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How Four Women Maximized a Sign Company’s Sales Potential

Sales more than tripled through the steering of a female COO, operations manager and sales team.

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Through supply chain bottlenecks, inflated prices and pandemic lockdowns, FASTSIGNS of Maple Shade (Maple Shade, NJ) has not only weathered the tumult but has come out on the other side with increased profits and efficiency — thanks to the women in its management and sales teams, who took their revenue from $500K to $1.5 million in 2022. Recent sales have reached $1.8 million.

Proprietor Jeffrey Chudoff opened his shop in 1985, working primarily in window tinting, then moved to his present location in Maple Shade in 1995. The shop was among the first businesses to offer vehicle wrap services in New Jersey when it began to grow in popularity. To this day, Chudoff considers his greatest accomplishment to be a pickup truck wrapped with a rusty patina, which won the Readers’ Choice for Signs of the Times’ 2016 Vehicle Graphics Contest.

The company rebranded in January 2016 after joining the Fastsigns franchise. Chudoff navigated the next three years more or less on his own, working primarily with truck lettering, sign cabinet face replacements, vehicle wraps and some plaque work. The business model updated again when his wife Kimberly joined the fray as COO in 2019, implementing a team-building program and a quantifiable sales tool for sales goals and stretch goals. They also began to take on monument signage and shopping-center directory projects.

As COVID-19 pandemic struck the following year, the Fastsigns franchisor helped certify the Chudoffs’ signshop as an essential service, enabling them to keep working throughout the lockdown. They coordinated their staff to work independently, using cloud-based software to work from home and Zoom for company production meetings. “During the first weeks we didn’t miss a step,” Chudoff recalls. While the economy staggered around them, they doubled their sales to $1.2 million.

Kimberly Chudoff, COO of Fastsigns of Maple Shade.

However, pandemic-era economic turmoil was inevitable. According to Chudoff, due to supply-chain disruptions, the price of acrylic tripled from $110 to $330. The number of sales climbed while the net profit remained the same, and prices tripled or quadrupled compared to pre-pandemic figures. They knew they had to find another profit avenue, and the opportunity soon presented itself.

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Fastsigns was managing all of Amazon’s business in Tennessee at the time, according to Chudoff. Any Fastsigns operator could find prefabs on the franchise’s website and use that communal resource to produce work for their local Amazon facility. When the pandemic necessitated social distancing and isolation, Fastsigns asked franchisees to diversify and look into other markets.

Thus the company’s sales representatives, with Ashley McFarland on outside sales and Robin Mark on inside sales, researched property management groups that own condominiums and apartment complexes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. These property managers typically hire vetting companies like Coupa, Avetta and Real Page to collect taxpayer information, workman’s compensation, and ensure that insurance coverages meet their requirements. A fee paid to the vetting companies ranges from $500 to $1,500.

“Initially I wanted to say it felt like you’re getting strong-armed by vetting companies, but you immediately have access to half a dozen companies, making it easier to go around doing sales calls,” Chudoff says.

Ashley McFarland, a member of the outside sales staff at Fastsigns of Maple Shade.

Robin Mark, a member of the inside sales staff at Fastsigns of Maple Shade.

Once his shop’s sales team got ahold of property managers via vetting companies, they added half a dozen apartments and condos to their list between 2021 and 2022; soon Fastsigns of Maple Shade was managing every single sign in an entire community, Chudoff says. Kimberly and her sister Michelle Gregory, who joined the signshop as center manager from a construction business background, began a real estate management program that boosted sales to $1.47 million in 2021, then $1.5 million in 2022.

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Michelle Gregory, operations manager at Fastsigns of Maple Shade.

“A lot of things that we’re offering now in the sign business are commonplace to my wife and her sister,” Chudoff says, again citing their construction knowledge. Equipped with digital and flatbed printers, the shop can now print polystyrene and add shelf racks, but the upgrade does not stop there. For 2024 Kimberly plans to implement a production schedule with concrete goals for the production team to further streamline work.

“In a post-Covid world, the conversion to an all-woman sales team with construction background made creativity intersect fabrication knowledge,” Chudoff remarks. “Those two talents, beside team building, were the prime reason for our explosive [growth].”

In April, Signs of the Times is highlighting women in the sign industry, including our forthcoming Women in Signs Awards profiles and celebration at the ISA International Sign Expo.

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