Start Here October '22

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Page 58 of 103 53 S T A R T H E R E 2 0 2 2 decided to buy a CNC router and put it in the 2,400-square-foot bay that was used to do vehicle wrap installations. "It has transformed my shop," he says. Now, only 15% of the shop's revenue comes from vehicle wraps, while "routed products are 40% of our net revenue, and it has opened a whole different perspec- tive, different outcome for how we run the business." e shop now has six employees, and, even with COVID, his business grew 38% in 2021, which was the "best year the shop has ever had since 1994," Lokpez notes. "A lot of that has to do with all of the router products, all of the things we were outsourcing." Cody Smith, CA Master, says, "Most customers know they are giving away margin by outsourcing." Sign shops that do a lot of aluminum 3D letters, but have it outsourced because they only do digi- tal finishing, simple cutting, and vinyl, are "giving away so much profit margin. If you brought that task in the building, that task will help pay for the machine on top of the other tasks you are able to do." But buying a router isn't just something you can do overnight. It takes planning and foresight. e first step is to figure out what types of projects and signage your shop wants to use a router for and then determine the best machine for the job. Lokpez bought a Laguna Tools router because of the price. Because his shop had lost a lot of business related to vehicle wraps during the pandemic, he couldn't afford to spend $70,000 on a top-of-the- line CNC. After consulting with other franchisees, he determined that Laguna Tools had a good reputation. He was able to get an SBA loan to buy the CNC. "When you get the actual measurements for the machine you are considering, plan for at least a two- foot perimeter around the machine," says Cody Smith of CAMaster. "We do totally understand that is not always possible. Sometimes you have to put one side of the machine against a wall, but, ideally, a two-foot perimeter is minimum."

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