Spike Stories: FASTSIGNS Kitchener Measures Faster With Spike’s Cloud Capability
After working his way up the corporate ladder as a charter accountant, Rob Richmond, owner of Kitchener, Ontario-based FASTSIGNS was ready to take his career in his own hands. Richmond wanted a career that gave him more control over his future, so he attended a regional franchise show where he saw a huge opportunity to own a sign shop. With FASTSIGNS’ help, Richmond launched his new business venture and has seen increased success each year.
“Signage is a great business,” Richmond says. “Every day and every project is different. Everyone needs signs. It’s not restricted to market segment, and it’s not seasonable. Business is renewable and repeatable.”
While Richmond is pleased with the direction of his business, the sign industry is a crowded market. Some shops deal with competition by dropping prices, but Richmond prefers to stand apart by focusing on service, he says. Of course, part of providing great service is responding quickly to quotes, so Richmond is always on the lookout for new ways to efficiently take care of his customers.
FASTSIGNS Kitchener-Waterloo operates a small three-person team and doesn’t have a bucket truck for taking those hard-to-reach measurements during the survey process. Instead, Richmond would have to either guesstimate the measurements or hire a subcontractor, which keeps him from processing estimates as quickly as he’d like and increases his costs, he says. However, that all changed when Richmond discovered Spike, a laser measurement solution for conducting signage site surveys and estimations.
With Spike, Richmond takes a photo of the signage space with the device and his iPhone. From that one photo, Richmond can capture all the necessary dimensions, he says. Richmond’s feet never have to leave the ground to capture measurements that were once out of reach or required an expensive bucket truck. With a more efficient business model, Richmond can now process estimates in a matter of minutes rather than days.
When it’s time to measure the Spike photo, Richmond could measure directly on his iPhone using the Spike app; however, he prefers to capture dimensions on his desktop using Spike’s cloud-based software, he says. This gives Richmond a larger screen with better visibility, so he can more easily and accurately measure a sign area.
“Initially, I took the measurements on my iPhone 5s,” Richmond says. “It was convenient because I always had it with me, but I had a harder time seeing the measurements on the screen. Now I just come back to the office, upload the photos to the Spike cloud, and I can get a better view of the measurements.”
Once Richmond takes the necessary measurements on the cloud, he exports and sends his designer two files: one image with the measurements and another without the measurements. This gives the designer everything she needs to properly scale the photo and create an on-site mock-up in her design software, which Richmond believes gives FASTSIGNS Kitchener-Waterloo an edge. Not only can Richmond use those images for permitting but he also believes it leaves the client with a good impression.
“By sending the measurements along with the graphic rendering, it adds a level of sophistication, and it gives you credibility,” Richmond says. “People have no perception of how big spaces are. A customer might look at sign and say it’s about 10 feet when it’s actually 16 feet.”
In the coming months, Richmond expects to hire another salesperson, and he believes Spike will significantly help with the training process. Teaching a new employee how to properly conduct a site survey can be complicated and requires lots of hands-on time in the field, Richmond says. However, Spike offers a simplified solution.
“We used to have to measure an object in the field, like a door, and then scale the building based on that measurement,” Richmond says. “It was less than perfect and hard to train someone on that method. Now my new employee can take a few pictures of the building, come back to the office, and I can show that employee how to get the measurements on the Spike cloud.”
FASTSIGNS Kitchener-Waterloo owns one Spike, but as the team grows, Richmond can see the shop adding another unit, he says. Spike paid its return on investment in only two months, which Richmond believes is well-worth the upfront cost.
“Spike makes life easier,” Richmond says. “It impacts my bottom line because I don’t have to hire a subcontractor for every survey, and I don’t have to wait two to three days to get out a quote. Spike helps me better run my business and provide that quick turnaround our customers expect.”
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