What It Takes to be a Successful Sign Shop

Running your own business is never easy, and that’s doubly true when it comes to the print and sign shop industry. Combining sales, design, manufacturing, and installation into a single business model means there are a lot of moving parts to keep track of, and since custom signs and printed materials are always in demand, that means you have a lot of competition to worry about, too.

So, how do you set yourself apart from the pack? What are the keys to running a successful sign shop? shopVOX print shop software has all the features you need to stay organized, manage your workflows, and optimize communication with your staff, but there are still some things only you can do to help yourself succeed.

Here are some of the biggest ones:

Know Thyself

The first question you need to ask yourself is deceptively simple: exactly what type of sign shop or print shop do you want to operate? A lot of times, new business owners think they want to be a shop that does everything, but that’s usually more of a recipe for disaster than success.

Consider what it actually means to be an all-in-one company that does printing, banners, vehicle wraps, electrical signage, fabrication, and a dozen other things. That might be something to consider for the future, but right now it might be better to dial your ambitions back slightly.

Too often, sign shops take on projects they really shouldn’t, projects that they don’t have the right level of experience or equipment to fully handle.

Sometimes it’s because the business is struggling financially and they really need to make that sale. They think they’ll be able to learn on the job, but the results are usually less than successful, especially when corners end up getting cut in a misguided attempt to maximize profit. Ultimately, though, poor quality work is more likely to lose future customers.

If your business is good at one thing, then focus on doing that one thing very, very, very well. Specialize in it. Become the place everyone goes to for that specific product or service. That’s what’s going to make you successful.

Learn Together

Once you’ve figured out what kind of shop you’re going to be, a major key to success is simply staying in your lane and making sure that you have the right people around you. Yes, it’s a cliche, but it’s also true. You’re going to be a much better sign shop, both in the short term and the long term, if you surround yourself with people who you can work with, rely on, and who are willing to learn with you.

Hiring exceptional, experienced people who are already in the industry might seem like a good idea, and sometimes it is, but it also comes with drawbacks. One is that people who have worked for different companies in the past may come to you with their own preconceived notions of how things should be, and that might clash with your own vision or preferences.

Another drawback is that having experienced employees who can simply hand you solutions on a silver platter ultimately robs you of a chance to grow. It also discourages you from building strong relationships within your company. Often, it’s more beneficial for everyone involved to learn and grow together, with all the wheels running in the same direction.

Doing things together lets you figure out the shape of your team’s learning curve, which in turn gives you greater control over your company’s growth and development.

Identify Key Roles

When it comes to your company infrastructure, setting up your team is really just the beginning. Next, you have to identify the key roles, not just for specific projects but for any kind of project. 

To run a successful sign shop, there are three main pillars you must have in place to provide the support you need going forward.

First, it’s important to recognize that no sign or print shop can truly be successful without a talented graphic designer. Finding a graphic designer is easy, but finding a good one takes a little more work.

That’s why this is one of the roles for which you do want to hire someone with prior experience. Finding someone right out of college is great for filling a junior designer role, but it’s imperative you have someone who knows how to typeset, color match, pre-press and set up files for wide format printing, laser engraving, and more.

The second key role is that of your sign maker/installer. This is going to be the person who puts all the pieces together, takes what is on your computer screen, and makes it into a reality. For this role, you need to find someone with a general sense of construction and a good knowledge of common shop tools.

Finding the right person can be challenging but if you’re willing to work with that person and help them grow, your investment will continue paying off well into the future.

The third and final key role is that of the inside salesperson. This is the person who is going to handle all your transaction and customer-service activities. This could be your role as the owner or manager, or you could delegate the role to someone else so you can fill a different role. Whatever the case, it’s vital to have someone whose primary goal is to always be bringing in more work.

Invest in Marketing

Speaking of sales, let’s talk about marketing. And not just pay-per-click marketing. Pay-per-click is a very powerful tool in today’s marketplace, but for some sign shops, it isn’t always the right answer. More than anything, you need a solid foundation process for your sales pipeline.

When a lead comes in, it’s essential that you’ve already worked out exactly what is going to happen: what forms they need to fill out, what members of your team will then receive those forms, what kind of outreach your company will do to schedule an appointment with that lead, etc.

Designing a smooth, streamlined sales process that moves your leads through each stage necessary to facilitate conversion From there, it’s your inside salesperson’s job to “feed the baby,” so to speak. Sign shop businesses thrive on pipelines, so it’s important to make sure new leads are always entering that pipeline. They might not all come out the other end as sales, but the more leads you bring in, the more leads you convert.

Last but not least, you should also be making use of both organic and paid marketing, as well as more grassroots methods such as referrals and in-person visits with repeat customers to help build a stronger relationship with them. Don’t forget to stay active in your local chamber of commerce, join networking groups, and have profiles on all the major social media apps, too.

Set Yourself Up for Success With shopVOX

A lot goes into running a successful sign shop, but the more you put in, the more you get out of it. Taking an active role in shaping your company by having and executing a coherent vision is the best thing you can do to set yourself up for success. And nothing makes it easier to do that than shopVOX print and sign software.

Want to learn more about how shopVOX can help you manage your business? Contact us today!