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Customers & Artwork Charges...

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Post Sun Jan 25, 2004 6:51 pm

Customers & Artwork Charges...

Its always been a bit of a weekness of mine that a customer comes along asks for a quote for a new facia sign for example. Then I go out measure up, ask what they want design wise and get told thay have no logo, colour scheme etc . So I go back to the office, sit and think I dont want to give them a price based on white foam in a ali frame and 1 colour vinyl text and then have them expect to get half a dozen colours plus a logo on acrylic for the same price.
So I get doing a scale design and layout on a digital photo just so I can come up with an semi accurate price for material usage etc. Then you print it out and show the customer and they go away and show your design to x number of other sign companies :evil:
I know its easy to say well dont give them the print out etc but I often have people say they want to show a partner of friend to get other opinions.
I never really worked out how to quote a job without first doing artwork to get an idea of size/complexity (unless your talking straignt forward vans etc) . I just did a similar thing on Friday, had to quote for a new sign with built-up stainless letters and you need to know how big they are to price it up, so I had to do the artwork 1st.

Whats the answer people ? How do you do it ? Quote for artwork separately and say you can't give an acurate price until its been done ? or do the artwork but put a copyright on it and dont let it out of your sight. Trouble with this option is, I often find e-mailing artwork is the best method to speed the process along.

It has been a real sticking point for me over the years, and I really need to have a proceedure in place to avoid problems...

all comments welcome :)

Nigel
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 12:43 am

Put a copyright notice on the artwork. Unauthorised reproduction is infringement.
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 12:53 am

Yeah but then 6 months later you see something you've designed on a shopfront or van or whatever....what can you do then? Nobody's going to take legal action to prevent the use of something they've designed. Well maybe some people would, but my business is small and I aint got the time to bother. I tend to see it as one of those things that happen and will always happen. Still annoying though.
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 1:07 am

Nobody's going to take legal action to prevent the use of something they've designed


You don't really believe that comment, do you ?
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 1:13 am

I'd be interested to hear if anyone here has taken any action on this and what the outcome was. It has probably happened to most of us, I know it has happened to me. But whilst having the results of my hard work stolen is annoying, if I acted every time someone stole one of my designs I would be for ever suing people, and that's just the ones I know about.
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 9:54 am

Yeh, I know what you mean - I spent a lot of time in the past doing this kinda "free" artwork only to have it nicked by someone who apparently quoted a cheaper price :evil:
As big G says, its a bit inpractical for most small concerns to take action for this (its hard enough just getting paid sometimes and thats when the law makes it easy to sue!) I guess putting a copyright notice on the artwork might help a little, but not sure if most would read it or take any notice if they thought they could save a few quid by going elsewhere.

Its a difficult situation and unfortunately it only serves to create a reluctance on our part to spend time creating really nice looking designs unless guaranteed the job. Interesting to know if others have come up with any other solutions to the problem...

Nigel
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 10:40 am

Yeh, I know what you mean - I spent a lot of time in the past doing this kinda "free" artwork only to have it nicked by someone who apparently quoted a cheaper price


Nigel I hate to say this but DUH!!! of course they are cheaper you've already done the artwork for them, they dont have to sit there scratching their heads trying to figure something out for the customer, you've saved them 2 hours work. NEVER! NEVER! NEVER! give away your designs.

This is what it says on my proof sheets
This artwork is the property of ©Steve Broughton 2004
The texts and images shown are strictly copyright.
They may not be altered, reproduced or recreated in whole
in part or in essence by any means whatsoever without the
direct written permission of the copyright holder.
Any unauthorised third party reproduction will be charged
at £200 per occasion.

and I tell the customer this also, "Look mate if you want to take the design with you then I'm going to have to charge you £XX for it, I've spent ?hrs designing it for you, this is work I do not do for free but I will deduct this amount from the final bill for the job (although I'd already added it on at the start), if you give this design to another sign company without my permission I will bill you for this also", make it plain to them politely that you are in business to make money and ask them if they would work for 2 or 3 hours for their competition for free. Explain your reasoning behind this most people will understand and those that say no well then you knew they had no intention of giving you the job anyway but were just looking for some poor sap to design their signs for nowt.
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 10:46 am

I'm in the same position as you Nigel,
I like to have some type of drawing (that I’ve done) to quote to..
The other week I went to look a job, the customer said they had been quoted a very low price, I told them I wouldn’t be able to beat it, and wouldn’t waste my time trying, however I would put a new design and price together.
The price was twice that of the other quote, but I got the job because of the design.
I printed out a colour visual, took it to the shop and showed them, I explained that I couldn’t give them a copy but if they wanted anyone else to look at it I could bring it back…
I will never leave anyone with artwork unless it has been paid for ( anyone can beat a price without having to do designs), there are a quite a few sign makers around here that could beat my prices, I try and do nicer designs, rather than white Foamex panel with black block text screwed to the wall.

As was mentioned, it hard enough getting paid for some jobs let alone trying to prove copy-write. Don't give them the opportunity to steal it.....

Simon
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 11:15 am

Steve can I nick your copyright message or will you charge me £200! :-?

I've been meaning to add something like this to my designs but never got round to it.

I do the same as Simon and try to produce something that will get the business come hell or high water. I did have a customer ask what the score was if he took my design to another company if their quote was cheaper which I thought was refreshingly honest! I pointed out that the sign would probably have a very short shelf life.......... (:) :wink:
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 11:33 am

Martin err as long as you remember to change the name mate :lol: :lol: :lol: :-? :wink: OK :lol: :lol:
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 12:14 pm

One thing my brother did when he was a photgrapher was to send a "proof" print to himself. He would mark the envelope with the ref no so he knew what it was and would file the envelope containing the proof pic unopened. The envelope contained all the details of date, time taken etc and as its in a sealed and date-stamped envelope, this would give accurate info, should the need for copyright issues arise. This would probably work with artwork for signs, just post a copy to yourself. The other way is to ask the customer to sign and date the artwork then send this copy to yourself! thus if the owner does get the sign done by someone else you have a signed copy to state from the owner of the shop that it is your design. (I think that makes sense??? (yawn) I make a point of the sealed and date-stamped envelope as with everything in life, anything is copyable and you could easily "remove" the date and signature of the shop owner from any further copies.

Gaz
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 1:14 pm

Nigel and Simon...
Please follow Steve's advice.
He is 100% right.
NEVER let anything out of your door
without some $$ down.
People can be very devious,
like saying, "Well, I just want to
show this to my Mrs." and ya never
see them again, but you see YOUR
design on their business! GRRR.
Get tuff, boys. Nothing is free.
At least not when I'm getting it!
And ALWAYS sign your work,
either with a sticker, paint, or
a small cut-out in a large graphic panel.
Love-JILL :wink:
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 1:20 pm

I think we all know that Steve is right and that we should take a fee/deposit before parting with a design.

It may also be a good idea to print a receipt on the reverse of the design sheet. This would have an official look to it and imply that it is standard policy and is expected.
It could state that the amount will be deducted from the cost of the job if carried out. It could also have a box for a signature, ‘for and on behalf of Acme Signs’.


Will I be asking for design deposits? Probably not, (too soft by half) :roll: but I do like to superimpose a ghost image of ‘© AE Signs’ over the actual design to at least cause some small amount embarrassment to another sign co. thinking of copying it.


Alan
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 1:31 pm

Hi Jill, I totally agree with Steve.

I never give artwork away...when I first started on my own years ago, maybe a couple of times. Not anymore, it’s all charged for.
What I do like to do, is lay out the signs for quotes, even if the client never sees the drawings,
I find it helps with getting sizes and shape right, (less risk of forgetting to put something on the quote).

Cheers

Simon
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 3:42 pm

Some thoughts.......

Having charged for your design, why deduct the cost if you get the work?

What do you all do when a prospective client rolls up on your doorstep with artwork prepared by someone else? Turn them away with a stern lecture on copyright and morals?
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 4:07 pm

johnchilds wrote:What do you all do when a prospective client rolls up on your doorstep with artwork prepared by someone else? Turn them away with a stern lecture on copyright and morals?


No we usually laugh out loud at their pathetic designs. :lol: :lol: :lol:

The point is, our designs are always fantastic and everyone else’s are rubbish. That’s why they pinch our designs. :-? :lol: and we consider our designs so good that we don’t charge for them. :o


Alan
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 4:33 pm

Alan wrote:
johnchilds wrote:What do you all do when a prospective client rolls up on your doorstep with artwork prepared by someone else? Turn them away with a stern lecture on copyright and morals?


No we usually laugh out loud at their pathetic designs. :lol: :lol: :lol:

The point is, our designs are always fantastic and everyone else’s are rubbish. That’s why they pinch our designs. :-? :lol: and we consider our designs so good that we don’t charge for them. :o


Alan


Been there done that :lol: or its usually "my nephew designed this" too which I always reply "OK then I'll get my nephew to fit it!"

John you missed the bit about always adding the design price onto the price of the job, that way they just THINK they're getting a good deal.
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 5:36 pm

If a customer comes along asks for a quote and want a logo, it should be included in the quote.

X for the artwork
X for the sign

Or just .. the sign following your indications cost X.
It includes......
We specify all the options included.

If the client accept then we begin the work, not before the quote approval.

Also, we always let a margin, for example if the quote they say 10 photos to be scanned and finally thar are 12 or 9, we don't change the final quote. However if ther are 15 we advise that the final quote will be higher acording the new work.

Aitor
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 10:29 pm

Well theres some food for thought guys/girls - Thanks for your answers :)
I agree with a lot of what has been said/suggested, but still think that in real life situations it will be difficult to put into action sometimes.
Steve, I will recycle your copyright message too if you don't mind :wink: as part of my action plan to tighten up on this problem.
I think I will start to say to customers in the first instance that any artwork created for them by me will be charged at £x per hour rather than a flat rate as it is too difficult to know how much time/effort is going to be involved at an early stage.
Then having done the design i will put the above note on the proof(s) and maybe also watermark image too.
As Alan said I too am obviously being far too soft on customers in general :) and boy are they goin to be sorry I joined the UKSB :D
The offical proof/copyright sheet is being designed as you read this....

Nigel
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Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 10:41 pm

We do exactly as Steve has already said, think yourself lucky if all they're doing is stealing your designs, two signs we fitted yesterday (Sunday) on a busy main road at 9.00AM were stolen by lunchtime, rats, I didn't think they'd have liked the design that much. :-?
I am assured payment will be received (?)
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Post Tue Jan 27, 2004 6:44 pm

yea it happens

I have "drawings supplied upon approval" at the bottom of all my quotes, any artwork I do for quotes I dont show the customer. A portfollio of your past work should be enough to show customers that you can handle design work. Steve is right in his approach, put in black and white and then you have some grounds for a complaint if needed
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Post Tue Jan 27, 2004 7:57 pm

Not quite as bad as your problem outline but I had a right one today - In line with my new "get TOUGH" approach to artwork I went round to see a customer who I had done 2-3 hrs of design work for a facia sign of a new shop just before Christmas. I know I should have got back to her sooner but we left it that she was having wiring work done and would call me when she was ready. Anyway I gets to the shop and lo and behold theres my sign (well almost) up on the shop (:)
So infuriated I drove back to the office to give myself time to decide what to do. I was all revved up for a argument when I called her later and said "I see you had your sign done by someone ELSE...." she says "... oh yes really sorry but my family clubbed together and bought it for me from another sign company" so I say "...well you won't mind if I send you a invioce for my artwork time then ?" and she burst into tears telling me how awfull her christmas had been and how everything had gone wrong with the new shop :-?
This kinda took the wind out of my sails a bit and when she'd calmed down a bit I said since she was having a bad time I would only charge her £25+vat. After a few more sobs she said OK and that was that - Invoice gone in the post tonight !!

You just never know what will happen ... just another reason to get my copyright issues sorted asap.

Nigel
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Post Tue Jan 27, 2004 9:02 pm

Now that is cheek for you ! I'd add a zero to the end though.

We stopped suppling artwork but sometimes I find it restricting so I have to. Someone recently took my artwork design to a 'sign' maker who reproduced it (cheaper) on a van and made a right b*lls of it. I can't wait to return the compliment .

YES - YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE !!!!
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Post Tue Jan 27, 2004 11:41 pm

Steve,

I didn't miss the point about adding the cost of the design to the total job. In fact my whole point is that that is asking to be undercut.

If your price includes design time and your competitors doesn't then he will always be able to eat you on price. Of course he can, he has to spend less time on the job.

Get the order for the design and charge for it. You can then quote for the job on level terms with everyone else.

There's no need to give them the charge back if they give you the job. Your competitors can't, they didn't do the design, so why should you?
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Post Thu Jan 29, 2004 9:55 pm

The easiest answer is to charge for artwork that you have gave them if they don't have the signs made by you. If they do have the signs made by you then you say that the artwork is free. Thats what I do.

Its still your time and effort that you have put into designing it, so why not charge for it, graphic designers charge, and so should you.

From Mark

PS. Its usually the cowboy sign makers that gets the job and use your artwork to follow and make a pigs ear of the sign!

Its happened to me, and now I tell the customer that I charge for drawings if they don't come back to me

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