Activity Feed Forums Sign Making Discussions General Sign Topics Signmakers, life after covid?

  • Signmakers, life after covid?

    Posted by Karen White on April 27, 2021 at 8:47 pm

    I know i brought up covid and business in the past, but thought I would share that since starting back at work, I have found myself very busy which is really encouraging as I haven’t been doing much at all other than small jobs here and there.
    The jobs arent what many of you would call “big jobs” but they are good for me and at decent quantities. As well as some repeat business too. These have been banners, correx signs, van graphics, window graphics, t-shirts, pavement signs. i am sure you get the picture, I just hope this continues now.
    Is this just me or is everyone seeing a bit of an upturn in your workload?

    Karen ❤

    David Hammond replied 1 year, 2 months ago 12 Members · 41 Replies
  • 41 Replies
  • Jeff

    Member
    April 28, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    I am the same Karen. things appear to have picked up pretty quickly for me and a fair amount of enquiries to still go and quote for, so it’s looking promising. At this rate i may need another set of hands on-board, but i will wait to see if this keeps up for a bit yet. The last thing i want is to take on another lad and things slow down again.

  • David Hammond

    Member
    April 28, 2021 at 2:38 pm

    We’re still very much stop, start. Our core customers are keeping us going, but general sales enquiries are hit and miss.

    We’re hopefully going to be downsizing our workspace and overheads, and really concentrate on what we’re good at, and what makes a decent margin.

  • Jamie Wood

    Member
    April 28, 2021 at 3:18 pm

    We’ve been very fortunate, and apart from a couple of weeks right at the beginning last March, we’ve been busy throughout. A lot of Covid related stuff last year, but pretty much back to normal now.

    • David Hammond

      Member
      April 28, 2021 at 4:58 pm

      We didn’t push the Covid stuff. Didn’t want to get lumbered with a load of stock, or end up unable to get hold of it, needless to say the market got flooded, with some questionable products being sold.

      We just hunkered down and have hatched a long term plan, that will see us scale back quite dramatically, with less stress and start to enjoy it again.

      • Jamie Wood

        Member
        April 29, 2021 at 8:48 am

        We were lucky, in that all of the Covid work came from existing clients, we didn’t chase it. We had some very large orders, but thankfully were able to fulfil them, and we just charged our usual rates, with no premium. We also didn’t want to be left with loads of stock, so we just ordered material in as we needed. It worked for us, and kept us going, without having to resort to furlough or any of the loans which were going on.

  • Kevin Mahoney

    Member
    April 29, 2021 at 6:32 am

    Like Jamie, we closed for a week at the very beginning of this saga. Climbed the walls for a bit until a customer sneaked across the Welsh border & bought a new van. Been flat out ever since so very fortunate so far. We did nothing much to speak of with covid stuff, I always suspected that would be a very short lived thing.I hate to be the voice of doom and gloom but I don’t think we’ve really felt the long term impact of this yet. My dream at the moment is to cut back on some of the expenses, buy a house with enough land to build a custom workshop & never commute again. Hope the numbers rack up.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by  Kevin Mahoney.
    • David Hammond

      Member
      April 29, 2021 at 7:46 am

      I’ve just moved house, and don’t have the space to do vehicles in comfort, so will be keeping the unit. However, we’re splitting it back into two separate units.

      We’ve a small format set up which is probably going to go, as we can buy in print at the right price, and we’ve enough local suppliers who can help us out.

      Getting shut of our sprinter van, scaffold tower, as we don’t do many signage installations, and work with our sub contractors on any projects that require it. There’s enough companies locally doing the lower value work, I’m not even bothering to compete with it.

      Reduce overheads, and put more money in our own pocket, less stress and a more relaxed enjoyable work life.

  • Martyn Heath

    Member
    April 29, 2021 at 8:32 am

    Kevin and david, i had the same dream and it has worked out perfect. Unfortunatly i had to jump ship and move countries to achieve it. I work from home, say home i live in a 480sqm old school house and have a large double garage for vehicle installations. My overheads are literally 0. Compared to my competitiors im around 12k better off a year, when things are slower i dont batter an eyelid. This way of life allows me to not have to go into work even if its slow and the financial benefits mean that after 6 years of running like this im cash strong with no loans for the business.

    As you guys are established you really shouldnt lose too much work by downsizing to a home premises. As father time catches up with us anyway, slowing down isnt a bad thing anyway.

    Problem is finding the right property within a sensible budget. Something i know i couldnt achieve in Essex/Suffolk.

    • Kevin Mahoney

      Member
      April 29, 2021 at 8:42 am

      Fair play to you Martyn, takes big nuts to make a move like that & do our job in another language. Some of your stuff looks like you’ve mashed the keyboard with your elbow. Did you learn Finnish in the UK or move then learn?

      • Martyn Heath

        Member
        April 29, 2021 at 8:50 am

        🤣🤣 your not wrong mate. Funny thing is i dont speak finnish! I literally know some basics. The wife is my secretary, accountant and translater when needed. Its a very strange setup but somehow we make it work.

        • David Hammond

          Member
          April 29, 2021 at 10:44 am

          Hat’s off to you Martyn.

          Lockdown was an eye opener, working smarter not harder, looked at the numbers and decided to cut some of the stuff that doesn’t work for us. Even down the kind of vans we do, we can make a better margin on some of ‘simpler’ vans, when we weigh up the time and effort on some of the partial wraps. We’re fortunate that our overheads are quite low, but lowering them further will be welcome.

          I’ve no aspirations of growing massive, employing staff, just make a half decent living, pay the bills each month, and have a relatively stress free life will suit me fine.

          • Martyn Heath

            Member
            April 29, 2021 at 12:11 pm

            Ye its funny when you sit down and look at the work you produce. Financially the eye catching stuff doesnt always make sense. I know i would earn more doing 150 quid vans all day rather than nice half wraps. Although with the wraps you get a sense of achievement and hope that it spreads your name further. Yes ive heard the term “work smarter not harder” a lot on this forum. I believe that starts with getting your outgoings as low as possible.

        • Kevin Mahoney

          Member
          April 29, 2021 at 10:50 am

          You’ve just gone up in my estimation mate, lone fitting of 10’ x5’ trays at 5mts high, in a country where you don’t speak the lingo & having the wife as the accountant, unlimited bravery👏🏻

          • Martyn Heath

            Member
            April 29, 2021 at 12:07 pm

            🤣🤣 ye the accountant part really does scare me.

  • Robert Lambie

    Administrator
    May 3, 2021 at 10:41 am

    We are really busy at the moment, I am not sure if it’s more an increase in work or because we only took 6 weeks out “at the initial lockdown last March-April” and rather than picking and choosing the work, we just took literally anything that was going and this is the outcome. i say that as there is a great variety of work. some I prefer not to get involved in, some bread and butter jobs and some just general jobs I wished I hadn’t bothered with due to workload at the moment. but no matter what, it pays the bills and we are busy at such an uncertain time for all.
    Yes, if it keeps up long term I will start being more selective again.
    one of my gripes though is companies like “Hairdressers”. they come on in a blind panic, we need this urgent blah blah… the reality is, they have sat on their ar$e for the past 12 months while we are out making ends meet, now want us to jump at their demand. I am only using hairdressers as an example as there’s been a few like that over the past few weeks. but more, in general, are the same. They think nothing of standing 6 feet apart in the wind and rain for 2 hours at B&Q for a tin of paint, but won’t wait a few days for designs, manufacture and installation of their signs! I know I am ranting, just so frustrating. 🤣

  • Chris Wilson

    Member
    May 3, 2021 at 5:45 pm

    Haha. Your bang on there rob. It’s the same up here.

    There also the same people that like to tell you about there customers now trying to book and they are fully booked for 3 months and there idiots for not planning ahead and what did they honestly think would happen when they opened back up. And the same people that reply to a evening email “wow, didn’t think you would still be working this late. You’ve got to look after yourself, don’t burn yourself out. I work no later 6pm, I just won’t do it, people can wait.

    Anyway proofs are awesome. Will the signs be ready for collection at 9:15am tomorrow as am passing”

    First time I’ve limited myself to 13 hour shift today in ages and I’ve got that Friday feeling. Really hope it returns to a steady pace. Like you say though, I feel a element of guilt having a moan. Been very lucky. Must have done something right. Or god semi likes me, and didn’t want me to be skint and let some boys go but made me pay for it in sanity and tears.

  • Phill Fenton

    Member
    May 3, 2021 at 7:31 pm

    I reckon the business bounce back loan scheme has got a lot to do with it. We’re very busy doing vans at the moment as a result of many of our customers taking advantage of the extremely low interest rate which has created a large bubble in demand for new vans (so much so that I’m hearing that demand for new vans is outstripping supply at the moment). How long this will continue is anyone’s guess but I’m optimistic for the future. This time last year I was at a complete standstill with business gradually picking up during the summer months as lock down restrictions eased to the point where it appeared things were almost back to normal then we had the second lockdown just after Christmas and business died off again (though not to the same extent as when we had the first lockdown). More recently It has become much busier again, just as I was getting used to having a quieter life.

  • Karen White

    Member
    May 4, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    WOW. Thank you for the replies. 😍
    love to hear everyone’s views and opinions. especially on this subject as I think it is something we are all in together?
    I too would love to have a place where I live and work, maybe one day!

    I haven’t promoted covid signs but I have done them. like some has said, it is existing customers requesting them. they are easy enough and another product to be able to offer I guess. that is what I want to have. a place my customers can come to for a die range of things, large or small. ❤

  • Karen White

    Member
    May 4, 2021 at 7:03 pm

    Just to add, I have also had a few customers that had me stressing out over them. I thought it was the whole pressuring a women scenario because they have left things so late to order their signs but sounds like I am not alone in getting this sort of treatment. phew! 😳

  • David Hammond

    Member
    May 4, 2021 at 7:08 pm

    Operation downsize commenced today.

    The machines are moved and running, but required removal of our oil fired heater to give us more space. The keencut workbench still to move.

    A decades worth of s##t we’ve accumulated, piled up for a skip, buying in bulk, and saving offcuts because they might come in handy isn’t a good idea.

    A van Full of personal stuff “that can go to work” thankfully moving from a 1 bed to 3bed house should help!

    I’m quite looking forward to the ‘new’ way we’ll be working.

    • Seun Aderibigbe

      Member
      May 26, 2021 at 11:12 am

      Is that a Tacx turbo trainer i see in your van, has someone been Zwifting at work 😆

      • David Hammond

        Member
        May 27, 2021 at 6:58 am

        Hahaha yes it is, the trainers at home, but bikes are still at the unit. Now I’ve fixed the roof I could get them set up in the garage

  • Karen White

    Member
    May 23, 2021 at 3:22 pm

    Sorry I missed your reply David.

    Have you settled in your new place now?

    I must admit I am guilty of hoarding stuff hoping it will be great for a rainy day and that day never comes!

    • David Hammond

      Member
      May 23, 2021 at 3:28 pm

      It’s a double unit we have/had, so giving back 1/2 of it, and keeping the other so not really a move to a new unit.

      Still got some bits of redundant machinery we need to move on, and plenty for tbe skip!

  • Jeff

    Member
    May 24, 2021 at 9:30 am

    are you downsizing due to covid David or something else. only asking as i think i read in the past about you expanding not so long ago mate? just wondering if there was a particular reason.
    I could be doing with more room and another pair of hands. but think i will sit tight for a bit yet.

    • David Hammond

      Member
      May 24, 2021 at 9:48 am

      During Covid we worked with a business coach, and it was like hitting the reset button. It’s been 12+ months in the making this.

      We had a small format digital set up, guillotine, finishing gear etc, and it did/does get used, but less and less… whilst the cost of the machinery and running costs were minimal, we needed the floorspace to house it, and the time involved in the print/finishing. We’ve been doing it long enough, we’ve a local supplier who’ll help us out with that, that’s what they’re geared up.

      We had about 800 Sq/Ft of empty space just to install vehicles, we’ve now moved the machinery into that space, and still have room to install vehicles. What was our production space worked, but now it’s open plan is far better.

      What we’ll save, will be invested into marketing, and getting more of the work we’re looking for. I’m just being far more focussed, and selective that trying to do everything, and please everyone.

  • Steff Davison

    Member
    May 24, 2021 at 5:03 pm

    I sell mainly online so have been fortunate in that demand was stronger than normal for us, although we have been aversley affected by Covid. Trying to buy new machinery is the challenge at the moment, it seems the machinery dealers may have been hurting more than many from what I have experienced recently.

    I think prices should strengthen as raw material costs rise along with other overheads people still want quality but they want value too, whatever that value may be.

  • Colin Crabb

    Member
    May 26, 2021 at 8:00 am

    I have noticed the ‘silly prices’ are starting to appear, lost a £600 van job to someone charging £295….. 🤨

    • Kevin Mahoney

      Member
      May 26, 2021 at 8:04 am

      The buyer & the seller deserve everything they get

      • David Hammond

        Member
        May 26, 2021 at 9:25 am

        That they do!

        We had the same very early on, companies quoting less that what we charged to install some graphics, to remove them and replace with an abomination of a design.

        I’ve been reading a few ‘business’ books lately, and picked up some ideas we’re going to give a try. 🤫

        • Kevin Mahoney

          Member
          May 27, 2021 at 6:24 am

          We’re currently nearing the end of a complete wrap on a very old London taxi, taken a bit longer than I would normally expect, have now had 2 separate companies leave 3 transit customs on my parking area, no designs done, no quotes done, no installation date agreed, no regard for any inconvenience No room for my own vehicles to park. We have also a workload that is genuinely starting to worry me now, not enough people but in no hurry to start training newbies at present.

          David, please finish these books & post what you find, I don’t normally rattle easily but getting close to the end of my tether. Potentially having a very big change soon, I’ll post when everything is signed & sealed, don’t want to jinx it by jumping the gun.

          • David Hammond

            Member
            May 27, 2021 at 7:01 am

            I’m glad it’s not just me then!
            We had a customer pop in to finalise their design.
            We pencilled in their installation for the 7-8th, but as yet no deposit. We need to purchase the stock images, and make final amendments to the artwork to make it print ready, then print about 12m of SLX, and all the logo’s to print and cut… With a two day installation booked for next week that’s been in the calendar for months, and all the other work that’s now bubbling through.

            • Kevin Mahoney

              Member
              May 27, 2021 at 8:36 am

              To be honest, I could solve my problems by switching my phone to silent & locking the door

              • David Hammond

                Member
                May 27, 2021 at 8:43 am

                It’ll be a great job… without the customers!

  • Robert Lambie

    Administrator
    May 26, 2021 at 9:44 am

    Been noticing the same. annoying that the “desperate” quotes are popping up more now, which I understand, but they cannot sustain this ongoing. busy fools!
    we all get this, it’s the damage to the industry on the whole that annoys me. it devalues everything we do!

    • David Hammond

      Member
      May 26, 2021 at 9:47 am

      Is panicking with the Furlough ending, and now with BBL’s being called in.

      It’s unsustainable long term, and the price increases from suppliers will only compound the issues.

  • Robert Lambie

    Administrator
    May 26, 2021 at 10:22 am

    good point David, ive been saying the same about the BBLs but not with this, but that makes sense too, more added pressure to the business owners.

    once the BBLs start repayments, the government support stops, that’s when the sh!ts going to hit the fan.

  • Steff Davison

    Member
    May 27, 2021 at 10:54 am

    The BBL wont really help any business which was a “living dead” business before the Covid crisis the crisis just sped up their demise, they took a loan or they didnt, the outcome was always the same. BBL has been a once in a lifetime oportunity for the right business.

    We have what we have, from my own perspective we have changed who our target customer is, the price buyer isnt the customer we want. Start to love your target customers and they will pay you back many times over.

    • David Hammond

      Member
      May 27, 2021 at 11:02 am

      🙏 preaching to the converted about target customers 😀

      Just need to convert my dad who’s not entirely convinced by my taking an axe to stuff and cutting the dead weight. It’s easier to concentrate our efforts on something specific that trying to do everything, and please everyone.

  • Steff Davison

    Member
    May 27, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    The hard bit David is the transition. We changed about 3 years ago and we started off gradually, when we stopped our “discount” offers, turnover halved (thats a big swing in numbers) but its been worth it for us. We are doing less production for higher nett margins and it gives us production capacity back.
    I built my business on a discount model and it was a slightly scary time, to say the least. It is suprising what customers will pay if you provide them with exactly what they want, just because you dont think the price is worth it doesnt mean the right customers wont.

    The only downside is that fixed costs can become an unacceptably high percentage of your sales costs and staff costs can eat the whole pie if you dont keep your eye on it(even if that staff cost is you and another). Good luck.

    • David Hammond

      Member
      May 27, 2021 at 12:24 pm

      Yes it’s certainly daunting. We’re putting all our effort into a smaller offering.
      I’ve been asked “how will you make any money just doing that?” – It’s simple, target the right customers.

      In theory it sounds good, it’s a big U-Turn for us, but I’m fairly confident we’re going in the right direction.