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Buy-ology 101

(April 2009) posted on Sun Apr 19, 2009

Sign buyers reward basic communication skills, a solid reputation and customer service with loyalty.

By Susan Conner

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Trust is visceral – our bodies tell, and often fool, us about trustworthiness. Credibility, however, is analytical – profit margins and timelines point straightforward. Sign buyers use both tools to determine what sign company to hire.

“Reliable.” “Trouble-free.” “Takes the extra step.” “Highly referred.” “Keeps me informed.” Sign buyers interviewed for this article emphasized the importance of these trust-building characteristics when they select sign companies for various projects, from music festivals to bank changeovers. Having demonstrated outstanding emotional intelligence, however, the sign companies that buyers repeatedly hire also show price consciousness; competitive bids they submit reflect the client’s budget and realistic project assessments.

Be forewarned: The following sign buyers waxed profoundly positive about signage and the sign companies they hired. In other words, no disgruntled sign buyers participated. That’s partly because ST questioned end users whose signage was either entered in the International Sign Contest or represented a win-win situation for all parties involved. Also, they realize signage’s importance to their branding and advertising.

“Signage is a great asset in advertising our brand,” said Mark Gordon, CapitalSource Bank’s VP of corporate real estate, who recently oversaw a 22-location changeover. “Our signage is a sign of strength, and it helps define our identity in that location.”

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

“I look for somebody who doesn’t just put up a logo,” said Donnie Smith, a project consultant/purchaser for Ruth’s Chris Steak House’s Indiana and St. Louis franchisees. “I want somebody who works closely with me so the signage is suitable for the market. I also want the sign company to handle all details during every stage of the project, from concept to completion. Therefore, I look for somebody who has integrity, who’s highly referred, who’s good at customer service and who will also offer a competitive bid.”

When the upscale chain’s Mishawaka, IN site needed new signage, Smith turned to Integrated Sign Associates (ISA), El Cajon, CA, a visual-display company that provides on-premise signage for real-estate and retail clients. The project required hanging the corporate logo on a wire frame in an exposed opening of a tower, which precluded the usual reverse channel letters.


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