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How much to charge per square inch....?

Discussion in 'Vinyl' started by OmniSeeIt Designs, Oct 28, 2018.

  1. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

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    It's strange, all of us getting criticized for sign brokering and then he gives you the breakdown of what he pays in business cards and the thousands and thousands he makes from them. My cost for 2x3.5 UV card 4 color is $26.40 and my cost to the customer is $300. by the time you do the artwork, proofs, loading and filling in boxes on the 4over, shipping and taking the time with the customer again. $100 is not worth it. Especially if you are running an outdated flatbed and need to upgrade. Your losing money working on it on Saturdays and looking for parts all the time and your employees are standing around while you baby it through a job.
    Now if you sign broker most of that like Kerning, you can get back to those iconic beach picnics in the late afternoon.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. TimToad

    TimToad Very Active Member

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    But that doesn't leave enough room for the creative side or the love of craft for many of us, which is what motivates myself and others. If ROI is the primary motivation, there are so many other ventures that can provide so much more with so much less effort.
     
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
  3. kcollinsdesign

    kcollinsdesign Member

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    I always mark up my wholesale costs. I also charge for my time. I make plenty of money, and rarely leave any on the table.

    My clients receive professional advice, and I help them find the best deal I can for their production expenses. I am open and honest, and let my clients know about good deals from reliable companies if they want to order the products themselves and save a little money. The little secret here, is that they know already. They've already looked it up on the internet! My clients appreciate my candor and honesty, and I have a deep book of satisfied clients that continue to work with me.

    Years ago I divested myself of equipment and overhead. I clearly saw the day coming where I had a shop full of equipment and employees sitting idle due to new opportunities being offered by modern logistics and the internet. One of the things I am trying to express with my posts (especially for those contemplating getting in to this business) is to take a look at wholesale and shipping technologies, and carefully consider your business model before investing in expensive production equipment and overhead.

    There are plenty of big sign shops that can profitably run their own print, painting, and fabrication operations. Most medium to small operations will struggle with this, and will be better served outsourcing those products that require substantial equipment and overhead investments to produce.

    When I started, I had a box of brushes and paint and went door-to-door doing window lettering. I also got into show cards, grocery store signs (paper signs that hung in windows advertising weekly specials), window splashes, and car lots (prices for cars painted on windshields). Clients started asking for more permanent signs, so I moved into a shop and started painting MDO and aluminum signs. Soon I was carving and painting Redwood dimensional signs. I added sandblasting (but gave that up when a local sandblasting outfit offered to supply that service at about a tenth of my cost). We got into electrical signs, and before long had a fleet of service trucks, a large shop, a neon plant, and a bunch of employees. The turning point for me came when we considered buying a paint booth and a paint mixing capability. The local code would not allow it at our location, so we looked to outsource painting. After considerable research, we began to outsource not only painting, but fabrication as well. Then along came digital printing suitable for outdoor use. We bought a Gerber Edge. A few years later large format printing came along. Again, we analyzed the cost of in-house production vs. buying from wholesalers. We found several local shops who had made the investment, and had to keep their machines and employees running. Eventually, those sources dried up as the wholesale printing market matured. LED lighting came along, and the neon plant was sold for scrap. We started ordering wholesale channel letters (who doesn't do that now?), and eventually all of our electric signs. Now Electronic Message Displays are the big thing. Who makes those in house?

    I left the sign shop to concentrate on design. The local electric sign shops transitioned to doing mostly installation and maintenance, receiving signs on their dock from sign-forwarding companies who work with corporate accounts. I never regretted the move. I have never been in a better position to serve my clients and make a good living. Perhaps what I did was not for everybody (I have a solid portfolio and a deep book of clients after almost 40 years in this business). I am sharing my experience (hopefully) for the benefit of those who have faced the same dilemmas as I have as this industry has changed through the years.
     
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  4. TimToad

    TimToad Very Active Member

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    That's quite the list of accomplishments and work history for a person who is only 50 years old. Its very impressive to see someone apply themself so well for so long starting at such a young age.
     
  5. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

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    Mozart was five years old when he wrote his first symphony. The guy you are making fun of Toad could be a genius,
     
  6. Gino

    Gino Major Contributor

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    Wowee..... I can't believe you brought this up. Such a great insight to this member's accomplishments and you saw right through it all. I trust, you even did the addition and subtraction of all those years without paper and pencil. Good eye there toad !! :thumb: Perhaps, we can all take a lesson here and apply ourselves to make this community a better place to be, huh ??
     
  7. Kerning

    Kerning Member

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    $$ is my motivator... Probably is easier ways to make money....I only know signs.
     
  8. unclebun

    unclebun Member

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    Back to the 3000 4"x4" white decals. You said your client could order them himself for 20 cents each. What website was that from? I did a google search for die cut vinyl decals and the #1 result was stickermule.com. They retail a 4"x4" white vinyl decal for $0.401 each at a quantity of 3000, making the total $1203 plus shipping.

    Other places I found retail them for more, even over $1 each.

    So, again, where are you able to get them at a retail price your non-industry client can get them for 20 cents?
     
  9. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

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    AS per my post #32, my cost was $949 for 3,000 not including shipping. Stouse looks around $1200 for roll stickers
    plus shipping. 20 cents is cheap for 3,000 4x4 stickers, I would like to see what they looked like also.
     
  10. kcollinsdesign

    kcollinsdesign Member

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    Thanks for all the flattering compliments! I was born in 1957. I wasn't one of the cool kids, and I sucked at sports, so I learned that I could draw to get attention. All the sudden I was popular. Everybody wanted me to do their team logo or banner. I traded drawings of dragsters and naked girls for bags of chips and Hostess Twinkies. From Science Club to Varsity Football, I was their go-to guy for posters and banners. From there I went to local businesses, then a 4 year stint of "College Interuptus", then back to painting signs.
     
  11. kcollinsdesign

    kcollinsdesign Member

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    I also need a new web page! All of my work is through established clients and referrals, so my marketing needs are minimal. It would be nice to post some newer work.

    I built this site using iWeb 12 years ago. iWeb is long gone, so I can no longer access the site (I guess I will be 50 forever). I've built dozens of WordPress sites, but I'm thinking of trying WIX for the site management and security features. Once again succumbing to SaaS, but we are already into a different thread...
     
  12. eahicks

    eahicks Very Active Member

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    If it's all about money, sure. Some of us take pride in our work. Anyone can pick up a sign and hand it to someone else for a check.
     
  13. Kerning

    Kerning Member

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    If your a business owner with employees, then you are doing the same thing a broker does.
     
  14. TimToad

    TimToad Very Active Member

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    This is the part I don't understand about those defending the practice of barely marking anything up and then only charging for their time spent. Suddenly, we're supposed to believe that because the economy is transforming in different directions that being a hands on, primarily in-house craftsperson is now a dirty word? Or we're "behind the times" because we still get off on coming up with a cool sign and want to get our hands dirty producing it?

    Where is the craftsmanship, love of the trade, intellectual and artistic curiosity, etc. in just being a money changer and trader of checks?

    So you get a job that costs you $800 out of pocket that you are selling $950, which you have to pay upfront to the wholesaler. This does little or nothing for YOUR local economy and suddenly YOU are your client's financier unless they are paying 100% in advance which is rare. Then you have to wait for the product to arrive and cross your fingers that EVERYTHING about it is acceptable and all the while the timer and grace period on your credit card charge is ticking.

    Say the job takes longer or something is wrong with it and you have to have it redone or the wholesaler's roof collapses and they are out of commission for a while. Or the customer shows up to pick up and uses any number of excuses why they won't accept them or forgot their checkbook or want to pay with a credit card. Maybe none of those problems were your fault, but you will incur extra time spent dealing with the issues. All the while its your cash on the line and the clock is ticking on when you have to pay the bill. Suddenly your margin for error has been exhausted and you're still out the money and then have to spend uncompensated time chasing down the money owed.

    As if nobody in the sign business ever gets stiffed, has slow paying clients, makes a mistake, promises something that you can't deliver, etc.
     
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
  15. Kerning

    Kerning Member

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    whos buying something for $800 and selling for $950?


    I duno anything about all this love and kumbahya

    I can work all day in the bucket in the cold rain and wind putting signs up and make $1500.... the other day I sold a bunch of real-estate signs for $2100 and paid $700. That order took me about an hour in the warm comfort of my bed. Yea it's nice to be tired and prideful after a long hard day of work... but id trade it for the broker deal.
     
  16. Gino

    Gino Major Contributor

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    Your website says you're 50 and you eluded to being 50, but you're really about 61. So, that explains your early ages not corresponding to your real ages. However, your wotk is still nice.


    Carry on.
     
  17. SignsSupport

    SignsSupport Support & Tech Administrator

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    That would be nice.
    But as it seems - you're off to a terribly facetious start. Can we please refrain from baiting other members to argument please?
    Thanks.

    SignsSupport


    Now back to the topic...
     
  18. TimToad

    TimToad Very Active Member

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    This guy's example is pretty close to that scenario. I was trying to generalize in order to not have it appear that I was using his example, but since you asked.

    "For 3000 4" x 4" vinyl stickers I would have charged $800 including one hour layout time (guessing, would need more details). I would have made $200.00 for one hours work. Approximately 27¢ each. Love these kind of jobs!"

    $800 job with $600 in costs.
     
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
  19. Gino

    Gino Major Contributor

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    Please toad, explain to me, what happens if something goes wrong and you find out after the job has been delivered ?? Where is your built in coverage on making so little over, again in your equation ??
     
  20. Lizzie Newton

    Lizzie Newton New Member

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    I think pricing depends on individual, your catchment area, and what really you are happy to work with. I have a minimum order charge, and I am based in the UK. I do nothing less than our minimum charge, as we all know customers are experts at wasting your time for little money being spent. What they don't realise if whilst you are messing around with a small graphic, you could be concentrating on the bigger jobs that there is more profit being made on. Only downside to having a sign shop is that you cannot stop the general public calling in on the off chance of getting something made there and then. Usually copying something that they have found on the internet for a few pence.......
    I think there are a lot of people out there, that buy a cutter/plotter/printer and have a few ideas milling around in their head, and think hey presto.... I am going to be a sign person. It takes many, many years of experience to become and expert in your field. But I guess everyone has to start somewhere.....
     
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