Our business is somewhat unique but we have carved out a niche market doing exactly the dimensional signs and projects we enjoy. Amazingly it provides our families and our crew of ten a good living. To market our business we use a variety of strategies including a large web presence, word of mouth in our industry and our street profile. Our street presence is important and works well, often too well. Since our property is zoned residential our sign isn't large (as required). to create a bigger presence we circumvented (legally) the local sign law by building a residence that showcases what we do in a big way. It certainly generates a LOT of interest with a steady stream of people stopping to take pictures, literally hundreds of vehicles on a typical summer weekend. We purposely chose (fifteen years ago) to locate on a busy road that is the route to a busy recreational area that draws well over a million and a half visitors each summer. While few of these folks may be my customers, the pictures they post online spreads the word and does bring us the customers we need.
As we have finished the house and landscaping we find our street presence works too well much of the time. Many of the people who stop for a photo of the house wander onto the property to take pictures and have a look around. Our shop is 300 feet off the road.
Initially we put up a small dimensional sign to indicate which was the house and to point the direction to the studio. But it seems people don't read signs and if we don't keep the front door of the house locked they often wander in uninvited. It is a little disconcerting to discover people standing in the house entry or further on a regular basis.
Our solution was to install an automatic gate on the driveway and keep it closed except when we or our suppliers need access. I'll be redoing our front sign with only our web address instead of our business name. We find people who stop pull out their mobile devices to take pictures and then look up our company to see what we are all about. I'll also add a sign 'BY APPOINTMENT ONLY' to further weed out the looky loos as well.
It is gratifying to see that our marketing strategies have worked so well but we also need to continually tweak things to get exactly what we need.
[ August 23, 2015, 04:32 PM: Message edited by: Dan Sawatzky ]
I'm curious on when you set your goal to be where you are today. How long did that transition and marketing strategy take? I understand tomorrows goals change, and yesteryears were not the same as decades ago...but the internet makes for a small world and we can often see each other changing focus and reaching in different directions. If you have made it to where you are now, on purpose, when did you purpose it? Hope you get what I'm asking.
ps: I'm always encouraged by your posts! Thanks for doing what you don't have to.
-------------------- Phil Steffen, 29 Van Rensselaer St City of Saratoga Springs DPW Saratoga Springs NY 12866 Posts: 563 | From: beautiful Saratoga Springs NY | Registered: Aug 2001
| IP: Logged |
From the beginning more than forty-five years ago I always knew what I wanted although the goals were a bit fuzzy at times. After hand painting a couple of truck doors and flat signs in my teen years I knew I wanted to do only dimensional signs and projects. I knew little about how I would go about it but that's all I would do from the start. In those days dimensional meant layered plywood and cutouts as that was all I was capable of. As I became proficient and known for that kind of work we got more. Then as I gained skill, added better equipment and sourced better supplies we upped the ante on a continual basis. Our signs became truly dimensional and I then quit doing the layered look. Each sign we did was better than the last.We have never gone backwards or even stayed still. Each job always had to (and still does) be better than the last. As our prices increased (of necessity) we lost our low end customers and got better ones. We never compromised on quality or price.
Each time we had a good sized dream it would take up to five years (or more) to implement it. Along that path goals and plans were modified as needed, sometimes slimmed down but often made even more grand. For our new shop and house we purchased (and sold) three different properties over a period of about ten years before we located where we are now. Over that period while we waited to build things changed, we moved or things just had to wait until the time was right. Each time the plans were modified or totally redrawn to suit the next dream property. While it was frustrating at times to wait so long the project was much better as a result.
For many years (decades) I worked from the basement, carport or on the customer's site. The shop didn't come along until we dreamed and planned for twenty years. The fancy house on the same property waited until twelve years after that.
Three years ago our son Peter rejoined our team after being gone for about ten years. He fell in love with Hailey who also worked for us. Two years ago they both committed to staying permanently. They now are major shareholders in the company. They will totally own it down the road. That changed our focus in a big way as we decided to go after the bigger projects once more. Peter and Hailey take the pressure off of Janis & I and add a great deal of creative energy to the mix. That means I don't have to go at a frantic pace and we can do more creative work than ever.
While we certainly have had a lot of help and the occasional lucky break along the way much of our success is premeditated and carefully implemented through planning and hard work. To realize long term goals we need to not only dream (which is necessary) but also begin work towards those goals. If each day we do one small thing, save a few bucks, do some planning or even begin assembling the pieces real progress can be achieved. Pretty much everything we did was one nail at a time. If we had waited until all of our ducks were in a row we would still be waiting.
Our current plan and long term goal is to keep things the size they are now - a crew of ten creative and hard working people. We have a good stream of wonderful customers with work stretching out 1-2 years with some room to take on a few smaller projects. We are currently upgrading some of our equipment and adding to the shop space.... something we've been planning for the last 3-4 years. We are also concentrating on finishing our yard and landscaping and all of the small projects started in the last few years.
Teaching and writing (for me) are also in the long term plan and that is well in progress.
I am extremely grateful for each new day, for all we have and for the wonderful crew who help us. We are surrounded by family and live in a great part of the world. We are constantly seeking to put even more balance in our lives. Life is very good!
A living example of passion and focus. I've been fortunate to know Dan and a few others that dream big and then follow the dream. I think Dan would tell you that the same thing lies within each of us - we just have to have the willingness to pursue it.
-------------------- Chapman Sign Studio Temple, Texas email@example.com Posts: 6306 | From: Temple, Texas, USA | Registered: Nov 1998
| IP: Logged |
I am honored to know you Dan, you are a great person who will not pause to be of help to so many. It is so nice to see how your dreaming all came true after so much hard work for many years. To have your son and his wife join you is a blessing. Now you can coast and enjoy your work even more. Please take good care of your health so that you can enjoy many years of pleasure. Bill
-------------------- Bill Riedel Riedel Sign Co., Inc. 15 Warren Street Little Ferry, N.J. 07643 firstname.lastname@example.org Posts: 2953 | From: Little Ferry, New Jersey, USA | Registered: Feb 1999
| IP: Logged |