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Why Has My Sign Company’s Growth Flattened?

Also, we address the possibility of many shops closing of late.

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Our growth has flattened, and it seems no matter what we do with our marketing, our prices or product offerings, nothing helps get us to the next level. Where are we going wrong?

There could be any number of reasons, from changing demographics in your market to the emergence of a new competitor, but something that holds many businesses back is a personal blind spot of the owner that hobbles the entire operation. These blind spots are often rooted in deeply held beliefs, such as the view that money makes the world go around (so if you just pay your employees more they will work harder, or if you discount your products, you’ll sell more) or a preference for conducting business verbally that has you driving sales to the phone while investment in your website lags. As the name suggests, the hard thing about blind spots is that the afflicted person can’t see them. That means an unvarnished outside perspective is required. “Ask people for feedback, and they sometimes tell you what you want to hear. Ask them about blind spots, and they’re more likely to tell you what you need to hear,” says the behavioral psychologist Adam Grant in his book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. Grant recommends starting with the question: What do other people know about me that I might not realize? Beware that what people tell you doesn’t always make for comfortable listening. But brace yourself and you might be able to make the big strategic shift that allows you to take your business to the next level.

Does it seem that there are a lot of shops closing up? I have noticed a lot of shops for sale or selling their equipment recently.

While we at ST have not noticed a lot of shops closing, we would not be surprised by it happening. Our Big Survey found that a combined 46% of its respondents were 60 or older (See ST, Mid-March 2024, page 13). The same survey found 56% planning to retire before age 70. Only 3% stated their “exit strategy” from the sign business was to go out of business or close the company and the vast majority plan to sell or pass it on. However, that doesn’t always happen. Anecdotally, Earl Walker, president of Image360 Tucker (Tucker, GA), mentioned noticing more “veterans cashing in their chips” of late in a recent article (See ST, March 2024, page 26), so at least one other sign pro has noticed. Selling equipment may or may not be an indication of a company closing — unless it’s expressly stated in the ads. We see an ongoing amount of equipment sales, particularly trucks and vehicles. For anyone out there looking to sell or buy — to seek a job or hire someone — check regularly at signsofthetimes.com/classifieds. New ads post almost every day.

What’s the best way to deal with trolls on our social media channels?

Ignore them. Unlike customers with a grievance, to whom you should respond quickly and usually with some humility, trolls are just using verbal aggression to get attention. It’s better to ignore them than feed them. “The internet doesn’t turn people into trolls. It just makes their trolling more visible,” notes Adam Grant. “Eight studies of over 8,000 people have shown that if you’re an a**hole online, you’re probably an a**hole in person too.”

Want to see your questions featured in this department? Send your emails to: ask@signsofthetimes.com

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