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Dealing with a dry spell...

Discussion in 'Sales, Marketing, Pricing Etc.' started by JMDigital, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. JMDigital

    JMDigital Active Member

    Oct 15, 2005
    any advice on what anyone have done when business is slow. I have been printing custom enlargements for photographers and painters. But with the economy Im not getting the customers I used to have. Christmas was a good time for me, grandparents wanted 4x6 prints enlarged to 10x24 or 24x30 or even bigger. Any advice you may have for some sort of advertisement would be greatly appreciated. I don't know what else to try. Once someone sees the end product they are more then happy and sometime come back fore more. I just need more customers. I admit I am not good at thinking of a good add and where to even place them. I really need a crash course on attracting customers. I have worked for a lot of company's and now that I am on my own I lack the people skills to impress someone to hire me. When I do work for other people I get the best praises from my work. Believe it or not I have a great imagination when it comes to creating something. For example I have worked on the Busch Gardens Halloween Horror nights 4 times. Recently our new haunted house won an award for one of the best in the country. I did not design the entire house but I did have input on some of the scary parts. I am at a loss at what to do. Times are tough I have a lot of equipment and software that would complement any small print shop. However I have been my own boss for over 26 years. My love is graphics and large format printing. I am in a unique situation where I OWN all of my equipment, my car, house and I have NO debt. There must be a print shop that can benefit from my experience. On top of that I am a Computer Forensic Expert. I have helped the FBI and local law enforcement on computer cases, I have testified in Federal Court to help put pedophiles in jail. I have recovered data from crashed computers, and retrieved data that was thought lost. I have the tools and knowledge to repair computers and most printers. I have a technical mind and can figure out electronics. My forensic experience has placed my hourly rate to fluctuate with the economy from $75 to $200 per hour. I know this is not realistic in these times. That is why I have wanted to get back to the large format printing arena for a while and I don't have a problem offering these services to a print shop for no more money then I require to live. I have worked hard to only need $700 per week (after taxes) health insurance would be nice because I have a blood pressure problem that runs in the family. I could go on for a long time explaining how I became who I am. I believe I have typed too much.
    I am located in the Holiday. Clearwater area in Florida. I am a easy going person and quite a generous person. I love kids and do what I can to help them when I can. I am married with no children however have over 10 nieces and nephews. I am a big kid at hart. A science fiction fan (but not obsessed) I am told I am a pushover and try to help too many people even of it hurts me or cost me money. Any advice would be helpful I am really at my last ropes.
    I am no good at writing a resume because I have never had to. Is there a service that can interview me and figure out what IO may be good at. I dont mind staying late running the printers and working on graphics, or designing a new add or theme for a party???
    thanks for the help.. I really need it.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
  2. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

    Aug 4, 2010
    montgomery, alabama
    cold call. nothing better in the world
  3. DizzyMarkus

    DizzyMarkus Active Member

    Jan 23, 2012
    Find / Hire a salesperson to do nothing but sales and base it off commission :0)

  4. rjssigns

    rjssigns Major Contributor

    Jun 4, 2007
    Home Office
    Maybe get a tech school intern? You could exchange your knowledge for their work. They could cold call, knock on doors etc... A lot of programs where I go to school require at least 3 credits as an intern to qualify for graduation.

    Or check the tech schools in your area and try to get an adjunct instructor position. Adjuncts here make around $40 and hour.
  5. BobM

    BobM Very Active Member

    May 31, 2008
    Cape Cod
    Visit your top five customers and talk to them about business being slow. They are probably going thru the same thing. Ask them if there anything you can do for them, perhaps other projects within your ablilties. If they are happy with your work, they should be happy to help you, some a little, others a lot. Ask them if they have any friends in their industries they would feel comfortable recommending you to.

    It seems that we all chase the new customers when our satisfied customers generally would be happy to help us get thru tough times. They have been there and know how much a little help from them will help you.
  6. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

    Sep 27, 2010
    Mid TN
    I find that following up then seeing if they need something else rather then just a cold call yields better results.

    Personally, I can't stand when people cold call me. Now, if it's an email, that I can handle a lot more then a phone call. A phone call, particularly if I'm in the middle of doing a large run, is not good. At least with email, I can read and answer it at my leisure.
  7. TheSnowman

    TheSnowman Major Contributor

    Aug 28, 2007
    Nothing ticks me off more than cold calls or someone stopping in wanting to sell me something so I don't do those. If it's a current customer I may check in with them, but never a cold call. I'd do a cold postcard or email, but that's it. Beyond that, you are wasting someone's time that may not enjoy having it wasted (like me).
    Finding a way to do something the same way, and do it better, or cheaper, or find a specialty item that only you do would also be options.
  8. Craig Sjoquist

    Craig Sjoquist Major Contributor

    Jun 18, 2004
    I'm a little surprised that you are unable to find work.

    If ya want work for someone Craiglist here is full of jobs should also be in Tampa area.

    With your talents should also be so much work you be backed up.

    Also printing of samples of everything you do, your past portfolio of work will be great for sales, if needed hire someone that has resume knowledge & proven.

    One step at a time

    I hand paint signs etc. but knows your value is high ya just got to get out there & let people know.
  9. SignManiac

    SignManiac Major Contributor

    Mar 25, 2006
    Mars Florida
    It's a dog eat dog world out there, and you have to be a hustler. No matter how good your technical skills are, you need people skills and the ability to sell yourself. Some people are naturally good at this and others will fail due to the lack of.

    Sounds like you need a marketing plan and you don't have the knowledge for that, which means you either take the bull by the proverbial horns and learn it, or pay someone qualified to bring your business to the next level. I can assure you that unless you take action, you will continue to sit and spin your wheels.

    I have a close friend who has thirty years in the business and decided to take his skill set into a new direction. One of the first things he did was hire a marketing consultant. It worked for him. Sure it can be learned the hard way like anything else in this industry, but can you afford to wait that long?

    You happen to be very fortunate that you have no debt and can get by on a little. You might be able to find a company to hire you but if you've been self employed for so long, you may not like that option either.

    Marketing and selling yourself is your best bet in my opinion. BTW, how well is your website doing for you?
  10. TXFB.INS

    TXFB.INS Very Active Member

    Jan 5, 2012
    Lone Star State

  11. James Burke

    James Burke Being a grandpa is more fun than working

    Jan 2, 2010
    Mitten State
    GOYAKOD and a second job have always helped me when times were slow.

  12. Joe Diaz

    Joe Diaz Very Active Member

    Feast or Famine. In addition to what people are saying about choosing follow up calls over cold calls, I find it helps to take advantage of the extra time during the "famine" by also focusing inwards. When you're busy you never have time to work on your own business, to cleanup and organize, To plan out ways to become more efficient. It sounds like you have been in the business for quite some time, so you know your business comes and goes in cycles. So when it comes back, a more leaner, organized you will be able to handle that "feast" with ease.

    Create a fresh new logo, If you have a location, build a new sign for your shop/home office that really shows off what you can do. And while your making these changes, temporarily hang a banner over the old stuff saying something mysterious, like "Top Secret" or "Something Different is Coming Soon". (maybe something a bit more creative than that though. Hey its Friday. I'm on E here LOL) Just something that feeds people's curiosity and gets them talking.

    Work on you pricing structure. Figure out where you were making money and where you weren't, and adjust. Work on really out-there projects for yourself, Stuff that you like. Stuff that people wouldn't have hired you to do before, because you have never done it, but now that you have the time to create a sample for your portfolio, you may create a market for that service. I find that creative people, when let off the leash can do some pretty amazing things. Things that non-creative people would have never thought of, but after they have seen you make it, now they want something just like that.

    Work on your web presence. Share your online portfolio with others in the community. Speaking of community, get involved with what's happening in your area, network, be seen, but don't be pushy.... It comes off as desperate and self serving. You need to be interested in what other "networkers" bring to the table. Who knows they may have ways to help your business too. You say you lack people skills, but you don't have to wine and dine folks to be noticed. Just be involved and try to be helpful, and I find that people respect that and look to you for your expertise, even if you aren't the life of the party.

    If you take some of your free time now and focus inward on your one business, If you reinvent yourself, people will notice the new and improved you and you will be ready for them when they do.
  13. Joe Diaz

    Joe Diaz Very Active Member

    That's a good point. If you absolutely have no choice but to cold call someone or when you door to door, a wise person once told me to call or stop in at a certain time in the morning. Just late enough for them to settle in, but before they get too involved with the day to day. Whatever you do avoid contacting them right before lunch or at the end of the day. This is the time when people mentally check out. They are thinking about leaving, not your problems. I say "your problems" because during those times that's what they will be thinking. I know I do.

    Cold call or not, I try to be mindful of when I call people. Also keep the cold call short and to the point. perhaps see if there is a good time to meet so you can show them your portfolio in person.
  14. Mosh

    Mosh Major Contributor

    Oct 19, 2009
    Get up and go look for work.. In 20+ years I have only had one DAY I didn't have a job to work on. I have said this 1,000 times, go drive around and look for a frappy sign and go sell them one...Christ, if Gypsies can do it.....
  15. Edna

    Edna Member

    Oct 9, 2012
    I am havin a dry spell hear in two. I plan on drumming up work down at the travel center . duse and violet do work from travel centers like on big rigs and semis trucks going over the road? I hope i can land a feew truckes in the lounge to get some work that way.
  16. ProWraps

    ProWraps Very Active Member

    Sep 30, 2009
    i havent had a day off in 3 months and im booked another 3. grass is always greener. im DEAD tired and hating every minute of it.

    throw in an 18 month old and a 10 day old, and its borderline insanity.
  17. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

    Aug 4, 2010
    montgomery, alabama
    my cold calling rules! NEVER on monday or friday. monday everyones pissy. Friday aint no one in mood to discuss business. I cold calls businesses that have recently moved OR have just signed new leases at new location. I cold call clients that are building new buldings(aint much of that these days) I dont keep them on the phone I ask for email and I wioll send them a link to website and I will drop brochure off and they can contact me if interested. I get a faily decent high rate of return on the cold calls
  18. SD&F

    SD&F Very Active Member

    Oct 4, 2009
    It seems you have the experience and just need tohone your people skillS. I would suggest you pull up every customer you have ever done business with, give them a call and see if there is anything you can help them with...remind them you are there. I agree with a drive by and droppin when you see a sign in need. Business is slow for some, hectic for others....the nature of business. This election will change things up, one way or another.

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