No matter how experienced you are in your particular field, it’s folly to believe that you’ve reached the pinnacle of knowledge and have all the answers. Every project or customer that comes through your doors is another opportunity to learn or try something new. Here at Signwave, each project we take on is a custom piece with all new challenges and opportunities for brilliance. As much as we like to think we effortlessly hit the mark on the first try, occasionally we find ourselves looking for a solution we’ve never needed to find before. And we don’t quit until the solution is found, implemented, and delivered to a happy client. Here are some of the best lessons we’ve learned and challenges we’ve overcome in 2019.
BRIAN – Design & Printing
One of Brian’s “aha” moments this year came via a vehicle wrap project. The vehicle was an enormous bus, and the customer wanted it completely wrapped, including roof and windows. An outside designer provided the art file, which included a person’s face overlapping the window. Regular readers of our blog know that printed designs on windows utilize a vinyl called window perf, which allows for visibility from the interior of the vehicle but looks like a solid print from the outside. The rest of the design was printed on our regular premium vehicle wrap material. However, no two media accept printer ink exactly the same, and as such we have a different printer “profile” for each different vinyl we use in our HP printer. Brian’s a whiz at profiling, but our first shot at printing the perf was not a perfect match to the printed car wrap vinyl. In fact, it was remarkably different…and splitting those two different colors across a face looked just plain awful. “It took several test prints before we got it perfect. Seeing the different results from tweaking the profiles helped me gain a better understanding of my materials.” Brian set up a new process for projects that involve mixing wrap and perf material, saving us cost, time, and frustration by getting small samples perfect before printing large pieces. We also learned that it’s a good idea to use our experience to guide outside designers, who don’t necessarily understand the details involved in a good vehicle wrap, to set up their files to avoid these issues in the first place.
LEXI – Fabrication & Installation
Lexi tells me that pretty much everything she did this year was a learning experience! Lexi joined us in May as a fledgling sign maker and has gained amazing skills and experience in her short time with us. One of her most interesting projects so far was doing layered vinyl graphics on a boat. As you can probably imagine, graphics applied to a boat’s hull will have to withstand a LOT of hardship, between the salt water, temperature changes, and impact from the waves. Boat vinyl has to be well-sealed, and using multiple layers in the design only compounds the complexity. As Lexi began the tedious process of using the sealant pen to seal each individual layer, she wondered if there might be a better way. We did some research together, gathered a few new tools, and suddenly it was quick work to seal multiple layers in one pass. And the graphics weathered the boating season beautifully.
DAN – Sales
In addition to the responsibilities of business ownership, Dan’s primary company role is to find customers, determine their needs, and bring their requirements back to the Signwave team. And while all this falls under the larger heading of “sales,” I like to think that Dan takes on the role of “interpreter” in our office. Customers understandably don’t always know the sign world lingo, and he takes their design ideas, materials requests, and creative input and uses our in-house survey tools to turn it into a design/purchasing/fabrication recipe that our team can use. As part of that, precise site surveys are key. It’s critical to have detailed photos and accurate measurements to prepare estimates, proofs, and permit applications. In addition to expanding our use of technology such as laser measurement tools and cloud-based collaboration, we’ve implemented new forms and processes to make sure we get the details right the first time, every time.
CINDY – Project Management
As for me, I entered my 3rd year at Signwave during 2019, and every day is a learning experience still. One of the best things I did this year was to study more deeply the ins and outs of our quoting software. Our cloud-based, sign-centric program allows me to add common items into the system, but as I’ve said almost everything we do is custom. Standard products are rarely the right fit for our customers. So I dug deep into the software tutorials and learned techniques that allow me to more quickly and accurately put together the pricing for your custom product. Once Dan has done the groundwork of gathering all your requests and requirements for your signage, I pride myself on how quickly I can get your estimate out to you so that we can take your sign from concept to reality as quickly as possible. I’ve also implemented several new tracking tools to prevent small details from falling through the cracks.
So thank you, 2019, for all the lessons great and small (and humbling). We look forward with great optimism to the new year, and we’re eager to serve customers old and new, and the greater Long Island community with more beautiful signs in 2020.