I am constantly baffled by the stories I hear of the sign guy who ripped someone off. Aren’t these people business owners? Isn’t customer service the most important thing? How do you keep customers if you keep making them angry?
I met a guy who put down 5k on a 10k sign and 7 months later still has not heard back, no one is returning his calls and now he has his lawyer after them. I heard about a sign “gal” who told her story of woe to the customer about how she has to have this sale so she can buy a plane ticket to go see her son, but you have to pay up front for a sign that is not only expensive but completely unnecessary (could have had the same effect at half the price – installed!). I know a contractor who is afraid of his sign person….who did not hesitate to call the contractors wife a b—-! I’ve heard of companies who use cheap removable vinyl and charge for high-performance vinyl (it looks dry and cracked in 2 years, high-performance vinyl should give you 5-10 years under normal use). I could go on and on but honestly…..I’m embarrassed to be considered the same trade as such crooks.
And it is a trade. Until the event of computer graphics, we were called “sign writers”. Those of us, who have trained in the trade the way most people train in a trade, had to earn our position through hard work and had to apprentice under a master. Specifically, we started out doing the crap jobs over and over again (sanding, painting, vinyl strapping, adhesive removal, etc), and with experience moved on to production, fabrication, and installation, design and sales.
The professional, independent sign companies stick together. We congratulate each other on the bids we win. We refer work to each other. We subcontract work to each other. I have 2 large format printers but no router table. The other guy next town over has a router table but no large format printer. We share. Honestly, there is enough work out there for all of us and we don’t begrudge each other our successes. We even share materials: “Dave, do you have any Oracle sunflower yellow? Great I’ll pick it up today on my way home and replace it next week”, “Dawn, I only do vehicles but one of my customers needs some lawn signs. Can you look after him for me?” He doesn’t need to add “I know you do vehicles too and I would appreciate it if you didn’t try to sell him vehicle graphics”. Between professionals, that goes without saying.
So don’t confuse a graphic designer with a sign maker. Two years in college and a second-hand plotter in mom’s basement does not make one a sign maker. We use graphic design but specific to signs. What looks good on a business card or flyer will not always look good on a sign. There is only one school left in the US that still teaches sign writing as a trade (and proud to say it is here in Ma).
If your sign guy is not treating you like the professional you are, then he isn’t a professional. He is an artist with an attitude. Let him practice his art at his expense, not yours. Trust your feelings and don’t let anyone put you down or bully you. You are paying them for a product and service. They have to earn it, not the other way around. As a professional full-service sign shop, we are privileged to serve you. You are not the one who is privileged to receive our service.
You can always call another shop or two if you are unsure of what is being offered or if the price seems unreasonable. You don’t have to pay for honest answers when you ask questions of a true professional. Give us a call. Many times we have been able to tell business owners that they are getting a good deal, even if it’s not from us.