Thursday, June 29, 2017

Doomsday Prepper - A Sign of the Times

Doomsday Preppers is a reality TV show on NatGeo... it explores different families preparing for the worst - end of the world, nuclear attack, wildfires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, or all of the above.

What does this have to do with signs?  At Miramar Sign Works we are "doomsday preppers", too, but our "doomsday" would be a botched sign install, or an unhappy customer we let down.  It's not realistic to think every job will go off without a hitch, but it IS realistic to always aim for that goal.  Aim for what you want, not what you have (similar to dress for the job you want, not the job you have, and other cliche terms... sometimes cliches are true!).

We are always attempting to learn from our mistakes - to make our process smoother, communicate better with our clients, not absorb costly mistakes, work smarter not harder (another true cliche) and any other learning lessons.

First line of defense in doomsday prepping is having a presence on the web and social media. (confession - sometimes social media upkeep is hard, #thestruggleisreal).  This allows your potential customers to find you - the worst doomsday would be no business after all.  Our web presence also includes "user friendly" ways of contacting us - our Estimate Request. This form gathers great information for our Sales team.

Second line of defense is Sales - they're the initial contact and relationship builder.  Responsiveness is THE number one priority - be responsive.  I can hear the cheer now - "be responsive, be be responsive"! Once initial contact has been made, Sales has a specific goal to prepare the customer for the information they need to give an accurate estimate.  Asking for this information begins the relationship building process and it might include things like a vector file, color and sheen choices, wall type, budget, and material preference.  It could get more complicated if exterior and illuminated are involved, if permitting by the city, or certificates of insurance and training certs are required by landlords.

Third line of defense is Artroom.  They continue the doomsday prepping by taking Sales' packet of info and turning it into beautiful, concise, easy to understand proofs for the customer to approve.  Is it realistic to think "one and done" for the number of times a proof will be in and out of artroom - no - but it is realistic for Sales and Artroom to work together to avoid the "crap in, crap out" syndrome that drags down the approval process and lengthens lead times.  Proofs are also part of our production drawings to ensure the Production Dept knows exactly what they're fabricating, and the client is expecting.

Fourth line of defense is peer review.  Before packets go into full production they are reviewed by the
Sales Manager and Production Manager.  If info is missing, the proofs are updated to clarify.  Does this mean production can't start - no - it means full production can't start, but items that can be ordered or started are so we can stay on top of timelines promised to our clients.  It also builds inter-office relationships among different departments to make a stronger team.

Fifth line of defense is Production.  This is where everything comes to life.  The sign industry is a very creative industry, producing beautiful signs that are needed for businesses to identify themselves and help their own clients either find them, or wayfind around once they've been found.  As the one dimensional proof comes to life in the form of 3D signs, sometimes issues arise and have to be addressed.  This means meeting with Sales and coming up with a TEAM solution.  Production also prepares for install - making sure the customer is aware of scheduled arrival day/time, being on time for install, preparing for obstacles that might be in the way, taking care of surveys and more.  (BTW, a 30 minute survey can defend against 30 hours of install mistakes - it's probably the ultimate doomsday prepper all on its own!).

All of the above are also supported and managed by an amazing Admin department - a part of every line of defense listed above. This department keeps us on track for cost, hours, AP/AR, assigning estimates as they come in via our website, certificates of insurance, workers comp, certified payroll, etc... (If you're Admin, bless you - your list is never ending!).

The final result is a team effort where everyone has assigned roles, but everything is connected at the same time because we have to support one another to deliver the best outcome for our clients.

The next time you want a sign for your business - let us help you prepare for a doomsday that will never come by being your company's best sign partner!

Signing off for now,


Monday, June 12, 2017

Reclaimed Signs... Or is it Refurb?

There's a growing trend across the interior (and exterior) decor world these days - reclaimed everything.  Reclaimed wood, reclaimed furniture, reclaimed materials of any kind.

In the sign industry, it's not really referred to as "reclaimed" because we aren't repurposing something old for new/different use, but we have been in the same genre of work for decades, and we call it "refurb".  

peeling and cracking paint
Our clients invest greatly in their signs, hoping they last a lifetime. Sometimes that lifetime is shortened by a change of branding, or maybe a move, or maybe a little salt water... 

A local HOA on the shores in La Jolla, CA invested in brushed stainless steel address number plates for each residence with an engraved painted number.  The marine layer that keeps this part of SoCal so nice and cool can wreak havoc on signs.  These signs do not need to be fully replaced, they just need some refurb love.

In steps our team with a plan - clean, prep, prime and paint on-site. It's a re-investment in labor, but sometimes labor is better for your budget than all new signs.

headphones keep distractions away
taking it down to the bare stainless steel
Each refurb project comes with a survey, sometimes two, and a tried and tested plan, sometimes more than once.  In the end, we can bring your old signs back to life for you if their "bones" are good.  We address each project on an individual basis, assessing the customer's needs and budget vs. our capabilities and ability to offer the best product in the end.

Before and after is striking.  Let us help you reclaim your signs today by giving them some refurb love!

beautiful results in the end

Signing off for now,


Friday, June 2, 2017

Hot Rolled Steel - Rustic and Refined

A couple of years ago one of our Sales Executives designed a rustic looking sign for a bar with steel, specifically hot-rolled steel, also known as Cor-Ten steel. This beautiful steel material has a natural rust finish, which looks both rustic and refined.  The finish is never the same on any given piece as it rusts, and its core is non-corrosive, giving the exterior a nice finish while resisting the elements to corrode like normal steel.

Since 2014 it has become one of our favorite materials to work with, for all types of signs.  Interior, exterior, dimensional letters, panels, backers, ADA signs and more.

Here's the sign that started it all back in 2014.  Thank you Jack Daniel's for "whetting our appetite" for this amazing material... This sign is mounted on a solid wood wall, with studs and spacers for depth and character.

The more we used this material, it became natural to suggest to our clients, especially if they used these words while describing their dream sign: rustic, industrial, or character.  Some customers know what they want, specifically.  Others have an idea and need guidance from us to get them to the right place.

Lobby or receptions signs are great for this material.  It will still rust, but not as quickly as an exterior sign, and it's a striking addition behind that reception desk.  It's also a conversation piece and allows relationship building between our customers and their clients.... it IS always about the relationship!

Some customers really want that extreme rust finish.  Here's an example of an exterior tenant sign with anodized brushed aluminum letters as a sharp contrast to the rust finish.  Time lapse between the "before" and "after" picture is about 6 months.  This particular sign was mounted 1/2" from the wall to prevent as much "rust drip" as possible against the wall; however, it still happens and will occasionally need to be cleaned up.

Other customers might have a specific finish they want with this material, or in the case of this particular client, they did not want to worry about rust drip, or a rust splash, against their beautiful teal monuments.  We suggested a natural aging process and then experimented with different clear coats that would protect the metal from further rusting, but not darken or minimize the rust finish.  The hot-rolled steel panels have negative cut wave shapes, and are mounted on a special frame welded to the monument face.  The letters are white acrylic stud mounted with spacers.  These monuments are easily seen from the street and draw the attention of visitors to make their tenant spaces easy to find.

We work with a fabulous local waterjet company, Innovative Cutting Design (ICD), and earlier I mentioned it was all about the relationship.  ICD knows we have a love for hot-rolled steel, and when a new restaurant reached out to them for this material, they referred us to make their sign.  This client knew exactly what he wanted and the sign looks fantastic for their grand opening in a couple of weeks.

 Whether you want an interior or exterior sign, hot-rolled steel offers a great opportunity for creativity with your clients.  The next time you hear those words - rustic, industrial or character - suggest this beautiful material for a change of pace.  You won't be disappointed.

Signing off for now,