View Full Version : Chicken sign on shopbot

12-20-2007, 06:49 PM
We put the vectric catalog on our website and just sold our first residental sign using it.

www.balchsigns.com (http://www.balchsigns.com)


12-20-2007, 07:36 PM

I think it's a good idea! Why not show prospective clients these great 3D examples.

Brady Watson
12-20-2007, 08:13 PM
Looks great. I think you mean, Vector Art 3D, not Vectric Ltd.


12-20-2007, 08:23 PM
You are right. Vector art 3D ... too many senior moments lately!


12-20-2007, 08:49 PM
I had read the thread where they were putting a nonbranded catalog out for us to sell to the customer but how have you handled pricing on the items? What is a reasonable markup for a design?
You make some beautiful stuff!!

12-21-2007, 10:12 AM
Ernie, that's a really nice sign. Thanks for showing it - glad the online catalog is working for you. Best wishes to you and Dianne (and the dog).

Would it be OK to add this image to our gallery with link back to your site?

Thanks, James

12-21-2007, 11:05 AM
It would be an honor to help you out ;)


12-22-2007, 01:06 AM
How long did it take you to teach the hens to read the sign? What about the roosters? This reminds me of the joke where the blonde lady wanted the department of wildlife people to move a deer crossing sign because there were too many deer being hit by cars,Sorry i couldnt resist...

12-22-2007, 08:49 AM
Funny you mention that, I had visions of the same thing till I found out the customer's last name was Hen.
I guess this is sort of a joke sign being given for christmas.


12-23-2007, 01:32 AM
That puts a whole new light on things..I`m sure it will be enjoyed, Great work ,,

12-23-2007, 05:23 PM
Ernie, here is a co-incidence to your above post. I made this sample sign for one of our customers, and as a "show and tell" (I took this one to Austin for the Maker Faire and displayed it). Her name, as on the sign, is Vicki Duck, and her ranch, of course, is Duck's Landing. The image is from the vector art 3D collection. Cut on trupan, or such, waiting for her to pick a size and location for the new ranch sign, based on the sample. I really enjoy the 3D stuff, and most of all James B. It is a real privilige to call him friend, and to have such access to him is remarkable.
Like Gene above, I just couldn't resist.
Merry Christmas to all
P.S.: tried to download an image, can't get it small enough, for some reason. I will try it a bit later, pushed for time right now.

12-23-2007, 09:17 PM
like your site.
I want to reask the question about pricing.
How do you price the items? I am about to do a site like you have with Vectric added to the site and have been trying to figure out a fair pricing for the software charges. Of course, what ever 3d items I have, they want something else.

12-23-2007, 09:53 PM
Pricing is a tough question. People over on letterhead site would flame me for being too cheap. Normally I won't even turn on the router for less than $300.

I depends on the cost of materials, who the customer is and how much do I want to make the sign and the difficulty involved. For commercial signs we like to start at $1000 and move up or down depending on these factors. For residential signs we start at $300 and move up or down.

Also you should know that my wife tends to price much higher than I do. I've been told to make the price as high as you can say with a straight face. Many people say to charge $100 per square foot, but I find that is too cheap for residential signs and too much for 4x8 carved signs.

In summary I don't have a magic formula for pricing, we have pricing software "Estimate" that works well for vinyl and other types of sign work but does not cover carved signs very well. We also have the sign pricing books that we get every year. We know sign shops that always charge more than the book value and others are cheaper.

Where to get the book? glad you asked:


12-24-2007, 08:27 AM
Thanks Ernie, that helps me.

12-24-2007, 08:41 AM
Let me chime in here Ernie. Since there are always newbie's to sign trade, wondering how to price their products, I have a hint or two.

First: Be as fair as you can about the time it takes to do the proposed sign. Don't fudge the actual time. It should include clean up, coffee breaks and fiddleing around with the customer, not to mention pickup and delivery. Estimate the material cost, allowing for mistakes. Once this is all figured up, just imagine doing this type of work all day, every day for a month and see how you'd do. Don't forget maintenance and upkeep.

Each job we take in is done this way. Usually I find my prices a little low. With the increase cost of wood and everyting else, I mean everyting, my final bill to the customer seems too high. Yet, I'm not getting rich. These are tough time for most of little guys. You gotta price em high. Do extremely good quality, and "Price em High".

Still, the real pay off for me is the enjoyment I get from the trade. What a life.

www.normansignco.com (http://www.normansignco.com)

12-24-2007, 05:16 PM
Butch, Like Ernie said pricing is tough. Joe did a great job of explaining how he comes up with pricing also. I did a sign, complete with the framework in aluminum, and instalation was just under $5k. It was 4' x 8' for the main sign, and 14" x 8' for the lower sign. They supplied their company logo, (surprisingly clean artwork) and after a couple of emails with proposed sign pictures they dropped the hardest part for painting, a sun burst that went from red to yellow, out of the design. LOL I didn't drop the price. I had about $1300 in materials and labor cost for the welding of the frame. With the design time, driving for materials, taking the aluminum to my welder and picking up the final frame, machining, painting, and installation I had less than 30 hours in the job. They even supplied a forklift and operator to remove the old posts, and a crew from their shop to carry the sign and raise it up. Pictures of it are on our website under signs we have made. www.jgilliamtexas.com (http://www.jgilliamtexas.com)

The way I "usually" price is the cost of the material, plus $100 per sq. ft. This works in most cases, but not in all. I also look at who the customer is, and what I think the market will stand. Right now I have a possible job for a new subdivision who wants two entrance signs. I called on the developer and showed him a sample of the Piney Creek sign and he realized what was possible for their entrance. These homes are in the $250k+ range and he did not even blink when I ball park priced two 3' X 6' signs. He WAS looking at etched granite, but did not care for the $6k per sign price. My price for both signs installed is a little less than the price of one in granite.

Like Joe said "Do extremely good quality, and "Price em High"."


12-24-2007, 06:29 PM
Ernie, Joe, James
I appreciate the information. I am about to run out of work, after the Christmas buying of chests and crib boards ends. One of the areas I am looking at expanding into is signs. Right now there is nobody here in town that does carved signs. I was going to offer to do the carving for a couple of sign shops, and let them do most of the hard work. At least that is my current plan. Probably change as progress is made.
But pricing is always an issue, even more than what to build or how to build it. This information really helps someone just moving into an area that I hope is a void in the market. At this point, I am hoping to 'make it'...the get rich is later.

Thanks for the help

12-25-2007, 11:07 AM
That never ending quest for the "right price" Well I must admit Joe's advice has always worked for me and really makes sense as far as validating what you want to do and can you afford to do it at that price.
That being said it is still a difficult choice. For example: What would you sell a sign for IF you had no orders AND you need cash flow? Is it better to have something to work on for a lower profit than nothing and experiment at your own expense?
If you assume an hourly rate you must also assume how many hours you really work per week or month because most do not run their machines or finishing areas 24/7 or even 8/7. So with fewer production hours the average break even goes up and eventually prices you out of the market.
We struggle with every sign but try to use the following basic model and qualifying criteria.
If it doesnt work, we try to rationalize any adjustments based on work backlog, creative/marketing benefits the opportunity might provide, and the basic trade off between work to add revenue or let someone else struggle with it.

1st we try to explain to a client that they have many many options in terms of the level of dimensional detail, the types of materials along with their properties, features, and benefits, then we try to explain that anything can be done within these parameters and direct them to discuss and understand them by visiting our web site or blog and walk them through examples of all the above.

Next we explain that we make signs that generally run between $50.00 per sq ft at the low end and $150.00/ sq ft or more depending on size, materials, finishing, and dimensional complexity.
A simple color core sign for example with simple design artwork has many basic benefts including no finishing on our end plus long life and easy maintainance IF one can live with the standard color options available assuming the size can be made from our stock or justify a new sheet.
That type of sign runs between $45.00/ sq ft and $55.00/ sq ft AS A BUDGETARY PRICE RANGE BEFORE ANY REAL DESIGN REVIEW OR ESTIMATING.

They then have a starting point. If their budget is $10.00 to $25.00/ ft, they need to visit a vinyl shop.
From the base level which might also include sintra or lower cost materials for "no finishing" type cut and run signs to the top tier with much dimensional detail, multiple materials and finishing, you can go into the $150.00 range.

Design and materials are key and they are not free so the better we can understand the vision and budget, the more successful we will be in achieveing it with you or referring you to another supplier.

Its an important decision and its a one time investment, your 24/7 silent salesman, and establishes your image to every passer by.
US chamber of commerce says "IF you have a business in a high traffic location a high quality sign is the best investment you can make"
So take a look around at signs that really attract you and command your attention. The ones you remember and want to go into.
Review photos on our site and the web. Keep in mind DIMENSIONAL SIGNS by their very nature and definition are more memorable and add a sense of realism that sticks in their mind long after a flat lifeless 1 or 2 dimensional sign.
(look up definition of 2 and 3 dimensional and you'll see the difference in words but "you know it when you see it")

After that, we're here to make your vision come to life and would love to work with you on making it happen at a fair price for whatever type you decide on.
Would you like to get started or get back to us after youve thought about it?
90% + of the time they appreciate the education, value, the personal attention and willingness to collaborate on the design, difference between their options and want to start the ball rolling.

Long story but thats how we dial it in to make sure we arent wasting our time or the clients and establish the "true value" and importance of this investment in the clients mind. Then pricing is a secondary discussion if you're within reason, educate them, and implement well.
Then design, deposits, time and material reviews, and estimating to get the best margin within the budget. If the client knows you can do what they want, they rarely go elsewhere to start all over and since there arent really that many shops that DO THE WORK, if they trust you, they will give you the order and its a win win.

Good luck.

12-25-2007, 11:21 AM
I appreciate your comments. Could you explain what % of a deposit you request per job or is it a standard amount? Also I am assuming that the amount of the deposit depends on the length of the relationship you have with your customer.

12-25-2007, 01:25 PM
Nils, We consider the following options BUT ALL orders we take for signs include the following terms and conditions.
When we agree to work on a sign we either start with their vectors for their logo or something they provide to start like the size, budget, or some idea from photos of their basic concept.
From that we agree to provide the following.
1 concept design rendering as a quick and basic look from which to start the modifications and feedback.
We explain that from that discussion we may need to charge a design fee which can be applied to the final price when/if they buy their sign or monument from us.
This design fee more generally applies to significant designs or larger more complex signs.
Usually a design deposit is in the $250.00 area. But the truth is, it takes almost as much time to design small signs as it does big ones so signs at $5,000.00 to $20,000.00 have more flexibility than small $250.00 signs in terms of design details and making things work to everyones satisfaction.
We charge this fee a small percentage of the time but put it out there so we dont go through endless design changes and never get an order for our work/ideas.
More typically we provide 1 or 2 renderings and advise the client we will need a 50% deposit if they need more design time or charge at an hourly rate. This minimizes the back and forth and makes them aware that design time is part of the cost so they try to think it through seriously.
So we generate a design and quote a price with terms of 50% advance to commence material procurement and internal design details.
The 50% is NEVER less than what we will need to spend on the above. In fact material generally runs about 10% to 20% of final price but it depends on how much we do in house or source. Its never possible to get stuck holding the bag on materials we have purchased.
You will find that the machine time is not the big expense but rather design, customer communications and revisions, fabrication strategies, material procurement, finishing and assembly are greatest percentage of the overall cost.
The deposit never varies no matter who it is or why. %50/%50.
It's custom business so what will we do if we buy or build it and they cancel or dont pay for any reason? remember they will likely not order another sign for their business so once completed, its usually the end from that customer for signs unless you're working for corporate accounts, property managers, sign shops, or multi location businesses.

Lead time is 3 to 5 weeks as standard AFTER receipt of deposit final color and hardware selection, and materials. We usually finish in 3 to 4 but it really depends on shop load, materials lead times, and level of manufacturing and finishing required. We do make simple signs in a day or 3 but when you add prime, dry, sand, paint and sand multiple coats front and back, dry time,assembly and touch up and thats what happens in usually 2 to 3 weeks.
Color core and the cut and ships are 3 to 5 days.
FOB is our shop, we dont deliver or ship for free, apply for permits, or install but we do recommend an instaler who fills all these needs and either quote his price marked up or send the customer directly to him.
We spell out that we are NOT responsible for local code compliance and retain ownership of the sign until receipt of final payment just in case its installed and somehow the "check is not ready, bounces, or in the mail"
Signs are to be paid in full within 3 days of completion regardless of permitting delays or at the time of pick up by the installer or delivery on site.
Customers must be on site at time of installation to insure proper location.
For Monuments we provide site preparation instructions and require site to be prepped in advance or an hourly fee is applied to handle any work beyond the 90 mimute install schedule.
JULIE is to be notified and site marked for utilitie line clearance either by the client or the contracted installer before delivery.

Finally keep in mind that everyone is well aware of the rising cost of wood, petroleum based products, and insurance to name a few factors. These have become premium priced resources and the raw material costs as well as freight have been on a steady rise. Folks understand and relate well at a very personal level. So make sure you consider that as you price your work and eveleate where you can until you lose business, then you know where the market is in your area.
Best of luck

12-25-2007, 01:48 PM

Thanks for all the details. It is very helpful.

12-25-2007, 02:28 PM
Butch, I like your idea of doing the carving for local sign shops, but let me give you my twist on it. I went to a few of the local shops and ask if they would or could do carved signs. When the said they could not I ask if they would like the ability to offer them. The ones that said yes now have a sample to show customers that are looking for carved signs. I offer my services to them for referral, and for that they get a percentage of the profit. They love the idea of income for the only work of giving out my name and contact information. Of course it is added into the final cost. Doing this keeps them out of the problem area of trying to relay what the customer wants to me and things being mixed up in between. The more people involved in the details the more likely a mistake will be made. It has worked well so far for us all, and I have even gotten some work installing the signs they have made.