November '22

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2 2 G R A P H I C S P R O • N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 2 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M S I G N A G E & P R I N T I N G D uring the Great Recession of 2007-09, we were trying to climb out of a dismal yearly loss of revenue of over $1.1 million in just two years. Starting from $2.2 million, that's a teeth-chattering feeling of fear that goes through your stomach and beyond. We'd just bought our business a year earlier. It was like being a heroic member of the Titanic deck band serenad- ing the lifeboat launchings as icy water and destiny rushed up to embrace you. As any good sign business owners would do, we spent several lifesaving weekends of what else? Strategic planning. We invited our core group of leaders and those vested in our success. We wrestled with what our team could do to get more sales since dol- lars were heading for the exits faster than patrons of the movie Ishtar. Yes, that one with Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman. By the way, I encourage you, as an owner, to facilitate strate- gic planning each year at a minimum. It will set the course of your business and often right it when it veers off track. You will Huge Sales Small Format CAN MEAN Since the pandemic, the rules have changed Strategic planning for ADA, regulatory, traffic, and directional signs B Y P A U L I N G L E often find that the best ideas come from your employ- ees once they know you've encouraged their unabridged and honest input. We set aside a commitment to scour new regional construction sites, and our sales staff renewed efforts to expand existing client opportunities and cold-calling targeted new accounts. But our heavy focus was on two major ideas: small-format signs and formal bid projects (as opposed to negotiated, design/build, or retail jobs). ORGANIZATIONS & BIDS We were already a woman-owned business, and we made sure to quickly join and get accredited with any organization seeking minority participation. at credibility is key in bid work. Look into these organizations if you are 51% owned by one or more persons who are economically disadvan- taged due to being a member of a certain group. ese groups include Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Asain Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, service-disabled vet- erans, and women. Many schools and universities are looking for a vendor that is a Historically Underutilized Business ( HUB) or accredited through one of many associations. ese entities often require minority participation, and your company may even become a prime ven- dor that others will have to go through to do business with the educational end user. We systematically called on every general contractor we could find to offer our services. But we targeted small-format signs such as ADA, regulatory, traffic, directional, cast plaques, etc. Occasionally, we were invited to bid the large-format signs like monument signs, electronic message centers, metal building letters, scoreboards, and other large-scale identification. Still, these were often in a separate bid or were "by allowance." is allowance is a monetary value associated with a dollar figure but not yet designed or known. I like those the best; you often win those by default if awarded other bids in the project, but the value might skyrocket once the sign is designed and a price submitted. But not always. Image courtesy Direct Color Systems

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