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Why Do Some People I Hire Never Show Up to Start Work?

Plus, two sources for sign industry salary information.




My question is regarding the onboarding of employees. Over the past year, I’ve had several people come to us asking for work. I interview them and ultimately decide to hire them. We agree on pay and other benefits. We also agree on a day to begin work. The day arrives and these people do not show up for work. No phone call. No text. Nothing. Never hear from them. My question is, where am I going wrong? It seems all industries are having difficulties finding help. We are no different. How do I increase my chances of these people showing up to work on day one?

With the national unemployment rate under 4% and millions of unfilled job openings everywhere, hiring remains as great a challenge as it’s ever been. It’s entirely possible that the people in question here are applying for more than just the job at the sign company. Perhaps they’ve been hired elsewhere and they decided, for whatever reason, to take that job and ghost the signshop. Companies experiencing this should look at their wage and benefit offerings. Are they competitive, even attractive, measured against comparable companies? Are your office and shop spaces that these prospective hires would want to spend eight hours a day in? Unlike the sign pro asking this question, many others blame the prospects themselves — “not the right people” — but it’s them or no one at the moment, so some introspection might be called for.

We are looking at finding accurate salary ranges (based on our area) for each position in our company to be able to share during compensation reviews. Do you have access to this data or know how to find it?

One resource is the International Sign Association’s Wage & Benefits Report. The most recent report is dated 2021 and there is a cost to both members and nonmembers to download it at Click Resources & Training, then Industry Insights to find the report. Another source focusing on the US wide-format printing industry, the 2023 Big Picture Magazine/Keypoint Intelligence salary survey, aimed “to provide a comprehensive overview that offers both employers and employees a deeper understanding of the current wage landscape and potential areas of growth and improvement,” per the website at

How many companies shop around to sign supply vendors to get the most competitive rates? I would be interested to see what different shops are paying for certain supplies in different parts of the country. MDO plywood, ACM, PVC, HDU, vinyl film, epoxy guns and tubes would be at the top of my list.

While we don’t have any data for this right now, our plan is to crowdsource this question in our forthcoming 2024 Big Survey, which will be open during the second half of January. In addition to questions similar to the one above, we’ll also present a small range of standard projects and ask “how much would you charge?” For those unfamiliar, our annual Big Survey (now in its third year) — which is published in a special supplement to the March issue — has become one of Signs of the Times’ most popular features of the year. To make sure you receive the 2024 Big Survey, sign up by Jan. 10 at

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The Sign Industry Podcast is a platform for every sign person out there — from the old-timers who bent neon and hand-lettered boats to those venturing into new technologies — we want to get their stories out for everyone to hear. Come join us and listen to stories, learn tricks or techniques, and get insights of what’s to come. We are the world’s second oldest profession. The folks who started the world’s oldest profession needed a sign.

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