What to Expect from the Sign Industry

Jayemmanuel Hipolito What to Expect From the Sign Industry Venturing into the sign industry is no different than venturing into any other type of industry. As a former sign business laborer and owner, I believe knowing the cost of materials needed to start, the profitable margins of the sign industry, and the labor costs in making even the most basic of signs, “a decal sign” are factors that should be greatly considered before fully committing into opening a sign business.

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As any other business, you would need certain materials that can be pricy to make the product. Basic materials needed by anyone making a sign are markers, squeegees, cutters, transfer tape, and rulers which are manageable and affordable. A computer, plotter, and software that are needed to design, make, and plan the making of signs; these are the heart of the business. Now the computer has to be able to process and write at pretty quick speeds. The plotter itself is a pricy purchase, but now you’re able to rent or lease them from various places.

Getting the right plotter will determine what you can offer to your clients and customers, because certain plotters are now able to do other types of signs, not just vinyl signs. Lastly software isn’t as pricy but is still expensive, and can get more expensive if you’re looking to use the software on multiple computers. That will cost you, because you will have to purchase software locks for each computer. Having been in the sign business myself, I not only find this to be true, but also know of the profitable margins of the business from within.

At the time of running my business, I believe profit margins were at its peak. For example a client, who I have done business with, came in asking for an illuminated sign box roughly measuring 2’ x 20’, to be fabricated, made, and installed. I gave him an estimate of $1400 – $1500. Only because, I have done signs for him in the past and was a returning client. Normally an estimate of $1500 – $2000 would have been given. After the completion of the sign, I had gotten paid with an actual payment of $1765.

Although the job only cost me $750 in all to complete, as you can see it was a $1,015 profit. Keep in mind that till this day I have yet to see this particular sign as a finish job. The ISA (International Sign Association) webpage states, “Signage can no longer be an afterthought. Businesses can no longer afford to just “hang up a shingle” or throw up some plywood with painted letters. In order to compete in today’s competitive marketplace, you must think of your sign as a sophisticated, powerful marketing tool.

It should work for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, creating the first impression of your business, telling people who you are, where you are and what you offer” {text:bibliography-mark} . The ISA also conducted a study called “The Sign Industry Size and Impact Study” {text:bibliography-mark} . In this study, they asked the question “How large is the U. S. sign industry? ” It stated, “In 2006, the U. S. sign industry had shipments of $49. 5 billion and employed 262,700 employees. The most recent U. S. Census Bureau data (2006), which characterized “sign manufacturing” as an $11. billion industry, these new numbers may appear surprising. However, long-time industry members observed that billions of dollars of signs are created in business sectors that are not characterized by the Census as “sign manufacturing:” industries like “digital printing,” “display advertising services,” “graphic design,” etc. ISA and the Probe Economics team tried to measure the “sign” portion of these other related economic sectors and to quantify the other channels that sign production reaches end-customers without using traditional “sign companies” {text:bibliography-mark} .

So I leave you with the decision, whether or not the sign business is a profitable business to venture in. The labor cost of making a sign varies on the type of sign being made. It all starts from designing a layout, from information that the customer has given you. Now depending on the nature of the sign and how picky the customer maybe this process alone may be the most time consuming phase of making a sign, because the customer needs to first approve a layout design, before doing anything else.

For this example it would be a basic decal sign, which basically are decals that can be placed anywhere the customer wants, within regulations and laws. Once a layout has been approved, the manufacturing of the sign can begin. This particular type of sign would only require: machine cut letters, weeding of the letters, transferring, and precise placement of the sign itself. Keep in mind that this is the process of a basic decal sign, but it is also the basis of all the many other types of signs that are available for the consumers.

If you would like to know more about the other many types of signs there are, the ISA website (http://www. signs. org) has it all. All in all the sign industry is a very profitable and lucrative industry to get into. Yet it is also very competitive, but with such a vast clientele for the industry there really isn’t a shortage of customers, if you know how and where to look. It’s like everything else in the world; “you get out of it what you put into it. ” Research and gain as much knowledge about the sign industry. To make a successful decision, remember to consider the cost of materials, profitable margins, and labor costs. References


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