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Lead times

Discussion in 'Business Management' started by CanuckSigns, Apr 29, 2019.

  1. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

    Nov 11, 2008
    I'm curious what the average lead time is for basic signs, we are fairly busy right now, and had a client contact us for a 10'x16' print on ACM, installed on the side of a building, and a few.odds and ends such as sandwich board signs, hours on door etc. I told them they are looking at about 3 weeks for production and installation and they seemed shocked.

    I was wondering if I'm out of line on this one,. If it was supply only I could do it quicker, but since the install is higher up than I'm comfortable doing myself, I'm relying on a sub contracted installer, and all the good ones are booking up months in advance as soon as the nice weather hits.

    Is 3 weeks really that long for something like this?
  2. equippaint

    equippaint Very Active Member

    Oct 10, 2014
    I don't think so. Im in a different business but we run about a 3-4 week turnaround time, often times more. If you're able to jump and get it at the word go then you're probably paying for more idle time than you should be. .
  3. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

    Oct 21, 2016
    Frisco, TX
    Not out of line for summer-time. My times are usually 5-7 business days but my prices are at the higher end of my area because I'd rather make more $$ and provide quicker, more personalized customer service...Most other "normal" sign shops around here are 2-3 weeks, and the big boy shop is 2 months.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. BUCKY

    BUCKY Member

    Jan 15, 2018
    We are booked out for 6 months right now and we quit taking on new customers. We just can not find enough "good" employees these days. We offer very
    good pay for experienced installers but the hiring pool is empty apparently in our area.
    3 weeks is a good turn around time. "Right now" has just become the mentality these days.
    • Like Like x 3
  5. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    I believe a lot has to do with your business model and what you're set up to do. Also, the complexity or near-nothingness to do on certain jobs. For some smaller things, we can always fit them in by ganging it up with other jobs. It's nothing to have several jobs going at once, as I'm sure most of you do. I tend to allow a few extra hours a week, just to play doctor. Ya know, saving people from heart attacks by getting their a$$ outta the fire due to their dumbness.

    The size sign you're talking about in reality wouldn't take more than a few hours to assemble. So, getting your instal guys to get it up would be the main concern. Ask the customer if they wanna pay more to be squeezed ahead of others. Everything has a price.
    • Like Like x 2
  6. billsines

    billsines Member

    May 24, 2016
    I think that's a good business practice. We have been known to do the same...who knows what "above and beyond" will translate into for future orders. People remember good customer service.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Stacey K

    Stacey K I like making signs

    Jun 20, 2018
    I'm out 2-3 weeks also. The local shop where I get my color prints is experiencing their busiest season ever right now. I squeeze in quicky jobs with larger jobs also. Last week I didn't know which way to turn, I was completely lost on what to even do first. Some jobs went out late, nothing I could do about it. A couple days I had so many walk-ins that I literally got NOTHING done at all. It's frustrating but good all at the same time!
    • Like Like x 3
  8. StarSign

    StarSign Active Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Southern Utah
    We have a 3 day turn from time of approval. Installs are scheduled at approval and are first come first serve. We are out 5-7 days on install.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

    Mar 12, 2005
    New England
    depends...regular, repeat customers get priority and some jobs are easier to fit in...3 weeks is not an unreasonable lead time for a job like that
  10. unclebun

    unclebun Very Active Member

    3 weeks is a good lead time for an installation. 3 months is long. Franchise sign shops have been the death of good service. Everybody has grown used to next day service. But the truth is, when you provide full service, i.e. including installation, then time has to be taken. Even if you had a dedicated installation crew, how long does it take to load up each job, pick up necessary building materials, drive to the site, unload, install, clean up, drive back to shop? Even to install a single 4'x8' panel you're talking a minimum 1 hour unless the job is practically next door. And if there's use of a lift, holes to dig, structure to build, you're talking longer. So you can only do so many in a day. And weather plays a factor too. If the business hasn't planned for the sign to take longer than 8 hours to produce and install, they need to learn a thing or two about how things work.
  11. fresh

    fresh Very Active Member

    May 16, 2011
    2-3 weeks is right on, particularly with a big install. We typically need about half a day to prep for something like that and we schedule at least half a day for the install. We hired someone a few weeks ago who is doing great, but if you called me last month I would have said we are 5-6 weeks out for installs.
  12. fresh

    fresh Very Active Member

    May 16, 2011
    I plan between 1-4 hours for prep / cleanup. We almost always spend more time at the shop getting ready and then cleaning out the van / putting tools away than we do actually installing the signs. And I usually budget 4 hours for the actually install. They usually don't take that long, but all you need is one snag and it can eat up the entire day.
  13. petepaz

    petepaz Major Contributor

    Feb 14, 2007
    we try to get 10 working days if we can but since each job is custom a lot of things come in to play. does customer have print ready art or do we have to design. how quick you get final approval from a customer. do we have materials in stock. do we have to do a site inspection. how busy you are and install schedule. the customer doesn't really know whats involved so they may think the job can all be done in a day or two. you may have to charge a premium to bump a job a head of another to cover overtime.
  14. ExecuPrintGS

    ExecuPrintGS Member

    Mar 21, 2013
    Hartland, WI
    We run 3-5 days production on decal orders, banners, yard signs, a-frames and other things we would consider "standard" signage....
    Things like vehicle graphics and any onsite installs are project size and schedule dependant. Right now we are booked out for vehicles through the end of next month, booked out for onsite installs for the next 2.5 weeks.
  15. kcollinsdesign

    kcollinsdesign Active Member

    Apr 22, 2007
    Normal, Illinois
    Once a job is tentatively approved and we have agreed on terms, I will schedule field surveys and research code and property owner issues. That process usually takes about a week, but can drag out longer. Some municipalities require months in order to get a permit. After all property and code issues are resolved, I will submit a final price quote and deliverables schedule, which can take a few more days. If engineering or design work is required, I allow the required time to complete those tasks. Once all approvals are signed and documented, I will schedule fabrication and installation, usually 4 – 6 weeks, sometimes less.

    There are some projects I can complete faster, but I do not reserve much un-commited time, and I am not in the habit of pushing one project back in order to accommodate another project's time frame. For a typical sign requiring documented permissions, field surveys, sign design, graphic design, engineering, permits, fabrication, and installation the process usually will take 6-8 weeks. If the project requires extensive graphic design, drawing from a licensed engineer, competitive bids, or additional permits (FAA, IDOT, etc.) the process can sometimes take months.

    If I lived in a world where I could put up a sign without permissions or permits, I would be able to get most projects done in 2 – 4 weeks. Banners and temporary signs maybe 1-2 weeks. I do not understand how anybody could do this type of work in less time. In my neck of the woods, it takes a minimum of 2 weeks to get a permit!
    • Like Like x 2
  16. iPrintStuff

    iPrintStuff Prints stuff

    Sep 3, 2018
    United Kingdom
    We do 5 working days for design on all standard stuff, then 5 working days to produce approved artwork.

    Naturally, 15 minutes after approval most customers ask if they’re done yet ;)
  17. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

    Jun 10, 2016
    Port Coquitlam, bc
    I think it all depends on the size of the shop, and how your employees skillets are laid out.

    we do a lot of wayfinding and huge projects where we go in and redesign a school or a hospital and produce hundreds of signs. It takes weeks for the layout and proofs and approvals, usually a day or two to produce... Then up to a week to install everything. We've got about 5 of them on the go right now... First to approve is first in line for the install. But we generally have 5-6 months worth of big projects lined up.

    We have enough people and artists to continue our day to day operations though - all aluminum signs,real estate signs, extruded etc are usually finished and sent out within 48 hours of approval. Our bottleneck seems to be graphics designing, it takes the most time and they have a backlog of stuff to get to. Easy signs we try to get a proof out within 24 hours... But we hit roadblocks where a simple real estate sign is 4-5 days behind on proofing.

    If you're busy, it's great. If the customer needs same day service... If you can shift stuff around, and they're worth it... Great. If it's a new customer in a bind, we try to help out the best we can.

    If you're lead time is 3 weeks, and your customer doesn't like that.... Tell them they could go down to the road to the shop that has nothing to do and can do it same day, but generally there's a reason they have no work in the first place You do Quality work for a fair price - and you're so busy because you don't rush out the cheapest product that'll fail in 2 months because you just slapped the sign together. Usually a customer appreciates that, if not they're likely the kind you want to goto your competition anyways.
  18. Oroscoe

    Oroscoe Member

    Jan 30, 2012
    If you are that busy that is great!
    We live in a world where most people are looking for instant gratification. Push the send button and a message is sent and almost immediately returned no matter the location. Where you can press the enter button and the page is on the printer waiting to be picked up, so forth and so on. Some things take time to produce. You can't eat a bowl of Wheaties, go to the throne room and come out with a sign. Technology is great in most things but for crying out loud give people time to do their job. A quality job takes time.
    We have a sign hanging in our shop that reads: Quick, Correct, Cheap, pick two!
  19. mjkjr

    mjkjr Member

    Mar 27, 2014
    I hate the "did you get my email?" phone calls and follow-up emails. Did it bounce back to you? If not, then I got it. There's 2 of us in the whole shop, and my clients are aware of this. But people have such a lack of patience now and expect replies as timely as amazon. I'll get back to you faster if you stop interrupting me all day! I can't be a free estimating service, free designer, production manager and fabricator (let alone trying to do any marketing or internal business improvements) and answer your damn emails the same day every time. The big online operations have more than 2 people working for them so they can do all of that fast and cheap thanks to economies of scale. But people want to "shop local" until they see the quote and ask why I am charging more than the printer in China. How hard could it be to just print a sign, right? I must be overcharging because I'm just so greedy. Well, the family I need to feed doesn't live in China.
    Holy cow, sorry about that. Apparently needed to get that off my chest.

    Edit to add: most of my clients are way more well off than I am so it really gets frustrating getting beat-up on pricing while barely making ends meet. /rant for real this time :p
  20. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

    Oct 21, 2016
    Frisco, TX
    You might need to rethink your strategy if you're barely making ends meet with two overworked people. Somethings wrong there.

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