Spike Stories: How FASTSIGNS Manchester Manages Historic Architecture

Ark canal
Because of the canal and wall in front of this sign, Nicky Metcalfe couldn’t access the building to take measurements. Instead, she stood back with her Spike and captured the measurements she needed.

Take a stroll down the streets of Manchester, England, and you’ll find a cityscape that reflects its rich history. Filled with old textile mills, warehouses and canals from its boom during the Industrial Revolution, Manchester is known for its varied 19th– and early 20th-century architecture. However, like any modern city, some of those old buildings are giving way to new construction as the area continues to develop. Given the varied architecture, balancing the city’s contrasting looks is key to creating an effective sign, says Nicky Metcalfe, business development manager at FASTSIGNS Manchester, a full-service sign and digital graphic company.

“In Manchester, you’ll have an old library from the 1900s literally next to a big glass bank that was just constructed,” Metcalfe says. “You have to find a way to promote the new business, but you don’t want to lose the visual impact of that building. You have to find a balance.”

While this mix of historic buildings and new, modern construction gives Manchester its eclectic look, this can cause problems when capturing measurements during the initial site survey, Metcalfe says. If a building is protected by the Heritage Commission, areas of the space could have certain restrictions. For example, a specific area of a wall may not allow drilling or a covering. Metcalfe can’t simply take a measurement and assume she has the complete area for a sign; she must mindful of what’s allowed in the area.

Besides the buildings’ historic backgrounds, the physical process of measuring the space is difficult in Manchester because of the city’s congested and irregular layout. Unlike new cities, Manchester’s Industrial Revolution boom forced the city to construct compact buildings and streets to accommodate the large population swing.

“We don’t have a grid system like you do in the U.S.,” Metcalfe says. “In terms of viewing angles for signs, accessing sign locations and using cherry pickers, it can become a lot more complicated because our streets just aren’t laid out as uniformly as they tend to be in the States. That’s something we always have to take into consideration.”

Nicky Metcalfe, pictured on the left, stopped by the ikeGPS booth to share her Spike love at the FASTSIGNS Outside Sales Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Capturing an accurate estimate is especially challenging when measuring large buildings in Manchester, Metcalfe says. Using a traditional tape measure, Metcalfe has to spread it several times just to cover an area, which leaves a wide margin for error. Without an accurate way to create an estimate, Metcalfe always warns clients that the estimate is subject to change upon the final site survey, which is not ideal from either the supplier’s or customer’s perspective.

As a forward-thinking company, FASTSIGNS Manchester is always on the lookout for new products and technologies that make life easier, Metcalfe says. When the FASTSIGNS Manchester team got word of Spike through a franchise email, the team took immediate interest. Spike, a laser measurement solution for creating signage site surveys and estimations, allows FASTSIGNS Manchester to capture a building’s dimensions from a smartphone or tablet picture. FASTSIGNS Manchester can then send the measurements to other team members or upload the file to Spike’s cloud-based tool.

Since adopting Spike into FASTSIGNS Manchester’s site survey and estimation processes, Metcalfe has seen a noticeable reduction in the time it takes to send quotes to customers. Rather than conducting multiple measurements with a tape measure or counting bricks to ensure accuracy, Metcalfe simply stands back and takes the photos she needs. Even if Metcalfe needs to assess a building on a busy street, in a tight space or across from a canal, Spike meets her measurement needs. With this faster turnaround time, Metcalfe finds that she has an advantage over her competitors in an industry that demands speed.

“I can get out surveys and the quote to the customer by the time the competition went to the site to survey the job,” Metcalfe says. “Being able to export and share the Spike files gives me that extra edge against my competitors, as well. I can show my designer the photos with the measurements, so our team can immediately get started on the next step.”

Of course, portraying a professional image is just as important as fast turnarounds when it comes to business success, and Metcalfe finds Spike does just that. In fact, the Imperial War Museum North recently hired FASTSIGNS Manchester to help with its new exhibitions.

When Metcalfe came on-site to take measurements, she showed the exhibitions coordinator Spike and says she was amazed at its capabilities. Having that cutting-edge technology instantly made Metcalfe look a step above her competitors and helped her complete the measurements at a faster rate.

Between FASTSIGNS Manchester’s increased speed and more professional image, Spike has gone a long way in helping the sign shop turn heads in the community. Spike gives FASTSIGNS Manchester the efficiency it needs to stand out from competitors, which means gaining more clients and improving business success.

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