SMC: What does your planning and design process involve?
CB: Quite often, our clients come to us with little to no idea about what they are looking for. We spend time with them, discussing their needs and brainstorming ideas to see how we can realize their vision. We have had clients in the past that wanted text the length of a novel on their vehicle. In such cases, I have had to explain to them vehicle wraps are like moving billboards; one has six seconds or less to read anything on it as they drive by, or 30 seconds if they are behind a vehicle at a traffic light.
I like to follow the ‘keep it simple, stupid’ (KISS) principle in my marketing strategy. Less is more. And it works!
The ideation process is followed by the design stage. We use CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator, and Photoshop to create the perfect design. Although all three platforms are not needed, the artboard in CorelDraw spans 45.7 m (150 ft), which makes it easy to create full-scale drawings. I still use vehicle outlines instead of some of the more realistic templates for design, simply due to the inaccuracies of the templates. That said, if our measurements do not match the templates, then they can easily be changed prior to creating the design.
SMC: How is technology changing your business?
CB: Technology has only helped our business. The advanced films and tools on the market make our jobs easier; we can produce more in a shorter period, and this greatly increases our revenue.
SMC: What is the key to staying successful in this industry?
CB: I take great pride in staying on top of the latest industry trends and encourage my employees to keep learning so we can provide the best to our clients.
The knowledge I have gained in the past 20 years—since I began my career as a designer and worked my way through to fabrication and installation—has helped me become the business owner I am today.
Most people get a degree in business, marketing, and sales and then learn the ropes. I was the exact opposite. I cut my teeth in the sign industry first, then took business courses to help me run the company properly.
SMC: What are the future plans for your business?
CB: I have plans to make Letterall Signs one of the largest companies in Winnipeg, focusing on vehicle wraps and large-format graphics. In the next couple of years, I would like to see us in a larger facility to accommodate the work we do.
SMC: How has the global pandemic affected your business? Are there any tips/best practices you can share to help industry professionals get through these difficult times?
CB: It has been a challenging year. We had eight employees last year, now we are down to three. Our sales started plummeting in the spring of 2020. We had to shift our marketing strategies to providing social distancing signage and decals.
Currently, Winnipeg is in a lockdown, so most of our clients are closed or providing curbside pickup; they are not ordering new graphics or signage. As a result, we have started offering many services, including colour change wraps and custom vehicle graphics, to personal retail instead of focusing solely on business-to-business (B2B) projects. When the world changes, so should your business.
SMC: Has your shop produced any COVID-19-related signage?
CB: When the coronavirus began spreading, we started producing all kinds of social distancing decals and signage. Now, we also fabricate counter shields, portable barriers, and screens.
The Outlet Collection Winnipeg (OCW) commissioned Letterall Signs to supply and install all of their floor decals, which included directional and distance markers, barriers for common seating areas, water-fountain covers, and table-top barriers for the food court, as well as curbside pickup signage. I am incredibly grateful to have the OCW as a client.