Sign & Digital Graphics

March '18

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30 • March 2018 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S RUNNING THE BUSINESS Growing Pains Building impressions with lessons learned Scott Franko owns Franko Design Concepts and Consulting. He formerly owned and operated a multi-division sign, graphics and custom fabrication business. You can locate and contact him online at www. They did, however, have some fun at my expense, like the day they put some obscene magnetic messages on the side of my car as I went about my sales calls all day to eventually find them once I reached the safety of my home. Yeah, that happened. From there began my journey to eventually becoming presi- dent, buying into the company, and winning over the employees. The early lesson learned was that being liked is not as important as gaining respect—by earning it. Likeability should not be the goal. Rather, focus on earning respect through a dedication to your work, to the trade and to the industry. A Visit from the Grim Reaper While my father in law was trying to recover and I was trying to figure out what I was doing to help with the business, the only person who I felt was actually on my side and did all the heavy lifting of the company as office manager, suddenly leaned back in her chair and quietly went to sleep at her desk in the middle of the work day. She died of a massive heart attack. You can imagine what I was thinking: What the heck did I get myself into? The eye-opening lesson is that things happen that you don't see coming and you are not able to control. When you're 22, you don't often consider that. I learned that day to start think- ing about that fact more often, and to plan for when they do. Time to Grow Up Early 20s is young, but old enough to start growing up. Firing my best friend helped me see and learn this lesson. Who better to hire than a friend, right? Not always. In my case, I hired a buddy based on solid business-principled quali- ties, not entirely on friendship. But social behaviors were not considered. He wasn't quite ready to grow up yet. We had lots of good times outside of work together. When the good times began to negatively effect the business, though, I realized it was time to make changes, put some limits in place, and grow up. So, I did. He didn't. I've hired many younger people into the sign business over the years. I truly enjoy the energy and fun young employees provide. At the same time, as an employer you have to be able to detect unacceptable immaturity and be willing to provide guidance for growing up. Almost Late for Easter The sign business is like the wedding cake business. The sign can't be late, especially if it's timed with a grand opening. As we know, some customers wait until the last minute to even consider I was 22 when my life with signs began. All I had was a college degree and two suits, one thrown in for free for buying the other. I soon learned that suits and signs don't always mix very well. Twenty-six years later, I'm still learning lessons. Learning never ends. Growing pains don't either. The later breeds the former. I've had my share of both over the years. One thing is for sure: the sign business provides some very unique growing pains, and lessons to be learned. As I look back over my quarter century with my sign busi- ness, a number of these experiences stand out. At the time, each hurt, but also provided valuable opportunities to learn and apply the lessons for building successful impressions. Nobody Likes Me My father in law purchased a small struggling sign shop. Soon after, he suffered a serious heart attack. That is how I got into the business. He needed help. I was willing to provide it. A nobly generous offer, wouldn't you say? I thought so, but not after that first day. What I found was a group of sign-people who could care less about the ignorant son in law who knew nothing about signs. B Y S C O T T F R A N K O Building Your Impressions

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