How can you assure your investment in signage is money well spent – or is Signage a grudge purchase?

How can you assure your investment in signage is money well spent – alternatively, is Signage a grudge purchase?

Signage Fails

When signs do not work as planned

Over the past week this writer has been called to two different sites to quote on repairing existing signage. There is little unusual about this.

What is unusual is that both the signs at sites have suffered ‘failures’ due to what we at SignForce would considered reject signs. Poor workmanship, poor quality finishes and thus failing once installed.

In both cases the signs are apparently less than 30 months old.

Now I am aware that at SignForce we make signs that are value for money. This does not mean cheap, and we are seldom going to be the lowest quote. This is something I have been grappling with for many years, especially as I see other companies coming in at prices that we could NEVER compete with. One such example is a quote we gave where the client showed us that he got the sign for less than OUR MATERIAL cost.

So it looks like the client is getting a bargain! That is until one compares what we are providing with what they, based on what this writer has seen this week, may be getting for their spend.

The first sign was poorly finished. When the prospect’s contact showed me the signs he pointed out that the 3D letters were ‘peeling’ – something similar to your skin peeling after you have been sun burned – and it is a great comparison as the sign is in the sun all day, and the ‘skin’ that was peeling was in fact the plastic protective cover that should have been removed BEFORE the sign was installed. It looked like the sign was made with Perspex – a great qualitty acrylic with a 10year outdoor warranty – but not removing the protective cover cheapens the sign while possibly also drastically reducing the life of the material. At SignForce we tend to remove the protective plastic BEFORE the sign leaves the factory, and if the cover is left on, it will be removed before we ask the client is asked to sign off as this devalues the sign in many ways – both practically and aesthetically.

Many of the joints on the 3D elements were visible – something that we at SignForce work to avoid as the joints are generally the weakest part of the fabrication, and also they tend t o have dark spots. Being mindful of where the sign is to be viewed from we at SignForce try keep the joints out of view. This helps extend the life of the sign and makes it more aesthetically appealing.

One of the signs had the electrical cord running over the top of the sign. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however the wire that was found was exposed to the African sun. Anyone who knows anything about the African sun knows it is TRECHEROUS! The wire not being encased in a protective pipe or UV resistant sleeve means that the insulation coating will soon crack which will (it is only a matter of time) lead to fraying and eventually is likely to cause a short – especially if the positive and negative wires touch. This can blow all the LED’s rendering them useless, as well as potentially damaging the transformer, which will result in costly maintenance or possibly even having to re-wire the entire sign.

The prospect pointed out that birds had made a nest behind the sign – this is dangerous for the birds and can easily result in the sign getting damaged. It is also possible that the birds can accidently pull the wires so that some or all illuminated elements in the sign stop working. The sides of the sign should have been closed off before the sign was signed off.

The wiring behind the one sign was visible and was exceptionally untidy. Untidy wiring gives the impression of laziness, and as my one mentor, Tony De Gouveia pounded into my head, How yu do anything is how you do EVERYTHING – in other words if the person wiring the sign and the person inspection the sign allowed for shoddy workmanship, the chances are the fabrication will be shoddy and the fixings will be shoddy so the sign’s working capabilities are likely to also be shoddy.

The second sight had a single sign with 3D fabricated letters attached to the face. One letter had moved and SignForce was asked to assist to straighten the letter.

As a side note, we, as human’s, all tend to get caught up in a very particular pattern of thinking. I do believe this is one of the traits of being human and it allows for different people to think differently. I mention this as, as the primary designer for SignForce, this writer sees the fabrication of signs in a particular way. It is (in SignForce’s view) the best way, but is certainly not the only way to make certain signs. That said, when faces with a photo of a failed sign, our first thought is that the sign would have been made according to industry best practice, so the repair would entail certain steps.

In this case because the skew letter was on a backing board spaced off the wall it was assumed that the invisible fixings located at the rear of the letters have come loose and moved. This can happen. It is not common and it can be costly to repair as to repair properly it is recommended that the entire sign be taken down, all fixings be checked and secured and the sign be replaced. When the sign is at height – as this sign is – the costs include lifting equipment – scaffolding or cherry picker or ladders (not always allowed) or rope access – which all (except long ladders) sound almost as costly as they are.

In fact we got a new lesson in signage – well not quite new and definitely not a lesson we would need to learn or would copy – but we did soon find out WHY the sign failed. A little technical background may be helpful here. In years gone by in order to keep costs down some larger fabricated signs would be fixed to the backing board with what we in the industry refer to as L brackets. The bracket is fastened to the backing – wall or whatever – and the fabricated element is fixed to the opposite side of the L. Industry accepted fixings would mean that the sides of the 3D element would be SCREWED to the L bracket. This sign was ONLY attached with double sided tape. While this in itself may not have been an issue, if the business are in such a rush to get the sign out that they are not prepared to coat screws, drill and countersink the acrylic, the chances are they are also not using double sided tape that is made for purpose. That aside, double sided tape can be extremely strong when used for the correct application, however, when mixing materials – acrylic and Aluminium – and placing the sign in direct north east sun in Africa, the chances are that the expansion and contraction of the double sided tape on a regular basis will result in the double sided tape failing, which will result in the 3D element becoming loose, and possibly even falling off the sign. This would not only make the sign look aesthetically unappealing, it would most certainly damage the 3D elements (this one was over 6 meters above the ground) and could possibly damage vehicles or people driving or walking under the sign when it chose to fall.

Back to topic, How can you assure your investment in signage is money well spent – alternatively, is Signage a grudge purchase.

The latter question is more rhetorical as most business’s understand the need for signage, yet many see it as an after thought and are SHOCKED at the cost when they eventually get around to requesting quotes. While we at SignForce view signage as an essential tool in a business’s marketing strategy – we believe a business without a sign is a sign of no business – we can understand that there are business’s and people who feel that signage is not worth the cost. This may be for a number of reasons, some of which may be the high cost of an effective sign, a bad experience with previous signage, not knowing where to go to get signs or not getting signs that do what the client intended the sign to do. This can often be overcome by simply stating what the sign is for when asking for quotes. Also any decent signage sales person will ask this question when interviewing the prospect, as it is dangerous to assume you as the sales person KNOW WHY the prospect wants a sign.

The former question – How can you assure your investment in signage is money well spent – is a little more complex and difficult to answer.

I suppose the short answer is to do one’s homework BEFORE placing the order. This may include talking to past and present clients, looking at the prospective sign companies’ track record – although this may be unfair to excellent new start up’s.

One could also use standard accounting practice of getting at least three quotes. Notice this is standard ACCOUNTING practice which comes with a MASSIVE BUT when referring to signage or any custom designed products. When looking at 3 quotes it must be assumed that ALL companies are using the same material and the same production processes – think of a tin of your favorite canned beans It does not matter which outlet you buy the beans from, you are buying X brand and you trust the brand, so supporting the cheapest outlet saves you money. Because signs are custom made, and material prices vary insanely, it could well be that the lowest cost supplier is using lower cost material. Sadly the opposite is also possible – that the lowest cost supplier is in fact using the highest quality material but has forgotten to include costs of labour or other costs in the quote, or the highest cost supplier may be using the poorest quality materials and making a killing. It is near impossible for the purchaser to know, no matter how astute you are. I guess signage – like many other purchases – require a high level of faith and trust.

One could ask to see sample materials, but once again this is pretty useless if one does not know the technical specifications of materials. If you visit the SignForce factory you will find one or two rolls of ‘cheap’ vinyl. These are for specific client’s and are appropriately marked. Not because we enjoy the process but because we are VERY aware that it is extremely simple to make an error and use the incorrect material when making signs.

If you are in the market for signage that IS an investment, SignForce have been a supplier in the South African (and global) market for over four decades. We take pride in our work and believe our prices are fair so that your investment in signage IS an investment!

Contact SignForce now at info@signforce.co.za or call +27 (0)11 440 7525 or WhatsApp +27 (0)82 558 6413

Find out more about SignForce at http://www.signforce.co.za

Why would any entrepreneur want to get into the signage industry

Why would any entrepreneur want to get into the signage industry

There are a number of positive reasons to get into the signage business.

In the modern world where AI is starting to impact a large number of opportunities, signage included, the manufacture and installation of signage is still very labour intensive. Design of signage is definitely being threatened by AI, and this could well have an impact on sign businesses, but from the writers experience AI generated signs are not yet very practical to manufactured, so for the foreseeable future humans will still be required to manufacture signage.

Another advantage of the signage industry is there are advances being made which include digital boards that are becoming more and more popular.

Some factors potential entrepreneurs should be aware of when planning on opening a sign business include location, equipment and machinery, licensing, regulations and compliance administration, advertising, networking, staffing and administration.:

Location: While location is currently less concerning than it has been in the past, with the move to buying local there is a good chance that in the future location will once again become a large factor in costing and people’s requirements for signage. When considering location a potential signage entrepreneur should consider the location of their sign business and the proximity to their target customers as it may become increasingly important to find a location that is convenient to customers who will likely use their services, especially if they are relying on customers to come in off the street.

Equipment: Having the right equipment, machines and sign making tools is essential for a sign business. Potential entrepreneurs should decide what type of signage they will offer and then research the cost and availability of the necessary tools and machines. Depending on the business model and type of signage the sign business intends to market and manufacture, the sign making tools required may vary.

Licensing, Regulation and Administration: Depending on the location of the sign shop, there may be specific licensing and regulation requirements for sign businesses. Potential entrepreneurs should research the specific requirements for their area – be it country or state – and prepare to meet any applicable regulations. This is increasingly important when one wants top be compliant in a country such as South Africa where, unless the correct hands are greased, government and large business contracts will only be issued to businesses that are compliant with a huge number of laws and regulations. In current day South Africa an entrepreneur who intends to remain compliant needs to plan and budget for sufficient compliance staff to remain compliant.

Advertising: Advertising is an important part of running any business, with a sign business being no exception. Potential signage entrepreneurs should consider how they will advertise their services and reach potential customers – see also your intended market. Advertising may vary from networking to online PPC to printed or digital media to name a small number of options.

Networking: Networking with other sign businesses, suppliers, and potential customers can help a sign business grow. Potential signage entrepreneurs should research local networking opportunities and take advantage of them. Sign entrepreneurs should also look at networking with other signage businesses, especially if located in countries like south Africa with shrinking economies or if located in outlying area’s where networking can help the sign business with materials, techniques and other sign industry related updates that may not get to outlying sign businesses.

People. It is believed that every business, sign businesses included, require three main components – like legs of a tripod. Marketing, Finance and People. Marketing covers all types of selling, finance includes ensuring you have sufficient capital to carry the business through the first months of operation – including understanding that not all clients will be paying on time – and employing the correct staff or contractors. If the right people are employed the business can thrive. Likewise, poor recruiting decisions can be extremely costly to the point of closing down a sign business.

Administration – also called accounting or finance – is ensuring that there is a constant flow of cash. Most businesses that die die as a result of poor cash flow. It is as important for the sign business to sell at a profit – important part of administration and sales – as it is to collect the money, as in the modern world it is increasingly common for payments to be delayed, and delayed payments can cost the sign business both in terms of relationships and lack of cash flow.

If you are looking to enter the signage industry SignForce, with almost 40 years experience, are willing to talk.

Contact SignForce now on info@signforce.co.za or WhatsApp +27 (0)82 558 6413 or visit

the SignForce website at http://www.signforce.co.za

Is it possible to always swim UPSTREAM?

Is it possible to survive while bucking a trend.

Conversely, is it possible to survive by following popular opinion?

Having a discussion with a fellow contractor it seems that the popular view on signage is for many people to go for the cheapest option.

This is VERY understandable, as money currently seems to be tight for almost EVERYONE.

The difficulty with accepting the cheapest quote is you may land up getting exactly what you pay for – as in you may find that the sign that you get at a bargain price in fact doesn’t last very long which will mean that you may land up paying twice for the cheap signs to last as long as the guaranteed signs. But enough of a ramble, this is not the intention of this blog.

The current trend is POPULAR. Do what the masses ask for – or demand.

The difficulty with following the popular trend is that the prices are often set by what the BUYER believes is reasonable. This subjective opinion is based on the buyers FEELINGS, but has absolutely nothing to do with COSTS.

Now for longevity or sustainability of a business, one cannot sell below cost, as if one does, you are only going to go broke at the pace of your loss – the smaller the loss, the longer it will take to go bust.

General practice for costing generally entails calculating the COST of all inputs – material, labour and whatever INPUT costs there are, add your mark-up and you get your selling price. There are obviously cost variations depending on one’s personal circumstances.

If a sign business is not quoting this way they are not covering all costs, and if all costs are not covered, how do they survive in the long term?

So what is a business to do? Follow the trend and slowly drown and go out of business, or feel as though you are always swimming against the stream and get the tit bits that come through by sticking to time tested quoting methods and marketing like mad?

If you are in the market for signs that will make your business visible, are prepared to pair fair value and want the security of knowing the business you deal with has been around for a while (over 20 years) and is intending to be around for many more, contact SignForce on info@signforce.co.za or call +27 (0)11 440 7525 or WhatsApp +27 (0) 82 558 6413

Find out more about SignForce by visiting our website at http://www.signforce.co.za

Hoe to REVIEW SignForce.co.za on Google Business

How to place a GOOGLE BUSINESS REVIEW for SignForce.co.za

Like almost every modern business SignForce do our best to market our sign business and signage services in every possible way.

One way that we find very beneficial is for prospects and clients to rate SignForce on Google Business.

Because Google reviews are so important to our marketing effort – and, being human, we often forget to ask clients to rate SignForce, when we do remember to ask for Google Reviews one of our biggest challenges is when tech dinosaurs ask HOW do we rate SignForce.

After much research and many tries – it is not as simple from a developers perspective because, once again being human, we look for the easiest way to do repetitive work, which means cookies on our machines tend to direct us to the back end of the Google Business site, which is not helpful for clients and prospects.

Aside from Google Reviews being a helpful search tool for prospective clients looking for SignForce – or any supplier of almost any product almost anywhere in the world – Google Reviews also help businesses like SignForce because the largely unsolicited reviews are definitely unbiased, and help prospective clients see the good and bad – mostly fair – reviews of SignForce. It does bare some ugly truths about the failings of SignForce, but we at SignForce are of the opinion that these negative reviews can only help us make, sometimes unrecognized, corrections to how we operate.

If you are willing to assist SignForce with our marketing, or have had such a bad experience that you are willing to take the time to comment publicly, the following are the steps to rate SignForce.

Step 1: Search for SignForce on Google

Step 2: In the right of your business search results, click the button / icon / text Review or Write Review

Step 3: You should then get a page with 5 stars and the next page you can enter a comment if you wish.

Alternatively, if you are more tech savvy, are logged into your Google account OR know all the details in order to log into your Google account, you can click on the following link and it should work.

https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=ChIJIUcQdcxylR4RLwxpFXf-EiA

If or when you are in the market for signs or require advice on signage, contact SignForce on either info@signforce.co.za or call +27 (0)82 558 6413 or WhatsApp +27 (0)82 558 6413

Find out more about SignForce by visiting our website at http://www.signforce.co.za

Surviving a Black Swan Event

SignForce 'invisible' sign

Partially Invisible Sign

How does your business survive and thrive a Black Swan Event?

Ever heard of a Black Swan?

Ever seen a black Swan?

Do you understand the concepr of a Black Swan Event?

For more on Bl;ack Swan Theory visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory

In short, bl;ack swans do exist, but are more rare than white swans, and their arrival always seems to be a surprise. It is not a planned event.

Covid arriving in 2020 is one such event almost EVERY business in the world has had to deal with. For some it was a death knell, for others a Godsend.

From my research there doesn’t seem to be a common thread that has made one business succeed and another fail during these interesting times, in that some businesses do the same thing yet some have gone up while others have gone down.

Traditionally times like this call for a boost in one’s marketing. The greater one’s visibility in these times, the higher the likelihood of success and thriving. The more markets one can reach, the greater the chances of surviving and thriving. And from SignForce’s experience, the more one can collaborate, the higher the chances of success.

SignForce has always worked with our competitors in order for us all to do better. SignForce’s philosophy is that a cent earned from someone else’s work is a good cent. The theory behind this is that if you are a doctor, you almost always have to be at work to earn a good living. In industry, this is not necessarily the case. One can earn while being remote. This has been emphasized and highlighted in the modern work from home environment where unless one HAS to be face to face with your client’s, one can provide services from a distance.

At SignForce we believe in upliftment. Yes, we strive to be a profitable and sustainable business, so we believe in making sure the TEAM is always taken care of. Sure there are differences in take home pay but before anyone makes a profit the TEAM must be taken care of. SignForce operate on the premise that if you are hungry you will not give of your best, so we provide food. We have to cook it, but the food is there, and all our cooking skills are tested, and hopefully improving.

SignForce also believe in keeping the team happy. Yes, there are disagreements and people are not always happy, but we strive to make sure people are happy as much as possible. This leads to a work environment where people can strive, thrive and improve themselves – both financially and from a skills perspective. We believe in up-skilling, because we are never sure when a crucial cog in our tightly run machine will break down, be removed or stop performing. As such we believe EVERY PERSON should be able to do EVERY JOB.

This is not always easy, and often people resist being trained because it is beyond their comfort level, but we continue with training ALL THE TIME, as an insurance policy in order to maintain sustainability.

If you are looking to thrive in these interesting times, maybe some of the idea’s mentioned above will be of assistance. We hope so, and when you are expanding, allow SignForce to assist you with making your brand VISIBLE.

For an obligation free quote contact SignForce not on +27 (0)11 440 7525 or WhatsApp +27 (0)82 558 6413 or email info@signforce.co.za

Where is the seismic change in signage?

Does anyone else feel that as much as life is changing – and we keep hearing how it is changing in the news and on social media, “so it has to be true”, or does it? – the more life stays the same.

How many of us are waiting for a seismic event that just doesn’t seem to be happening, yet slowly, step by tiny step, the world as we know it IS changing, and before we know it the seismic event didn’t happen, but the seismic change did?

Could this be because we are living through the seismic event, but because of our training and expectations, what we expect is not real? As an amateur student of history I have often wondered how the people who lived through the Great Depression or the Second World War coped and survived these seismic events in their lives, and because I have not asked anyone other than my late grandfather who lived through both world wars and refused to discuss either, I have made the assumption that the survivors did not necessarily know they were witnessing seismic changes (I would assume they were witnessing the seismic historical events) and as such simply lived day by day, meal to meal, sleep to sleep until they suddenly woke up one day to find that they and the world they live in had changed. Possibly no too dissimilar to a caterpillar going into a cocoon and waking up as a changed form – a butterfly –  emerging feeling pretty much the same in a world which is very different yet seems to be very much the same.

As SignForce is in the business of designing, manufacturing and installing signs we need to constantly look for any possible change – seismic or not – in the sign industry – like when digital printing became standard almost 20 years ago. At the moment we don’t see much changes happening just yet. We do however see small, almost jpd – just perceivable differences – that when combined, may not have an impact on how signs are produced, but are sure to have an impact on where and how signs are ordered and used.

If you have a physical business that needs FEET, why not take advantage of the advice and signs SignForce can provide. You can contact the writer on +27 (0)82 558 6413 or arnold@signforce.co.za

http://www.signforce.co.za