As your large format printing business grows, it is hard to say no to new projects that bring in more opportunities and revenue, resulting in an increasing workload for your installation team and limited capacities to deliver results of the best quality.
Doing more with less — such a common mantra, but an everyday reality for many wide-format print businesses that have to successfully maintain their profit margin. Installation project managers regularly struggle with a lack of available installers since their schedules are already overloaded with jobs with tight deadlines. And while large format printing can be picked up fairly quickly, sign and graphics installation is a tedious and labour intensive process.
COVID-19 has also majorly affected the wide-format industry forcing many companies in the printing industry to downsize and reduce the number of installers on their books to maintain their financial resilience in the short term. As a result, once the economy started to gain momentum in 2021, large format print shops now have to manage the growing number of signage and graphics installation requests with the same team resources not being able yet to expand their team of signage installers.
Here are five tips to help you handle more graphics installation requests when your team is not ready to grow.
Upskill your team to handle signage and graphics installations
A fast-paced economy and new opportunities are disrupting jobs and the skills employees need to be able to do them. Upskilling your current employees is an option that will make your company more resilient to any future changes. By introducing upskilling as a learning initiative to acquire the necessary skills for installing architectural signage or wall vinyl, your team members will be prepared to move to a new position or step in should the need arise, giving your business greater flexibility.
In this case, consider what skills your employees might need to ensure vinyl graphics installations are completed to a high standard and on time. Focussing on staff development will also help you identify skills gaps and ease future recruitment and professional development decisions.
Working with subcontractors can give a massive boost to your large format printing business, as well as more flexibility and cost-saving opportunities than if you were to hire new, permanent employees. There are industry-specific sources available to search for freelancers and subcontracting companies, such as Signage Installations Directory.
And to fully benefit from the power of freelance collaboration, installation managers need to find new contacts and know how to build long-term partnerships with reliable graphics installers. There are several steps you can take to build a robust network of freelance installers and sub-contractors. For our tips on how to do this, check out one of our recent articles about outsourcing to sub-contractor companies who have their own teams of signage installers.
Understand your team’s workload and capacity
Firstly, check in with your team members to clarify their knowledge and skills. You will see whether their time is being spent on the tasks that ultimately contribute to your team’s current goals and if their workload matches their capacity — some might be overstretched while others could be doing more. Also, make sure that your team understands the business’ goals and how their efforts contribute to these goals.
Your next step is to plan the workload of each employee smartly. But instead of only relying on your memory and messy spreadsheets, use a unified scheduling tool to track your installation team’s capacity. There are tools exclusively designed for the specifics of signage and graphics installation projects. Using such a tool will not only boost productivity for your team but also for you as with its help, you will stay organised, prepare a new job in seconds and easily avoid scheduling conflicts.
Invest in equipment
Investments in new equipment can help you keep up with the competition because if you don’t upgrade your printing and installation equipment now, someone else will, and you will risk falling behind in today’s competitive economy. For example, clients from the retail industry always strive to surprise and delight every customer who walks through their door. So the more innovative your retail graphic installation services are, the better you’ll be able to support them.
Importantly, it also helps you stimulate your company’s growth. With more advanced equipment, you will get more printed in the same amount of time and handle more requests easier. You will increase efficiency among your team, boost the quality and quantity of your printed graphics installation, and satisfy more customers.
Implement installation management software to do more with less
Automation is a powerful tool to save time at work so that you can focus on things that matter. There are solutions available to help you automate the administrative work you and your team repeat throughout the day — from workflow management software to artificial intelligence programs.
For example, Vism is specially designed for signage & graphics installation project management. You can allocate jobs to all your teams in one easy view and fix any scheduling conflicts before they happen. You can also store all the documents related to each printed graphics installation in one place, no matter the file format or size, and share the information that your in-house team, sub-contractors and freelance installers need. And most importantly, no manual data sharing means less room for errors and more time to win new deals.
Set your large format printing business up for success
An increasing workload plays an important role in your company’s growth, but you have to know how to effectively manage your team and projects with less to achieve more. And once you are ready, grow your team.