It is that wonderful time of year again where the southern part of the country gets snow and cold that can stop their lives for days. And here in the north, like Minnesota where I live, bone-chilling 30 below and being buried in snow is common; it happens every year, so we either adapt to it or move.

 So far as the signs and graphic industry, customers need change as the seasons change, which is more dynamic in the northern states where outside work cannot always be done on your schedule. Your customer’s graphic needs are different in the summer versus the winter.  One example would be if one of your customers is an agricultural equipment manufacturer, and you only do the graphics for their summer trade show events.  Who do you think is making the logo decals and warning labels that go on the product they make? Do they even know you can supply that product for them?

 From your production standpoint, what is the difference between a 4 foot graphic and 4 inch graphic? The answer is, a customer needing 4-inch graphics needs a larger quantity of them over and over again. The online China process that you think you are in competition against is not always the most cost effective for the customer, which they may or may not understand.   Online label manufacturers are typically not very flexible, have longer turnaround times, and are not always the cheapest price. In fact, when it comes to small runs (100 labels or less), the cost from a large online label company can be very high.  For example, I found the following online quote; a two color warning label, 4” by 4” on permanent adhesive, non-laminated, 5 yr outdoor vinyl. The cost per label at a quantity of 50 labels ranged from $0.75 to $1.25 each with setup fees from $25.00 to $75.00 .This does not include shipping or small order fees that some vendors charge.

 Now, say your customer only needs 100 labels and you are pricing them at $0.50 each. That job will only get you $50.00 -  not a lot of money to run your business on.  Here is the secret: by running those labels on your wide-format equipment with your standard everyday vinyl, your cost per label is around $0.07 each, and it should take you less than an hour to complete the whole job. If you look at it in an hourly wage standpoint, you just made $43.00 per hour.  Your challenge is to get $43.00 per hour over and over by producing labels for multiple customers.

 Beyond the obvious companies that make machine products requiring logo and warning labels, there are hundreds of other possible customers. Garbage Haulers: Every garbage can has a label that needs to be replaced a lot; School Hockey Teams like to give a helmet sticker to each kid that makes a goal; HVAC Contractors put a contact sticker on every furnace they repair; Quick Change Oil Shops put a sticker on the windshield showing when the next oil change service is needed. These are just a few ideas of customers you could get business from and I am sure you could think of a lot more.  The best customer to offer your expanded services to would be your existing customers. They already know the quality service you supply.  They just do not know all that you can provide for them. If you do not ask questions and dig into their needs, you are just the ‘Sign Guy’, and that is all the business you will get.

 If you have any questions on how to set up high production output with your wide format print/cut equipment, give me a call at Signs Plus Banners.  I will share with you how our customers are producing tens of thousands of small labels per day on their 54” printing and cutting equipment.



By Craig W. Morse, GM Signs Plus Banners, Jan - 2018

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