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Always Brand Yourself and Wear Fewer Hats — Two of March’s Sign Tips

Plus, quick hacks for fabricating aluminum pan signs and mounting them on an angle.

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“You are not Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder.” — Vandana Shiva

MARKETING No Shame

1 Always brand yourself, advises Nancy Wilde of Wilde Signs (Vernon, BC, Canada). The branding can be as simple as a logoed shirt or jacket at a sales call, or a logo on the back of your installers’ clothing that can tell onlookers who the company is.

EMPLOYEES Roles Reduction

2 “We’ve been conditioned to wear many hats but it’s not an optimized approach for growth,” says Adam Brown of Sign Effectz (Milwaukee). The solution is fewer hats per employee, which gives each individual employee more time to hone their skills and become an A+ player. “Sales personnel is the biggest area. Adjust your compensation structures to suit and get them some project managers or permit expediters. Baby steps and it will work,” Brown adds.

TECHNOLOGY Handy Devices

3 The Spike laser measuring device has been a game changer for estimating large format banners, sign panels and pylon signs, according to Thomas Nance of Signarama Downtown (Louisville, KY). The tool eliminates the need for bucket truck resources when merely seeking information for the initial quote. Meanwhile, Ted Neelands and Signage & Branding (Chattanooga, TN) have made more use of their management software ShopVOX PRO’s features.

FABRICATION Fab Smarter

4 James Cota of JC Signs & Graphics (Clear Lake, MN) has the following tips for fabricating pan signs with a flat aluminum face mounted on aluminum angle: “Prep aluminum with 3M Tape Primer 94, then mount with 3M VHB Tape 4950 adhesive. Sign goes together quickly with no welds to clean up or bending of material trying to get corners to go together perfectly.”

ORGANIZATION No Space Goes to Waste

5 Assess which items in your shop are taking up space and how you can better leverage it, as John Miller and Signs by Autografix (Branford, CT) plan to do with an unused second garage door. “The plan is to remove the door to have a better seal to the outdoors and fill that space with a wall. Then we have an elaborate counter and storage system designed to make better use of the space,” Miller details.

COLORS Paint the Distance

6 When a long-distance customer needed help in matching a color, Marti Etherdige sent the customer to her local Sherwin-Williams to pick out the color in question. “I was then able to match it up exactly according to that paint strip,” Etheridge says.

SLEEP TIGHT A Beauty Sleep

7 In his 2018 book Why We Sleep, University of California-Berkeley Professor Matthew Walker guides the reader through study after study that demonstrates how the qualities so highly prized by business leaders — creativity, motivation, intelligence, collaboration and efficiency — are all “systematically dismantled” by insufficient sleep. We trust you know the basics of good sleep hygiene (avoid alcohol and food, caffeine and digital distractions late in the day), but here are three more tips: First, carve out more hours than you think you need for sleep. If your target is eight hours, give yourself nine hours to achieve it (to offset the time you wake during the night). Second, switch to twin-sized down duvets rather than sharing a larger one with your partner (no more fighting over the covers). And third, sleep inclined. Use risers under the head of your bed. It will improve circulation, as well as ease sleep apnea and a host of other health issues.

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Tip Briefs

  • Outsourcing some design work to the overseas providers has been less painful than planned. The results are encouraging to continue to use this to supplement our in-house capabilities. — Jim Brewer, Tennessee Sign Co., Murfreesboro, TN
  • Learn to make your own mounting brackets and hardware. They greatly simplify installation. — Peter Poanessa, Keene Signworx, Swanzey, NH
  • I try to attend at least one in-person networking event a month. It is a good way to meet new prospects and stay in touch with existing customers. — Mike McClure, Ad Art, San Francisco
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