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Sit Back and Let the Shop Management Software Work

Signshops big and small can avoid headaches with software that estimates, automates and more.

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SHOP MANAGEMENT IS probably the last thing on your mind when you go to work. There are designs to be made, vinyl to print and/or cut, things to be installed, etc. Having some sort of management does seem like a good idea at the most inopportune moments. For example, you thought you had a roll of red in stock or heck, the cyan ink is running low and you don’t have a new cartridge. Even worse, you quoted a job off the cuff and then find out you’re going to lose money to complete it.

Well, you get the picture. Even if you have an office manager, it helps immensely to have automated tools to help keep track of everything. So, what kind of tools are available for the sign industry? While many small-to-medium shops use something like Quickbooks, spreadsheets or other means for accounting, shops really need help in developing quotes, managing production and maintaining inventory. These are the areas where shops can bring a number of available solutions customized to the sign industry.

Contemporary sign management software can create estimates, unify CRM, integrate scheduling across all departments and much more.

Contemporary sign management software can create estimates, unify CRM, integrate scheduling across all departments and much more.

For example, your shop may be great at keeping materials in stock and your production equipment dictates job management, but the problem may lie in accurately and quickly providing customer quotes. In haste you can forget material costs, labor rates or even taxes. Automation can pick up on where you left off, and really help with these situations.

Maybe you have a mid-to-large shop with a variety of printers, cutters and personnel. Not only are accurate estimates vital, but managing the design, approval, scheduling and delivery times is important to ensure that no production conflicts arise. A more comprehensive solution that encompasses more aspects of the shop’s capabilities is needed.

Great! You’ve decided that shop management is what you need, but how do you get started? In most cases you will need to sign up with a cloud-based solution. If estimating is your primary need, then there are standalone applications that you can purchase, install and maintain on your own equipment. In either case, be prepared to schedule time to set up the software.

This will involve loading customers, materials and inventory (e.g., roll quantity of 24-in. black vinyl) as well as costs of goods and local info such as tax rates. No doubt we’ve forgotten a few things, but you get the idea. You and your employees will probably be trained on the use of the software, either in person or via webinars.

You will then be ready to go. It may take time for some employees to adapt, but eventually everyone will see the benefits. Fast and accurate quotes, the ability to track a job during production, most equipment contention eliminated, and inventory status and alerts available at the click of a mouse.

Shop management software is a great benefit for shops of all sizes. You can start small with estimating and quoting, and as your business grows, move up to full shop management. Once everyone is disciplined to use and maintain the system, they will find it’s indispensable. If you don’t already use management software in your shop, take a look at it now.

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