What defines GOOD QUALITY signs?

#SignForce has recently completed a #sign that took W A Y longer than expected or planned to manufacture because of an issue with the painting of the logo.

Somehow the base of the sign got ‘damaged’, and then when it was painted there were distinct ‘sanding’ scratches in the paint.  Well it took a number (about 12) coats of paint to get the sign to a level where we were happy with the quality of the paint work.

Unfortunately our celebrations were short lived because as the sign was about to be shipped we noticed that the paint was ‘reacting’ with itself.  This at a time when the client HAD to have the sign delivered so we did not have the time to start over before we delivered.

Turns out the client is happy with the quality, but was more upset with the delay in the sign been installed.  Which begs the question, what defines GOOD QUALITY signs?

My thinking has always been that at #SignForce we strive to achieve a level of quality that exceeds our clients expectations (sadly we don’t always get it right but we aim for it), because we want the signs to meet OUR expectations, which are invariably higher than our client’s expectations.  Reflecting on this I have realized that the manufacturing staff strive to achieve a level of ‘perfection’ that will be positively judged by their peers, not only our clients.

This was reinforced by talking to some people in the industry who have this great wallpaper in their office.  At first glance the wallpaper is brilliant, however when I pointed out that there was an ‘issue’ with the height of one letter (the height of the letter on the one side of the overlap is about 6 mm smaller than the height of the letter on the other side). This boils down to the line being about 3 mm out, an ‘almost’ imperceptible variance, but one that (apparently) is constantly noticed by people in the trade.

As mentioned, while we at #SignForce do not always get it right, we do our best and sometimes have to do the work over a number of times, in order to ensure that we are happy with the quality of the work we produce.

If you are in the market for #signs, any sign to make your business visible, contact David or Arnold at #SignForce and we will do our best to assist you.

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

Do quality and reputation count more in a soft economy?

Does quality and reputation count, especially in a soft economy?

At the risk of being eaten alive by our competitors and associates, it is difficult to admit that the signage industry in South Africa (I don’t know enough about the rest of the world to assume they are the same) is a poorly perceived industry, with an image that is on a par with used car salesmen.

While this reputation may not be entirely deserved, because there are a number of astute, extremely professional artisans and business people in the industry, as with every industry (and every facet of life) it only takes a small percentage of a population to taint the reminder of the industry. (I have read that it only takes 5% of a population to be lawless for the entire population to be viewed as lawless and the society as being in anarchy).

With this in mind, one should be extremely astute when looking for a sign supplier. It is not all about cost (well at least it should not be) but also about potential quality. Unfortunately while cost is associated with quality, and it is true, better material and better staff do come at a higher cost, a higher price does not necessarily always translate into better quality.

At SignForce we INTENTIONALLY only use quality products from reputable suppliers that we know will (mostly) work as the manufacturers promise in their marketing material. We took the decision to stick with one range of quality materials many years ago when a staff member made a simply mistake and used a six month vinyl on a sign that should have been decorated with seven year vinyl. The reason for the mistake was a simple lack of concentration as the ONLY way for the life of the vinyl to be identified was the colour of the lines on the paper on the rear of the vinyl.

I mention this as there are a number of unscrupulous suppliers who, in order to make an extra buck, will sell a seven year vinyl, and supply a vinyl with a shorter life. If we as sign suppliers cannot simply identify the life of a vinyl from the front, there is no way that you as a client will be able to know in the first three to six months, but will find out soon enough when the vinyl starts shrinking, peeling or cracking. Then the real fun begins and this is where reputation and time in the market count.

You purchased a seven year vinyl, so you contact the supplier – who nine times out of ten – turns out to be untraceable, so you end up having to remake or refurbish your signs, at YOUR, additional cost.

As mentioned, reputation is important. Like no long term marriage will have no disagreements, it is highly unlikely that any business that has been around for many years will not have some disgruntled clients, if history is what we judge a behavior or trends by (and it tends to be) then if a supplier has shown in the past that they honour their guarantees, you can assume that, all things remaining equal, the company will continue to honour it’s commitments.

Of course there are costs associated with longer life materials, guarantees, better staff and honouring agreements, so one has to ask, if the potentially higher cost is worth incurring, or stated differently, does quality count?

One has to ask what is the value of the potential piece of mind? Is it worth the additional cost NOW to potentially have a sign that will last longer, or at least deliver as promised? This is a question that is more pertinent in a soft economy when every cent seems to be harder to come by, and when, in the long run, the additional cost may in fact save one a LOT of money.

If you are in the market for quality signs, contact SignForce on info@signforce.co.za or +27 (0) 11 440 7525 and we will do our best to assist you by delivering what we promise at fair value.

What makes up the cost of a sign?

What makes up a sign’s cost?

This comment could be viewed as a follow up to the article ‘Are All Signs the Same’, because it stems from a similar thought.

Not only are all signs not the same, even when they look the same, the materials used to manufacture the signs can vary extensively.

A client asked me to replace a fallen letter on a sign consisting of a number of cut out letters. He sent me a blurry photo (taken while he was driving past the sign) so I thought it would be best for me to go see exactly what needed to be replaced. I went to the site to take measurements and photo’s, and when on site I touched one of the remaining letters of the sign and it fell off the wall. I subsequently removed the sign to repaint and re-secure it. When I returned it to the factory the first thing that was pointed out to me was that the paint was pealing BECAUSE the Aluminium had not been primed. A simple oversight?

In general the cost of a sign consists of the cost of material plus the cost of labor plus a margin for profit plus a contribution to overheads and such.

While there are a number of factors that contribute to the material cost – one tends to pay more for longer lasting material, material cost is generally 30 – 40% of the final cost of a sign. That said, if the cost of material can be kept down – either by getting larger discounts from suppliers OR by using cheaper material OR by leaving out steps in the process (regardless of the long term consequences), the business can make larger profits.

Sadly the thinking of many (sign) businesses is that they need to sell one level of quality but deliver a lesser quality, and although the material costs are not the largest single contributor to costs, they are the first and possibly easiest to be cut back on, as the sign maker knows that generally, by the time the ‘omission’ has been discovered the guarantee (assuming there is one) would have expired.

While it is possible for oversights to happen in any business – the reasons for oversights varying from lack of supervision to lack of training to lack of time and many more – if the oversight is that, an oversight, then it can and should be chalked up to an avoidable error.

The difficulty for new clients is to determine how often ‘oversights’ happen, and if any necessary re-do’s have been costed into the original quote – if it is not in the original costing the chances are the supplier will never come back.

While oversights can and do happen, even with the best of manufacturers and processes, from the buyers side, while it is almost always tempting to choose the ‘cheapest’ supplier, the buyer should always be aware that when a sign seems like a bargain, as with almost everything in life, there could well be hidden costs that you will only become aware of later, possibly too late.

It can thus be seen that not all signs are necessarily created equal, not all costing methods are the same and not all material inputs are of the same quality. Here are an additional three reasons why sign buyers are encouraged to improve their understanding about the signs they require, and also to stick with sign companies that have a reputation, or at least one with references that can be checked, and one who is known to honour their guarantees. If a sign company is not prepared to offer any guarantee why are you even considering using them?

If you are in the market for professional looking signs that are made using the material that has been quoted, or simply require advice on what signs may best market your business, email arnold@signforce.co.zaor david@signforce.co.za using the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE

http:www.signforce.co.za