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Starting a sign installation company

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by That's A Wrap!, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. That's A Wrap!

    That's A Wrap! New Member

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    Hello everyone! I have been working at a national sign franchise for almost ten years now and i'm in the process of starting my own sign installation and wrap company. I'm very excited to finally be working for myself and have the ability to do things my way (the right way), and experiment with different materials and methods. I do have many questions though, and was hoping for a little advice fron the experts.

    1. I have performed thousands of installations over the years for my employer, but only a couple outside of work. I recently asked to use some of the photos of my installations to put in my portfolio, only to be turned down by the boss man. I really hope to continue to do installations for my employer through my company after my departure, so I don't want to **** him off. Has anyone been in a situation like this? What was your outcome?

    2. I hope to install signs for many of the local sign shops, but will they let me use pics of the job? I hope to use pics of all of my installations, but i don't want to upset any clinets. Is it common practice for installers to use pics with a disclosure about who manufactured the sign?

    3. I have never performed a full vehicle wrap before, but have covered large portions of vehicles with vinyl. Typically we use orajet 3691, but now that the boss wants to start doing wraps he has ordered some 3m 380Cv3. As soon as I tried it I fell in love. For years i've been struggling to make that orajet do things that it wasn't meant to do. Now that i'm working with the proper material, I feel confident I could wrap a fairly flat vehicle with no problem. Finally, here's my question. I've been considering going to one of the Avery/ Mutoh wrap classes with Justin Pate. Has anyone been to one of Justin's classes? Was it worth it? Do they teach advanced wrapping skills or is it a class for beginners with little to no vinyl experience? I'm only interested in attending a class that would offer hands on experience with the more advanced aspects of vehicle wraps.

    I would like to thank everyone in advance for any assistance. I hope I can return the favor some day.
     
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  2. CES020

    CES020 Very Active Member

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    Welcome to the forum. My personal answers to #1 and #2 would be "No". If you are subcontracted to do the work, and you put photos all over your website, then the original customers sees their work on your site, they'll know who did it. Next time they need something done, would you think they would go to the middle man or come directly to you? Possibly, directly to you, which would cut out the guy that gave you the job in the first place. So there would be no reason for them to let you do that.

    You're going to have to stand on your own 2 feet, build your own portfolio, and get your own customers. You essentially have to start at the beginning on your own.

    That's my take on it.

    Can't help with #3, I don't do wraps.
     
  3. That's A Wrap!

    That's A Wrap! New Member

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    Thanks for the response CES020. I don't have a problem building my companies portfolio from scatch, just thought it would be nice to have something to display my quality of work to help draw some business.
     
  4. CES020

    CES020 Very Active Member

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    I agree, it would be great if you could take all your work photos and show them, but from a business stand point, it's not very smart business to let someone do that, especially if they can be seen as a competitor.

    Good luck with your new venture!
     
  5. Firefox

    Firefox Active Member

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    Hello from NorCal.

    :Welcome:

    Congratulations on the new venture.

    My thinking is you can claim X years installation experience working for XYZ company on your resume, performing this, that and the other types of installation. Using photos of the fruits of your labor while employed by XYZ is just wrong unless XYZ gives his permission. Even then, XYZ can not release the use of his customers images for your use in a public format, only those customers individually can do that.
     
  6. That's A Wrap!

    That's A Wrap! New Member

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    Thanks Firefox. Looks like i'll be starting out with a slim portfolio for a while. I definitely don't want to burn any bridges with employer.
     
  7. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Welcome from PA.......................................
     
  8. That's A Wrap!

    That's A Wrap! New Member

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    Thanks Gino!
     
  9. Welcome from Charlotte!
     
  10. That's A Wrap!

    That's A Wrap! New Member

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    Thanks Franken Signs!
     
  11. Sign Up Graphics

    Sign Up Graphics Very Active Member

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    Sign Up Graphics

    Welcome from Skokie, IL :thumb:
     
  12. John L

    John L Very Active Member

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    Just my experience and I'll offer this cause its a similar concept... It's not our main interest, but for several years we have manufactured and installed lighted signs for other sign shop customers. When we do their installs we usually only use our trucks that have no lettering or logo of our own on them. Just D.O.T. numbers and weights.

    In fact, we keep 3 other sign shops magnetic signs in the toolbox of the one crane and also a bucket truck that we regularly use for these installs. When we are on their jobs, we usually throw on the magnets. This is done so that THEY get the good pics of us installing their signs (that we made).... and they have called us back, and back, and back again.

    This is part of a long story, and we use some common sense. ie. if the customer insn't licensed for the area we are in, then we dont wear their brand, etc.

    But to try a specific answer your question, I would think that showing off pics of install work for other shops would be working against you in many situations, especially if you want to work with other sign shops. If I squint, I "possibly" wouldnt see a problem with it as long as your marketing was ONLY directed at other sign shop customers, and NOT their customer base. Absolutely not on the internet. Absolutely only with the permission of those who designed it and maybe even the company it advertises.
     
  13. That's A Wrap!

    That's A Wrap! New Member

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    Thanks for the reply John L. I never thought something as simple as a picture could be such a touchy subject, but I want to do things the right way. It seems like I will not be posting any pics of work I will do for other sign shops and only pics of work I do for the actual owners of the signs (with their consent of course). Would also like to hear some feedback on wrap classes from anyone who has attended one.
     
  14. Custom_Grafx

    Custom_Grafx Very Active Member

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    Welcome from Sydney.

    I have an idea - and I do this for my own stuff sometimes, and have never had a complaint.

    Take a cropped photo of a section which shows the quality of your works. For example on a wrap, it might be the side mirror - or a door handle... to show the quality of your install. This only works if there are no distinguishable features on that crop though, and might work best for just plain colours etc.

    If the above is still touchy, then I can suggest doing your own car/van/truck with your own wrap, and taking photos of that. You could even rip all that off every month, and put on a different design, and take photos of that. In 6 months, you have photos of 6 different designs. Hey, it's something, and better than nothing? Also you could offer your first couple of clients discounted "opening specials", to get the ball rolling on some biz and use those photos?

    Something else to consider... if you have a shop or garage... I've seen this here and there... is to go to a car wreckers, and buy yourself a car door or bonnet in good condition... or a rear quarter panel or something. Wrap it good... and hang it up on the wall. Makes for a nice conversational piece and you can talk about issues and design considerations while you're customer's there.

    Anyways, there are heaps of ways around these initial problems and as we all know, it's the hardest part to get started so don't give up! Sounds like you'll do great with all your installation experience!
     
  15. GypsyGraphics

    GypsyGraphics Major Contributor

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    :goodpost:

    and

    a warm welcome from sunny california
    -gg
     
  16. Jillbeans

    Jillbeans Major Contributor

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    Hey Edserv why don't you buy a merchant membership since you are continually breaking forum rules and tooting your own horn yet again?

    To the OP, build your own client base and show photos of your own work only.
    Make it clear on your site that you did the install, not the design or manufacturing.
    But I can see a need for a good installing service and I wish there was one locally.
    Love.....Jill
     
  17. SignTech

    SignTech Guest

    All the signs installed on my page are/where my design from scratch when I had my own sign co., only one install example is not my design or print ... Frontier ... however I did put a disclaimer regarding this.

    Before I do installs for other sign co., I ask if I can use the install picture for example purposes, with an added disclaimer of who built/designed the original, if I just assisted or did the full install. It's a fine line ... just walk it carefully so everyone wins. I also refer any new work back to the sign co. that used me for the install. They offer me a finders % ....... it's not a perfect venture.
     
  18. Craig Sjoquist

    Craig Sjoquist Major Contributor

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    Welcome to a outstanding forum and people.

    You can take pictures of the install part of it like when hanging a sign hardware used and mount, a wrap you could show ends, curves, splices etc. what your trying to show is the quality of install. Saying I installed that sign is one thing, Showing a before and after install is another.
     
  19. That's A Wrap!

    That's A Wrap! New Member

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    Feb 20, 2011
    This has been great feedback. Thanks to everyone who took the time to write a response, it is greatly appreciated.
     
  20. artbot

    artbot Very Active Member

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    + custom grafx

    a close up of a project says nothing of the design/marketing/location/vendor etc. i would not want an employee showing one of my pieces in his/her portfolio. but if the business was for metal polishing or some specific service. how could an employer be against a close up of the job showing the craftsmanship or lack thereof that new client should expect.
     
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