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Need Help How to get into sign business and learn more about it?

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by rdelight, Apr 7, 2020.

  1. rdelight

    rdelight Vehicle Wraps

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    Jan 10, 2017
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    Hi there,

    We're successfully running a small vehicle wrap shop located in Florida for over 3 years now. We have Latex 365 and all design and printing are done in house, but it's time to expand as the market is very limited.
    However, we don't know much about signage.

    -Are there any books that we can read about that?
    -Do we need any special license to install signs
    -When do we need to pull permits to do installs?
    -Where to learn what signs are good for outdoors, indoors and so on?
    -Do we have to be electrical certified to install electrical signs or we can be backed up by the electrical company and how that works?
    -How to price signs, is it by a certain percentage upcharge or it's based on square footage?

    We want to start right, we don't want to learn from mistakes only.
     
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  2. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    -Are there any books that we can read about that? Not that I know of
    -Do we need any special license to install signs. 99% of the time, YES
    -When do we need to pull permits to do installs? Almost every time
    -Where to learn what signs are good for outdoors, indoors and so on? From experienced sign people
    -Do we have to be electrical certified to install electrical signs or we can be backed up by the electrical company and how that works? Yes, depending on the state you must have a licensed electrician
    -How to price signs, is it by a certain percentage upcharge or it's based on square footage? Consider all your material costs, overhead, labor, depreciation.. all the costs and figure it in, then add profit to that number.

    If you were just starting out on your own, I would say go apprentice for a few years at a sign shop. But if you have your own place, the easiest answer would be to hire an experienced, licensed sign professional poached from another sign shop and hope you made the right hire.
     
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  3. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    That right there is your only chance of doing it right off the bat. Jumping into the deep end will kill ya reputation-wise in no time.
     
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  4. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

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    I got into this after working for a signpainter in high school. He suggested I go to sign school which I did in 1974. After that it's all been learned by working for good sign makers, doing a lot of things for the first time, making mistakes and asking questions.
    Are there any books that we can read about that? There are great books about design and marketing, try SignCraft and Signs Of The Times magazines, they carry many.
    -Do we need any special license to install signs Depends where you are and what kinds of signs you do. You'll have to call the town, county and state to find out
    -When do we need to pull permits to do installs? Before you make the sign, actually before you price it, you call the zoning enforcement and find out whats allowed and whats involved in pulling the permit.
    -Where to learn what signs are good for outdoors, indoors and so on? Here is one good place, but that is something best learned by working in the business first. But since nowadays all you need is a few machines to get in the business if you want to do good work you have to do research.
    -Do we have to be electrical certified to install electrical signs or we can be backed up by the electrical company and how that works? Depends on where you are. See answer about license.
    -How to price signs, is it by a certain percentage upcharge or it's based on square footage? Best way is time, materials and overhead. There are formulas for figuring that out. There's also "perceived value" which takes time to learn. A 4x8 real estate sign will not bring the same price as a 4x8 business sign even though they may essentially be the same amount of work. My favorite pricing method was Si Allen's something like..."The biggest number you can say with laughing"
     
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  5. myront

    myront CorelDRAW is best

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    Niceville, FL
    Majority of the signs we do here in this part of Florida don't require permits unless digging. No electrical though, not licensed. Learn the different substrates and don't forget the majority of signs are laminated. May also want straight RTA(ready to apply) vinyl on hand in standard colors. You'll need some way to cut these material too.

    3mm, 6mm, & 10mm
    -Corrugated plastic
    -pvc
    -polymetal

    .040 & .080 alum

    banner - 13oz, 18oz for double-sided

    magnetic material
     
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  6. ewded

    ewded Member

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    UK
    If you want to expand your business the best way to go is to hire a production manager. A production manager is an experienced person who can do design, sign making and is able to make installations as well, if you offer enough I'm sure you can get a great value for your money. Someone with good experience will not only know the best material sources but probably will bring clients with him as well. A good addition to get your sign business grow quick is an experienced sales person ;) Good luck.
     
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  7. JBurton

    JBurton Signtologist

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    There used to be... I've got like two book cases of this stuff. The best are the engineering calculators for footings. It's a tough industry to 'get into', its a much easier industry to either 'fall' or get 'dragged' into.
    IMG_2933.JPG
    Don't forget the ugly as sin carpet!
     
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  8. Sdegen2008

    Sdegen2008 Member

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    Jun 25, 2019
    Fredericksburg, VA

    -Are there any books that we can read about that?

    Yes, there actually is a book that goes lots of details of the sign business. It is heavily skewed towards sign design but it is very informative overall. The guy who wrote it didnt proof read, that's pretty obvious but it is a decent manual for getting started. It is called Inside Sign Design by Chatterbox designs.

    They have a sample of it online so you can see if it is worthwhile for you. If you PM me your email, I can send you that sample. Then you can just purchase the pdf online.

    Hope that helps!!
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
    • Like Like x 1
  9. ams

    ams Very Active Member

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    Virginia
    This forum is full of haters so be careful who you trust. I am in the process of doing a video series to teach a beginner to expert of most types of signage.
     
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    • Hilarious! Hilarious! x 1
  10. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Frisco, TX
    April fools day is past AMS.
     
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  11. Lindsey

    Lindsey Not A New Member

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    Jan 17, 2013
    Canada
    Hello rdelight,

    I'd recommend a subscription to SignCraft magazine. https://www.signcraft.com/
    Aside from many great articles and examples of high quality sign work, there is a useful sign pricing tool that provides guidance on determining your shop rate, and pricing charts for many types of signs.
    The subscription is well worth the cost.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
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