Where’s the Love?
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Supply 55 BannerPRO, EcoPRO continuous ink supply system, guardian laminators, quickmount


Where’s the Love?

We can all make that initial sale; however, sign clients return again and again when they feel their business was appreciated, and when they feel the love!

By Mark Roberts

Tina Turner recorded a famous song, “What’s Love got to do with it”. The Beatles sang, “All you need is Love”. Thousands of writers have written stories, books, and songs about the attributes of love. The oldest and finest book ever written, the Bible speaks of love and tells us to love unconditionally. So, where is the love? Today, it is getting harder and harder to find.

2008 Sign Price Manual from SignPrice.com

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    The noble profession of sign making is one of service. We are here to serve. We are servants. We are supposed to wait upon our clients, make proper suggestions about how they can best maximize their advertising dollar when investing in signs, and most importantly, we must exhibit unhurried enthusiasm when discussing their sign needs. So, how many of us do these things? During the course of our busy day, can we “unplug” from our current project long enough to discuss a future sign project with a prospect, or an established client? Do our clients and prospects see themselves as a nuisance in our eyes? Do they see themselves as a burden to us, or do they feel guilty for interrupting us during our workday? If so, changes need to be made.

    The golden rule, first mentioned in the Bible, tells us to treat everyone we meet with the same respect and courtesy that we would expect to receive from them. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Wow! That still makes sense even after all these years. Trouble is, evidence of the golden rule is vanishing day by day. Where is the love? Want to know a secret? The ones who care about helping their fellow man (or woman) are the ones that enjoy the most success, prosperity, and happiness, and joy.

    Have you ever been to a luxury hotel that offered the services of a concierge? A personal valet to assist you in finding the perfect restaurant, or perhaps he or she was a magician that magically found two choice tickets to a theatrical performance that you and your spouse wanted to see while you were in town. How did you feel when you had a personal servant that would “jump through hoops” to make you happy? Felt good, didn’t it? He or she made you feel special, important, and most of all, appreciated. I bet you still remember the time and place of this great experience in your life.

    If you have ever been impressed with the service, attention, and “love” of someone else, whose mission at the time was to satisfy your needs and make you happy, you must return this favor to others in your own market. Like I said earlier, the sign business is a noble profession. Signs are “made to order” products that are used as an advertising medium for another person, so they may build or enhance their own business.

    The vast majority of signs produced today, approximately 93% offer a direct advertising value to the person who buys them. Since we have a lot of control in the outcome of the effectiveness of these signs, shouldn’t we show some “love” when it comes to making these signs more effective and pleasing to the eyes of society?

    It is fairly easy to fall into the “order taking” trap within our sign shops. We get (or stay) busy. A customer walks in and they get our attention. Perhaps we are “in the zone” and are really making progress on another sign project. Maybe our first thoughts are, “Oh no, I will NEVER get this job finished. What could he want”? Have you ever thought that? I know I have, and if I do not gather my thoughts rather quickly, I may accidentally project these words through my facial expression, or worse, I may say something that I really did not mean to say. What could a reaction such as this cost us in terms of money, reputation, and self esteem? I tell you the cost is staggering.

    People who are not appreciated will leave and never come back. People who do not “feel the love’ will go out of their way to tell all their friends and associates to look elsewhere for their sign needs. Never let an “in person” or telephone interruptions take control of you or your attitude. You will have feelings of regret long after the event, and the damage will last forever.

    Look around in your own community to see examples of business owners and their employees showing love to their customers. Can you think of several right now? How many independently owned businesses do you patronize? Do you ever come in contact with these business owners, or do they stay behind their desks in a room far away from their sales counter? When you walk into their place of business, how are you treated? Do you feel appreciated at the moment? Is the person serving you showing you the “love”? I have to say in my own experiences, the “love” is getting harder and harder to find. The company in my own market, a nationally known plastics distributor, is a textbook example of showing anything but “love” to their customers.

    In a few short months since a national plastics giant absorbed this company, they have alienated just about every sign company that use to be their customer. My purchases from this company ran about one thousand dollars per month, in plastic sheet goods, and computer vinyl. In the pre takeover days, I could be driving down the road and suddenly remember that I needed ten yards of dark green high performance vinyl for a certain job. Dark green is not one of my best selling colors, so ten yards would be the best purchase for me.

    I would pull into their parking lot, and my saleslady would greet me with a friendly, “Hi Mark” as I walked into the office. I would tell her what I wanted and she would retrieve the vinyl, cut it, wrap it, and process my debit card, all the while chatting and visiting with me as I waited. I appreciated her attitude, her service, and her personal attention to serving my needs at the moment. It was a pleasure to be served by her.

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    Now for an example of how to mess up a good thing, let us look at the present conditions at this nationally known plastics conglomerate. First, they eliminated the walk-in counter. Now if you discover you need vinyl, or cut plastic sheets, you must call in your request. Walk-ins are no longer served. So when you call in, you tell the monotonic voice on the other end of the telephone what you want, and they interrupt you by asking you your company name, address, zip code, telephone number, and get this…your credit card number.

    I have always used my debit card at this company, and I presented it upon receiving my items. Now they want your credit card number before they even ask you what it is you would like to buy. If I would want to purchase some custom cut acrylic sheets, custom meaning 24”x26” cut sheets, I would have to place my order now, furnish my credit card number now, and pick up my cut sheets the next day. Before the acquisition, I could wait in their showroom while my plastic was being cut.

    I waited in their showroom, which was filled with vinyl and other sign shop necessities, which I often added to my order. Now, the vinyl is gone, the shop necessities are no longer on display, and vinyl must be purchased by the 50 yard rolls only. Their minimum purchase for anything is now fifty dollars.

    I have never been one to take such abuse so quietly. I voiced my complaint to my saleslady, who has served me for ten years with great attention, respect, and “love”, and her reply hit me like a Mack truck. She told me that this was the way they would be doing business from now on, and if I did not like it, I could take my business elsewhere. WOW. Ten years of serving me like I was important went screaming out the window.

    In complete shock, I asked her if this was a reflection of her own feelings. She said that the “corporate” decision makers considered the sign shop customers to be a constant pain and interruption to their business and they would be better off without their business. Hey, that is all I needed to hear. I hope they will miss my $120,000 worth of business, because I will never…. and I mean NEVER walk through their doors again.

    This example is so extreme that you may not have personally experienced such blatant disregard for caring about the needs of our fellow man. The important thing to remember is to have happiness, to have joy, and to have abundance in our own business, we must always respect the person who is calling on us to serve them with our products, or our knowledge, or our helping hand. Everything matters. The way we treat others matters a lot. Our future and self-esteem depend upon it. Like Paul McCartney said, “and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” Think about that!

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