What actually goes into the sign making process?
For starters, creating a sign is different for almost every customer as there are several stages that go on behind the scenes, and not all the stages apply to every sign. It is important in the sign business to educate our customers about not only the materials and their optimal uses, but also about the process so that they fully understand it, ensuring good communication between all parties.
There are several stages we go through to make sure that your sign meets your needs and will attract customers to your business. Depending on the type of sign(s) you are looking to purchase, you may or may not go through all these stages.
A new customer comes to us in several ways. They can call in, walk in, make a request through the web, or have been referred to us by a friend or business colleague.
During this stage, we get a general idea of the scope of the project such as the type of sign, the materials they would like to use and what the customer is looking to achieve with it. We also try to get some idea as to their budget for the project so that we don’t propose a solution that is unattainable.
A site survey is often required to get a clearer picture of the scope of a project – to see where the sign(s) will be installed and identify any potential issues that might need to be taken into consideration from both a design and installation perspective. The site survey also helps us get the design process started by taking pictures of the job site and any measurements that are needed. Finally, the site survey also gives us the opportunity to more fully understand our customer’s vision.
Once the site survey is completed, a work order is created and the design process begins. An initial proof is created with all the measurements and pictures taken which allows us to better estimate the costs of the final product. The proof gives the client a sense of what the new sign will look like when the projects is completed. It will often go through a series of revisions until the customer is satisfied with the final look.
Permits are usually required for most outdoor signs. Permits are a necessity to ensure that signs and advertisements compliment the attractiveness, safety, and legibility of the environment by both day and night. Some municipalities are stricter than others, so it’s important to know and understand your jurisdiction’s policies in order to construct a sign that is to your liking and that also abides by the sign codes.
The permit process takes place once design work is completed since most municipalities require diagrams showing how and where the sign(s) will be installed. Permitting can be done by either the customer or can be done by the sign company, often for an additional fee.
Once the design has been given the green light and if a permit was required and has been approved, then production can take place. Depending on the type of sign, different production processes will be followed.
In-house production includes printing, cutting, weeding, mounting, painting, routing, and/or engraving. For other types of signs, we do not have the equipment to produce and we outsource the job to one of our vendors. Coordination is key in these situations to make sure all parties are on the same page.
Once production is completed, and before installation takes place, a quality review is vital in making sure that everything turns out the way it is supposed to and that no damage has been made to the material. After this is checked, our team will either perform an in-house installation or have sub-contractors complete an out-source installation if the sign requires special equipment such as a lift or crane.
What most people don’t realize when they purchase a sign is what it might take to bring their vision for their new sign into fruition. While some signs are rather simple and easy to make such as banners and many interior signs, others require quite a bit more work to get the sign created to meet the needed requirements. This work can include site plans, engineering drawings, knowledge of sign ordinances, etc. These things can make the process a little more difficult and time-consuming.
Either way, it’s always important to keep the lines of communication open with the customer, keeping them in the loop throughout each stage of the process.