words cause people to ignore your marketing message: “actually, totally, absolutely, completely, continually, constantly, literally, really, unfortunately, ironically, incredibly, hopefully and finally.” (We’d add “truly” to that list as well.)


9 Conventional wisdom holds that when you have a major goal to achieve, you should inform the whole world, as that public declaration will keep you accountable. Yet repeated psychological tests have shown that this is not what happens. Instead, when you tell someone your plans and they praise your ambition or intent, the result is the creation of a “social reality” with the mind tricked into feeling it’s already done some of the hard work. And then because you’ve felt that glow of social approval, you’re actually less motivated to put in the necessary work. A better approach, said business author Derek Sivers, is to keep your mouth shut. If you find you really need to tell someone, state it in a way that lends you no easy satisfaction, such as, “I want to run this marathon, so I will need to train five times a week, and kick my ass if I don’t, OK?” Sivers suggested in a recent TED talk.

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