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Trade Signage Business Resources Page

The purpose of this section is to provide information, resources, insights and sometimes entertainment for our growing team of trade clients.  

Feel free to contact me for more information or to chat about any of the articles added below.

Thanks for visiting us!

Stephen Lamont

Article 1: Protecting your sign business by choosing clients carefully.
By Stephen Lamont

In my discussions with clients, I often hear remarks like:

  • "You can't choose who you deal with"

  • "The customer is always right"

  • "We need to take on every job to grow our business" or

  • "Take on every job as it may lead to bigger things later" or

  • "I need to do every type of work to attract all potential clients".

Case study:


A sign business presents a potential client with a package deal. 

Building sign, Business cards, Vehicle graphics, tear drop flag, pens, the works. In most sign businesses some of these products are subcontracted out except the signage components which can be done in house.


Subcontracted items, flag, cards, and pens are marked up at a low rate as these items are readily available online so prices are very public, and profit is very marginal.


Client gives accepts the quote and gives you a fuzzy outline of what they want.  Artwork takes ages and they are extremely fussy.  Each artwork proof is greeted with heaps of changes, and after some weeks finally we get the go ahead.

Job is done - Client is happy.  The client returns 12 months later with a new order - WOO HOO!!

"I need another 500 business cards and I would like to redesign them".


"Bugger". Can I now charge for artwork?  Can I increase the card price? 

If you do the client may now think you are ripping them off.  And even if I do increase by say 25% , I am still not covering my time costs. 


And what happened last time with the artwork?  it took ages!!! IF THIS HAPPENS TOO OFTEN, MY TIME WILL BE GONE, AND NOW I AM NOT MAKING ANY MONEY.

These remarks are totally understandable as everyone wants to be successful in business, and the more clients you have the better your business, Right?


YES we do want to be successful, but NO, business success is not determined by just having more clients. The right type of job and client may very well determine whether you struggle or not.


There are several reasons why it is vital for a sign business to carefully choose who to deal with, and who it is best to avoid.  You need a tactical response and a clear policy on who to work with.


The decision as to who you do not work with is every bit as important as who you do.


These are 6 reasons:

Brand reputation, quality control, financial stability, legal compliance, type of work, time management.

Brand Reputation:  Your sign company's brand reputation is on the line with every client you work with. If your business works with a client whose values or practices do not align with your own, it can reflect poorly on your sign company and potentially damage your reputation.

Quality Control: A sign company's work is a reflection of their craftsmanship and attention to detail.  If you work with clients who do not share the same level of commitment to quality, it can compromise the overall quality of your work.

Payment Issues: Working with clients who are unreliable or have a history of payment issues can lead to financial problems for the sign company.  Late payments or unpaid bills can have a significant impact on the company's cash flow.

Legal Concerns:  Working with clients who engage in illegal or unethical activities can potentially expose the sign company to legal liabilities. For example, if a sign company works with a client who engages in deceptive advertising practices, the sign company may also be held accountable for any legal consequences.

Type of WorkEvery sign business has a sweet spot.  A type of work or project that they are geared towards, have extensive experience in, or available resources that naturally make some types of work desirable and profitable. Working too far outside that sweet spot has risk attached. Attempting to offset low margin work to get higher margin work can be a pitfall.

Time Management:  Clients who are constantly changing their requirements or are not responsive can waste a sign company's time and resources. This is the last but definitely not the least in importance.

Time Management is the one that most of my clients name as a major source of stress.  Things such as artwork not being able to be charged properly, jobs on proof for months, continual changes and adjustments, and the like can rob your business of one of the most precious resources, time.

How you go about designing your process will vary in every business. 


In a smaller sign business this may fall to the proprietor who may act on a gut feeling or his prior knowledge of a potential client and the scope and type of work that they want to take on.  It is true that some people you just know will be trouble.


We literally see them walking to our door and say no even before they open it.  Tinted doors help!  However a larger organisation might have a policy that essentially checks or vets a client but how can this be communicated to the staff who have first contact?


Valuable Tip:

One suggestion may be to use a similar system that is used in determining the degree of risk in a safety assessment.  We call ours the "Matrix".


A chart or table outlining the good or things to avoid elements of the decision can be created.  Perhaps scores given that can produce a quantifiable number that then can be represented on a NO or YES score.

In reality this can look like a table with the criteria about both the job (and the potential client) you consider positive (such as probability of repeat work, value and profitability of the first job, complexity of the job and if you like that work) AND negative (slow to pay, painful to communicate with, committee decisions, and such items.  It is ok to have a criteria not to work to with people who you don't want to with - for no reason.) 

I have seen sign businesses with signs at the front counter saying no job under a certain dollar value will be taken on. 


It would be great to have a form that the potential client fills in, although that could scare some away.

Whatever the method, your efforts to protect your business from the wrong types of clients, or clients that your business is not geared to deal with will pay off handsomely in the long term.  And your headaches and stress will reduce quickly in the short term...


By using a disciplined, systematic approach you will find that your business will be safer, simpler and more profitable as you find your comfort zone and your "happy" place in the industry.

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Article 1

Trade Signage Articles

Article 2 Partnering for Success: How Trade Suppliers Help Sign Businesses Thrive!
By Stephen Lamont

In today's fast-paced business environment, it is becoming increasingly important for sign businesses to partner with reliable trade suppliers who can help them succeed.


Trade suppliers play a critical role in the success of sign businesses by providing them with the materials, equipment, and expertise they need to deliver high-quality products and services to their customers.

In this article, we will explore the ways in which trade suppliers can help sign businesses succeed.

6 Types of Work Where Your Trade Supplier Can Be Extremely Valuable:


  1. Raw materials: A sign company may need to purchase various raw materials like vinyl, acrylic sheets, aluminum, and lighting components to create their signs. Trade suppliers can provide these materials at a competitive price and in large quantities.

  2. Printing services: Some sign companies may not have the capability to print large format graphics or custom designs.  A trade supplier can provide printing services for banners, decals, and other signage products.

  3. Equipment: Sign companies may require specialized equipment to create their products such as large format cutters, CNC routers, and large format printers.  Trade suppliers can provide these services at an affordable rate.

  4. Fabrication services: Some sign companies may not have the capabilities to fabricate or assemble their signs. Trade suppliers can provide fabrication services such as welding, routing, and cutting services.

  5. Installation services: Sign companies may not always have the necessary human resources to install signs on location. Trade suppliers can provide installation services.

  6. Technical support: Sign companies may require technical support for troubleshooting, equipment maintenance, or software updates. Trade suppliers can eliminate this need by providing a range of technical services in the print space, leaving the sign business to concentrate on those areas they excel in.

In a nutshell, your trade supplier can be a valuable business partner that allows you to maximise your returns while focusing on the areas of your business with most leverage.  For most sign businesses this is the attraction, keeping and servicing of the best kind of clients for your business.

Article 2
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