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Why we ARE Trade Only/Wholesale!

Discussion in 'General Chit-Chat' started by FireSprint.com, Aug 9, 2013.

  1. FireSprint.com

    FireSprint.com Trade Only Screen & Digital Sign Printing

    Note: This is in response to the other thread active right now about a wholesaler that also sells retail.

    Wholesale work does not equal low margin work. To say wholesale only is not a viable business model is absolutely right if you think that selling wholesale just means lowering your margins, but true wholesale work is not that at all.

    Mike/Merritt, you're in a different playing field than most (maybe even 98%) of the shops here on signs101. Most of the shops here do local work for small and medium sized businesses.

    One thing I have to remind our clients about all the time is that our Trade Only relationship is a partnership. It's not FireSprint doing all the "Heavy Lifting" while our clients just cash the checks. Businesses have operations all around the table that need to be paid for. Some of those operations we just don't do and rely on our client partners to do their share. Here are some examples I can think of:

    Retail level marketing - this is finding the actual end user that needs the product and sorting through the 50 million businesses in this country to sell them signs, print or graphics. We DON'T do this and it's very expensive.

    Sales Cycle - once the customer is found, the process of helping them decide what products they need and how that fits within their budget. We DON'T do this.

    Branding & Image - after both the customer and the sign shop understand the budget and what they need, the sign shop will then start to work on a total brand image. This has varying levels of complexity from taking a wrap design into a business card design and far beyond that. We DON'T do this.

    Graphic Design and Layout - once the customer feels comfortable with who they are working with, budgets are found, relationships are built and the big picture is established, the nuts and bolts of the actual graphics and how they will lay out on a sign is the next step. Then there is usually a back and forth several times before the layout is just right. We DON't do this in house, and if we are asked to do this we grunt about it, then outsource it and could never do as good of a job as our client can working with their customer face to face.

    Product Research and Procurement - actually taking the time to find the products the customer needs, pricing it out and doing the research to make sure it will work. (Many of you use signs101 just for this reason.)

    Accounts Payable - most customers don't want to pay entirely for their purchased up front before they see the finished goods. That's why many sign shops do work on deposit and collect when the job is done. We don't do much of this.

    Production- actually producing the goods per our client's & their customer's specifications - We DO this.

    Face to Face Delivery and/or Installation - We DON'T do this, and this might be the defining step for a future relationship. Everything is on the line here.

    Maintenance & Warranty Work - we DON'T do this for end users. (Although we do stand behind our products if there is a material defect or craftsmanship issue of course)

    Sales Cycle Follow Up - even if it's just a call from time to time to see if there is any other work coming down the pipe, follow up is key to building long term customer relationships. we DON'T do this with the end users.

    I could go on. But working with a retail customer requires alot of hand holding which we just are not equipped (nor do we want to) do. Because we don't do this stuff our price reflects accordingly. We have no waiting room or showroom area. Anyone who has visited us knows we store extra coro and equipment in our front entry because only vendors walk in to see us on a regular basis. We don't charge less because we feel a sense of giddy warmth working with other sign shops, we charge less because it COSTS us less to work with signs shops and other members of the printing trades. It's business.

    We enjoy being a trade only supplier. It helps us focus on what we do best. Our phone rings all day long, but 95% of the client calls are to double check a price quote or to asking about production time. We just don't get that call "Um hello, I think I need a sign.... what's the standard sign?"
  2. Banners Signs Etc.

    Banners Signs Etc. Active Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    SO trying to do both is a recipe for disaster? Or just overall low profitability?
  3. FireSprint.com

    FireSprint.com Trade Only Screen & Digital Sign Printing

    I'm not sure what you mean by both? Selling retail and wholesale? Selling retail and production?

    The only recipe for disaster that I can see is selling at a lower margin just because a certain group of customers asks for it. We sell at a "lower" margin because our clients do some of the work. It's all numbers and just business.

    I get tired of folks talking about the ethics of selling wholesale and retail. Selling to a customer, regardless of who they are is business. We choose to sell to the only to the trade, at lower prices because we expect our clients to hold up their end of the deal as I mentioned above. We're trade only because, with our skillset, it turns a profit better than it did when we used to be retail.
  4. HulkSmash

    HulkSmash Major Contributor

    Sep 10, 2010
    A bulk of our non wrap work is wholesale work. We have no issue with it so..... yeah
  5. rjssigns

    rjssigns Major Contributor

    Jun 4, 2007
    Home Office
    We are trying to shift more towards trade/wholesale/industrial. Work with a couple designers too. Files are immaculate even down to the cut contour. One designer even puts in cross hairs for grommets and hem marks for banners. Load media and punch the print button. Absolutely love this type of work.
  6. signpost-boston

    signpost-boston Making America great, one sign at a time.

    Jul 18, 2010
    Boston, Ma.

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