How does one bill for your experience

How does one bill for your experience

1 Classie Africa

3D fabricated sign by SignForce

Selling ‘products’ is a relatively simple business model. One simply has to purchase your ‘product’ at the best price possible, calculate the cost of your fixed and variable costs to ensure you sell a sufficient quantity of your product and add on a markup – traditionally 100% – so yo can make a PROFIT on your sale.

The same basic process is required when selling a ‘SERVICE’, except that when selling a service the COST of the service can be a lot more complicated to value.

Lets look at two simple examples.

Example 1 – selling a product.

Cost to buy product – 100 (this value is obtained from supplier’s invoice)

Markup (100%) – 100

Selling price – 200

Example 2 – selling a service.

Input cost of service – 100 (**)

Markup (100%) – 100 (except more often than not prospects and clients will go mad when they believe the supplier is intending to make a profit)

Selling price – 200

(**) The input cost (equivalent to cost to buy product when selling products) is more difficult to calculate as it must cover all expenses including the time, cost and effort from attending the University of Live, as well as all other input costs – include the cost of training, experience, cost of any equipment used to provide service and insurance to name but a few of the input costs.

As the person responsible for keeping our small business alive and afloat, the task of costing can often be daunting and overwhelming, because among the many balls being juggled are (a) ensuring the continuity and sustainability of the business so the team keep their respective roofs over their families heads and food on the family tables, (b) keeping the cost low enough for the prospective client to find it attractive – especially in a difficult economic climate where it almost always seems prospects are more interested in cost than quality – and (c) making sure ALL input costs (including but not limited to those listed above) are accounted for – and with some prospects also ensuring there is sufficient wiggle room to give a discount they are compelled to negotiate.

With all these factors to take into consideration, how does one explain to the price over sensitive prospect that your offer, while possibly requiring a higher up front investment – would be in their best interests in the long term. And always keeping in mind that we don’t know what we don’t know – and this includes who we are competing against, which can influence no less than product, price and relationship.

At SignForce we tend to give the advise for free. It may be built into our costing but if so this is not intentional, because we are all about educating our clients and prospects so that they get the best signage to suite their stated objectives.

If you are in the market for signage, calling SignForce may be your best move yet.

Contact SignForce now on or call +27 (0)11 440 7525 or WhatsApp +27 (0)82 558 6413

Find out more about SignForce at

How does a small business account for unexpected issues

How does a small business account for unexpected issues

Free Standing Signs that work


This may seem like a simple issue, and it may even be for large corporates who never seem to care if they lose a client or more.

How does a small business recover costs after the fact?

At SignForce we firmly believe that once accepted, the quote we give is the quote the client must pay – to the point that we have only had to revise quotes on three occasions in the last 20 plus years.

This is not always practical as there are times when the game changes mid game resulting in additional costs being incurred, costs that should be carried by the client.

A recent example occurred at SignForce when a client asked SignForce to quote on an installation. SignForce quoted on two teams for 10 hours, the client accepted the quote and we got to work. The quote was based on a number of assumptions, however, once on site when the assumptions were tested, it was discovered that installing the signs would probably take longer than expected.

SignForce being the business we are we proceeded to work for 22 hours straight, increasing the number of two man teams from the two that were quoted to an eventual four by two man teams.

In this sort of situation what is the best way to ensure that the business gets FAIRLY rewarded for the additional time.

From the writers perspective there are a number of options, including:

  1. Work the time quoted on, possibly giving an extra 10%, and then leave site. While this may be financially beneficial to the business in the short term, it could also alienate and upset the client, especially if the client feels let down and does not manage to meet THEIR deadline, which they could then blame on you, the last subcontractor. Or,
  2. On the initial quote stipulate the time and number of teams that are quoted for, including an overtime rate so the client is aware of what any overtime will cost them. For this option it would then be wise at the end of the official quoted time to confirm with the client that they are happy for your team(s) to continue working at the stipulated overtime rate. It is also a good idea to ask if there is a limitation to the number of additional hours the client is prepared to pay for, so everyone is on the same page and there are no hard feelings after the work is completed. Or
  3. Complete the work as required and take the potential loss for the additional costs that the business will incur for both the overtime worked and the (potential) loss of productivity if the team(s) are not capable of working the next day. Or
  4. Complete the work as required and enter into a new negotiation with the client for the overtime worked. Or
  5. Complete the work as required, remind the client of what the original quote and leave it to the client’s discretion for them to make an additional payment to cover the increased cost.

What additional options could you add and which of the above options would you use?

The past is behind us and can only be used to learn from, so moving forward which option(s) would you recommend be used up front to ensure that the business covers any unexpected, additional costs should overtime be worked or standing time be required?

When asked what they would do, ChatGPT advises that: When a small business finds that the work quoted on turns out to be much more than anticipated, they should approach their client with an honest and transparent explanation of the situation. They should provide a detailed explanation of the additional work that needs to be done, and why it is necessary, as well as an updated quote of the total cost. The small business should also offer an explanation of how they plan to adjust the timeline to accommodate the additional work, and how they plan to address any potential delays or issues that may arise. Finally, they should remain open to discussing potential compromises or alternative solutions in order to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.

Interesting input.

If you are looking for a dedicated, professional team to help you ensure you meet your installation deadline, SignForce is available.

Contact SignForce now on or WhatsApp +27 (0)82 558 6413 or call +27 (0)11 440 7525

#BruisedButtCycleChallenge Day 3

Day 3 #BruisedButtCycleChalleng.

After a very pleasant stay at March Hare Cottage in Storms river, and a very good meal at the hotel pub across the road from the cottage,  we had an early night and we left at 6:50, shortly before sun rise.

The first 20km were very pleasant.  We had a short break before going down Bloukrans pass. IT WAS FREEZING!!! And spectacularly beautiful. Although we thoroughly enjoyed having the entire road to ourselves, it is very sad that the pass is closed to the public,  thus denying a great many people the opportunity of seeing the beauty of the natural forest.

Stopped in Natures Valley for a second breakfast – we are going to have to stop that, firstly because we will put on weight,  but mostly because we are informed we are heading for bad weather, and we cannot afford the time.

We expected to climb a lot today,  especially because we were doing two valleys, and although we did climb more than yesterday – a total of 1162 m over the 109.4km we cycled today,  we are grateful that we didn’t climb the 2000 m we expected.   We arrived at Paradise House in Knysna,  our home for two nights -at around 16:20, for a total of 9.5 hours on the road and 6.28 hours on the saddle.

Tomorrow we intend to clean and prepare our bikes for tge next leg, and also get some work done.  We will also be meeting Wayne Burrows’s dad – thanks for arranging Wayne.

While I am thanking people,  thanks to Roger and Marco of Roger Wolfson and Associares ( for the fabulous job you did repairing my bags and Patrick of Meat on Grant – our excellent neighbourhood butcher – for assisting me with the vacuum packaging my meds. It is working like a charm.   Funny sight of tye day. Neale was in front of me and went wide to avoid a goat.  the unhappy mother then chatlrged under the saftey rail and butted her baby out of the way.  clever mommy.     Funny comment of the day.  A Stranger asked if we knew of a man named Henry Ford who invented cars. He he

How to clean a sign

How to clean a sign

Good.Signs are an investment,  so as with most investments,  a good, working sign should be maintained and cleaned on a regular basis.Maintenance includes cleaning and maintenance of moving or working components and parts of your sign,  which will be covered in a separate blog article.

Cleaning your sign is important because, when done correctly,  the clean sign will enhance the image of your business while lengthening the life of your sign.The cleaning materials to be used,  as well as the techniques used to clean your sign will depend on: A. The type – substrate – of the sign, B. Access to the sign, and C. The material used for the face of the sign.

A. Type of sign

While Chromadek – a powder coated metal – can be cleaned with harsh chemicals like mentholated spirits or paint thinners, even Chromadek should not be cleaned using acetone, although it is generally safest to clean most signs using mild detergent, with a rule of thumb being if you wouldn’t use the detergent to wash your hands,  avoid using it on the sign.

Perspex and other plastic signs can generally be cleaned using harsh chemicals, however,  one should be wary when using harsh petroleum based chemicals to clean plastic based signs because if the sign was heat treated or heat polished,  there is the high possibility that the plastic or perspex could fracture or shatter.

Being made from plastic based products, flexface signs and banners should not be cleaned using any harsh chemicals,  but should rather be cleaned using a general degreaser,  with most dish washing liquids doing a great job.

B. Access to the sign – or more accurately lack of access  – may make it impractical for the sign to be cleaned often,  if at all.   Shop front signs can generally be accessed using an eight foot (two meter) ladder,  so while access isn’t ‘easy’, it is simple enough,  and possible to access the sign with a ladder, so cleaning of your store front sign should be included in your general cleaning routine.

External signs,  such as many found on the outside ot shopping centres,  are sometimes  placed too high to be worked on without specialist knowledge and equipment,  so it is advisable to assess the cost of maintenance against the replacement cost of the sign as well as the loss of brand image if the sign looks very bad.

C. The material used for the face of the sign is the final,  and possibly most important determinant of how the sign should be cleaned, as while harsh chemicals can generally be used quite safely on cast or solid colour vinyl, when used on digital prints, (and more and more signs are being decorated with digital prints), harsh chemicals will more often than not remove the image that the cleaning is intending to preserve.

As with most signs it is generally better erring on the side of caution and using water and soft detergents when cleaning printed signs.

If you are looking for signs and a professional signage company or simply want advice on sign maintenance or general advice on signs please contact either or and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.


This morning I needed to purchase a steel brush. In my mind I expected to pay around R20.00 (approximately US$2.5) because this was approximately what I had paid when last I purchased one, approximately 3 years ago. WOW, was I in for a surprise. The same brush today cost me R38.00 (approximately US$5.00).

I was shocked at the increase in the price of the brush but I needed it, so I purchased it. It also got me thinking, about the psychological cost of inflation.

When I was younger I used to purchase Jelly Tots (a soft, sugar coated jelly like candy). When I started purchasing them for myself I remember the price being approximately R1.17 a packet, and as time progressed and the price increased with inflation I remember sticking a psychological limit myself of R5.00. That is, I was prepared to pay up to five rent for packaging thoughts, but could not see the value beyond that.

Take a huge leap forward about 17 years to today when my children would like me to buy the same jelly tots for them, however today the price ranges somewhere between R9.00 and R14.00 a packet. And I have great difficulty seeing the value when I set the psychological limits at R5.00, even it was all those years ago.

I also have this issue in my business, and was wondering, do you have the same issue in your business? Is it possible that because you have been in business for 15 or 20 years you have difficulty charging a price which will make your profit at today’s rates, because you keep on thinking back to the same Rand (or Dollar or Pound or yen – whatever your currency) number that you would be charging for almost the same product when you first started out all those years ago?

When costing, we at SignForce aim to give our clients “fair value”, which we define as a fair price for the quantity that is being supplied. In order to maintain consistent profits – and stay in business – we aim to maintain a percentage margin on all costs and not just look at the Rand (or currency) values of what we are supplying, something we believe too many of our competitors are doing, at the own peril, because something that cost 100 five years ago will most likely cost in the region of 800 to 900 today, and as difficult as that is to justify on one’s mind, the input costs have gone up so drastically that if you focus on currency value instead of margin, you are going to give your goods away at a loss, with a long-term effect of going bust.

If you are in the market for professional looking signs at “FAIR VLAUE”, or would like advice on how best to project your business’s image while making any funds you spend on signs an investment in marketing, please contact the writer at and use the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE and we will get back to you.

Humans Are IDIOTS!

Yes, I am also a human, so I must also be an idiot, but I would like to think that I am not the issue.

A newspaper headline on Tuesday screamed the news that FRACKING FINDS BACKING


We humans, a species that is supposed to be ‘intelligent’ are so damn stupid that we CHASE a thing we created and called MONEY, OK, it helps make the world go around. The issue is we chase it at ALL costs, not giving a damn about the future of the planet we live on, the one that sustains life – and hope our children will live on.

If scientists are to be believed, in the last 50 years HUMANS have done more damage to their life sustaining planet than the combined damage of ALL species – including humans, have done in the previous 10,000 years.

We kill the air we breathe and the water we drink to make MONEY – not for all, but for an elite few (this is not a knock of the capitalist model). But we are not satisfied with only polluting our life sustaining air and water. We tap into the immense brain power on the planet to create weapons of mass destruction (fast) and more energy hungry devices (slow) to further kill off the planet. And we do all this in the name of MAKING MONEY. Hopefully you get the point. We destroy the outside of the planet simply to feed the greed of humans.

BUT wait, that’s not all. If you buy into this system we can do better – why only poison the OUTSIDE of the planet. Why not get into the belly and poison this wonderful life sustaining rock from INSIDE – welcome fracking!

With investment, humans are now going to pump a whole cocktail of toxins into the bowels of the earth – poisoning the planet from the core (or as close to it as needs be to get all that can be gotten out of the earth) – simply so that our human greed and stupidity can be flamed so we can feed an energy hungry people (which I might add are a very small percentage of all the populace of the planet) – at the cost of our children and their children possibly never being able to experience the beauty that we have been afforded by nature and this wonderful planet

When will the ‘powers that be’ WAKE UP and start assessing the cost of business from a global perspective, global including looking into the FUTURE COST of currently creating energy and polluting the planet. Perhaps it is time for a GLOBAL BODY (something like the UN but without the politicians) to look at taxing businesses current endeavours based on their future destruction of the planet.

I for one believe it is time that RESPONSIBLE governments and RESPONSIBLE business start factoring in the cost to HUMANITY, the COST TO THE PLANET IN THE LONG RUN, and stop looking only at the potential short term profit that MAY be made by a few.

If fracking is so good for man kind – which is HIGHLY UNLIKELY – there is evidence of ftracking resulting spill over where rivers in the United States are being polluted as a result of fracking – have enough funds being allocated to restore the land and the rivers to their pristine manner once the earth has been raped? How would one even measure the potential cost?

I propose a simple accounting process. For ANY function that is designed simply to make a profit for a few at the future cost to humanity, factor in a ‘capital cost’ of US$50 Billion. This money to be paid in cash in advance to a non interest bearing account for future restoration of the land. If the fracking or any other process still makes a profit, go ahead. At worst, the money that is set aside for restoration and repairing the damage can be put to good use by ALL humanity.

This post should indicate that apart from being a PASSIONATE SIGN PROFESSIONAL, I am also passionate about LIFE.  

If you are in the market for professional looking vinyl signs, or would like advice on how best to project your business’s image, please contact the writer at or and use the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE and we will get back to you.

Carpe Diem – Seize the Day

Monday morning as I was rushing on the way to a VERY important meeting – with my doctor – I noticed a sign which got me laughing, because of the unintended message of the design, and gave me some material for a – this – blog article.

Being in a RUSH I never thought to stop the car and take a photo. I did however tell the doc about the sign. On Tuesday morning I figured I would go past and take a photo to share with everyone, with the point being to explain WHY, when it comes to signage, not every designer is equal. [Signs generally SHOULD be designed by people who understand signs, as what you see on paper and what you see when it is BLOWN UP for a sign, what you see may, and often does, differ drastically.]

Tuesday came and went before I had a chance to get the photo, and I was not in the area on Wednesday, so I made a plan to make a specific trip on Thursday, and lo and behold, when I arrived the sign in question was no longer there. DAMN!

OK, so my thinking on the blog topic had to change – as it has had to on many issues this year, especially with reference to making money – and the change was the ‘topic’ to HOW DID I MISS IT!. An the then it dawned on me, I did not seize the day.

Research has shown that, especially when we are busy or distracted, we do not take the time to LIVE life. We get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget to LIVE them.

Like I found I need to, I am suggesting you SLOW down folks. Take the time to smell the roses, and enjoy life. Before you look around the sign will be moved and the opportunity lost.

This is summed up brilliantly by the honorable Dalai Lama.

Should you require any signs or advice on signs, or if there is any specific sign related topic you would like me to cover please email SignForce now on or call the office on +27 11 444 3331 to see how we can serve you.

Some clarity on SANRAL and E-TAGS

Hi All.

This post is a ‘public interest’ post for all South African’s.

Attached is what I believe to be the best, objective view of the e-tag system I have seen to date. It is written by Deon Botha of Botha Attorneys, and arrived via email.  I am using it without prior authorization.

Personally I do not believe in buying into ANYTHING that has to be SOLD so hard. Also wonder who is paying for all the SANRAL costs.  The attached article states that SANRAL is STATE OWNED, but then how is it that the shares are held in Austria, as has been published.

My advice – DO NOT REGISTER.

To read now click on this link etolls

Can my business save money by applying our own vinyl sticker signs?

A great example of how a poorly applied vinyl sticker sign can detract from the intended message by creating a poor first impression.

Poor First Impression

Can my business save money by applying my own vinyl sticker sign?

The short answer is YES, a business MAY initially save money by applying their own vinyl sticker sign, however I believe that the correct question is “What is the cost to my business if my vinyl sticker sign (or any sign for that matter) projects an unprofessional image?”

Even with all the progress around us we humans still tend to be a visual bunch of animals. I’m sure you’ve heard the sayings “don’t judge a book by its cover” or have even been told that “you only get one chance to create a first impression” – and that impression will be made within the first 15 seconds of meeting a person. The same applies to signage, and the viewers perception of your business.

The attached picture (thanks Tharina) shows how an unprofessionally applied vinyl sticker sign can do more harm than good about making that FIRST IMPRESSION as to HOW your business does what it does.

Yes, the sticker in the photo does give the name of the business and has contact details on it, which is positive, however the sticker is so poorly applied that the first perception a person gets is that this is a really low cost operation, (detracting from the beauty of the vehicle and the layout of the sign), and may be turning away the exact same professional people you wanted the sign to attract.

I was once asked if I would allow a surgeon to defend me in court, or have a lawyer perform open heart surgery on me, and while I’m not talking about law or medicine, the same concept applies. It is often better to allow people who apply vinyl sticker signs day in and day out, and are thus bound to be more proficient at it, to do the job in projecting your image in the best way possible, even if it the initial costs is a little more, because it is important to think about the unmeasurable cost of poor advertising and poor image projection.

Keep in mind that you only get one chance at creating that first impression, and if that first impression is negative, you may have lost the one and only chance you shall ever get to generate that lead and allow the sign to do it’s work of creating potential new clients.

If you are in the market for professional looking vinyl sticker – or any other signs, or would like advice on how best to project your business’s image, please contact the writer at or and use the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE and we will get back to you.