Sign & Digital Graphics

December '17

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26 • December 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S RUNNING THE BUSINESS Collecting Design Fees A change is needed to keep shops from giving away valuable time and energy Since 1985, Matt Charboneau has owned and operated Charboneau Design and Consulting in Davenport, Iowa. He is a con- sultant and designer for monument, chan- nel letter and pylon sign projects. His book, "The Pre-Sale Sign Survey Field Guide -- The how-to guide on sign surveys for the profes- sional sign salesperson" can be ordered on his website: or by emailing him at Matt@ B Y M A T T C H A R B O N E A U Designing Award-Winning Signs I t's 9 p.m. on a Saturday and you are at the office tallying up your designers' time sheets for the last two weeks. You notice that there have been a lot of missed sales lately and as a result, your bottom line is not what it should be. Those missed sales means that the company invested time in providing the customer a design and no revenue came into the shop. It was pure overhead. If only there was a way to change the industry so that customers expect to pay a design fee up front rather than expecting it all for free. What have you done to implement this practice with your sales team? Have you tried it and failed, or tried it and succeeded? So, are you a nay-sayer to the concept of charging a cus- tomer upfront for artwork or does it ring true to something you and your sales team have wanted to implement for years but never really knew how? Are you looking for a way, a pro- cess, a series of talking points that will help you change the expectations of your customers without scaring them away? Why hasn't this crazy-nutso idea of collecting a design deposit been a normal aspect of doing business with a sign company? Architects do not give away designs, they collect a deposit on the concept of the job and then they create the drawings. How does the entire sign industry get stuck in a vicious circle of giving away such an important element of the produced product? How about learning one way to get paid up front for the design work, and get a soft commitment in writing from the customer stating that if the price is right, they promise to buy the sign from you. If your potential customer does not trust you, you will never get an upfront deposit The Sandler Selling System discusses trust within the first few pages of the book. Trust is everything, and without it, all of your hard work and your designer's hard work will be for nothing. Typically, the potential customer who doesn't trust you, but asks for more revisions, is someone who is probably tooling you to find out just how honest your company is. Without trust, it's not about your sale or you, it's about them and their ability to get as much free design work out of you and your designer as possible. How do you build trust? I mean real trust! How do you show interest in a customer? One tip I have is to use your mouth 1/3 of the time that you are listening. In other words, you have two ears and one mouth so use them accordingly. Listen, speak clearly and keep your comments and compliments short and to the point, but be casual and natural. Don't force yourself, it will be very evident. Take sincere inter- est in their story. Show interest in their company and do your research up front on the company. The more you can talk about specifics of their company, the more the customer realizes you have done your homework, and that their project really does matter to you. Your only goal at this point is to convince them that you really do care about their company, their advertising opportunities (their new sign) and the prospect as a person who is in charge of the project. Ask and mention things like their role within the company and how they got put in charge of the sign project. Discuss the size of the company and the number of employees, talk about the smart choices they have made con- cerning their new sign. How do you know if they trust you? It's pretty easy to tell as they will talk about whatever per- sonal circumstance that they are asked about. I like to bring up their position, and I get them to describe their role within

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