1. How long have you been in our trade?
2. What made you want to get involved in sign making?
I’ve always had a very hands on approach to jobs and an some artistic flair. So when the idea came to me one day it seemed to be a great way of incorporating both interests. I really enjoy the process of moving from an initial concept through to seeing the finished article in real life.
3. If you were able to start over, is there anything you would do differently?
If I had the chance I think I would like to have structured the business growth in a more controlled way rather than letting the business go in which ever direction it wanted to ! I would also be less concerned about investing in new equipment resulting in making earlier purchases.
4. If you had a choice just now, what piece of equipment would you most like to own, & why?
I would have to day a large format inkjet of some description. Because even over the last 12 months I have noticed a huge increase in the number of customers actively asking for full colour graphics and even assuming that they are readily available. Being able to produce these in house rather than having to outsource them would make the process much more streamlined.
5. How do you feel your business has developed, since starting?
My business has grown beyond my own expectations and I believe it would continue to do so if I were to let it ! At them moment I want to stay small and so I have reached a level where I can’t physically produce any more than I do without further expansion. I have tried to steer the business towards more higher end jobs when possible although I do still produce a lot of mundane bread and butter stuff too. In the future I may decide to expand and take on larger premises etc but not for the time being.
6. Do you have a chosen speciality?
No, in a word. One of the things I pride myself on is the ability to be able to provide a wide ranging service for the customer. I will endeavour to source most things if they are required for a job and only recently I have had to reduce some of the less time efficient sourced product because there is a danger of trying to be all things to all customers.
7. Is there a goal you aspire to?
A less pressured life!
8. Who is your favourite supplier & why? (Regardless of size)
That’s a tricky one. Over the last 13 years I have tried very hard to deal with a selection of top quality suppliers, weeding out ones that make mistakes too often, provide inefficient service or poor products. So in short most of my suppliers are pretty good now but if I had to shortlist the best I would say Cox Plastics, Ashby Trade Sign Supplies, Amari Plastics, RCS Printers and Vectorwise. I class my suppliers as part of my “team” and expect them to perform their jobs as efficiently as possible and to reduce the list to a single one would be impossible and unfair !
9. What is your pet HATE about the sign business?
The number of “last minute” jobs which end up putting me under constant high pressure. It would be great if more customers would plan ahead a little and realise that a sign quote is not something you can look up in a price list in 30 seconds and that the finished article doesn’t normally come off a shelf ready made !
10. Do you find the internet helps your business?
Yes ! Without a shadow of a doubt the internet and email has revolutionised the way in which I do business. It has helped in so many ways I can’t even begin to think what it would be like managing without it now.
11. Has registering at uksignboards.com been of benefit to your business, & if so. Why?
Yes, it’s an invaluable resource of information and ideas. It’s fantastic to be able to bounce ideas off others and ask for advice etc. It also has provided me with a number of new suppliers and even business opportunities too. I only wish that I had such a fantastic tool at my disposal when I started in business. I’m sure that if I had a site like this to begin with that my business would have reached the state it has today much earlier due to the wealth of experience you can draw on without having to constantly learn by your own mistakes.
12. What would be your advice to someone just starting out in the sign business?
Join the uksignboards to start with (no I’m not being paid to say that!). Produce good quality work, care about your customers and be patient but don’t get walked over. Choose consistently good suppliers, pay them on time and expect to be paid on time yourself. Don’t skimp on cheap materials or botch a job to make a few more pounds, it will often come back to haunt you or damage your reputation. Re-invest in the business to keep up with the current processes and equipment when you can afford to. Learn from others mistakes but don’t be afraid to try new ideas to see if they work. Wherever possible be pleasant, honest and up front with both customers and suppliers but learn to bite your tongue sometimes !