Should You Copy Your Competition?

Should You Copy Your Competition?

Imagine you have just started your sign shop. For some of you, this may be a reality. At some point you might want to take a deeper look at your prices and processes. During this critical time, your eyes may wander to see what competing shops are up to.


How much inspiration is appropriate to take from your competitors? The answer is somewhat complicated. While looking at the competition for pricing advice is helpful when you are first starting your business, it is often counterproductive to copy what they are doing for longer periods of time.

Pricing Strategies

Looking to your competitors for pricing comparisons is not as simple as just looking at the store prices and matching the market. The research that goes into formulating prices for a sign shop is a complicated process that requires in-depth research of the wider market.


Piggybacking off of the work already done by other sign shops can be a problem for a few reasons, though the most critical is that it leaves little room for innovation on the part of your shop. By essentially swiping the research already done by others, your familiarity with the market will be less substantial.


It is important to approach the research process as a learning experience. Diving into the numbers and considering what works best for your sign shop leaves you in control of the answers you find. Your ability to read the numbers and formulas you uncover will allow you to develop an overall strategy that better suits your shop.

Policies and Procedures

Taking inspiration from or copying the processes that are carried out by your competitors also comes with challenges. The most glaring roadblock you will immediately come across is actually determining what the processes of your competitors are.


There is no simple way to find out firsthand what other sign shops are doing. There is no way to go undercover and understand the intricacies of your competitors’ processes from the inside. However, there are some methods that can give you valuable insight as to what your competitors are up to.


Two people shaking handsA New Way of Hiring

One method of gathering information is to hire an employee who has worked for one of your competitors. In addition to getting an experienced worker, this new employee can provide valuable insight when it comes to what their former employer does structurally behind closed doors.


There is not as much moral ambiguity involved with copying a process than there is with copying the prices of your competitors. In fact, other sign shops may find it flattering if you are attempting to duplicate their methods.

Consult the Crew

A sign shop owner should take into consideration the crew of employees who are working under them. There is no magic process that will instantly equal success for your sign shop. If your employees do not buy into the process you are attempting to implement, the road ahead will be difficult.


Employees generally crave more efficient processes that will simplify their work. Because the employees are the ones who have the most knowledge and experience carrying out the bulk of the day-to-day operations, they should be consulted on what the best techniques for more efficient work might be.


Still, the final call for what processes to take on falls to the manager. While consulting with employees is helpful, the manager is the person who has done the research on the competition. This research should be given a significant amount of weight in the decision making process.

Finding Your Brand

In regards to branding, there is no justification for copying off of your competitors. Though you should give some thought to the general professionalism of competitors you admire, the prominent products that make up your branding strategy should be unique to your sign shop.


The key to good branding is consistency. The importance of choosing unique colors and fonts that match across your entire branding strategy and sticking to them, cannot be understated.

Another Angle

When it comes to branding, it actually is wiser to take a look at what your competitors are not doing in their strategies. Finding the gaps in their strategies can help define your sign shop’s angle.


All that being said, take notice of the equipment that competitors are buying and using. If the equipment they use is designed to serve certain markets that you are not currently approaching, you might want to look at those markets and strategize a method to reach them.

Get Started with shopVOX

Check out some of the helpful guides offered by shopVOX! We would be happy to see your print and sign shops grow with our suggested methods.


shopVOX can assist you in setting up your shop. The print shop and sign software tools we offer can help you get your shop off to a great start!