Business and management advice for your shop.
By Marty McGhie
We are all familiar with the old cliche, "The only thing constant about life is change." It’s a saying that certainly applies to our industry. I’ve been involved in the signage and graphics business for more than 15 years, and I remain amazed at our industry’s constantly changing pace. But because change often creates tough challenges, it can sometimes be an unwelcome guest in most shops.
Three key areas of business that regularly change include: markets, employees, and technology. I think almost everyone recognizes that these areas are in a constant state of flux, but I’m amazed by how many shop owners are unwilling to deal with the reality. Instead, they tend to hold fast to the past, sometimes at the risk of harming their company. Let’s take a look at changes that have occurred-and are occurring-in each of these areas, and evaluate how resistance to change can be overcome.
Adapting to today’s markets
The marketplace today is very different from, say, five or 10 years ago. For one thing, the client mix has changed. In years past, for instance, many companies relied upon their advertising agencies to create and produce their graphics. As such, these ad agencies were very large customers for graphics producers. While advertising agencies in the current market still may carry out an important role and remain valuable customers to many of us, a significant number of corporations now have their own advertising departments fully staffed with graphic designers and operational personnel completely in charge of their company’s graphics.
Another example is the relationship that graphics producers now have with exhibit companies. In my company’s case, the exhibit companies in our local market used to be a primary source of business. We now find that a large number of our corporate customers know where to buy the necessary display equipment and come directly to us to produce the graphics. Or perhaps, if a company does use an exhibit company for its graphics needs, the exhibit company now has the equipment to produce the client’s graphics and displays themselves. So, today, the exhibit companies have become our competitors. Other examples of these types of market shifts abound, but the point is this: Our markets today are very different than in the past, and they’ll likely continue to evolve in the future.