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Hi all new here and hoping to make to make some buddies!!

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Post Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:41 pm

Hi all new here and hoping to make to make some buddies!!

Hi all!!

New here and hoping to make some buddies!! I've been recommended to join this site by another sign maker. Was told i might get some help.

I am in the process of starting up a sign and print company. I have been doing bits and bats but nothing on the major extent.

I wanted to ask, suppose a customer has no Internet and you have no unit or base where customers can approach you as you work from home.
what would you do in these circumstances.i.e how would you work?? I am currently working like this:

step 1. go and meet customer and design with the customer
step 2. meet customer again and take measurements and take 50% deposit when the customer is happy with the design.
step 3. go to buy materials
step 4. print and apply on to materials
step 5. install
step 6. take the remainder 50% of owed money.

known disadvantage's to my method

it takes too much time and if the customer is a little far it costs time and
money (fuel e.t.c) and he may turn round and say he doesn't want the work.

too much faffing about designing when the customer is present

customer tends to take too much time when it comes to paying the remainder of the deposit.

as i have another empty room in another property about 4 minutes drive away i was thinking of using it as a customer base to seat customer and see to their requirements and use my initial property to do the printing. what would peoples thoughts be on this idea??? and what would be a
good way to work round this as i would have to be in one place for printing and another for my customers?? I cant move the printer as the place is too small at the new property.

cheerio!!
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Post Tue Oct 06, 2009 5:44 pm

Why not just work from home as 99% of the time you will visit a customer to assess signage.
Don't do all the design work before a deposit unless you are really sure of that customer.
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Post Tue Oct 06, 2009 5:57 pm

hello stuart

Bit of a trade off really - no premesis means no direct overheads in one way, but travelling round more are overheads in themselves, so two sides of coin really (i speak from experience having done both) so charge properly chase money promptly and if it works youll be in a dedicated unit before long anyhow I guess

John
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Post Tue Oct 06, 2009 7:12 pm

John Harding wrote:Bit of a trade off really - no premesis means no direct overheads in one way, but travelling round more are overheads in themselves

That's true John, but premises are a fixed overhead, whereas travelling is a variable one.

For somebody starting up it may be that the variable, which is only incurred in proportion to the work carried out, may be preferable to a fixed overhead that has to be paid every month regardless of whether any work is done or not.
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Post Tue Oct 06, 2009 7:44 pm

MY MAIN CONCERN I GUESS IS EFFICIENCY. GOING TO MEET A CUSTOMER WHO WILL MAKE ME DO A DESIGN FOR HIM WHICH MEANS COST IN TIME, EFFORT AND FUEL AND HE MAY DECIDE HE DOESN'T WANT THE WORK DONE (FROM EXPERIENCE). OR A NON PAYING CUSTOMER. JUST TRYING TO GET THROUGH THESE BARRIERS WHICH I FACE.
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Post Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:39 pm

Hi Stuart

Why do you have to do the designs before you get the job. Work out a rough price list for your services. ie a simple panatrim frame and foamex panels at 3m x 1m would cost you say £100+VAT in materials. Work out how much you need to make a decent profit to supply & fit and regardless of the design you have a price that you do not have to spend time doing artwork for. I have spent time setting up rough price lists for digital and vinyl banners, lightboxes, panatrim frames, vehicles all my digital printing onto various materials and this way I can weed out the time wasters without setting up artwork for every joe bloggs.

It takes time but it is worth it in the end.

Good luck

Alex
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Post Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:39 pm

I'm only started about 2months on my own from my house in a double garage. I have premises to move into if this works for me but a the mean time I'm staying put because of no overheads. Whats the best way to work out a rough price list for all the different jobs?? I'm trying to promote my business as well But am not sure of the best ways. I know word of mouth is the best but because I'm new I want to try and get my name out and about. I've went to different businesses to tell them I'm doing this and give out business cards but what other ways could you promote a new business??
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Post Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:43 pm

No design without a deposit, regardless if you are working from a storefront or in a cardboard box on the side of the road.
Set up a website as an online portfolio, and also take real photos of your work and put them in an album to show to the 2% of people left who don't have the Internet.
Subscribe to SignCraft and get their free pricing guide.
Love....Jill
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Post Tue Oct 06, 2009 11:03 pm

Whats Signcraft??lol
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Post Tue Oct 06, 2009 11:19 pm

Nicholas.Gormley wrote:Whats Signcraft??lol
:-?

http://www.signcraft.com/home.aspx
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Post Wed Oct 07, 2009 5:14 pm

Alot of helpful info there by everyone so cheers a million. I guess its more a matter of being time efficient which i am worried about. what i should be doing to make myself be more economical when dealing with customers is more a great concern. As we all know customers like to get the best out of you in any way they can!! So I have decided on this route:

provide customers with quote

then get deposit
then design / get customer to come to you if you have an office or go to customer with a laptop. The one problem i have found when traveling to customers is they really waste your time making sure they get there things done which is very, very annoying as you have to sit around waiting for them.


install, do the job and get remainder of 50% of the deposit leaving a little unfinished work. once remainder is paid finish off the slight remainder. I say this as customers take you for a ride and at times i have had to wait for weeks to get the remainder of my money.

any thoughts on the efficiency of my formula?? any issues which could arise or flaws??
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Post Wed Oct 07, 2009 5:46 pm

Hi Stuart

As per most things this works in an ideal world but as everyone on here knows it rarely works that way. You will here all the excuses under the sun especially when it comes to giving your regular clients credit. We all know that 30 days turns into a lost cheque book or all of a sudden there is a problem with the sign or the invoice which was never mentioned before now..lol I am still chasing £1000 from a long term client who after 60 days of chasing came up with the excuse that they did not know where to send the cheque...A regular customer of more than 4 years.

We all know that in these time people string it out for as long as they can but this took the biscuit. I would have preferred that they did not insult my intelligence and just say we cannot afford to pay in one go.

You will eventually hear them all

Good Luck

Alex
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Post Wed Oct 07, 2009 11:05 pm

I think as Alex says, we don't live in an ideal world.

Just because you're starting out does not mean you need to offer credit to anyone,

I work from home, well.. a workshop down the garden, and plenty of customers come to see me, i prefer it if it's a vehicle anyways, if it's a site visit then i go out, take measurements, discuss what they want and what kind of budget they have (not everyone will declare this), I then go away, draw up a design, watermark it copyright and email it to them, if no email I ask them to come here in case any changes are required, if they prefer you to come out, suggest you'll be glad too but, you'll have to add the additional time to the final bill, they soon choose to come to you then!

once happy with the design i take a deposit, anything from enough to cover the materials to anything which takes my fancy, depends how much i feel i need, tell the customer that the balance is due when you come to install the sign, personally i've only ever once had a problem getting money this way in 4 years, again, if they ask for credit, say you don't work that way, simple as that. if they really have no money there then give it a 7 day term, no more. if it gets to 30 days turn up with ladders and wait for the cash to magically appear!

yes, word of mouth is the best form of advertising, next best is as already mentioned, have a walkabout on your local high streets and industrial estates, introduce yourself, your company and leave a card, take a ladder, tape, notepad and pen just in case but, don't try to sell if they don't ask, I've also gained work by poking my head through a door when a new tenant is moving in, by leaving cards with shopfitters, etc.

HUgh
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Post Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:19 am

I think any business, new or old, needs to offer credit.

But only where a credit account is appropriate. That's when the customer has, or is likely to make, regular multiple purchases each month, and monthly accounting makes things easier for both parties.

A one-off job, when that customer is unlikely to be back for anything else in the near future, and you have no relationship with them, should be paid on collection or completion.

That's the theory anyway.

Of course, we break it all the time. :-?
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Post Thu Oct 08, 2009 1:31 am

Just a couple of points that I don't know if you have thought about, operating out of 2 properties might cost you quite a bit more in Rates as you will have to declare that you are working from the 2 different places, not sure what additional costs are involved in working from home or what you can claim back but I doubt that 2 properties would be classed the same.
If you are going to leave a job uncompleted until you get paid in full that is going to upset a lot of people and may cost you work, also it will involve another trip to finish off and you are trying to save yourself time not spend extra time on a job.

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