Spike Stories: Starfish Signs Sees Productivity Improvement With Spike
After a career in biochemical engineering, Mike Reilly was in search of a new business opportunity. Reilly looked at several small manufacturing businesses, he says, but ultimately decided to partner with Signworld, an organization that provides business support to a network of 290 sign businesses in the U.S. and Canada. With the backing of Signworld, Reilly launched Starfish Signs and Graphics, a full-service, custom sign, design and manufacturing company in San Clemente, California.
“We like the culture of the Signworld organization, and it seemed like a good fit for us when we were considering our options,” Reilly says. “Signworld is entrepreneurial with a focus on quality and professionalism. We get a lot of support from Signworld, but we also have flexibility in terms of how we operate and the products we sell.”
As part of Signworld’s support system, it hosts the annual Signworld Convention, where Signworld owners gather for training and a look at the industry’s newest innovations and products. At the 2015 event, Signworld introduced Spike, a laser measurement solution for conducting signage site surveys and estimations, to its owners, and Reilly immediately recognized how Spike could help his sign business work more efficiently, he says.
By simply taking a photo of a signage space with Spike and his iPad, Reilly can capture the entire area’s dimensions. All of the measurements are saved with the photo inside the Spike mobile app, and Reilly no longer has to bother with ladders or bucket trucks, he says.
“When we’re quoting projects, we’re in the proposal stage, so we don’t want to take truck lifts or ladders on-site,” Reilly says. “That requires a huge investment in time and money for a job we haven’t won yet. The combination of being able to get fast estimates that are pretty accurate allows us to get out more quotes with less effort.”
In the past, Reilly tried to avoid using ladders and bucket trucks for his site surveys by scaling a photo of the signage space; however, his former process lacked accuracy, he says. Reilly couldn’t correct for the two-dimensional photo’s distortion, but Spike’s laser rangefinder and alignment rectangle account for all angles.
Typically, Reilly uses Spike on signage projects that aren’t easily accessible, but he also often needs a building’s frontage dimensions. Reilly admits that he could get this measurement without bucket trucks or ladders. However, Reilly finds it more convenient and streamlined to store all measurements in one place with the Spike mobile app.
“Having a digital record helps with organization,” Reilly says. “For some jobs, our customers may not decide to move ahead for six or eight months. You won’t remember that information, and who knows where those handwritten notes will be by then. All we have to do is refer to our Spike photos, and we have all the information we need.”
After Reilly measures a signage space, he exports his Spike photos onto a network drive, where all other project information is saved. From that drive, the Starfish Signs design team can access the Spike files with the area’s dimensions.
This is especially helpful for his designers when they prepare reports for contract installations, Reilly says. Starfish Signs regularly works with national sign companies to install local retail signs. Reilly first conducts the site survey with Spike, and his designers then use the Spike photos with dimensions to create a report for the national sign company. The national sign company uses the report to build the sign, and Starfish Signs handles the installation. Although Spike is an estimation tool, Reilly says the measurements have been accurate enough for production.
“We include those Spike photos in our report back to the national sign company, and those measurements are what the sign company uses to fabricate the sign in a lot of cases,” Reilly says. “No one else goes on-site with a bucket truck and measures directly.”
Now that Starfish Signs has integrated Spike into its business process for the past year, Reilly finds that his shop has become more organized and productive. With Spike, Reilly can focus on turning over more estimates, which positions Starfish Signs for success.
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