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Category Archives: Industry

What 2016 Means for 2017

Busiest December in recent history caps a high-growth year. Plenty of evidence points to six strong trends leading into 2017, ranging from value building strategies to differentiation by design. A look back at some of 2016 highlights finishes with some valuable takeaways in this article.

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Onboarding in a Sign Shop

Onboarding, also known as organizational socialization, refers to the mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members and insiders.

Thus states the official definition developed by HR gurus, and published by Wikipedia.  Most people think of onboarding as a one day or one week event, that commences with the new hire’s first day on the job.  But step back a moment, and note that there is great cost to bringing on a new employee, and you have to get it right. So attracting the right hire is actually step one. And that begins with your company’s image, brand, and promise to clients.

So what do employees want? A new survey of more than 600 employees, conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management found 72% of employees rank “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” to be the most important factor in job satisfaction.

The other factors in the top 5 are trust between employees and senior management (64%); benefits (63%), compensation/pay (61%); and job security (59%). As for the actual work itself? It ranked No. 11.

unengaged-employees2Knowing that your company culture and respectful treatment from management are top priorities, we can begin. Fact: 46% of people will fail within the first 18 months of a new job mainly because of poor culture fit.  Before you let that little voice in the back of your head argue that you don’t want to coddle employees or treat them with kid gloves, remember this: When you give good treatment, you are actually keeping your costs down.

Why? Pay Attention: Thirty case studies taken from the 11 most-relevant research papers on the costs of employee turnover demonstrate that it costs businesses 100% – 300% of a worker’s salary to replace that worker. For businesses that experience high levels of turnover, this can add up to represent significant costs!  If, heaven forbid, you have five turnovers in one year, you just cost your business one entire team’s salaries for the year!

Now that we have your attention, let’s talk onboarding.  Fact: New employees are 69% more likely to stay more than three years if they’ve experienced a well-structured onboarding program.

new-hireYou have a workstation set up, a business card order form with title checked off, a pile of HR paperwork to be completed, and a tour of your shop and parking lot instructions. You’re ready for your new hire’s first day, right?  Um, not so fast.

That list of prep items is actually going to cover about an hour and a half.  So then what? Assign the New Employee Handbook as required reading for the rest of the day?   Lame. At least that is what your new hire may be thinking!  If you plan on maximizing the beneficial outcomes for your company as well as for this eager beaver you will see every day, you need to think in terms of a month of orientation. Yes, that is what our own schedule for new sign business owners presents, in a clearly laid out calendar covering four weeks of OTJ training.

Here are some examples for the first day:

  • Workstation prepared, phone, file drawer, clean chair, bulletin board and trash bin
  • Welcome gift – a great mug, a tape measure/ note pad / all in one, a welcome to the team signed by everyone else.
  • Scheduled meeting with all employees, to break the ice
  • Employment paperwork completed, position description reiterated, paydays, the week ahead
  • Tour of each piece of the business, how it fits together
  • Informal lunch with manager or bring in pizza for everyone and hold the informal meet and greet then.
  • Some downtime that first day
  • End of day Q&A, check in with the new hire for lingering questions, etc.

A simple plan of action for the weeks ahead will help you avoid assigning “busy work” to the new team member. We’ve all been there: Knowing that the newbie is not ready to “go it alone” we assign a safe task that will eat up some time until we can get to the next piece of training.

Many companies have a 90-day introductory period during which new employees are under assessment for their fit with the company, and their job performance. Though you likely intend to provide the feedback at the end of the 90-day period, it is wise to give 30-day and 60-day evaluations along the way. In addition, informal feedback daily is extremely important.

One of our new business owners – a first-time entrepreneur – explained the impact a new hire has on the existing team. He noted that it is not a new member of an existing team, but rather a new team that is created. Brand new. If you think of it this way, you can recognize the signs of the team being formed over that 90-day period, and you can help to guide its development.

Those reactions ranged from nervous, to insecure, to downright ill.

man-73339_640At the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition, the founders of Baudville spoke with many attendees about what it feels like to be a newbie. Those reactions ranged from nervous, to insecure, to downright ill. According to the stats, by the time your new employee has made it to the six-month mark, they have likely determined if they will stay long-term or not. So what you do beyond the 90-day mark matters.

Here’s the kicker: Retention rates for employees who are mentored are 72% higher than for those who are not mentored.

Hopefully this has given you a fresh perspective on the great onboarding process, and how this system can become a true representation of a great company culture. Spend a couple of days focusing your energy on developing a good strategy for new hires, and gain returns from this effort for years to come. sign-shop-team-members

We thank Sign Biz Members who contributed their experiences, and photo credits to Mustang Signs and SIGNWorks of Montery. We credit Roberta Chinsky Matuson for her insights published in Recognation. Roberta is known globally as The Talent Maximizer, and is the President of Matuson Consulting. www.matusonconsulting.com

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Sign Maintenance Guidance

“The Sign’s story is a saga of constant and near-fatal brushes with poverty, decay and outright extinction.”

This was posted fifteen years ago on the public information website of the Hollywood Sign Trust, the non-profit organization responsible for the maintenance, preservation, improvement and promotion of the world’s most famous sign, and Hollywood’s most beloved landmark. For over two decades, the Hollywood Sign Trust has actively protected and popularized Hollywood’s premier landmark, to ensure that this once seriously threatened monument survives and thrives. Their role: to physically maintain, repair and secure this 50-foot-high monument perched high above the Hollywood hills, to educate the world about its historical and cultural importance, and to raise the funds necessary to accomplish these long-term projects.

It takes hard work and intelligent planning to build an identity for a company, a building, or even a city. Memorable images, such as the Hollywood sign resting in the hills, are expensive to come by. Yet that important “first impression,” the sign displaying corporate graphics, is taken for granted with little concern given to its appearance after installation.

Every day, each impression made on those viewing it is a negative one when the sign is not operating or looking its best. The expense associated with major repair or replacement can often be avoided with proper care. To borrow an old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” A sign maintenance program can simplify your work life, save time for business owners and purchasers, and save money. Here is an astonishing fact that comes out of a recent nationwide survey of nearly 1000 consumers, conducted by FedEx. Nearly 60% of consumers said that the absence of signs deters them from entering a store or business. Over 50% of survey respondents indicated that poor signage (e.g., poor quality, misspelled words) deters them from entering a place of business. Think about your monthly revenue. Now cut it in half. That is what could happen if your sign becomes cracked, faded, illegible, graffiti-marked, or has misspelled words!

Over 50% of survey respondents indicated that poor signage (e.g., poor quality, misspelled words) deters them from entering a place of business.

The Cost Effective Solution: Gain peace of mind and avoid losing thousands of dollars in business with a Preventative Maintenance program for your on-premise sign. There is a “preventative maintenance” contract to fit virtually any need.  It may not be as involved as the 2005 renovation project undertaken for the Hollywood Sign, but for your business, it is just as important.

Sign Maintenance is part of a complete sign management program, which includes the following:

· Site Inspection and Evaluation

· Design and Visual Presentation

· Planning Applications

· Manufacture

· Installation

· Maintenance

· Project Management

There are three basic methods of sign management that are used as follows:

rusty-sign1. Total Replacement Method

In this method, all signs in a building or section are replaced after a set interval of time, regardless of how long they have been in place. The length of time between replacements is based on the service life of the material.

2. Sign Inspection Method

In this method, a physical sign inspection is conducted periodically, preferably on an annual or bi-annual basis. Those that do not meet the minimums are identified for replacement. Since only those signs that are below acceptable quality are replaced, there is no salvage value (replaced signs cannot be reused).

3. Sign Management Method

In this method, all signs are included in a computerized database that contains detailed information about the sign and the sign installation. The sign management system predicts when a sign should reach the end of its service life. The list of signs needing replacement is then used to order/fabricate the necessary signs and perform the replacement. When this method is utilized, it requires the least number of personnel.

What services might a sign maintenance contract provide for your facilities?

1. All signs will be properly maintained and kept in good condition

2. A copy of all sign design and text should be maintained so as to be legible and complete.

3. The sign structure shall be maintained in a vertical position unless originally permitted otherwise, and shall be maintained in safe condition at all times.

4. All parts and surfaces shall be cleaned, painted or replaced as necessary to maintain the original permitted appearance.

5. Electrical systems shall be in a safe condition at all times.

In addition, signs that are replaced regularly due to excessive exposure to the elements, change of tenant information, or vandalism, are now inventoried by the sign maintenance company for a 72-hour turnaround.

A maintenance contract means a non-deductible, no cost service call anytime your sign needs service or repair. For you, a maintenance contract eliminates costly internal paperwork, approvals for repairs, as well as embarrassing delays for parts and service.

no-excuses-for-sign-neglectWhat sign maintenance services can you undertake for your facilities?

Professional sign companies will use the finest materials and construction methods to insure that your sign lasts as long as possible and requires the least amount of maintenance. There are few things you can do, however, to prolong your sign’s service life and retain it’s appearance. Here is a list of recommended actions to take:

Cleaning

For flex faces and awnings, you will need to pressure wash the vinyl material every six months using a manufacturer-approved cleaning agent. We suggest Cooley Clean tm, available from your local Sign Biz Professional. Most other types of signs do not normally require scheduled cleaning, but may be cleaned with a soft brush and a mild household cleaner on an as-needed basis.

Lighting Problems

If your sign or awning isn’t lighting properly, several things could be wrong:

  • If it isn’t lighting at all, there is probably a problem with the wiring, timer or photocell. In some cases, you can adjust the time and day on the timer or put your hand over the photocell to test those items.
  • If a large portion isn’t lighting or appears dim, there is probably a problem with a ballast (in cabinets and awnings) or transformer (in lighted letters).
  • If a small portion or single letter isn’t lighting or appears dim, there is probably a problem with one or more lamps (in cabinets and awnings) or neon tubes (in lighted letters).

In any of these cases, you will need to place a service call to a qualified sign company to perform the necessary repairs (see below).

Service Calls

If your sign requires repair work, you may call the local member of the Sign Biz International Network. As a member of an international network of sign professionals, local and long distance service calls are usually completed within three working days with the exception of replacement neon which typically takes 1-2 days longer.

Your signs can be covered by a comprehensive program of regularly scheduled preventive maintenance and as needed corrective maintenance. And unlike the famous Hollywood sign, you won’t need a trust fund to underwrite your investment!

To find a sign professional, use the Sign Biz Member Locator service and place your trust in a well-trained sign expert!

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Corporate Insecurity? The Golden Handshake May Offer a Silver Lining

During the mass layoffs in 2001-2002, thousands of corporate and factory workers were in panic and fear of losing their jobs. But for self-employed business owners, it was just a matter of tightening the belt. Someone self-employed has built some “muscle” to weather income fluctuations. In fact, someone with a “regular” job may have had less income security than a successful self-employed professional. Entrepreneurs are better prepared for a recession, because they know what it takes to give their revenue a boost.

corporaterefugeeThe Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in April that both the unemployment rate (5.4 percent) and the number of unemployed persons (8.5 million) were essentially unchanged. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 0.8 percentage point and 1.1 million, respectively. Contrast this to 2009, when the overall unemployment rate rose to 9.5 percent of the labor force in June, the highest since 1982, when the rate peaked at 10.8 percent.

As the economic nosedive was occurs, self-employed professionals don’t waste any time. They vigorously promoted their services, expanded their network of contacts, created more sources of income, and invested in new courses. See Business Survey here.

With each recession, many professionals want to become independent, but may be too scared and have no idea where to start. We offer the guideposts. ~ Teresa M Young, President of Sign Biz, Inc.

How important are small businesses to the U.S. economy?
Small firms:
Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
Employ about half of all private sector employees.
Pay 43 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
Have generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years.

We meet people like this every day – smart, hard-working professionals with years of experience, who are either too tired of working for another company, want to make more money, or want to take control of their own future,” explains Young. “They are, often “corporate refugees” — forced out on their own.”

These challenges have created opportunities for some, as they are forced to look outside the normal channels for their future careers. In this search, if they stumble upon the sign industry, they have an “aha” moment,” says Young.

“They look around, and suddenly notice a rich and diverse industry that appears boundless. If they want a solid and streamlined start to becoming a world-class visual communications company, we are the only business development company offering that. And, we have worked with these transplanted corporate executives for nearly three decades, and understand the personal nature of such a career change.”

signsofcrossroadYoung saw the need for educating and supporting such professionals as they researched enterprises and start-up opportunities. She launched a comprehensive corporate website back in 1994, and included a business plan tutorial. Today, the FTC, the Small Business Administration, and the Dept. of Commerce all report statistics about business success and failure rates. What is pointed out by these reports is how very little the public knows about why companies succeed, and why they fail. The Sign Biz website now features multiple studies and resources to education budding entrepreneurs.

“Unlike school, where training is measured at most in years, a career can be measured in decades. There is no equivalent to a college catalog listing required, recommended, and elective courses. Most people aren’t assigned a mentor, the working world equivalent of a college adviser. Very few people have a mentor who will promote and package their work for them. That’s where we can help. Sign Biz exists to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with knowledgeable business training, support and promotional opportunities for growing a business of their own,” she adds.

Sign Biz offers a full-service business development program for individuals entering the sign industry as entrepreneurs. The award winning program contributes to the unmatched success rate of their chain of sign companies. The education curriculum totals three weeks, and is complemented by a minimum of one week of home study, and a week of In-Store Training, plus more than 17 proprietary manuals and all equipment and extensive support services in perpetuity. For further information call (949) 234-0408 or (800) 633-5580.

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Selecting The Right Shop Location

It has long been stated that “location, location, location” is vital to the success of many – if not most – businesses. This is equally true for a professional sign shop that is newly established or in early growth phases, in particular, for those that offer digital print and cut vinyl products as a mainstay. Outgrowing the space? There’s research for that, too.

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Sign Biz® Network Achieves Highest Per Capita Revenue

(Dana Point, CA)– 2014 marks another year of record-breaking sales by Member of the Sign Biz Network – topping all chains as reported in Wide-Format Imaging’s 2014 SIGN FRANCHISE REVIEW. Looking back on the 25th annual Sign Biz Network Convention, it is easy to see the progress made by these full-service sign businesses over the past several years.

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The Digital Signage Experts Group Appoints Young to Board of Advisers

(Vista, CA)— The Digital Signage Experts Group (DSEG) is proud to announce the appointment of Ms. Teresa Young to the Board of Advisors. The DSEG Board of Advisors are the eyes and ears of the organization and they represent the different constituencies and viewpoints that make up the rapidly evolving digital signage industry. DSEG looks to the Board of Advisors for their experiences and insights in order to foster professional development and growth throughout each facet of the digital signage industry.

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Three from The SignMan Win Sales Consultant of the Year Awards

(Orlando, FL)– This year’s Sign Biz International Convention was one in a million, or actually, one in 25, celebrating the 25-Year Anniversary of the worldwide organization. 2014 also marks the 18th annual Sign Biz Sales Consultant of the Year Awards (SCOYAs). The SCOYAs spotlight the talents and successes of the country’s top sales producer in the Sign Biz Network, the sign industry’s largest chain of non-franchised sign companies. According to attendees, this event hosted in Florida just after the conclusion of the world’s largest sign tradeshow, the ISA Expo, was deemed “perfect.”

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Digital Out of Home Interviews Young

Digital Out of Home online magazine featuring “Insight, Knowledge, Opinion” featured an article, “Why Sign Biz Will Visit 2013 Sign Expo’s Digital Zone” by Gail Chiasson, North American Editor. Teresa M. Young spoke with Gail by phone before the trade show floor officially opened, and later, in Las Vegas together, they spent time comfortably seated in a quiet zone at the New Tropicana, where Young would be hosting the 2013 Sign Biz Convention.

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Adam Wolf is Sign Biz® Sales Consultant Of The Year

(Orlando, FL)– The Sales Consultant of the Year Awards (SCOYAs), the country’s only nationwide competition celebrating the accomplishments of the Sign Biz Network’s most successful digital sign consultants, has just announced this year’s award winner for sales achieved in the calendar year of 2011. As part of “Cue the Future”, this year’s International Convention for the Sign Biz Network, hosted in Orlando, Florida, the SCOYA was presented at a gala ceremony and party held at the Doubletree Resort by Hilton on International Drive, and attended by more than 140 business owners and industry dignitaries.

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Review of Sign Industry Sustainability

(Dana Point, CA)– Sign Biz, Inc.’s President and CEO, Teresa M. Young, founder of the largest non-franchise sign chain in the US, was a featured contributor to Sign Builder Illustrated magazine’s coverage of sustainability in the sign industry. Young was dubbed “trend-caster” since her 2008 keynote address for the Sign Biz annual convention, “Road Signs of the Global Economy – Shift Happens” in which she predicted four “macro trends” that will increase demand for the fast-growing, green-conscious digital sign company, and reshape the way businesses and workers communicate and collaborate worldwide.

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Sign Biz Network Contributes $25K to Ft. Hood Shooting Victim


Teresa M. Young, president,Sign Biz®, Inc., was approached by Don Smith, owner of Imagination SIGNworks in McKinney, TX, about a production of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in Texas. Young’s company founded a worldwide chain of nearly 200 independently-owned digital sign businesses known as The Sign Biz Network. Don’s company is a member.

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