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Documenting in Photos and LinkedIn Success Lead January’s Tips

Plus, a quick ‘sales comp’ to prepare before a full sales proposal.

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“Be bold, be brave enough to be your true self.” — Queen Latifah

MARKETING Pictures Worth a Thousand Leads

1 Photographs of finished projects are your calling card, as James Keppel, CLI Services (Denver) reminds us. “And I’m not talking about that shot the installer took on their phone!” he says. “Have them done by a professional and be sure to communicate areas of focus that you want them to capture. Show people, cars and activity.” For electric signs, he suggests the professional take every shot at dusk and feature the lighting. While you’re at it, “Include the completed photo(s) with your invoice,” says fellow Centennial State resident Dawn Homa, Signarama Brighton (Brighton, CO).

SOCIAL MEDIA LinkedIn Success

2 Last year Sabrina Davis and Port City Signs & Graphics (Wilmington, NC) put more effort into using LinkedIn, both the company’s and Davis’ personal pages. “We are seeing payoff,” she says. “I have people mention to me all the time that they didn’t know we did the … service or sign type they saw on LinkedIn.” Davis has found that business social media site helps to solve the “forever problem of people only thinking you do the thing you did for them,” as she puts it, and “keeps us in front of our current customers on a more regular basis.”

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES Don’t Try to Do It All

3 “My advice is learn to say ‘no,’” suggests Roger Cox, Vim Creative Studios (Hanalei, HI). “The best change I ever made was to focus on our niche product which is three-dimensional signs and high-quality design, which now comprises over 90% of the outgoing work.” Alexandra Lund, Bismarck Sign Co. (Bismarck, ND), concurs: “Let go of the scarcity mindset and stop trying to do everything yourself to save money,” she says. “Understand that your time is valuable and you will come out ahead if you stick to what you are great at and delegate or hire out the rest.”

OPERATIONS “Manuals” Labor

4 Create a library of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for every task, offers Dominic Tancredi, Woodshed Stage Art (Cleveland, OH). Whether you do the task every day or once in a while, make a simple, step-by-step “how-to” guide. “This makes for a repeatable process and is a great resource for delegating tasks to new team members,” he says. “As a bonus, the act of typing out your process will likely reveal some steps that can be streamlined, automated or removed.” There’s no learning like teaching!

ESTIMATING Before You Crunch Those Numbers

5 On electric sign projects Jeff Thomas and the team at Crossroad Sign Studio (Lynnwood, WA) create a quick ‘sales comp’ (investing less than 20 minutes of design time) before estimating time and money in an itemized proposal. “This creates multiple discussions towards a personal relationship before a prospect sees numbers,” he reports, “and hopefully prompts a decision based on things other than just price.”

MANAGEMENT SWOT Equity

6 Go through a SWOT exercise annually, advises Adam Brown, Sign Effectz (Milwaukee). “It’s amazing how much your business changes in just a year,” he says. “This allows for incremental changes for improvement. The changes are less daunting in small bites.”

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STAY POSITIVE Practice Positive Self-Talk

7 Part of the problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they tend to focus on what’s wrong in our lives. And it’s not like we need the negativity — according to some estimates, an astounding 80 percent of your self-talk is already negative. It’s why productivity guru David Allen advocates making New Year’s recollections, instead of resolutions. The practice involves listing the things you’ve accomplished in 2023, the places you traveled, the new business contacts you made, and the new things you learned or experienced. “Anything we can do to affirm and say, ‘Hey, I’m an OK person; I can actually make things happen,’ will really serve you in good stead,” he told Chris Bailey, blogger and author of Hyperfocus: How to Work Less to Achieve More.

Tip Briefs

  • Use a steep dovetail bit on your CNC router to cut French cleating into your thick substrates. — Michael Snow, Innovative Sign Systems (Vista, CA)
  • We have staging/shipping/receiving and installing all reporting up to the same person now. Successful installs depend on good staging so this makes sense. — Melanie Harden, Creative Sign Designs (Tampa, FL)
  • Market and follow up. Use Google Calendar to document all site visits and then POS for follow ups until they say no. — Bobby Jordan, Fastsigns of White Marsh-Joppa (Joppa, MD)
  • Increase proper communication. The best results come from clear direction from surveying, design, engineering, production and installation. Clear communication always rules the day. — Matt Robinson, Eastern Sign Tech (Burlington, NJ)
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