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Advice on Hiring a Designer

Discussion in 'Business Management' started by TheSellOut, May 11, 2010.

  1. TheSellOut

    TheSellOut Very Active Member

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    At this point HSC is a one man operation with Summer helpers here and there. The business has grown to a point where hiring a part-time Design/Production Assistant looks to be the next step if I want to continue growing!

    I've had lawyers draw up "Non-Compete" contracts and am getting quotes for workers comp insurance. I plan on having the designer stay in house to keep the insurance on the lower end.

    Any advice on hiring a designer would be greatly appreciated! TIA
     
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  2. insignia

    insignia Very Active Member

    Make sure they understand how to design for production. I've seen way too many "designers" who can create some truly amazing designs on screen only to find out after the fact there's almost no way to actually produce what they designed. Sign design is different than designing for print or web, so make sure they understand that and are able to understand the production process.
     
  3. signmeup

    signmeup Major Contributor

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    Hire Joe away from Diaz Sign Art.
     
  4. J Hill Designs

    J Hill Designs Major Contributor

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    ...or sub out to sign amigo?
     
  5. WrapperX

    WrapperX Active Member

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    As an employee - I feel that a non compete contract is complete BS! If I get hired and oh wait after a month I realize me and the new job don't get along. For whatever reason, I am now stuck into some contract that says if I quit or whatever, I can't work in the same field in my area for a period of time...

    I will never sign a non compete contract. It locks me out of my own options. A totally one sided deal...

    But if you do hire, obviously request portfolios. This is the best way to see if their style of work is suited for Sign work. Not all designers can visualize sign design and how it is DIFFERENT then PAGE LAYOUT. They are not alike, as we all know. Then see how they handle in an interview. Do they have personality, are they inquisitve. Figure this designer is gonna need to have one on one discussions with potential clients to get their ideas on paper, and if they can't comunicate directly with customers then thats not saving you any time. Obviously Patience and Creativity should be a must!

    What do I know though...
     
  6. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Will you still qualify if your employee is only part-time help ?? Usually, you have to have 30 or more hours a week in, to be eligible for some of that stuff.

    Anyway.... if you find someone.... have them work for a 30 day trial period to be sure you two can get along under the same roof. It could get dangerous... your giving up duties you're used to.... and having someone new do things their way and have personality conflicts. New blood in the shop is always a tough hurdle when delegating design assignments and specs.
     
  7. Rick

    Rick Certified Enneadecagon Designer

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    What kind of sign designer.. your basic sign shop designer? digital/vinyl/wrap? electrical? or edging toward higher end electrical/architectural?
     
  8. insignia

    insignia Very Active Member

    I kinda of agree on the non-compete for shop employees/designers. For a salesperson or account manager they're a must, but I don't think it's fair at all to require a production person to sign one. Yes, they protect me as a business owner, but realistically, there's not much a $10/hr vinyl weeder can do to my business if we part ways. The likelihood of them stealing clients or clients following them to their next job is slim to none. Same for designers in my opinion. But if it's someone who will have access to significant amounts of customer info or financial info, it's wise to protect yourself.
     
  9. jiarby

    jiarby Major Contributor

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    Hire a production guy... that wants to get into design but isnt afraid to lay some vinyl. He will understand the needs of production and pick up design easily.

    A designer that has no production experience may not understand vectors, or designing for cut vinyl versus print.
     
  10. neato

    neato Very Active Member

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    You could always hire it out to a freelancer and save the headaches of an employee. :D
     
  11. TheSnowman

    TheSnowman Major Contributor

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    I'd Sign Amigo it up if I were you!
     
  12. TheSellOut

    TheSellOut Very Active Member

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    I've been an employee and understand, but now as an owner I feel it's necessary to have one. A trail period before the contract is binding is a good idea though. I just don't want to share my knowledge and train someone for a year to have them go two blocks down to a sign shop that's less skilled for a dollar more an hour. Hopefully I can take care of an employee enough that they won't want to do that, but...

    I will have to look into that, thanks for brining it up

    I will be looking for someone to design for print mostly, but will also be training in sign layout (all types of stationary, posters, logos, digital, vinyl). I also want to train them in other aspects of the business as stated below.

    I'm thinking of training this person in a lot of the aspects of the business. Taking orders, basic pricing, designing layouts, getting approvals, production (printing, cutting, appling), and possibly placing orders through printer resellers. I can't take the chance of training this much of the business without some protection. I know it sounds like a lot for 20 hours a week, but I hopefully by mid summer I will need to hire this person on full time.

    I'm sure I can't prepare myself enough for the headaches of an employer, but I really want to have a person in the shop for a set amount of hours a day. That way when I need to be out, I can plan to be out during that time. I will definitely keep you in mind though Neato...you work is inspirational.

    The "here an there" employees I have had were all productions guys, and while it was nice, now that I have a printer a lot of the labor has gone down. In the summers I used to keep a guy busy 30-40 hrs a week just in weeding, masking, and appling. There is still a lot of labor but it doesn't seem to be as much.


    I appreciate all the feedback so far, you have all brought to light some good points and look forward to hearing more!

    There were two contracts my lawyer drew up. 1st was the non-compete contract, which I would be somewhat flexible on (without letting the employee know off the bat). If the employee wanted to go up the road 20 miles, I probably wouldn't have a problem with that. It's mainly to keep them from going to a direct competitor in my small town or going into business in my town. If they wanted to go into business 50 miles down the road I would congratulate them and have another friend in the industry.

    2nd was a contract that all files created would be property of HSC and would not leave the business, as well as all existing files. It allows the designer to take medium res jpegs for portfolio purposes. depending on the files I would be somewhat flexible on this too.
     
  13. Rick

    Rick Certified Enneadecagon Designer

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    Yeah, about the non-compete, is the pay good enough to justify it? Is it actually legal? If you let him go, can he go after you for compensation?

    You do not need a non-compete that unfairly limits a person from making a living, what you really need is a non-disclosure agreement, some are automatic with employment, but getting it in writing is a better idea. You also want to write up a work-for-hire agreement just in case the portfolio file thing does not work out.

    What I find odd is, you may be looking to hire a designer that needs quite a bit of training... I am assuming because you do not want to pay that much.... do you really have the time for that? It sounds like they will almost be learning the whole business... hard enough finding a gifted designer, then they have to be good salesmen, grunt, and production monkey. A designer like me is overkill, but a designer with 1-2 years and a portfolio might be worth looking at...

    Most designers are looking for a good job... a one man sign shop is usually the low end of the design scale... not that you do not have anything to offer, but thats how designers look at it. Be prepared for them to leave when a better opportunity comes...
     
  14. TheSellOut

    TheSellOut Very Active Member

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    A lot of good points Rick that I will have to look into...this is going to be tough. I don't know what to expect as it is my first time hiring for this position. To start I plan on training for design, print, and simple application...and I guess I was thinking ahead a year or so that this person would inevitably learn the other aspects listed above, if they were here that long.

    Has anyone tried this and have any experience on the subject? It is not something that I am planning on doing for I wouldn't have a clue on how it would work, but it is something that ran across me brain the other day...

    Hire and train someone to the point that they could almost run a business on their own. Then on top of an hourly wage or salary, offer them a commission on top to entice them to bring more business in as well as stick around.?
     
  15. Rick

    Rick Certified Enneadecagon Designer

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    I can answer you this from the employees viewpoint. I was on again off again graphic designer that knew nothing about the computer. I had a chance to learn the 'computer' sign business from the bottom - up, from a popular sign guy. He happened to be a very close friend of my brother-in-law. I has very driven (and I had 3 kids at the time) I went from making 30 bucks an hour in construction to making 6 an hour for this guy. It was very worth it for me and at the time I knew it... but I had to keep my mouth shut and learn it his way. After a while my ambition got the better of me (and he had issues) and he fired me.. best thing he ever did for my career. I knew that first job was a stepping stone... so were the other 5 sign jobs after that... I would have stayed at any of them if they offered room to grow creatively or add more skills.

    If I can ask you a question... how many sign shops have you worked for? If you are self taught, then it's not a fair question... most employees have to get a well rounded education by working at several shops to be paid a decent amount UNLESS the person they work for has a few sign shop jobs under their belt. 2 shops I worked at were in business for 50 years... that was a lot of learning for me. It would be safe to say your first experience with a designer employee will probably not last very long, but it will be good practice for the next one... and while they are training them, you can still send large jobs out to freelancers.

    I dabble with the idea of hiring someone, I already have 4 boys to train, but for a real employee, I want someone with experience, and I am not going to dick around with hiring someone out of the blue, they will have to be proven or recommended.
     
  16. GypsyGraphics

    GypsyGraphics Major Contributor

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    SO TRUE! I wouldn't even consider interviewing someone who can't show me anything they've actually produced. There are so people calling themselves "mutli-media" desingers that don't the first thing about design, pre-press or production. They expect you to look at their work online, say "oooo pretty" and hire them. All you have to do is ask about production... and wait for the question mark to appear over their heads.
     
  17. ABPGraphics

    ABPGraphics Active Member

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    My only issue with hiring someone with "experience"....your are setting yourself up bringing in bad habits from previous companies. I am a production manager and have been for many years. The so called graphic designers that have the earned degree make beautiful gorgeous designs, but they take forever in doing so...and every project is their own personal "Picasso" - From experience they are gung ho on design and sitting in front of the computer....but flinch when they are also suppose to do the grunt work (production) (weeding) (taping) (taking out the garbage).....

    I would rather take the time and teach an enthuastic person MY WAY from the start....it may take more time...but I find in about a month or two that same unexperienced employee is my right hand person and can read my mind!!!

    I would not even let them get in front of a computer until they've earned their production wings...which aslo includes outside installs.... when they understand production they will understand the "impossible sign" when it comes to design.
     
  18. anotherdog

    anotherdog Very Active Member

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    I have to agree with this. When I was a production manager I had a stable of prima-donna designers who had to be coaxed to work faster (within budget).

    I have the same dilema. This has been a brutal (good) May for me. I cannot fit another wafer of work in...so what do I do? say no and watch customers find other suppliers (NONONOOOO) or hire a monkey (pay peanuts, get monkeys) and watch them crap up the work and drive customers away?
     
  19. Rick

    Rick Certified Enneadecagon Designer

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    Drop the designer generalization.. this is actually a human trait or flaw. I have seen prima-donna installers, painters, welders, glass guys, salesmen, estimator, receptionist, project manager.

    Heard the same crap about training so they do it your way... the thing is, anyone with experience CAN bring in more options that a shop never considered... but at interview a boss has to make it clear what they want.

    As a designer, my goal is to make my boss a lot of money. If I don't, it stresses me out... some bosses have sabotaged their success, but it's still a designers job to keep everyone busy... that means there is time to whip out a job, and there is a time to be a design snot.. you can actually do both.

    Some of you are in a particular part of the sign business where anyone with a brain stem can do the work... but if you do electrical, architectural or larger monuments, you want experience... especially in states where pulling permits is a science.
     
  20. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    So much going on here and I see many good points.

    One area I was forced to realize is that many things have changed and along with that.... what the customers want has changed quite a bit. I see much of my own stuff somewhat dated.... and those projects were ones where I was rushed or didn't care and wanted to get the job done and knew what the customer would settle for.... not the best kind of attitude, but it still worked.

    Some years ago, we had a designer that was top notch and could design circles around anyone in the county…. and probably further. His approach, style and technique were not my cup of tea, but I recognized talent when I saw it. He took us places and opened my eyes to many new plateaus and I learned in order to grow our business… I had to allow some ‘New Blood’ to ooze into our work. Well, he did… and then he helped me hire the next designer. Now I had two great guys and they competed with each other and we were turning out logos, layouts, brochures and just dynamite things left and right. After about three years, the second guy I hired moved to Philly to do magazine paste up and design because that’s where his heart was and the other guy got married and moved too far to commute and took a job with ‘Snap-On’ tools about 1-1/2 hours north of us. He doesn’t do any of this stuff at all anymore, but we’ve stayed in touch.

    However, my designer now is also a monster and although he can get moody…. he’s perfect for us. He has new ideas and his ability on the computer and software is also top notch.

    I guess where I’m going with this is…. sometimes the guy coming in the door is good at designing a CD cover or a paste up article with pictures, but doesn’t look like he can do signwork or maybe some of your programs. Learn to see and understand talent and sometimes raw talent and see if you can blend their talents in along with yours and now you’ll have yours, his/hers and the combo ticket going. As they learn the ropes their pay will go up and eventually become an asset that won’t want to leave anyway. This way you’ve trained each other.
     
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