As we enter the New Year I thought we could discuss the dangers of purchasing signs online, and when it can be a good idea. I know, blasphemy, I said it could be a good idea! It is also very timely as we here at the shop have had the conversation a few times with customers about why we are different than the online sign website they were looking at. For a few customers we have even come to their rescue when what they ordered online was NOT what they thought they were getting. Sometimes a deal is too good to be true, and sometimes it is a great deal.
What are the major ways we are different than an online sign ordering company? (We can chat about the difference between us and someone doing signs out of their garage at a later date.)
1. Personal Service- We are all real live human beings who work here at ISC. Even our vendors are all people we know and have met in person at one point or another. We personally negotiate our pricing, we personally inspect all orders that are done via a vendor when they come into our shop and we work with you to make exactly what you envisioned in your head. Sometimes that is providing you exactly what you spec and sometimes involves walking your space, visiting your site or viewing your vehicle and making recommendations for longer lasting or more appropriate materials, colors, etc. We want to feel proud of what we produce and know that we have given our customers something they are proud of.
2. Mistakes Fixed - We all know mistakes happen. We are all human after all. When this happens we don't just say sorry that is what you approved, we work with you to develop a solution. Our mistake or yours, things get fixed. Based on my review of the main sites we find people bid us against if a sign comes to you not as you expect it, is damaged or there is a mistakes, it is very difficult, sometimes impossible, to get what you ordered fixed. Most sites do say if a sign is damaged when it arrives to you, you can contact their support via phone or email to discuss a solution. However these companies are not located here so you are looking at waiting more days for production, days for shipping etc. When we make a mistake or somehow something happens, we get you a remedy as soon as possible.
3. Quality Materials & Experienced Installation- While the weather in Oregon is mild, we don't usually have any major fluctuations, it can be brutal on signs & graphics. All weather poses a dilemma for signs, but with quality inks, quality sign substrates and top notch installers, we do everything in our power to ensure your investment lasts for the long haul. Lets talk about the sun first. The sun was the worlds first bleach and for signs that are meant to be bright and grab people's attention, give it a year or two and your sign is now dreary, faded and hard to read. Our machines run what is called a UV ink, it is made to last in the sun, it is also a green product that releases no VOC's and because it dries via a photomechanical process, never smears! Second the rain. The rain you wouldn't think is as bad as the sun, but when you have to install the sign into over-saturated ground, or you use a substrate that is Plywood or MDF, you will be running into serious issues with things rotting, decomposing, peeling and we have had signs straight up fall over because a windstorm was the last straw to break the signs back. We have handpicked all of the material we use in the shop, actually inspecting it prior to printing it. We don't just give you what is the cheapest.
4. Location Specific Knowledge - I was having a conversation this morning at a networking event about the absurdities of local codes, requirements and regulations. He is building a house on property and it has been a nightmare working with his city. I was telling him about some of the issues and crazyness we run into as well when installing mostly, but also with the production of signs. One of the local cities has a square foot maximum for any sign. It isn't some normal size such as 32SF but some random number like 12SF per development and 6SF per sign. What that means is if you throw up a 4'x8' sign, which most site signs are, the city could easily go by and take it down for breaking their code. And they do it, it isn't a threat. We have seen thousands of dollars lost when people don't follow codes or regulations. So when you work with us we make sure what we make for you is in line with the city's codes, is permitted correctly and installed to regulations. It is a shame to see money wasted for any reason.
5. Shop Local - Portland is home of Craft Brews, Craft Cider, Craft Coffee, local artists, designers and thousands of other locally famous stores & products, Blue Star anyone? So why should your sign experience be any different? We were started almost 20 years by my parents, Scott & Sandi Proctor, and are currently still owned & operated by them. Myself, my brother and nearly all our friends still work here, have worked here and we pride ourselves in being a pillar in the community. We support all the students who come to us for sponsorship's, we work directly with most of the local schools to help with their sponsor signs, we are heavily involved in Chambers, Industry Associations and creating a community we are proud of. Our employees are basically family now. None of us have been here less than four years and we know each well, and know our customers just as well.
So when to use online? There are times we steer people toward those online stores. The biggest determinate is how long do you need your signs to last? When you are looking for something very disposable and only being used for a short period of time, that is your best bet for price. If you are looking for something long term, something larger you don't want to self install or just want more personal experience I would contact your local sign company. (That's us!)
Have you ever bought from an online sign company? What was the experience like for you? I would love to chat about your experience and maybe take you on a walk through our shop to show you personally what makes Impact Sign Co. so unique.