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Maggie Harlow

Signshop Stands Firm on Prices, Advises New Signmakers to “Charge More”

The company lost some orders, but it’s now making record profits.

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WE ARE CIRCLING BACK to visit with Wendy Zaccagnini of Zucchini Ink (Clayton, NC). If you recall, we’ve been following along with her adventure as a graphic designer and new sign business owner, coaching her along her path (see ST, August 2021 page 37 and September 2021 page 46). Our last conversations with her focused on charging more for design specifically, but also trying to charge enough to make very small orders like business cards or logo design more profitable.

I’m thrilled to report that Wendy has recently posted the two most profitable months since she started! When I asked her how this came about, she said she had two big orders that made it happen:

An order from a repeat client for printed paper booklets. In this case Wendy reviewed the costs and realized she had to increase the price. The client stuck with her despite the increase, and Wendy said, “This is the most markup I’ve ever made” as a result.

The other order was from a realtor, another repeat client, who bought a big bundle of sets of signs. Bigger orders come along as you take good care of the small orders!

When I asked Wendy how, in general, she is approaching her business differently, she said, “I’m standing [firm] on my prices more and not telling the customers they are expensive. I just give them the price and let them decide.”

Wendy also reported, “I did an overall increase in prices — just a bump.” She increased her markup on resale products and increased her minimum for items such as business cards and graphic design. The “bump” she estimates was about 5% of retail. She added, “I’ll probably revisit pricing at the end of the year and increase it again.”

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Wendy admitted, “I lost a couple sales — when I increased my logo design price — but I didn’t need those small orders.” Clearly not as she is now enjoying higher sales than ever!

The big news for Wendy is she has just made the final payment on the purchase of her company from the original founder, and she is focused on the goal of buying her own printer.

Wendy said she is feeling good, she can pay herself more at the end of the month and she realizes that because “everything is going up,” her pricing should, too.

What advice does Wendy offer to new owners like her? “Charge more.” Could not have said it better myself!

Maggie Harlow is the CEO of Signarama Downtown Louisville (Louisville, KY), one of the largest and most prestigious locations for the global sign franchise. Contact Maggie at [email protected]

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