How do you grow your business the proper way? How about a proper software program? Let me review the proper steps to building your business:
Find prospects—A prospect is ,“the possibility or likelihood of some future event occurring,” and in this case we always want the event to be a sale or two. What you must do is create/find a pool of prospects that you can market to, and provided the pool is large enough, the odds are great that some of them will turn into customers. The question is, what tool(s) do you use to find, market to, track, and quote your prospects?
Customers—A customer is “a person who purchases goods or services from another,” but how do you track customers, their purchases, their buying patterns? The real challenge is to maximize the business you can do with your clients. What tools and behaviors do you need to achieve this goal?
Orders—Orders are complicated, they involve a long list of instructions to achieve the final delivery. Let’s review some of the steps in this process:
What resources will this job require?
Printer—What printer will run the job and how long will the printer take to run the job?
Material—Do you have the inventory or must you order it? If you must order stock, how long will it take to receive?
Labor—Who needs to be involved in this process, and what other jobs could affect this process?
Will design time be required?
Proofs—Digital or actual printed proofs? Acquire outside artwork?
Time—How long will this job take to print, finish and install?
• Will installation be required? If installation is required who will do it? If you are outsourcing this part of the job, are the installers available when you need them?
• When is this job due, do you have everything in place to get the work done in time?
• Do you have other jobs that might stand in the way of getting this job done?
• Will overtime be required to make the deadline?
• What precautions do you put in place in the event that one of the steps goes wrong?
Business management software can help keep track of your clients and lead to better organization of prospects and leads. Photo courtesy of SignVOX.
—Is this a job that has large rigid-board graphics, and do you need to make a crate for this job? Does the job have many ship points, and do you know how to process multipoint shipping with your current software?
Accounting—How do you get paid for the job? Do you invoice? Collect payment via credit card? How do you track the receivable?
How do you determine sales commission?
• Do you pay on gross sales?
• How much do you pay?
• Do you reduce the commission if the order was discounted?
How do you track the purchases?
• Do you require the employees to receive the inventory?
• How do you track inventory?
• How do you track waste?
Management—What must management need to know about their business?
• Track quotes and see what ratio of quotes to orders are being closed?
Are you tracking your sales people in these areas?
• New client sales
• Quotes to orders ratio per sales person
• Sales per sales person vs. quota
• Discounts issues by each sales person
• Type of sales being made by sales people
• Production time on jobs
• Recurring sales
Track corporate profits both gross and net:
Let me give you 20-plus years of experience and many software solutions. First off, you must track your prospects, your quotes, your clients and your orders. You must go after the past clients and make sure you get all the business you can from them—and I am sure that almost none of you can say you do this. You must keep your prospect pool full, and you must market to the pool. And you must make the graphics with the best products, the best way possible and delivery them as fast as you can. I can go on and on about what you must do, but let’s take a break from the scolding and talk about what you might not want to do or have to do.
Taking orders can be complicated and involve a long list of instructions to achieve the final delivery. Business management software can help. Photo courtesy SignVOX.
—This is almost an effort in futility as the process takes almost as much effort as the actual job. Now this is not always true but in my experience the steps are not easily monitored. This is a huge issue that everyone wants to fix but very few are up to the task.
• How do you track the steps in a job? Barcode? Manually enter into computers all over the shop?
• What do you do when you are doing three jobs at the same time?
• How do you pause a job when you are running at 100 mph around the shop?
• What possible reward will your employees get by tracking their progress when they are paid by the hour?
• What steps do you track? The job in and out of finishing or the job in each step of finishing?
• What steps really matter?
What does management run for a report? Are any of the reports true except when the job came in and when it shipped? Does anything else really matter?
Here is where you will get into trouble with software in your company, you must first have your processes in place or you will die with software. What I mean is you must have a clear and defined system in place so that when you move to a more automated system, it will work. If you do not have a full process control system in place you should consider hiring someone who can put one in place for you so that the software will be a relatively seamless transition.
Now that you have a very good idea as to all the levels of control that you might want and need, let’s review some of the software options available to you:
—A full sign and graphics management software that is web based. Supports from the prospect to the final product shipping. Reasonable price per month per user, support is included in the monthly cost, and no contracts to sign. Data sents to Quickbooks and MYOB. You can see more at www.signvox.com
or call 207-370-4232.
—A full sign and graphics management software that is web based. Support and contact is via email. Very reasonable cost per month per users and support is included in the monthly cost. Data sends to Quickbooks. You can see more at www.estimatesoftware.com
or call 828-633-4245.
—A great sign or print shop management software that is web based. Support from prospects to the final product with the exception of inventory control as this module is not yet released. Low cost per month per user and the price includes tech support. You can see more at www.sign-tracker.com
or call 866-925-5527.
—A high end sign, printing and graphics software designed for the small shop to the very large shop. They offer both server and web-based applications. Modules available for most business configurations. Priced according to the number of users and the configuration you desire. Full custom version available. You can see more at www.cyrious.com
or call 800-552-1418.
CASper Sign Business Software
—A complete sign shop management software that is web based. Easy to customize and supports smart phones. You can see more at www.casper1.com
or call 877-219-2509.
—A high end sign and graphics management software based on process control. TQT runs on a PC server and interfaces to both Mac and PC. Priced according to the number of users and the configuration you desire. You can see more at www.tqt.com
or call 866-446-1214.
The ROI on any of these systems is huge if used properly. You track your prospects, orders, and sales and this helps you sell more, control costs better, and stay on top of orders so you can meet your deadlines. Business does not get much better.
Good luck, and be smart with your money. I will see you on the show floor!