As your sign business evolves to offer products other than signs, typical sign shop software for cost estimating may not be able to keep up. That’s a dilemma you should try to avoid.
Sign shop software that can quickly produce accurate, professional estimates for almost every type of project your shop offers is critical to efficient and profitable operations. Your employees can spend more time producing fast-turnaround jobs to real customers and less time calculating quotes for potential jobs that never materialize.
The adoption of ultra-versatile digital printing and finishing equipment has dramatically expanded the range of products your sign shop can produce and sell. In addition to making and installing banners, backlits, wraps, and wayfinding signs, you can produce custom labels and boxes, promotional products, and decorative panels and furnishings for themed environments. The possibilities are endless.
To profit from diversification opportunities you need sign shop software that can keep track of the costs of producing much more than signs.
You must also be prepared to compete with commercial printing firms who are using digital printing equipment to produce many common types of signs. Commercial printing companies have used automated estimating systems for years and now promote themselves as one-stop-shops for all types of printed documents, graphics, and signs.
Don’t Limit Your Options
If the estimating software you choose is designed exclusively for signage, you may be limiting your ability to diversify and compete.
For example, you may want to add a digital press to produce small runs of postcards, flyers, and other marketing collateral for the same companies that hire you produce signs, If your estimating program can only create estimates for sign projects, you would have to switch to print-focused estimating software to produce quotes for the other types of printed products. This can be a hassle, and will affect the speed at which you can get the quote to your customer.
What to Look For
Finding the right estimating and order management software for your sign shop can be more challenging than it might seem. Here are six key things to look for.:
Versatility: Choose software that enables you to quote jobs on a mix of printing and finishing equipment. For example, Ordant sign shop software was designed for use with a variety of printing processes, including wide-format printing, commercial offset, screen printing, and label printing.
Customization: Look for business management software that will be easy to customize. At some point, you will want to differentiate your business by offering services and products that set you apart from your competitors.
Scalability: As your sign shop grows and adds new technologies, your software should be able to grow too. And if you open new facilities for your sign business, you will need cloud-based software that authorized users can access from any location.
Error-Free Web-to-Print Integration: Many customers expect to be able to order signs and other products through an online portal. Instead of buying a separate web-to-print system, look for sign shop business software that enables you to set up online ordering. Your risk of errors rises if you your employees must re-enter job data that comes into your order-management system from a third-party web-to-print program.
Ease of Use: Choose software that’s easy enough for untrained operators to use. You will rely on your employees to keep the system updated with accurate cost and time data. But if the program is confusing or intimidating, employees may not want to deal with it.
Speed: When you promote the capabilities of new equipment and services, your sign shop may start processing a higher volume of requests for estimates every day. You will notice a significant difference in speed between sign shop software originally designed for older desktop systems and new cloud-based systems that capitalize on ongoing advances in computing technology.
The sign business you operate today will be very different three years from now. Most likely, you will be offering new types of products and services to a broader base of customers. And, you will face tough competition from companies that didn’t start out in the sign business.
Because you can’t be sure what your sign business might look like three years from now, it doesn’t make sense to set up sign shop software that only works with the types of signs your shop produces today.
Ordant’s easy-to-use cloud-based software can provide accurate estimates for almost any type of sign printing, installation, or vehicle-wrap project your company currently handles. Plus, it can be easily customized to handle quotes for many other types of jobs produced on wide-format printers, digital presses, screen-printing presses, and label printers. To learn more and schedule a demo of Ordant’s software and optional web-to-print module, visit http://ordant.com/sign-shop-software/.