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Choosing A Modular Sign System

What system is best for your shop?

By Roger Schneider

Every sign shops needs to have a modular sign system to offer to their customers. Even if you consider yourself a “custom shop” or a specialized manufacturer for specific types of signs like: electric or vehicle graphics, it’s a good idea to be able to offer a modular sign system. Some of your customers are bound to request you supply them with way-finding solutions.

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  • Manufacturing signage based on modular systems requires some degree of expertise to the specific systems attributes in order to gain the maximum yield and desired results and profits. Therefore, it would be wise to invest some time and research when choosing a favored system. Switching systems too often can prove to be a waste of time and money spent on training, planning, and correction of mistakes.

    With this in mind, how does one choose a single preferred system with the number of systems being offered today?

    The first step is to ask for free samples. A company that will not offer free samples is an indication of their marketing strategy and their overall level of low awareness to service and should be avoided.

    Check to see if the system offers reasonably priced sample kits. Some companies will offer their kits at cost or below cost, and some will ask you to cover the cost of shipping. Look for a vendor that offers a number of sample kit options to fit most budgets. Some will even offer to customize the kit to your specific needs.

    The following points should help you choose the system that is right for you:

    Although there are exceptions, in most cases, whether the system is flat, concave, or convex shaped, it is important that it has a modern contemporary clean look.

    Sign Elements Vehicle Templates

    Quality of materials:
    It is not always easy to assess the quality of the materials used by the manufacturer. Request data sheets that reflect the specifications of the system: It's ability to withstand the elements; it's compatibility to outdoor/indoor, UV light. How difficult is it to paint or anodize? Check the stability of the components before and after assembly. A sense of a "flimsy" finished product may show a divergence in the system components. Don't hesitate to put the system components to the test by checking their resilience. Unfortunately, they will have a good chance of being mistreated in the field.

    Check for compatibility with the types of graphic and sign making equipment you currently have available in your shop without making further investments in new technology and equipment. It is advisable to choose a flexible system that allows for a wide range of signage and graphic techniques. Systems that have been designed to "frame" or " "hold" other substrates, usually prove to be more flexible and accommodating both to the customer and the designer.

    Wide range of sizes:
    Using a modular system naturally limits the design options to the number of sizes offered by a particular system. Choose a system with a wide range of sizes, as this will reduce the chance of your system to be rejected by the customer or designer.

    Try to choose a system that is simple to use assemble and install. Save yourself the wasted time, frustration, and aggravation of dealing with a poorly designed system, which most often results as an overly complicated system.

    Wide range of applications:
    It is advantageous to use a single product line per project. Look for a comprehensive system that can cover signs from the parking lot to the employee's desk. Using a system that offers only a partial solution may only complicate a cohesive install.

    ADA compatibility:
    There are a number of technologies available today to create compliant ADA signage, each with its special features and price. It is imperative that the system you use is compatible with as many ADA/Braille signage methods as possible, in order to maintain both cost effectiveness and versatility when competing on projects. It would be very restrictive to limit yourself to only one or two methods.

    Service and support:
    It is said that service is the most important element of all. It doesn't matter if you chose the "perfect system" if you receive bad service from your vendor. It will somehow get passed on to your customer. Pay special attention to the level of service you are receiving in the early stages, when you first approach the vendor. Talk to colleagues to get their opinions and impressions and ask about their experience with the products. Don't hesitate to ask the manufacturer for references.

    Check to see what fabrication services are offered by the vendor. Sometimes it will prove cost effective to have some of the fabrication done by the vendor. Also check the delivery times, as it's important to work with a vendor you can count on to deliver as quoted. Being late can be very expensive!

    The best system does not necessarily have to be the most expensive one. Shop around and remember to compare the amount of work involved in fabrication of each system, which can ultimately translates into expensive labor dollars.

    Finally, choose a system that you like. It will show when you sell it.

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