Sign Shop Secrets – What We Wish Customers Knew

Every industry has its secrets; the signage industry is no exception. While not true of all shops, here are some things I would love those interested in buying signs in Hawaii would know.

Price Quotes are Often Apples to Oranges

If you get a really low-price quote, it’s probably not comparable to the higher one.

There is a wide variety of levels of sign-making. Some shops, especially online providers, will have very low prices. Still, an unsuspecting buyer will not know to understand that the materials used and the way the sign is printed and finished are of very low quality. For reference, the least expensive vinyl printing material roll we have, which we only use for short-term indoor uses, is about $200. The material we use for outdoor signs is over $1,000 a roll, and the laminated we use for it is several hundred dollars a roll. So, someone using inexpensive, low-quality material can have a very low cost to the consumer, but it’ll last weeks or months compared to many years. Thus, one sign shop secret is that an exceptionally low price guarantees lower-quality materials.

Trust Your Sign Shop Professional

Trust us, we know what we’re doing.

We make hundreds of signs every year. If we suggest some materials, we are doing so because we want you to have a high-quality, long-lasting sign. We never want to make a sign that will fail quickly, as that will only give us a bad reputation in town. A good sign business is built on reputation. 

Likewise, for design. We consider color, contrast, size, messaging, view locations, lighting, intellectual property issues, and more when we create a sign layout. There are many free and inexpensive programs, but in our experience, an inexperienced person is unlikely to make an optimal sign.

Time Matters

Time is our most valuable asset.

Most sign shops are very busy, so time spent fixing your logo, making changes on changes on changes, doing site visits, and so on are often, though not always, billed at lower rates than we make when making signs. Wishy-washy clients and those who want excessive revisions often find their next price quote much higher.

We’re Always a Business First

Cash flow is very important.

Like any business, we like to get started, finish, and get paid quickly. Anything that prevents that will put you in bad graces with your sign shop. Never order what you can’t pick up and pay for immediately. Don’t waste the time of your sign professional. Coming in for “some ideas” or a project you’re not ready to do, is mostly a time waste for us. It does not result in immediate cash flow. We only make money when we make things.

All Projects are Not Equal

Your small project might not be high on our To Do list.

Most sign shops would be better off telling customers that their projects are not a good fit for them. If the project is too small, a one-off, or requires too much hand-holding to be profitable, it might not be prioritized. With few exceptions, would rather work with a business with many sign needs in the future. One-offs for individuals often cost the sign shop more than they make. 

Of course, these are not really sign shop secrets. Every business that makes stuff deals with these same issues.