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  • Work on your business, not in it…

  • David Hammond

    April 5, 2020 at 3:55 pm

    Whilst some of us are quiet, now is a good time to remove your "signmaker" head and put on your "business" head.

    A few suggestions of things to look at, not just now but going forward.

    Not saying these will work for everyone, but its helped up over the past few years.

    Cash is King – Now is a good time to look at your cash flow (or lack of it) and put together a credit control policy. COVID-19 is a brilliant & legitimate reason for those customers who question why its changed.

    We reduced credit accounts, and tightened up further before this COVID-19, as a result we’re not in as desperate position as others.

    Develop a system – sit back and look at how you deal with enquiries, what information you need, and how you’re recording it. Devise a way of dealing with orders, to when payments are required, and at what stage you do certain bits of the job. I find flow charts help with this.

    We have a way of dealing with enquiries, from start to finish, when deposits are due, when installations are confirmed. From experience implement it, follow it, and deviate it at your peril.

    Pricing – look at costs, check your supplier prices are competitive. Price some previous jobs using different pricing structures to see how the compare. See what an % increase makes to actual prices, and jobs you do.

    Standardise things – forms for customer information, credit account forms, proof sheets, quotations.

    Improve – We’ve all had those jobs and customers who have been a nightmare, if you’ve a recurring ‘problem’, sit down and decide how to stop it happening again. No point filling a bucket with holes, fix the holes and it’ll fill quicker.

    The idea being when we return you’re prepared, ready to go, in the best position. Things will change after covid-19 and we’d be fools if we didn’t.

    Anyone any other suggestions?

  • Chris Wilson

    April 5, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    Advertising and use of free media.

    To me it’s important that we use Facebook and actually more so instagram now. Instagram has made it more friendly with our customers. Lots view our story every day. Just literally signed off a £470 van from it. Also stops people badgering me after ordering the day before. Good platform to showcase your many different you do and each part of the job.
    Now trying to give some serious thought to our outdated website.

    Trello has made a massive difference to our lives since the end of last summer for organisation and crucially improved productivity.

    Dead stock. What can you do with it. Few months back I had about 7 rolls of banner with 5m or less left on it. Punted put a deal on Social media for 2 banners at 6ft x 2ft at x price. Made about £400 from it.. but we picked up and estate agents which is now placing regular orders for double sided correx boards. Now trying to think what I want to get rid of next.. but apart from a roll of clear and tiny bits of one way vision am struggling.

    Might chuck some dead colour rolls on eBay. I see people doing job lots from time to time. Clears some space. Also got 2 tins of frog juice (hint hint nudge nudge anyone).

  • Phill Fenton

    April 5, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    Great topic David – interesting to see other perspectives on running a business. From our point of view we’ve been using the time to do a thorough sort out of the unit and repaint the floor.

    I also think it’s important to keep posting on facebook so your customers know you’re still there. The problem with being furloughed is you’re not supposed to do work for your business that creates income. So as you have said, now’s the time to re-do the business plan and sort through a clear strategy for getting going again once normality begins to return.

    The problem ahead as I see it is many small businesses coming back on stream will be short of funds so will be looking to minimise any expenditure apart from the essentials needed to get by. So now’s the time to promote the value of signs as an advertising tool more than ever otherwise, for example, they may decide not to bother getting the van(s) sign written until the business is once again flush with cash.

    Also look to see how you can diversify your business in some ways to create new revenue streams? Vinyl wrapping kitchens or furniture perhaps?

    Another thing I have been doing is designing a face visor since there seems to be a shortage of ppe equipment in this country just now and last week signed up to though as yet have heard nothing back. I did hand a sample of the visor into my local hospital for evalution yesterday. Henry Barker (who used to be a regular on this site) kindly emailed me the design for a visor he was producing though this required the use of a CNC machine and much thicker materials than I currently had in stock so I adapted his design to make my own using composite aluminium for the frame.

    The main thing is to remain positive – and keep looking out for opportunities to get your business back on its feet


  • David Hammond

    April 5, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    Agree Phill, I think this is easiest part as we are getting support from government. Once we’re back, customers will be watching what they spend, and some companies will be buying up work to get cash in the bank.

    I’ve not furloughed myself, but will be once the next job is complete. After that we’re employing my mum part time (again) so the company can still trade, but will have to outsource orders as she cant produce anything.

    I believe you can continue to chase monies owed as you still have a responsibility to the company, just cannot invoice anything. VAT returns will easily show any company who has invoiced with a furloughed workforce.

  • Phill Fenton

    April 6, 2020 at 10:13 am

    Quick update on the page

    I had received an email on Saturday but this went into my Spam folder so didn’t discover it until this morning. So anyone else that has registered – please check your spam folder. They also have a facebook page

  • James Boden

    April 6, 2020 at 10:34 am

    I’m technically self employeed/sole trader. Do I understand it correctly that I don’t need to do anything at this point and that HMRC will contact me in due course?

  • Phill Fenton

    April 6, 2020 at 10:36 am
    quote James Boden:

    I’m technically self employeed/sole trader. Do I understand it correctly that I don’t need to do anything at this point and that HMRC will contact me in due course?

    Yes I’m the same James – and that is my understanding also

  • James Boden

    April 6, 2020 at 10:41 am

    Thanks Phill

  • Michael Cunney

    April 8, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Some good ideas there, agree sorting your stocks out is a great one, we had so many offcuts of various things that were too big to simply throw away but more often than not you likely don’t know exactly what’s in the rack, so we took the whole lot out and measured / labelled every single panel so we know exactly what’s in, anything that was a bit too small or an odd ball colour that was just collecting dust we dropped off with a local charity who run a production work shop.

    If you’re able to go in then machine maintenance, just oiling up all those runners, blades etc. Everything good wipe down. Running calibrations on your printers, cutters, cut tests and adjustments on CNC, then building maintenance, touching up paint, those niggly jobs you don’t get round to, general tidy up, so that first day back everything is nice and fresh ready for the big push.

    Maybe consider improving or creating a showroom, use your off cuts to make up some examples of work, customers love to be able to see and touch stuff when it comes to justifying what their money is about to be spent on.

  • Wayne Fothergill

    April 9, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    Some great advice in here, especially sorting through stock. We had a good sort out of all the panels last year and labelled up all the offcut sizes etc and it was great but it’s all gone to hell again now, definitely need to take some time to go through them.

    Main thing I’m hoping to sort during downtime is our website, or lack thereof. I originally made it when we first opened 7 years ago but it was only a placeholder really, then took it down with the intention of building a new one I started one. Well that was 3-4 years ago now, during which all of that time it’s been a maintenance page… :awkward:. I don’t suppose it’s mattered too much as we’ve been busy constantly throughout that time, but it’s really not good to neglect that aspect of the business for as long as I have.

    Same old story though, your own stuff always takes a backseat to actual jobs and before you know it, that thing you wanted to take care of has been lingering for months / years.

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