What percentage of your work is outsourced?

What percentage of your work is outsourced?

  • 100% - I focus on design & project management.

    Votes: 1 3.2%
  • 75% - I manufacture only high margin items and outsource the rest.

    Votes: 1 3.2%
  • 50% - Half & Half

    Votes: 5 16.1%
  • 25% - I outsource my overflow work.

    Votes: 16 51.6%
  • 0% - I design & manufacture everything I sell.

    Votes: 8 25.8%

  • Total voters
    31
About 50/50 for me. All cut vinyl is outsourced to a shop I supply with digital prints. It's a unique situation.

BTW: FireSprint does my yard signs.
Can you still be competitive doing that? I'd think the shipping would kill you! I can get my 3M IJ180 with3M 8518 lam countour cut for as low as $3 sq. ft. They roll it up in tubes and ship it to me. That's a recognized, easy to sell and warranted brand name with only one way shipping. I can't buy ink and vinyl that cheap, let alone pay for the printer, the space to keep it, and the people to run it.
 

Notarealsignguy

Active Member
Can you still be competitive doing that? I'd think the shipping would kill you! I can get my 3M IJ180 with3M 8518 lam countour cut for as low as $3 sq. ft. They roll it up in tubes and ship it to me. That's a recognized, easy to sell and warranted brand name with only one way shipping. I can't buy ink and vinyl that cheap, let alone pay for the printer, the space to keep it, and the people to run it.
Have you ever even tried or actually priced it out? I can do it for about $1/sqft less in house and have 100% control over quality, re-prints etc. If you don't like to do ANY of the work then why are you even in the trade? The sign business is a bit unique in that you can see what you make and it is very rewarding compared to many other jobs. Whats left to feel good about when you sub out the design to some foreigner on Fiverr, order the sign from some production mill in another state and pay some kid to go put it up? A few bucks in your pocket? Why not just go get a job if the only thing that motivates you is a dollar bill?
 

Gino

Premium Subscriber
Can you still be competitive doing that? I'd think the shipping would kill you! I can get my 3M IJ180 with3M 8518 lam countour cut for as low as $3 sq. ft. They roll it up in tubes and ship it to me. That's a recognized, easy to sell and warranted brand name with only one way shipping. I can't buy ink and vinyl that cheap, let alone pay for the printer, the space to keep it, and the people to run it.

I kinda hafta agree with notasignguy. Really, everyone is in business to make money.... I think ?? Some people are more aggressive while others are more lackadaisical, but someone doing it for $3 bucks a pop sounds like a good markup to me. Put the freight/shipping on that, the wait time and possible hiccups, ya got yourself a possible snafu sometimes. If not chalk it up to just being lucky. However, I do understand the importance you put on wearing your pajamas while working, so that could be the tie-breaker in this equation...................... :rock-n-roll:
 

rjssigns

Active Member
Can you still be competitive doing that? I'd think the shipping would kill you! I can get my 3M IJ180 with3M 8518 lam countour cut for as low as $3 sq. ft. They roll it up in tubes and ship it to me. That's a recognized, easy to sell and warranted brand name with only one way shipping. I can't buy ink and vinyl that cheap, let alone pay for the printer, the space to keep it, and the people to run it.

Competitive depends on one's definition. Owning a printer is another individual decision. Personally I wouldn't be without one at this stage. One income stream is VDP jobs that can't be outsourced.

Working with another shop: The place I deal with is 10 minutes from me and I get to produce graphics for jobs I wouldn't even get a sniff at. That's why I am fair with them. Out of all the vendors they tried previously I'm the only one that doesn't take a week or more to get them product. Most jobs are same or next day. I can also hit color.

As far as cut vinyl pricing I can't buy colored vinyl for what I buy it from them cut/weeded/taped. They buy vinyl by the pallet and get an insane discount. Jobs I don't have the space for they do and so on. It's a weird thing we have going but everybody is happy and making money.
 

Stacey K

I like making signs
I have tossed the idea around so many times about buying a printer. One thing that stops me is the ability to troubleshoot and maintain it. When I first started out years I was married to a man who was insanely handy. He maintained my cutter, my computer, cut all my panels, etc. It's just me now so I like to keep things simple for me to maintain. Keep my overhead down, make sure I can do 100% of all the work by myself as I don't have anyone to fall back on.

Like Gino said, sometimes there's snafu's. I've been pretty lucky so far and usually make sure I schedule jobs out enough in advance incase my print is late or it's not right, I have time to reorder. Thankfully, I've been pretty lucky so far but have had a few mess-ups. The key is taking my time ordering. I can save time by ordering jobs out which allows me more time to do jobs I can make money on.

So many different types of shop scenarios, it's interesting to see how everyone operates!
 

FireSprint.com

Trade Only Screen & Digital Sign Printing
So many different types of shop scenarios, it's interesting to see how everyone operates!

So true! There really isn't just one kind of sign shop!

We have multi-million dollar shops we work with that have almost no equipment, shops that have tons of equipment, and everything in between.

Some do signs of all kinds, some do signs as a side hustle, some only do very specific types of signs.

I feel like I'm writing the start of a Dr. Seuss Book!
 
Have you ever even tried or actually priced it out? I can do it for about $1/sqft less in house and have 100% control over quality, re-prints etc. If you don't like to do ANY of the work then why are you even in the trade? The sign business is a bit unique in that you can see what you make and it is very rewarding compared to many other jobs. Whats left to feel good about when you sub out the design to some foreigner on Fiverr, order the sign from some production mill in another state and pay some kid to go put it up? A few bucks in your pocket? Why not just go get a job if the only thing that motivates you is a dollar bill?
I have priced it out. Currently IJ180 with 8518 lam costs me $2.30 sq.ft. Once I add storage and handling costs and waste, I am over $3. So there is no way I can do it for $1.00 sq.ft. (even more obvious once you factor in the cost of the printer and laminator, the cost to have a shop to keep it in, the payroll for the operators, and the ink).
What motivates me is helping my clients build their businesses. Getting in on a project in the beginning, developing their branding and marketing, and seeing their sign projects completed is rewarding.
 

Notarealsignguy

Active Member
I have priced it out. Currently IJ180 with 8518 lam costs me $2.30 sq.ft. Once I add storage and handling costs and waste, I am over $3. So there is no way I can do it for $1.00 sq.ft. (even more obvious once you factor in the cost of the printer and laminator, the cost to have a shop to keep it in, the payroll for the operators, and the ink).
What motivates me is helping my clients build their businesses. Getting in on a project in the beginning, developing their branding and marketing, and seeing their sign projects completed is rewarding.
I don't get any special pricing and it costs me $1.87/sq ft. What costs do you have in storage that would be eliminated? What handling is gonna bump you up over $3? You have to handle your delivery of your store bought print, does that put you over $4 or do you only count that when trying to convince everyone to just be a broker? It's simple minded to look at your business and say I wont have any overhead if I don't make anything. Wrong. That $1/sqft goes towards my insurance, my building, my pay check, phones, internet etc etc etc, that doesn't go away by using subcontractors. That margin you keep encouraging everyone to forgo goes to pay S365s overhead rather than your own.
If you want to compare apples to apples on subcontracting, you need to look strictly at your actual hourly pay and taxes for an employee because you still have your overhead to cover.
 
I don't get any special pricing and it costs me $1.87/sq ft. What costs do you have in storage that would be eliminated? What handling is gonna bump you up over $3? You have to handle your delivery of your store bought print, does that put you over $4 or do you only count that when trying to convince everyone to just be a broker? It's simple minded to look at your business and say I wont have any overhead if I don't make anything. Wrong. That $1/sqft goes towards my insurance, my building, my pay check, phones, internet etc etc etc, that doesn't go away by using subcontractors. That margin you keep encouraging everyone to forgo goes to pay S365s overhead rather than your own.
If you want to compare apples to apples on subcontracting, you need to look strictly at your actual hourly pay and taxes for an employee because you still have your overhead to cover.
I think I agree with you. I actually make more money using wholesalers than when I was running a multi-million dollar full-service shop. I keep a substantial margin (usually around 40%) in addition to having considerably less overhead cost. We still have a considerable investment in service vehicles, installation and maintenance tools, and a small inventory of parts, power supplies, lamps, etc. I also keep a couple of guys busy doing installation, service and maintenance. Everybody has a different business model that works for them.
 

FireSprint.com

Trade Only Screen & Digital Sign Printing
I think if you compare a busy, high volume shop that runs their own production, and are good at it, they will make more money when there's work to be had.

The shop that outsources a larger percentage of work will make less money during these times for sure.

The real advantage to the shop that subs out alot of work comes during the slow periods. They will keep more of their profit since they don't as big of a beast to feed.
 
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