- Scott Hofheins
One of my favorite things about the sign industry is the creative problem solving required across the board. Static signage, outdoor LED signage, indoor digital boards, manufacturing, fabrication, installation, design, artwork and many more all demand a certain level of creative problem solving. The way in which solutions are found and implemented can make a big difference for the end user experience.
Having a good platform to provide solutions is very important. Some platforms, software, hardware, or otherwise, can be more workable than others. For example, a printed encyclopedia is a great resource and can be very useful, but it’s limited to the ink on the page, it cannot change unless re-printed, or minor notations made in the margins. A smartphone or tablet on the other hand, is an open platform for terabytes of encyclopedic information via the internet, apps, and local programs. Users can use, hack, and manipulate these platforms to do what they need, providing fertile ground for innovation and creativity.
There are many types of platforms. How do you keep track of your leads, quotes, support tickets? How do you educate and provide resources to your staff so they can in turn help existing or potential customers? Manage logistics for your trucks and crews? When these platforms are open and efficient, they empower you to make faster decisions and execute solutions much more effectively.
Finding a solution that a customer needs and what they want is sometimes hard to do. A customer may want a sign installed on an existing structure that may not be large enough to support it, but matches their branding or style. The professional knows the limitations, and will be able to suggest an alternate solution that still fits their design wants, but doesn't sacrifice on what’s needed.
Another good example is pricing. There is a certain level of “Sticker Shock” in the sign business that may be a bit more common than other industries. This can make it even more tempting to lower the pricing and component quality to compete. While some amount of flexibility is needed, educating the customer about getting what they pay for tends to work out better for all parties in the long run with a quality product at a fair price.
Providing education in tandem with an effective solution generates powerful results. What is the fundamental purpose of your signage solution? How do you integrate it with existing branding, physical location, target market and demographics. Experienced sign providers can help guide their potential customers through these important variables.
Even a simple static sign on a pole will have site and size restrictions, budget considerations, fabrication options, and artwork needs. Helping a customer not only understand what solutions they should consider, but why they should consider it is key. This speaks to not only your perceived authority on the subject, but your actual expertise and professionalism.
Many start alone, but few finish alone. Having a solid team that can rely on each other is a significant factor in the success of any venture; personal or business. Growth is dependent on it, and problem solving is almost certain to be expedited with the combined knowledge and perspective of others.
While any team is bound to get on each others nerves, it helps when they are all in it for long term success. It helps to see the goal, the light at the end of the tunnel that everyone is striving for. A solid sales team means more business. A solid design/artwork team means more efficient sales, and better manufacturing/fabrication. Good manufacturing means a better product and experience for the install crew, project management and support team. A streamlined support team working with a quality product and platform, mean happy customers, more referrals, and more sales.
New technology, better materials and better communication are all making it easier for people to solve problems, and provide solutions in our industry and countless others. This doesn't necessarily mean problems will go away, but it does mean a continual increase in our expectations as end users, solution providers, manufacturers and business leaders. I have no doubt, the industry and the people and individuals who comprise it, will rise to the challenge.
I hope this post has been informative and helpful. As usual, I welcome ALL constructive comments. Please feel free to comment and add anything I’ve missed, or additional tips you may have regarding this topic. Please visit www.vantageled.com for many other resources, white papers, and of course: Great looking LED Signs!
**All posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically stated.