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Tools for Easing Installations, a Simple Change to Lengthen Weekends, and More Pointers for Sign Pros in November

Plus, a Brain Squad member touts ShopVox.

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OPERATIONS Lengthen Weekends

1 “We have recently changed our hours,” reports Jake Zani, Rule Signs & Graphics (Randolph, VT). “We used to have a retail storefront connected to our shop/garage. Six months ago we relocated to more of a shop/commercial space.” Rule Signs still does 40 hours, but opens earlier, working 8.5 hours, Mondays through Thursdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., allowing them to work only 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays.

OUTSOURCING It’s OK to Ask For Help

2 When you are totally up to your neck in work, it’s OK to outsource, one shop says. Many good industry-only vendors are out there. Find one that is reliable for the next time a deadline is looming, they say.

EMPLOYEES Report Sales to All Teams

3 Include production, design and install teams in the sales number reporting: goals/fails/wins, as one shop reports doing. Sales info may get lost on them in the daily grind. And make sure to celebrate the super wins with everyone together, the shop says.

FABRICATION Silicone-for-Backer-Panel Hack

4 When applying clear silicone behind a backer panel, do a circle shape to create a vacuum, improving overall adhesion between surfaces.

PRODUCTIVITY Tool Up

5 Invest in tools that increase installation productivity, such as magnets (extra hands), backslitters (controlled liner release), properly prepped squeegees that glide on film faces (faster and scratch free) and allow for correct usage (without bubbles or wrinkles), and eyes trained to measure consistent spacing (saves measuring/layout time and effort).

MANAGEMENT Drill Down

6 Get a cloud-based software system to track your business, one Brain Squad member advises. According to them, it makes all the difference in the world. “Try out ShopVox,” another Squad member suggests. “It’s challenging to get started. But once you do, it’s a game changer.”

STREAMLINING “E-lim-i-nate the Negative”

7 Get rid of problem employees, problem customers and problem vendors ASAP. Focus on the same types of signs (generally) and become extremely good with those signs. Cut waste — of money, of time, of thought.

URGENT MATTERS “Let Small Bad Things Happen”

8 Anyone with experience in management knows their primary challenge is to make time for the important stuff that isn’t urgent. But this is surprisingly difficult to do. That’s because the knowing is intellectual, whereas urgency provokes an emotional, physical response: You act from a twinge of mental discomfort, a clench in the stomach, a racing heart.

“The best trick I’ve found is to practice consciously distrusting those feelings: to learn to treat the sense of urgency as a sign something probably isn’t the best use of your time,” says Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. Besides, he says, even when there’s a legitimate reason for acting on urgency, you’re probably overestimating its significance.

As productivity author Tim Ferriss has noted, it’s worth learning to “let small bad things happen” so that big good things eventually come to pass. There are many situations in which you need to act fast if you want to avoid a negative outcome. But if that negative outcome doesn’t matter much, avoiding it might not be the best use of your time.

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