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Woulda Coulda Shoulda

The Client Got Cocky, Then Crawled Back with a Mouthful of Crow

Plus more encounters with nerve-testing customers on the shop floor.




Things you wanted to say to frustrating clients, but didn’t.

Sign pros, like anyone who works in a public-facing job, have to bite their tongue frequently. When a customer is being a pain, the first response that comes to mind is not always one that should be said aloud.

That’s why Signs of the Times recently created its “Woulda Coulda Shoulda” feature, which collects the quips you know better than to share with those nerve-testing clients. Here’s a recent sampling of those one-liners that sign pros would’ve liked to say, but didn’t.


To the customer who balked at an estimate of $40 to vectorize a fairly complicated layout. They said they could do it themselves in two seconds. A week later the customer came back and told us to go ahead. How does the crow taste?

“Yep, no talent involved – we just push buttons and these things print money!”

To the customer who, after taking a tour of my shop, asked me: “So you basically just push buttons on these machines and they do all the work?”

“This wasn’t paint-by-numbers, you know.”

To the client who, after I finished painting a 12 x 24-ft. wall with numerous graphics, words and a logo, at the soft opening/unveiling, called it a “stencil” to his staff and friends.


“It must be quite a burden to be the only one who is right all the time.”

…To the know-it-all customer

Woulda Coulda Shouldas are collected from the Signs of the Times Brain Squad and shared anonymously.

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a signage and graphics company in the US or Canada, you’re invited to join the Signs of the Times Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute survey each month, you will receive access to some of the industry’s freshest data on sales — including your fellow members’ comments on what’s selling and what isn’t — and can make your voice heard on key issues affecting the sign industry. Sound good? Sign up here.

Signs of the Times has been the world leader in sign information since 1906. Contact Signs of the Times' editors at



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