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What to charge? Or not?

Discussion in 'Sales, Marketing, Pricing Etc.' started by Stacey K, Aug 6, 2020.

  1. Stacey K

    Stacey K I like making signs

    Jun 20, 2018
    A young man just came in. He is a graphic designer, at his work place they have a vinyl plotter. He also works at the fire department. He would like to buy 2 rolls of vinyl from me so he can do all the lettering on the outside of the fire department garage doors. He had planned to use calendared vinyl (one reason you call a professional). Anyway...I sometimes have people come in and ask for a piece of vinyl and I sell it to them but have never had "competition" come in and ask me for 2 full rolls.

    Please advise, it's a job that I COULD be doing and making money on so it's slightly irritating to me. On the other hand, it's not a business, it's the fire department. Not sure I can look at this objectively. Thanks!
  2. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    Yeah, that's a toughie.........

    If he's too dumb to get it on ebay or wherever, I'd sell it to him for double your cost, plus any freight that was connected in getting it. With die-cut vinyl, you can make a lotta profit. I wouldn't argue with him about being a kinda competition, but let him know you are indeed a business and need to make something on ALL of your sales.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Stacey K

    Stacey K I like making signs

    Jun 20, 2018
    OK, I was also thinking double plus shipping, wasn't sure if I was being greedy but he's not a business so that's what I would charge anyone else. Thank you!
  4. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

    Oct 21, 2016
    Frisco, TX
    I came to the conclusion that I don't see supplies to the public. People ask for blank substrates or vinyl and I just say call a sign supplier. Then again, I don't have a retail shop so I'd loose $$ trying to sell and deliver them stuff.
  5. Stacey K

    Stacey K I like making signs

    Jun 20, 2018
    I sometimes have some hobbiest who hand cut decals for their model cars etc...or maybe I should say, instead of me wasting my time I offer to sell them some scraps LOL That's another good rule of thumb to remember for next time! Never really had this happen before!
  6. Reveal1

    Reveal1 Active Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    Cape Girardeau, MO
    Keep your friends close and enemies closer. I occasionally sell supplies at a reasonable margin to the part-time 'semi-professional', but not the nickel/dime stuff. Gives me a better idea of what they are doing and if you force them to work at building supply lines, they will just take the next step and start competing for real. And if it's a legitimate everyday competitor, I sell it at cost or have them replace. Have had those favors returned many times and some of them are my best print customers.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. greysquirrel

    greysquirrel Active Member

    Aug 13, 2015
    West Berlin, NJ
    I think double cost covers the convenience fee...but you are creating a monster.
  8. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

    Mar 12, 2005
    New England
    He works as a designer at a place that has a vinyl plotter....why is he coming to you, do they use it as a paper weight? Sounds suspicious to me.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  9. JBurton

    JBurton Signtologist

    Sep 28, 2017
    "I'll have to charge my typical markup, is that ok?"
    I had direct competition call at something like 5:30 on a Friday. They needed premask, and fellers would be closed by the time they got there, oh and of course they needed to do this install over the weekend. I priced them a half roll of Rtape conform series at my cost on a full roll. Evidently they aren't used to the mid tier product cost... They got mad and hung up on the receptionist. I was dumbfounded. When presented with a rock and a hard place, don't b*tch. Especially if it's your own damn fault for not stocking/counting your materials.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  10. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

    Dec 9, 2015
    buffalo ny
    Charge him double plus shipping. And then he will find this place later on and post how someone took advantage of him when he just started out.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Hilarious! Hilarious! x 1
  11. James Burke

    James Burke Being a grandpa is more fun than working

    Jan 2, 2010
    Mitten State
    Yep! This right here.

    You do realize that if you sell him the materials THIS time, he'll definitely come to the NEXT time, and the next, and the next. I'd personally stop if before it gets started.

  12. Jay Grooms

    Jay Grooms Printing, Printing, Printing......

    Nov 20, 2018
    Burlington Wisconsin
    I'd do it for double cost, but i'd also let him know this is a one time shot then give him grimco's number.
    • Hilarious! Hilarious! x 1
  13. Andy D

    Andy D Very Active Member

    Oct 20, 2014
    Hattiesburg, MS
    I don't see the conflict.. he's going to do it anyways, might as well make some money off it & get rid of older inventory to boot... What about the transfer tape?
    I don't have a router, so I have a sign shop down the street do my routing, they're great to work with and do a great job & as a "thank you" I send good jobs their way
    that are outside of what I offer.

    We're not enemies, if we work together we can all make more profit.
  14. RaymondLoewy

    RaymondLoewy Pretty fly for a Sign Guy

    When I need routing I find engraving shops, not for fear of losing business - they are easier to deal with than "sign guys". The last "sign guy" I dealt with was working on approval for a final flex face in an over $60K sign package from me and asking me for approval wtitout giving me a proof! - after I had sent 100% print ready art with a screen cap of how it needs to look) that they decided to remove my clipping masks from and destroy.

    If you need help, you might offer this guy a job, since you have already begun teaching him.
  15. unclebun

    unclebun Very Active Member

    The equivalent of the guy down the street doing routing for you is Stacey cutting the lettering for the fire department.

    If they want to get into using their plotter to make signs they can darn well order their vinyl and supplies from a sign supply store. And let him use crappy vinyl if that's what he chooses.
  16. netsol

    netsol Very Active Member

    Apr 26, 2016
    englishtown, nj
    i will go a step further than andy

    i don't see what is so disturbing?

    it can't be the mere existence of someone else making a sign, or we wouldn't be members here. if you don't want to sell to him don't.

    stacey asked a simple question about markup, as a "professional" courtesy

    in the past i have had competitors in the same building with us and life went on.

    we loaned each other equipment, received packages for each other, even covered emergency calls when someone was on vacation
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  17. GAC05

    GAC05 Major Contributor

    Dec 27, 2005
    Guam USA
    Double plus freight sounds good. Don't forget to add in the C-19 charge. Masks, sanitizer, and take-out food are not free.
    • Hilarious! Hilarious! x 2
  18. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

    Jun 10, 2016
    Port Coquitlam, bc
    Yes he's your competition. But I'm sure he can goto grimco or fellers or whatever supplier you have nearby and buy it just as easy.

    May as well sell it and make a profit. Weve sold rolls at cost with a lot of our direct competitors.... We always buy rolls from them at cost. It pays to have friends, we help them and they help us.

    Maybe one day pull be too busy for a job and need him to install for you for cheap? Or do some design work.... Etc. Just because he's your competition doesn't mean he can't be your ally as well. Not saying sell it to him at cost, with no relationship wed definately mark up as well.

    But he likely already has the job, so subbing him because he's competition gets you nowhere. Plus if he buys from you at a higher cost... He's not making as much profit, maybe doing the work won't be worth it to him and it'll be his first and only job. You never know!
    • Agree Agree x 2
  19. Notarealsignguy

    Notarealsignguy Very Active Member

    Feb 20, 2020
    Im friendly with all of my local competitors and really don’t consider them to be competition. I buy some supplies in bulk and sell them to them for a little markup. It works out better like that. We get work from them and we all know who each others bread and butter customers are and stay away. I have ran out of something at a bad time or needed a tool and and can call any of them to borrow it. Put some beer money on the material and invite them over to drink a few one afternoon. Id make my money elsewhere but thats just me.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  20. rossmosh

    rossmosh Active Member

    Oct 9, 2014
    New Jersey
    I'd compromise. I'd tell him you'll take his design files and cut them on your vinyl plotter at X price. He can weed, mask, and install them.

    That way you're making the gravy money and he's doing all the grunt work.
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1

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