Plaques and plates offer sign shops an incredible opportunity to meet the complete needs of their customers, serving as one-stop source for signage needs.
Don’t overlook the small stuff. Because it’s in the small stuff that sign shops can discover new sources of revenue.
Take a hotel, for example. Many hotel customers will contact a local sign shop for an interior laminate sign or an exterior illuminated sign. But don’t forget, a hotel or motel also will need wayfinding signage, room numbers, counter signage, fire escape signage, maps, name badges, honorific memorials, or even menus with metal inserts. Customers who desire to elevate their brand and foster a professional look and feel should consider metal plaques for these applications.
Hotels aren’t the only businesses that need a wide variety of small plaques and plates. All kinds of businesses need this kind of signage -- sports stadiums, educational facilities, auditoriums, grocery stores, funeral homes, local public facilities, hospitals and schools, retail stores, and more are all looking for ways to build a cohesive brand through timeless signage.
“Having the ability to meet all of these needs for your customer solidifies your position as a one-stop shop, and a reliable, all-encompassing source for your customer’s diverse needs,” said Chris Duerkop, Senior Product Manager at Gemini, a leader in the signage industry with more than 60 years of manufacturing experience. “Introducing metal plaques to a sign shop’s business plan is about differentiating yourself from your competitors by expanding the number of items you can quote on a project, leading to more sales.”
“Companies want to have that consistency across touchpoints when it comes to using the same material and design for their various signage, or non-signage, plaque needs,” said Karen Guzman, Associate Product Manager at Gemini. “They need us to help them build a cohesive, professional brand, to solidify that strong first impression that has a significant impact on how a customer views their business.”
Given all the advantages of metal plaques and plates, sign shops should not overlook them as a way to bring in more business, diversify their customer base, and better serve their customers. To help sign shops tune into the infinite possibilities of plaques and plates, the experts at Gemini Signage offer the following tips:
Inquire About Environmental Conditions – Saltwater, humidity, dry air, wind – all of these environmental factors will affect which material and lacquer will be most appropriate for your plaque or plate.
“When it comes to recommending material, the very first question we ask a customer is inquiring about their geographical environment,” said Guzman. “If a customer is in the southern U.S. or on the coast, the high levels of saltwater and humidity will interact with both the base material and the lacquer finish in different ways. For example, if we know a sign will hang outdoors, we do not recommend using sublimation for printing.”
Don’t let this obstacle discourage you or your end-user– acknowledging practical factors that will affect the sign’s final appearance will allow you to provide a final product that exceeds your client’s expectations.
Consider the Weight of the Materials – One of the most superior qualities of metal plaques and plates is their ability to stand the test of time, both in terms of style and material durability. The last thing you want to happen is to have a customer’s sign come crashing to the ground after installation because the weight of the material was not taken into consideration.
“Many customers lean towards bronze because it’s classic, shiny, and looks great. But bronze is heavy, and will likely put a lot of strain on a wall,” noted Duerkop. “When customers run into this issue, I recommend aluminum or a thin gauge material for a lighter option that won’t sacrifice the aesthetics of the sign.”
Don’t Make Assumptions – Because metal gives off a naturally expensive essence, customers often assume that it costs much more to produce than other materials, such as plastic. Duerkop and Guzman note that this isn’t always the case.
“At Gemini, our variety of manufacturing processes and material options allow us to meet almost any project budget, from a $10 dollar plate to a $4,000 cast plaque,” said Guzman. “We have a solution to fit your need.”
“In some instances, a metal plate or plaque will actually be much less expensive to produce than plastic and will have a much higher perceived value,” added Guzman. “Within this medium, we can accommodate a wide range of customers’ budgets, something they might be unaware of at first.”
Consider Level of Engagement with the Sign – Will people be physically interacting with your customer’s sign? Many signs, such as those for gift shops, fitness centers, restrooms, or office spaces, must include a braille translation in order to meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards for compliance. This means that the sign will be physically touched, potentially causing some wear and tear. Don’t fret. According to Duerkop, there is an easy solution for this.
"Using machined metal plaques for ADA signage offers greater durability than plastic signs in those high-traffic areas,” said Duerkop. “And the braille is machined directly into the metal, meaning there's no opportunity for them to break or fall off like they sometimes do when braille is inserted as a secondary process."
Expand Your Offerings – Between aluminum, thin-gauge metal, bronze, and the various imprinting processes, there is an abundance of materials that can be used in the realm of metal signage. Make sure when a customer comes to you with a certain material or look in mind, you have the means to provide what they need.
“Sign shops sometimes come to Gemini who have limited capabilities themselves, or they're only quoting a portion of their customer’s job,” said Duerkop. “Every time you don’t have the resources to meet your customer’s demands, you’re losing business. Providing thin gauge metal, for example, dramatically broadens the number of options that sign shops can quote.”
Bonus Tip: Are you lacking the resources to make this happen, or just plain nervous to make the leap? Just ask for help. Gemini specialists are here to guide you through and connect you to ways to expand your offerings as a business.
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