Does quality and reputation count, especially in a soft economy?
At the risk of being eaten alive by our competitors and associates, it is difficult to admit that the signage industry in South Africa (I don’t know enough about the rest of the world to assume they are the same) is a poorly perceived industry, with an image that is on a par with used car salesmen.
While this reputation may not be entirely deserved, because there are a number of astute, extremely professional artisans and business people in the industry, as with every industry (and every facet of life) it only takes a small percentage of a population to taint the reminder of the industry. (I have read that it only takes 5% of a population to be lawless for the entire population to be viewed as lawless and the society as being in anarchy).
With this in mind, one should be extremely astute when looking for a sign supplier. It is not all about cost (well at least it should not be) but also about potential quality. Unfortunately while cost is associated with quality, and it is true, better material and better staff do come at a higher cost, a higher price does not necessarily always translate into better quality.
At SignForce we INTENTIONALLY only use quality products from reputable suppliers that we know will (mostly) work as the manufacturers promise in their marketing material. We took the decision to stick with one range of quality materials many years ago when a staff member made a simply mistake and used a six month vinyl on a sign that should have been decorated with seven year vinyl. The reason for the mistake was a simple lack of concentration as the ONLY way for the life of the vinyl to be identified was the colour of the lines on the paper on the rear of the vinyl.
I mention this as there are a number of unscrupulous suppliers who, in order to make an extra buck, will sell a seven year vinyl, and supply a vinyl with a shorter life. If we as sign suppliers cannot simply identify the life of a vinyl from the front, there is no way that you as a client will be able to know in the first three to six months, but will find out soon enough when the vinyl starts shrinking, peeling or cracking. Then the real fun begins and this is where reputation and time in the market count.
You purchased a seven year vinyl, so you contact the supplier – who nine times out of ten – turns out to be untraceable, so you end up having to remake or refurbish your signs, at YOUR, additional cost.
As mentioned, reputation is important. Like no long term marriage will have no disagreements, it is highly unlikely that any business that has been around for many years will not have some disgruntled clients, if history is what we judge a behavior or trends by (and it tends to be) then if a supplier has shown in the past that they honour their guarantees, you can assume that, all things remaining equal, the company will continue to honour it’s commitments.
Of course there are costs associated with longer life materials, guarantees, better staff and honouring agreements, so one has to ask, if the potentially higher cost is worth incurring, or stated differently, does quality count?
One has to ask what is the value of the potential piece of mind? Is it worth the additional cost NOW to potentially have a sign that will last longer, or at least deliver as promised? This is a question that is more pertinent in a soft economy when every cent seems to be harder to come by, and when, in the long run, the additional cost may in fact save one a LOT of money.
If you are in the market for quality signs, contact SignForce on firstname.lastname@example.org or +27 (0) 11 440 7525 and we will do our best to assist you by delivering what we promise at fair value.