Sign + Wall = Months of Work

Apparently I am not made for blogging.  I can only assume that in order to be successful at it you need to write more than a few times a year.  Maybe it’s easier for them because it’s their job & passion, whereas for myself it’s neither.  Maybe I should start a blog about Toronto sports teams…that’s my true love. Oh and my family. I’ve lost my train of thought and I’m only one paragraph in.  This isn’t the best return to blogging. Oh well.

Hi there, how have you been doing since my last post months ago? Busy? Me too. While we’ve all been busy living our lives, I’ve been busy selling signs and making sure they get put on buildings. That sounds like a simple task, but it isn’t. I assume that when people hear that I sell signage they think someone calls me asks for a sign, I come up with a price, they agree to said price, it’s built & up it goes on the wall. Even interior signage isn’t that easy unfortunately. Exterior high-rise signage? I can only dream of a day when robots do all of the work in-between those steps.

So what actually happens when you say you would like a sign? First and foremost, I need to know what is there now. What is the building envelope made of? Where on the building will the signage be going? How is the signage going to get to where it is being installed on the building? What size and type of sign would you like? Some of this is answered by my request and my reading of the buildings architectural drawings & some of this is answered by a site survey being done. Then I take the time to look at the site plan. Will the city allow the signage to go where the client wants? Will it need a variance? Will it be visible to traffic? Up next, design.

Once again, this isn’t as simple as it sounds. An artist can’t just throw the logo from your letterhead & paste it on the building. The artist needs all of the information from above plus eps files of the logo to plot it on the building. If for instance we find out during the survey or looking over the architectural drawings that the only way to install the logo is on a controlled background, that goes on the art. Then I see the art. I’m not checking the artists work here, I want to make sure that the brand image looks perfect on the wall, that the monument looks great & that you will be getting the best bang for your buck.

Estimating! The art goes to estimating and they price out exactly what I ask for. EXACTLY.  Up in step one we found out what equipment was needed to install the signage, what the building was made of and how the power would need to be run. That means that when the art gets into estimating, they know everything that needs to be taken into account. What does that mean for my clients? No extras, no change orders & no going over the quote price. Sure, sometimes there are extras that are out of our control. We quote M-F 9_5 installation & the landlord will only allow weekends, well that’s extra. We get sent off site because the site wasn’t ready & no one told us? That’s extra. For the vast majority of the jobs I have sold over the last 20 years there are no extras though.

This is where you’d think my job would be done. I would send the art & quote to the client & wash my hands of it. Not in this lifetime! After I have answered any questions the client may have & the deal is signed, then the work continues. Now permit needs to be attained & if it’s anything more than a standard application, I’m working through it with the permit procurer and the client.

Then there’s the timing of the installation & the installation itself. I could give my clients 5 people’s phone numbers and email addresses to find the answers they need, but instead, I get the email. It’s just easier and I like to keep clients happy, not frustrated looking through our company of 700 for the right person to answer usually a simple question. I then deal with our PM’s and get all the answers my client needs.

Sign is up, I’m still not done. Warranty work, invoicing questions, repair work all comes through me first.

If you are one of my clients, or a perspective client, hold these things in mind. The questions I ask are not because I like to cause work or delays, it’s because I want all the information upfront. The price I give is the price 99% of the time because I get all of the information.  I work from 8am to 12am all weeknights & am available all weekends and holidays, my wife can be a reference for my workaholism (it would be expletive laden though). Signage is not peel and stick stickers that can be done with a second of work, out of a catalogue, it’s not buying toilet paper it’s more like finding a plumber.

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