View Poll Results: Who's the Bigger Problem?

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  • The client who wants the cheapest sign

    22 16.67%
  • The sign maker who fills the need

    110 83.33%
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  1. #1
    Merchant Member Fred Weiss's Avatar
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    Who's the Bigger Problem?

    Many members are negatively effected by artificially low pricing in their markets for sign work. The issue is complex, but in attempting to boil it down to a chicken vs. egg analogy, the question becomes who is the bigger problem:

    The client who wants the cheapest he can get?

    The sign maker who caters to the demand?
    Fred Weiss
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    Expert Gerber Edge printing for the trade.
    Prices Slashed 50% to 80%! Clip art and seamless texture tiles, collections and individual images, lowest prices ever at www.allcompu.com. Come have a look.
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  2. #2
    PhD THATgirl's Avatar
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    both

  3. #3
    Certified Circle Designer Rick's Avatar
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    I marked Sign Company, but I think it's both. Ultimatly it's the sign person who shouldn't sell out though.....

  4. #4
    Preppie Lorraine's Avatar
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    The Signmaker!

    We need to educated the customer!

  5. #5
    College Freshman Jeff's Avatar
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    Hi all

    I think the answer is neither. There is always going to be cheap customers...and there is always going to be sign people that will cater to them. Very rarely will you educate a cheap customer. If you work at sign making long enough and do good work you will be busy enough that you wont need to worry about the cheapes. Let the cheapy sign shops have them.

    My 1.999999999 cents worth

    Jeff

  6. #6
    Preppie jberte's Avatar
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    hello all - although i marked signmaker, i tend to agree with jeff; i charge a fair price for my work and don't have time to dicker with the customer who wants mona lisa work for funny page prices. there will always be a string of somebody's out there who will cheapen their work and cater to them but i'd far prefer to spend my time producing quality work at a fair price that my customers and i can both live with.

  7. #7
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    Dont shoot me for saying this but Its noones fault that it happens but I do blame the business owner for not adjusting to changing markets. Every business deals with this, the ones who succeed are the ones who adapt because its not as if its a new problem. When vinyl cutters came out, it depressed pricing for hand painters, then the pc became affordable and started squeezing the vinyl guys, then large format printers came along and squeezed screen printing, the printers became cheap (todays market) and along comes flatbeds to print d2s. The businesses that are early adopters are rewarded. But its the early adopters that drive the market prices lower, not because theyre working for nothing but theyve increased productivity. You cant fairly blame customers or businesses for their pricing and cant point fingers at the guy that works out of his garage and grabs some market share. You have to look at your own position and what you need to do to stay ahead whether it be a niche, more complex high end products or equipment that allows you to produce at higher volumes more efficiently in order to be in the price game. Personally we scaled to do larger work and do alot of corporate work (were a painting company) we do decals in house because we felt it important to be a one stop deal and control workflow and quality. The corporations are great, they want decent work, are generally intelligent enough to be "sold" a proper product at a proper price and once you get setup they dont jump around as much. We get beat up by smaller guys to the point I dont even want to call them back, how much if i bring my own paint, how much if i sand it myself, i just want to throw some paint on it etc. im sorry we dont do that but theres a guy right next to me that does. Dont get me wrong i get annoyed with him and his half price work but we end up with alot of his good clients becuase he cant do the work fast enough usually or for some other quality issue. The key is to get to a point where the guys in their garages cant compete with you and not the other way around.

  8. #8
    Master of Arts reQ's Avatar
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    Voted for a sign maker.

  9. #9
    Premium Subscriber ThatGuy's Avatar
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    +1 for Jeff

    My prices are what they have to be for me to make money. If a customer does not care if I make money to be in business tomorrow, I do not care if they are in business today.

  10. #10
    Preppie
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    Sign Maker

  11. #11
    College Freshman Johnny Best's Avatar
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    I put sign maker but also feel that that The Dollar Store concept has given the cheap customer a place to shop by a company that fills that need and has grown into a very large and profitable business.

  12. #12
    College Freshman
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Best View Post
    I put sign maker but also feel that that The Dollar Store concept has given the cheap customer a place to shop by a company that fills that need and has grown into a very large and profitable business.
    Agreed. I do almost exclusively wholesale to the trade but they keep getting cheaper and cheaper also. I see a banner ad at the top of this page as I wrote this offering prints at $0.75 per sq ft on a grand format printer. That leaves super slim margins. Retail in this area is about $8 a sq so I am charging $2 a sq. I have much less overhead than my customers because I own the building my business in and it's built 100' from my house. Even with my minimal overhead, $0.75 a sq doesn't leave much when the printer costs $0.20 a sq and materials is $0.15 a sq plus welding edges and installing grommets. I now have the option to
    A: meet the competitor price
    B: stick to my price and work with locals only who get same day service with no shipping
    C: move into an already competitive business selling to retail customers since I already have all the equipment compete, just not a "retail" location.

    Technology will do nothing but drove prices for the consumer down in this industry while forcing us to buy newer, faster equipment. This is certainly frustrating.

  13. #13
    Preppie
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    I am a home-based business (12-years) and I used to have cheap prices until I captured enough customers to support myself. I still have banners artificially much lower then our market because that's an easy price comparison segment that I just sub out anyway. But I have harder to compare products at or above market price because on the personal level of service a 1-man shop can provide. I have caught some big fish from some of those cheap banner jobs. So based on my case I vote for Sign Shop..since I'm deciding on the pricing!

    I know some wholesale printers that seem to do the same thing with banners.

  14. #14
    PhD signage's Avatar
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    I think we are all to blame, In see a lot of posts on here for where to get xxx at the best (lowest) price. What makes us any different from every othe business looking for best price? Look into a mirror.

  15. #15
    Premium Subscriber Kottwitz-Graphics's Avatar
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    Sign maker.

    A cheap customer can be sent down the road. Just remember, you can want in one hand, **** in the other, and which will fill up faster? Just because they want it doesn't mean they should get it.

  16. #16
    PhD bob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lorraine View Post
    The Signmaker!

    We need to educated the customer!
    Nonsense. If anyone needs a bit of education it would be yourself and others of the same bent.

    The original question is bogus. It assumes that either or both of the propositions pose a problem. Therefore, if not equal, then one must be larger than the other. The premise of the question is fallacious, assuming things not in evidence.

    To a client a sign that says 'XYZ' is a sign that says 'XYZ' It makes no difference to them whether it's knocked out on something flat and white with adhesive letters from Home Depot or a major work of art using the most exquisite materials. It's still a sign that says 'XYZ' and that's all that it is.

    It's the height of folly to blame a client for seeking the best possible deal on a sign. Lots, if not most sign makers, view themselves and their product as something special and unique. While it might be unique in the Aristotelian sense that everything is unique it's not special.

    Signs are a commodity. A fact known to everyone except sign makers. That they are not a commodity is an delusion from which the most remarkable and entertaining rationalizations spew forth.

    Signs are fungible. A sign of a certain size and material that says 'XYZ' is seamlessly interchangeable with any other sign of the same size and like material. A sign maker might notice the difference but it's an odds on bet that no one else would.

    Unless you can offer something tangible and of value to your client, be it price or turnaround time or something, you might be in the wrong business.
    As in many professions there are lots of sign makers that are dilettante twits who, once they fail at this, will be off to something else.

    I await now the always amusing tsunami of tortured reasoning from irate sign beings trying to explain just how it is that what they do is special and, being special, somehow must command a higher price than some other like product. It's what I live for.

  17. #17
    Bachelor of Arts
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    When I shop for "commodities", price usually rules. For me, a commodity is something that is the same, no matter where I buy it from.


    I like a certain type of toilet paper. We have a subscription for it on Amazon. It's precisely the same toilet paper as what I can get at Walmart but it's cheaper and I don't have to go to Walmart to get it.


    I have used other toilet paper. It looks the same but it's not.


    If you can find two companies to build the exact same sign, with the exact same materials and install it the exact same way, you could consider it a commodity in the sense that I have outlined above. Otherwise, it's not.


    Gold calendared vinyl produces a different outcome than gold leaf, the same way single ply TP produces a different result on my @ss.


    It's the signmaker's fault. With the low barrier to enter the sign business, there is a revolving door of new upstarts that are willing to do whatever it takes to get orders. Not judging - I've done it also.

  18. #18
    College Freshman AnthonyRalano's Avatar
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    Some shop at Walmart, some shop at Gucci. If you have a Gucci price, you better have a Gucci product.

  19. #19
    Preppie
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    The freelancing lowballer is the real problem IMO. The ones who know the industry but don't have a shop, over head or business license for that matter. They have a wholesale shop print for them and install for dirt cheap. They're a major nuisance for me lately.

  20. #20
    PhD OldPaint's Avatar
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    ITS THE SIGN MAKERS..............caving to the customers request!!!!!! you call a plumber, electrician, HVAC guy.....and ALL OF THEM will charge you between $60-100 JUST TO SHOW UP. THEN THEY TACK ON to that parts and added labor. THEY ARE A BUSINESS...... and in it to make a living.
    NOW THE SIGN GUY TODAY......are not the SIGN PEOPLE of years ago....WHEN..... we who had talent to draw, and make signs on the spot with brush and paint.......AND GOT PAID VERY WELL....... cause not just anyone could do this. POINT IS there were not as many in the business trying to get the MONEY that the business could generate.
    saw it coming when the vinyl machine came into play. we sign painters........we now becoming LESS NEEDED cause any dodo could buy one of them and now he is a sign maker)))) this is were QUALITY OF WORK, vs CHEAP PRICES started to take the sign market. old sign guy, charged $150.00 to do 2 truck doors............well the guy with the plotter, to get the job..........DOES SAME JOB FOR $75.00 with vinyl. YES HE is still making money.....but not getting all he can.......CAUSE HE HAS NO REAL SIGN EXPERIENCE......no knowledge of what it takes to design a sign.
    NOW WE( the sign professional)have to lower our prices to keep from losing the jobs. THEN WE(all sign people)EDUCATED THE CUSTOMER..... that he could DICKER PRICES...... and get the price lowered if they said joe shmos signs could do it for $40 dollars less)))) NOW people think nothing of saying they want lower price........BUT DONT DO THIS WITH PLUMBER, HVAC, ELECTRICAN))))
    the business is NOW STRICLY PRICE BASED....... he who can sell the lowest.....get the job.....QUALITY.....DESIGN, TALENT are all gone for the consumer........ALL THEY CARE IS HOW CHEAP CAN I GET IT FOR)))))))))))))))))))

  21. #21
    Preppie
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldPaint View Post
    the business is NOW STRICLY PRICE BASED....... he who can sell the lowest.....get the job.....QUALITY.....DESIGN, TALENT are all gone for the consumer........ALL THEY CARE IS HOW CHEAP CAN I GET IT FOR)))))))))))))))))))
    Totally disagree. I dont have to be the cheapest. Having designs that "WOW" and turnaround times that are quick and a great attitude on the phone eager for the business can override a cheaper competitors bid. People want to give business to people they like.

  22. #22
    College Freshman AnthonyRalano's Avatar
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    Home-based business cannot manufacture in most counties. How are they operating out of the garage? I have equipment at home too and would do something for a friend, but I sure wouldn't want to be doing uninsured installs and breaking the county rules. I believe as Americans, we should pay our taxes and do things the right way. Have at least some integrity, at least try. You might make a great sign, but if you are a scumbag on the inside, you need to stop leeching and follow the laws of the land. Once you are decriminalized, you may want to readjust your pricing. Now, what is your price again?

  23. #23
    College Junior nikdoobs's Avatar
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    Definitely the signmaker's fault. You can't blame the customer for wanting the cheapest price. Most business who give into customer's demands for cheap signs won't be in business very long.

  24. #24
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    Youd be better suited to adapt to prices than to sit and whine about it and act as if this is some unique problem only seen in the sign business. And in all actuality its not a problem for everyone, its actually an opportunity for many that you want such high margins. Why is it that if someones price is lower than your theyre automatically a jack leg with poor quality thats going to go out of business? Whos the judge and jury saying that your designs, speed and work are superior? Its an entitlement atitude. You can get into this business with a VERY small investment relative to other types of businesses so honestly what do you expect. Its simple economics. There are few barriers to entry into this business and with that comes market saturation and pricing that has low margins. Is up to YOU to learn how to compete in this. If youre jealous of the plumber that gets $85/hr no matter what than become a plumber. Let me know when you do so I can check the forums to see you whining there about the handyman thats out there doing plumbing for $40/hr or you complaining that Home Depot shouldnt sell plumbing supplies anymore because only plumbers should be able to buy them and everyone else is too stupid to do that work.

  25. #25
    College Freshman AnthonyRalano's Avatar
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    Oh this is gettin' good! Love to hear all sides of this.

  26. #26
    Preppie
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnthonyRalano View Post
    Home-based business cannot manufacture in most counties. How are they operating out of the garage? I have equipment at home too and would do something for a friend, but I sure wouldn't want to be doing uninsured installs and breaking the county rules. I believe as Americans, we should pay our taxes and do things the right way. Have at least some integrity, at least try. You might make a great sign, but if you are a scumbag on the inside, you need to stop leeching and follow the laws of the land. Once you are decriminalized, you may want to readjust your pricing. Now, what is your price again?
    I am home-based. I am licensed in the two major cities I do installs in, I'm insured and bonded and do permitted work. Not all homebodys are under the radar

  27. #27
    Premium Subscriber Gino's Avatar
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    Since this seems to still be a rather touchy topic after first posting it over 13 years ago, I guess it would be safe to presume...... it's an overall problem which stems from lousy business-minded people trying whatever tricks they can to land a job here and there, til now, where it's became rampant in the ranks of just about all businesses out there. Someone mentioned plumbers and electricians getting their price, regardless of what it is...... Not here necessarily, I will shop, find out background[s], get referrals and then make a decision, based on what I learned.

    Also, as mentioned.... a sign, is a sign, is a sign. There is nothing special about any one of them, unless you are comparing lousy workmanship to a full bodied craftsman's work. Most people don't care what color you use, what style of lettering you use or what substrate you use, as long as they get their money's worth.... or at least believe they are getting their money's worth. That's where the education comes in.

    Why........ do your signs differ from XYZ's ?? Or from ABC's ?? I know my answer, but evidently, most of you are just getting by, by the skin of your teeth. Therefore, you have this endless game y'all play for over 13 years of what came first..... the cheap a$$ customer or the cheap-a$$ sign guy/gal.


    Personally, I don't care if you're home-based or have a 120,000 sq ft building...... Sh!t is sh!t, no matter where it's produced if that's your goal. You must first be honest with yourself and be sure you are worth getting the prices you want or at least have a gift of gab to land these accounts.


    Everybody should believe in something.... I believe I'll have another drink


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  28. #28
    College Freshman mmblarg's Avatar
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    Tricky - we don't have as much of a problem where we are. Clients come in looking for price-matching to what they found online and we just explain the difference in quality. The clients that choose the online path, they usually come back to us because the cheap option ended up breaking in one way or another. Equally, if another sign company is able to produce a product at a lower cost than us, we are perfectly fine with that because we end up using them on larger orders anyways. We have our niche in the market where we are fairly priced and produce quality work - other things we outsource - why make the client suffer higher costs when we don't have the means to produce something efficiently? So I see no need for blame on either end...

  29. #29
    Master of Arts VanderJ's Avatar
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    Customers look for the best price it's as simple as that. Tell me one industry that isn't true. So it's not their fault for doing what every smart consumer should be doing. It's the sign shop that caves and devalues the entire market so they can steal a customer from the guy down the road. It's one thing to run a more efficient business and create innovative ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality. It's entirely different when you use cheap products and techniques to lower the cost almost to nothing. The sign will last about a year before it starts to fail but it doesn't matter because the business will be out of business by then anyway. It's the cheapo sign shop's fault, hands down.

  30. #30
    PhD Bigdawg's Avatar
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    I didn't vote because I don't think it's an actual "problem."

    I shop around for the best prices - I don't think we should blame a customer who does the same. Does that mean we have to match a low price? Nope. This ain't Walmart with price-match guarantees.

    Our shop is on the higher-priced end. (And yes bob, it's because we are special ) And we tell people that right off the bat in most cases. We will not match online pricing, and if we offer a discount it is as a courtesy to a good customer and not as a carrot to pull in more customers. If they ask "why?" we tell them. Each job - no matter the final bill - is given the time, consideration and effort it deserves to make our customers look the best they can. It's because we use the right materials for the job. It's because we stand behind everything we do. It's because if something goes wrong, we have the insurance and bonding and everything else required to help make it right. It's because even if the client views the sign as a commodity - we don't.

    There will always be the customer who wants only price. The ones that could care less how long the sign lasts (right now - they'll complain later when it fails, but to no avail. They got what they paid for.) There will always be shops that cater to them (not our shop). So I don't look at the low-ballers as competition any more than the Prime Rib Steakhouse views McDonalds as a threat to their business model. While they are both beef - there's a world of difference in the type and delivery of it.

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