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Post Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:17 pm

quoting signs

just started on my own three weeks ago and struggling finding time to see customers and getting jobs done
How do you get the right balance
Thanks
Nick
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Post Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:22 pm

You mean you haven't grown that extra pair of hands yet, don't worry you will :D


Being in two places at once takes a little time to perfect........... :wink:
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Post Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:25 pm

he he, you might as well ask 'what's the meaning of life' :wink:

it only gets worse, wait till you try and find the time to do the paperwork :-?
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Post Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:31 pm

thanks i think i get a faster van
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Post Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:34 pm

Hi Nick

Its definitely the right problem to have!

Whats the nature of your business?
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Post Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:39 pm

started out as sign writer worked for firm for 15 years mainly as fitter vans making signs etc
So now doing everything
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Post Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:57 pm

Good luck!

Hope it works out for you!
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Post Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:59 pm

thanks mate
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Post Sat Mar 27, 2010 12:30 am

I'm glad that you're short of time after only three weeks in the business. That can't be bad. :D

I can only tell you what I did in your circumstances, and that was to be out most of the day seeing customers and fitting vans, then spending all night making stuff.

They were similar times then (recession) so I did that for as long as I physically could before starting my first employee. It was hard work, but I was a lot younger then. :D
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Post Sat Mar 27, 2010 12:40 am

My only concern is that you don't fall into the trap of being a "busy fool". (I hope this is coming across ok - but in reality it is easy to be very busy without making any money).

Try and focus on being productive with your time. Time is money. :D
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Post Sat Mar 27, 2010 1:18 am

yes i now what your saying but ive been pricing the same prices as the place i used to
Work so no cheap prices
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Post Sat Mar 27, 2010 1:31 am

thanks for advice everybody
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Post Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:53 am

Nick, as others have said it is a nice problem to have, other than try and manage your time efficiently there isn't a lot you can do without thinking about employing someone. Like John 1 used to do most of my design work and paperwork sat at home in the evening which left most of the day clear for other things. What sort of timescale do you give your customers ?? I know most people want the job done straight away but if customers really want you to do the work they will normally wait a bit, I found that the people who expected a van done for them straight away were the sort of people I didn't really want for customers anyway so if they went elsewhere I wasn't to concerned.
When you feel the time has come to employ someone think about employing someone part time to start with, I know a number of signmakers who did that and it seemed to work out quite well for them.
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Post Sat Mar 27, 2010 12:17 pm

Martin wrote:When you feel the time has come to employ someone think about employing someone part time to start with, I know a number of signmakers who did that and it seemed to work out quite well for them.

I think that's good advice.

We're at the stage where we need someone to help out in the cutting room. The questions are: is there enough work for a full timer, and will this increase in workload last beyond the next few months? The solution is to advertise the job as part-time (with hours to suit) and a possibility of full time later.

In the past that has brought us in young mothers with children at school who only want to work from 9.00am until 3.00pm, and it has worked out very well for us. The thing is that, generally, you can get as much work done by a female in six hours as you can from a young lad in eight. They're usually more conscientious too.
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Post Sat Mar 27, 2010 12:36 pm

John Childs wrote:
Martin wrote:When you feel the time has come to employ someone think about employing someone part time to start with, I know a number of signmakers who did that and it seemed to work out quite well for them.

I think that's good advice.

We're at the stage where we need someone to help out in the cutting room. The questions are: is there enough work for a full timer, and will this increase in workload last beyond the next few months? The solution is to advertise the job as part-time (with hours to suit) and a possibility of full time later.

In the past that has brought us in young mothers with children at school who only want to work from 9.00am until 3.00pm, and it has worked out very well for us. The thing is that, generally, you can get as much work done by a female in six hours as you can from a young lad in eight. They're usually more conscientious too.


Interesting John, I have the unfortunate job of losing a young lad on Monday for a number of reasons. That will make just 2 of us again but I was unsure whether to look for another youngster or even someone of later years who wanted part time. I never even considered young mothers.

Will have to give it some consideration.

Cheers

Gary
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Post Sat Mar 27, 2010 12:56 pm

Gary Birch wrote:Will have to give it some consideration.

Worth thinking about Gary.

We once had one who was less than satisfactory but, in the main, our experience has been very good.

Young lads need choosing with a lot of care. The right one can be full of energy, keen to learn, and be a great asset to your business. They don't come with previous bad habits and you can train them from day one in the way you want things done. On the other hand, most of them have expectations beyond their value, and maybe behavioural problems. You can waste a lot of time keeping them on the straight and narrow. My experience is that only one out of every ten will be any good.

Young mothers, however, tend to be old enough to have grown out of their youthful ways and have a lot better attitude to work. The success rate with those has been a lot higher and like I said, we have only ever had one reject get past the interview process.
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Post Sun Mar 28, 2010 1:09 am

Totally agree John, plus they look better and make better coffee!

Only issue I would have is time off to kids illness etc and physical power but as they a lot to gain from a descent job they would tend to make better employees. My wife helps me out alot of the time.

Also worth considering is that the unemployed of over 6 months are given two £500 vouchers. One is given to the new employer at the start of employment, the second after 3 months of working for you so you basically get £1000 to take a guy/gal of the dole.

Food for thought...
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Post Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:43 am

Matty Goodwin wrote:Totally agree John, plus they look better and make better coffee!

Actually Matt, our best tea maker is Danny, plus he looks better than some of the girls we've had working here. :D

Physical power isn't an issue in this case because we are only looking for someone in the office to make the decals, not to apply them, or erect signs.

Time off can be annoying, certainly, but, again, the girl's attitude is usually better. If they have to do it we get something like, "I can't come in this morning because little Kyle is ill, but my Mum can look after him this afternoon, so I'll be in after lunch". A lad in the same circumstances would just take the whole day off without a thought for the carnage he is leaving behind him.

Pregnancy can be an issue too, and we've had that more than once, but we've been lucky and it's happened when we were able to work around it. That's not to say that will always be the case of course.

On the whole I think I prefer the female, although it's all academic, because we're not allowed to make a decision based on gender. Are We? :D

The point about the £1,000 for unemployed over six months is worth thinking about if you have two applicants of equal ability, but I'd be wary of making a decision based solely on that. Employees are expensive and the wrong one can soon offset that payment.


Finally, I need to talk to you about a possible job. If I've not been in touch by tomorrow lunchtime it means I've forgotten, so give me a call.
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Post Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:08 pm

Its a tough call, and in no way by saying the following do I feel like I have it sussed, as I haven't at all, just with the way things have been last year, I've learned some very valuable (& costly) lessons

I completely understand the busy fool scenario having been one for the past few years.

We backed ourselves into a tough position to get out of. We used to take on practically any job, people would come in to the shop and get £80 jobs in a couple of hours, people would be rushing around leaving work late, working through the night stressing out etc etc.

We solely focused on our turnover and suffered because of it.
We were cramming in silly rush jobs for people who had no respect for our time or the quality of our work, whilst delaying & not giving enough attention to the completion of thousands of pounds worth of 'decent' work in the process.

We sat down in December and carried out a small audit on the company.

We cut out some basic things, i.e cheaper & faster internet, got rid of a couple of phone lines, the £280 a year water cooler, the fax that always needs to be refilled so we can receive more junk about hi-vis jackets & lease cars.

To give an example of how crazy things were, in 2008 we turned over £27k more then in 2007... and made 11k less then the year before - so to summarise we worked like crazy put loads of figures through and made £38,000 less for our troubles.

Things like the vinyl bill, overtime etc were just phenomenal invoices were coming in every day.

Things got a little better last year and a few decent contracts evened things out, since the audit things are really going well, we turned over 8k less on the same period the year before (09) from Jan to March but this year made 6k more, its amazing that In 6 years of being here I haven't sat down and carried out an audit and monitored where we were throwing money away.

Now if we dont make at least 45% on a job, we politely turn it away, we pretty much refuse to go into bidding wars with competition, I would rather spend the time getting the house in order the get stressed out for a heavily reduced profit.

Dont get me wrong, I have still spent the whole weekend working, at least now I'm confident the business will get a return for it.

Dont be afraid to sub out work, theres nothing better then getting a tray with say, built up lettering already attached to it and subbing the fitting out, that way you've taken £500.00 for a fascia design & given yourself half a day to get some other work out.

We have taken another employee on a part time basis (she's learning web design at college the other 2) She only really takes care of the design aspect of the job, (fluent in CS3 & Quark) she handles all printing (wide format and digital) and acts as cover for my artwork leaving me free to quote.... & sit on the signboards
:lol1:

We always order in bulk now, this leaves us free to take up special offers, like the 2 for 1 on third party inks some suppliers have been offering, vinyls like white, red black yellow etc always are ordered in 50m rolls, our vinyls orders have gone from 3/4x a week to 1 or 2 at a push.

We have taken a stance now, that if the customers work is 'so important' they should of arranged it a lot sooner rather then sit on it and let it become my problem.

We overquote all 'rush jobs' if the client queries the cost we explain its not the product they are paying for, its the service and to cover all the other work getting put on hold. Obviously we have clients we're more then happy to go that extra mile for but people from off the street its just not gonna happen
Last edited by Richard Daniel on Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:16 pm

Well said Richard & well done.

John
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Post Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:41 pm

nice one Richard...wise wise words and actions..something for us all there...thank you for your openness and sharing your experiences.
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Post Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:44 pm

Thanks very much :D
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Post Mon Apr 12, 2010 8:20 pm

Ive now got to the point of trying the same. Set a price with the profit margin I want and dont budge. Lastminute.com clients are now also paying a premium on anything thats required in under 3 weeks, and you find out quick that you still get the work and its way more satisfying.

Basicaly if you take on a job and loose interest half way through, then you didnt quote right. A phrase I always remember is "double your prices and loose half of your customers"................less work and same money. I no longer get into bidding wars as I simply tell people you aint just buying a sign you are also getting my time and knowledge, not to mention quality and peace of mind.

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