Are all Sign Manufacturers the same?

Are all #sign #manufacturers the same or is there a difference between one sign manufacturer and another?

As with all businesses, every sign business needs to maximize profits in order to survive.

Unlike many businesses, and because signs are custom made, and because materials differ, it sometimes happens that ‘cheaper’ short cuts are available. Short cuts can include using different – read as cheaper – (materials which generally have a shorter life span), or manufacturing techniques that are time saving, (but often at the trade off of longevity of the sign).

An example is a sign we recently inspected where the returns (the sides or part of the sign or letter that creates depth) of the letters had ‘popped’ so that the curves (around the O and a) had returned to their natural state and became straight. This means that over time the face of the 3D letter will fall off, which is what is happening with this sign.

Generally the returns of fabricated, #3D letters are heated and bent. They are then ‘chemically welded’ so that they retain the new shape. Saving time by not heating the returns can save money and get the job done faster. Using less chemicals may also result in some, almost insignificant, cost savings. Both will almost certainly also substantially reduce the life expectancy of the #3D sign.

While making the cheap initial purchase could possibly still be a worthwhile purchase, the adage ‘let the buyer beware’ is certainly worth remembering as in the long run (over five to ten years) the cost to replace broken or lost letters tends to be significantly higher than the cost to have it done properly up front. And that cost excludes the potential for negative press if, for example, an element of a sign breaks and hits someone or something.

For a quote on quality #3D signs by an experienced sign company that guarantee our work, contact SignForce at info@signforce.co.za or +(27) (0)11 440-7524 or  +(27) (0)11 440-7525

What makes a #sign expensive? Signs as an investment.

What makes a sign ‘expensive’?

Expensive is a VERY subjective word, so lets look at the input costs and how that could, would or should influence one’s purchasing decision.

#SignForce, as all sign suppliers, work in a very competitive market. There are generally many sign businesses in a relatively small area, especially as #signage is a low entry cost business. Because of the high level of competition, each sign business needs to have ‘something’ that makes our business ‘stand out’. For the person making the purchase, the high level of competition means one SHOULD be able to compare various options and get the best solution to fit your requirements, although COST, OUTLAY or INITIAL INVESTMENT is often the deciding factor, very often at the sacrifice of long term investment or long term LIFE of the sign.

Because COST or INITIAL OUTLAY is such a HUGE determining factor for many buyers, one of the easiest ways to stand out  is on ‘price’. It is easy for clients to choose the lowest cost supplier, as, generally, all suppliers will quote to supply the same LOOKING sign.

Often how this works is the potential client (or buyer) will send out a ‘tender’, which consists of a picture of how the sign should look. Sophisticated buyers will also supply detailed specifications – which they understand and can check – but this is less common than only supplying a picture and sizes. Also too often the person supplying the specifications does not gave a great understanding of what they are specifying so their ability to ensure that they receive what was quoted could be limited.

Because EVERYONE is quoting on the same OUTCOME (read that as picture), when the buyer gets their three or more competing quotes, they naturally assume they are comparing ‘APPLES’ with ‘APPLES’, but because #signs are not standard, off the shelf items, the design, makeup and materials can (and generally will) differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. As such, although all the signs may (initially) LOOK the same when installed, they could, in reality, be EXTREMELY different.

In order to explain I am going to use the example of a modular, internally illuminated light box sign with an acrylic face that is illuminated using energy efficient LED lights. I am using a modular frame as we can then assume that everyone that is quoting is using the same external frame, so all the quotes would have the same (or similar) input costs for the frame.

Now lets look at the make up of the sign, starting with ILLUMINATION. There are a number of LED’s that can be used on a light box sign. The difference can be anything from in how much light the LED emits (lumens) to the size of the individual LED units (or modules) to the angle of the light emitted from the LED module (especially if the module has a LENS), the expected life of the units and the COST. Because there are so many variables, for the purpose of this article I will compare cost that can vary from about R35 (US$ 13) per meter to about R500 (US$ 186) per meter. It would seem obvious there are a number of variables that affect the cost, but for #SignForce the important differences are (a) the LED’s are the correct LED’s for the job (meaning they will give equal and sufficient light), (b) the expected life of the LED and (c) the LED’s are sure to do the job (preferably guaranteed) so that the business will not have any unnecessary call backs which can be substantially more costly than the cost of the LED’s.

Other factors that can have a GREAT  impact on the cost include, but are not limited to, (a) the size of the sign (this has way too many variables to reference in this article), (b) the cost of the decoration (print versus cut vinyl versus ink versus paint) (we will only refer to PRINT where costs have a range difference that can easily exceed 500%, with the quality and life span of the print varying greatly), (c) the thickness of the acrylic face (this is influenced by the size of the sign and possibly the location of the sign, and will in turn influence the cost of both the acrylic (the thicker the higher the cost) and the beading that holds (supports) the acrylic face). (d) If the frame is to be painted the make up and application method of the paint can also have a great impact on costs, both due to the large difference in cost of the base paint as well the time and process differences between the various application methods which range from ‘dipping’ to using a paint brush to spray painting and powder coating.

At #SignForce we take our guarantee VERY SERIOUSLY, and as such we use materials which, while generally more costly, will have a higher likelihood of lasting and not creating negative comebacks from clients. This does tend to make the initial outlay slightly higher, (historically this is generally no more than 20%), but #SignForce’s logic is that having to redo a sign after three to five years could be substantially more costly than having a sign that does it’s job well for it’s intended life, which is generally seven years, even if the decoration needs to be replaced more regurarly.

For more information on why SignForce views #signs as an investment or on purchasing  quality signs that will consistently keep you in your prospective clients eyes for many years to come, please contact #SignForce at info@signforce.co.za

Is my low tech #Sign job in jeopardy?

Is my low tech #sign JOB in jeopardy?

With all the advances made in technology, especially with relation to the #sign industry, there are times that I wonder if I am in danger of losing my job to a computer. This may happen as artificial intelligence (commonly known as AI) improves, but I am not sure how creative AI thinking is. While there are times I get concerned about the value I add to my client’s and thus about my job security, there are also times when I think – or realize – that as much as technology improves, there are certain skills that simply require ‘out of the box’ thinking.

For me this was highlighted when two incidents happened within fairly close proximity to each other.

The first was a YouTube video I saw and the other was a job I was asked to print. The video is by a somewhat radical news reader, @Liz_Wheeler from TIPPING POINT on OAN who is not scared to ask very hard questions – she doesn’t always answer them – but the fact she stirs the pot should create enough fodder for some interesting dialog. The particular idea I am referring to can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLAS_p-6Rnc where Liz takes an extreme view on how far the ‘trans’ movement can or should be pushed. In particular she makes the comment “can a teenager buy alcohol because he identifies as over 21 years of age”. This got me thinking about how young adults are viewed and treated in society at large, in MY society in particular and how, being so much more tech savvy, they could replace this old goat.

The second was when my son asked me to print a graphic for a school project. The graphic is a beautiful design that was done by a 14 year old class mate. The design is beautiful and one can easily see the thought and effort that has gone into the design, and I am sure that once printed, the design will achieve the desired objective and help sell products at the school’s market day.

What got my brain linking the two was the lack of ability of the tech savvy 14 year old to complete the task  – something which I have seen numerous times with well respected designers who, while they can make the design come to life on paper or a screen, are unsure how to get the design to come TO LIFE if a 3D model of the design needs to be produced.

The ability of a designer to get their brilliant design off a piece of paper and onto a 3D model is, sadly, much rarer than one would imagine, and as such, the FEAR that MY #sign job is in jeopardy of being lost to a less expensive, much more sophisticated software package is certainly reduced.

If you have a brilliant design that you want made into a 3D model, contact us st #SignForce where we have almost two decades of experience making 3D masterpieces from beautiful paper designs.

Contact us now on + 27 (0)11 440 7525 / 4 or arnold@signforce.co.za

How BIG must my sign be?

How LARGE MUST my sign be? What size sign will best convey my message? From how far will people be able to read my sign?

These are questions we often get asked. As a joke, we tend to advise clients that, as a rule of thumb, (a) the bigger the better and (b) the sign should be as large as your budget allows. (Please note this IS a joke and while it is valid for outdoor signs, is not always best for intimate signs, where too big becomes gaudy.)

In truth, if a sign NEEDS to be visible from a specific distance – because it is located on the side of the road or it will only be viewed from moving vehicles or the sign is some distance from the point where it will be read (to name three of many scenario’s), then there are some rough scientific calculations that can be used to calculate the height the text needs to be in order for the text to be visible from a specific distance, as well as from a distance at speed. Please remember, at best, these calculations are rough guide, as they do not take into account ALL factors that affect visibility, especially height above the viewer.

The table below has been adapted from information taken from signsnow.com. For more in depth calculations, especially for measuring legible distance while driving, please visit https://www.usscfoundation.org/USSCSignLegiRulesThumb.pdf

It is important to remember that the table below refers to LETTER height ONLY. This means that if you have multiple lines of text or multiple words or either of these combined with a logo, the SIZE of THE SIGN will change, with the dependent factor being the DISTANCE at which the TEXT must be legible.

legible sign distance

For assistance for any signs, especially when you need to calculate sign size in order to make the sign legible, please call #SignForce on + 27 (0) 11 440 7524 / 5 or email arnold@signforce.co.za

Does your sign convey your desired message?

Every now and then – or possibly a little more often – we need to INSPECT our #signs to make sure that our #signs convey the message we WANT, INTEND and EXPECT.
I was driving down a main road and saw two #signs. The one is for a church. The other is a respected medical group that has emergency facilities.  Both of them were adorned by a squatter – a well printed paper sticker that promises to heal your every ailment while taking care of your PEN!S ENLARGEMENT.

While the sticker is not official and is not condoned, it is important for the #sign owners – both the Church and the medical facility – to ensure that their #signs are (a) clean, (b) maintained and (c) conveying the desired message, especially through association, as I don’t think they would get too much positive mileage from associating with sellers of snake oil and false hope.
This may seem funny to anyone who has signs that are out of reach, but the same principal applies – if you have a broken, dirty or faded #sign and the illumination is malfunctioning, does the sign convey the message you intend?
For assistance with maintaining your #signs and keeping a ledger of your #sign assets, call SignForce on +27 11 440 7525 or email us at arnold@signforce.co.za

How SHOULD signs be cleaned?

How SHOULD signs be cleaned, aka How do we clean our signs?

Lets start off by stating that it is always best to get in a professional SIGN company to clean your signs. This does not include simply dusting a sign which the business cleaner can – and should – do.

When referring to CLEANING of signs we are referring to when the sign needs to be (a) physically handled and / or (b) will have chemicals touching the sign and / or (c) may require the sign to be opened and / or moved.

While it may seem expensive to get a sign company that does sign cleaning in to clean your signs, the cost is generally far lower than replacing ANY ELEMENT of the sign. For example, if the sign cleaner touches and cracks a sign, or puts too much pressure on a pin and breaks the pin off the sign, or the sign cleaner uses the incorrect chemicals which can either drastically reduce the life of the sign or break it. It is quite something to see an Acrylic sign shatter, but not something that you want to happen because you have used the wrong chemical or chemicals.

If you are going to try clean your own signs it is generally best to stick to water and a dish washing detergent, using a SOFT, NON-ABRASIVE cloth. Handle the sign lightly and remember to remove ALL residue of the chemicals when finished cleaning otherwise the sign WILL streak and look tatty.

For more information on or assistance with cleaning your signs contact Arnold of SignForce now on +27 (0) 11 440 7525 or email us at arnold@signforce.co.za

Business Signs that are Too Good To Be True

Reading an article in Fortune (European edition,  2 February 2015, number 1) about “The fund that was too good to be true” – a story about a financial firm that was bound to make investors rich because they had discovered a “new” matrix to predict and win from market movements.
Schemes like this  have been around since the beginning of time and tend to thrive because of people’s ego and greed.

I try to teach my children and students to question everything they are told and read and see – including what I tell them and to question the content AS WELL AS motives and validity of information, as I believe this is the only way to satisfy oneself that what you are being “sold” is true and valid, so you are more likely to ‘get’ what you are ‘sold’.

That got me thinking about the Latin phrase “Caveat emptor” defined by Wikipedia as “kævɛɑːt ˈɛmptɔr/ is Latin for “Let the buyer beware”[1] (from caveat, “may he beware”, the subjunctive of cavere, “to beware” + emptor, “buyer”).” – and had me wondering,  just how informed should or does a buyer need to be – especially when purchasing large ticket items –  and should buyers need to worry themselves about the make up if the goods (in this case business signs) they purchase – as long as the goods meet the specifications and fulfill the needs of the client.

All this thinking came about because of a sign we at #SignForce are refurbishing a large, high ticket business sign.  When we opened the sign the internal workings and ‘creative’ system that got the sign illuminated were ingenious,  however, if the client had been more aware that the sign could not be maintained, as well as of the make up of the sign, I have to question if they would have been happy to pay the full fee for, or even accepted, the sign.

At #SignForce we believe in and strive to educate,  be transparent and working with you,  our client,  to make sure you get what we have sold.  We are not perfect so we don’t always get it right, but that is what we strive for.

For more on how #SignForce can assist you with your large and small sign requirements,  call us on + 27 ( 0 ) 11 440 7425 or email david@signforce.co.za or arnold@signforce.co.za

Why rushing when making a business sign is almost a GUARANTEE of failure

Rushing a sign – Almost a guarantee to make a mess

I love the saying “ the quality is generally remembered long after the headache of the delay “

We believe every non-cyber business needs a sign – and even some cyber businesses – need a sign. As the true, old adage goes – A Business Without A Sign Is A Sign Of No Business 

However, because we believe that all businesses need a sign does not mean that everyone agrees, especially when setting up the business and planning a budget. As such, we often see businesses that only remember they need a sign the day before they open their doors, when their budget has been depleted, and then they expect us to deliver their quality, complex sign the next day. 

Most people do not understand what makes a sign work, and they do not understand the process that goes into making a sign. While this is as it should be, it does bring it’s own challenges, especially in this modern world of IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION where many people believe that they can simply make a call or send an email and their custom sign – custom design, custom colours, custom size – will pop off the shelf and be ready in a matter of hours – which is not always realistic or possible as most components are HAND MADE.

The process involved in making signs is generally a very simple one consisting of a number of time consuming, labour intensive steps.

  1. The sign needs to be designed. Even when our clients have and supply a logo, very often the logo is not in a format that we can manufacture from. This takes a designer time to prepare.

  2. The sign needs to be manufactured. Depending on the sign this process can consist of computerized and / or manual labour. When manual labour is involved each component is made by hand, and this takes time to get a quality finish.

  3. When necessary the sign needs to be coloured to match the client’s colour specifications. Another manual, time consuming and labour intensive process.

  4. The sign needs to be prepared for installation – to ensure that the sign looks like the client’s name and / or logo and ensure that the image the sign projects is as per the client’s expectations. Another time consuming, manual labour process.

  5. If the sign needs to be illuminated the entire process of wiring and connecting the lights is a time consuming, labour intensive process.  
  6. Finally the sign needs to be installed, which is ALWAYS a time consuming, manual process.

As can be seen from this extremely oversimplified list, there are generally a number of manual, time consuming, labour intensive processes involved in the production of every sign.

It is because of the manual component that rushing a sign is more often than not a guaranteed recipe for something to GO WRONG, for the finished product to be poor quality, and ultimately for the sign to be rejected.

It is always advisable to ASK your sign maker HOW LONG they expect it will take to make and install your sign, then, unless they have a guarantee associated with the deadlineadd in a few days to make sure that you can realistically plan for when the sign will be installed.

For signs with a GUARANTEED deadline contact us at SignForce. We design, manufacture and install your quality signs, starting with the view that your successful sign needs to deliver on your expectations.

Call now on +27 (0) 11 440 7525 or email us at arnold@signforce.co.za or david@signforce.co.za

You can also view our gallery at http://www.signforce.co.za/gallery.php or view pictures at Google+https://plus.google.com/b/118104575416251079229/+SignforceCoZaforbestsigns or FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/SignForceSouthAfrica

#SignForce  #BusinessSigns  #Signs

Is SIGN QUALITY more, as or less important than PRICE

Is quality dead and should it be buried?

Riding the emotional roller coaster that is life, especially in the soft economy that we are currently experiencing in South Africa in 2014, I have been wondering more and more about whether people are becoming so desensitized and expecting of poor service and poor quality that they are simply no longer prepared to BUY QUALITY and would rather look at the short term cost.

At SignForce we focus on giving advice and delivering the best quality signs we can. When we offer advice it is because we believe the signs we recommend will IMPROVE OUR CLIENT’S BUSINESS – and we want our clients to GROW so we can grow with them.

There have been occasions when we have advised against our client’s buying certain signs because we look at our clients business as our own, and if we feel we would not spend OUR money on a specific sign, then we advise our clients AGAINST spending their money.

In general we have found this works for SignForce because it entrenches SignForce’s integrity and ensures that the advice we offer is in our client’s best interest. We are very aware that we are not always correct, but we do bring a number of years of marketing studies and practical experience to the table, so more often than not our advice WORKS.

Of course going to site to assess and offer the advice comes at a cost, and more and more of late we are finding that prospects are looking to us for the advice yet not going with SignForce for the final manufacture and installation of the signs because they can show our designs – designs which incorporate our advice, experience and expertise – to our competitors who may use different materials and then charge less for the final product.

Yes, it is true we do charge a small premium for our advice and expertise, but more importantly we charge because we only believe in using QUALITY products, and we believe our advise and products will earn the small premium we charge back to our clients over and over and over again. We also honor our guarantees, we carry insurance and we pay our staff a fair, living wage. We also build in a small fee because we are very aware that if we called ourselves a DESIGN or BRAND SPECIALIST company this would be the norm, but for some reason the sign industry’s design aspect – one of our highest costs – seems to be viewed and expected as a ‘free service’. Any idea’s on how we can change this perception will be greatly appreciated.

That we lose jobs and long standing clients to competitors who do not necessarily use the same structural designs or materials we do but DO come in at lower prices makes me wonder if we are not nurturing our relationships enough or if our prospects are simply becoming more and more price sensitive to the point where they are prepared to invest in the same sign more than once over the expected life of the sign simply to save a buck now. (SignForce have seen time and time again the HIGHER long term cost of using lower cost materials which is why we do not).  Are SignForce in fact farting against thunder by believing in quality and service? Does the market dictate that we join the masses and ignore quality?

If you are in the market for professional looking, quality signs, or simply require advice [you are prepared to pay for] on how best to get your business seen – email arnold@signforce.co.zaor david@signforce.co.zausing the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

http:www.signforce.co.za

Soccer and signs

With the 2014 soccer world cup in full swing, what – if anything – can we learn from the soccer, especially in relation to signage.

What we all know we can learn is that no matter how well you play, if you bite your opponents you WILL be excommunicated from your environment, as certain taboo behavior does tend to be frowned upon by the world at large.

We can see, if we watch ANY of the games, that SIGNAGE is HUGE in the world cup.  EVERY pitch is surrounded by digital billboards with scrolling (altering) messages.  It is no secret that the advertisers pay top dollar to get their messages seen, and we have to believe that the businesses with the large advertising budgets know and have tested the value of SIGN advertising.

While your sign location may not get the billion plus viewings every 90 minutes, if you have a sign that is easily legible, well positioned and has a clear message – including a call to action where possible – your sign will most likely turn out to be an invaluable investment.  There is a good reason that signs are referred to as THE SILENT SALESMAN.

If you are looking to increase your business, using signs that WORK is an excellent investment.  To assist you with your investment contact SignForce and we will gladly advise and get you a free, no obligation quote.