Design-Build Signage Leaves Nothing to Chance

Building owners and their architects sorely need a qualified ‘GC of signage,’ an experienced Design-Build signage company that can cost-effectively manage design, planning and implementation of a successful signage program. An effective ‘GC of signage’ establishes clear communications between all parties, and builds liaisons with all owner representatives.  As such, the need for extraneous consultants is eliminated, resulting in substantial cost savings, more accurate project management and much-improved delivery time.

When overall responsibility for signage is placed with one qualified Design-Build company, nothing is left to chance, as all terms and conditions are part of an outcome-specific, contractual agreement–signed up-front–where the objective is to develop and deliver a comprehensive signage program that is responsive to:

  • Local site conditions
  • Building architecture
  • Way-finding needs
  • Applicable codes
  • Desired image
  • And, importantly, budget constraints.

The Design-Build process includes fabrication details of all product selections, graphics elements, installation maps and a reorder manual. Design elements, including sign materials, sizes, shapes, colors, letter-styles, and graphics, are determined during the planning process, in cooperation with the owner / architect. Finally, to furnish financially responsive budgets for all included signage, exact production and installation costs are established before manufacturing begins. The client is updated regularly on progress via on-line Gantt charts, so the need for costly face-to-face meetings is held to a minimum.

ASI Signage Innovations has provided Design-Build solutions for more than 50-years and is able to assure its clients that their projects will be completed on time, as specified, and within budget. As a consequence, more and more building owners and their architects are choosing to negotiate their signage directly with ASI on a Design-Build basis.  No one wants signage, which is critical to obtaining a timely certificate of occupancy, to be left to the last minute.

Peter Rasmussen :   peter.rasmussen@asisignage.com

A New Image for New York’s State Accessibility Code

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ASI, Buffalo  updated the network regarding an important change to the state of New York’s accessibility code. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed new legislation in July 2014 that took effect this past November 2014, requiring that new and replacement signage must include a new version of the ISA accessibility symbol and ensure that the word “accessible” is used instead of “handicapped”.Both changes were implemented to help eliminate the negative stigma that may come with an image of an immobile wheelchair or the word “handicapped”. Click here for an article that displays the new symbol. We see that the new symbol depicts a disabled individual who is active and moving forward, a very action-based and positive image. The word “handicapped” was coined at a time when many people with disabilities literally held their caps out in their hands to beg for money, so needless to say it’s a very outdated and negative term.

This is a great example of how states and local governments use the federal ADA requirements as a baseline for their accessibility codes, while they have the ability to go above-and-beyond and enhance their codes, as New York has done in this case. New York, a recognized leader for fighting discrimination and protecting its citizens including disabled individuals, has set a fascinating precedent, making it somewhat easier for other states and local governments to follow with similar changes in the near future. This story is worth monitoring and will undoubtedly evolve further.

The other takeaway here is that these changes are extremely consistent with why the ADA was created in the first place. The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law 24 years ago to ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to fully participate in society without discrimination, and to be viewed as productive and active individuals. And always moving forward.

The Relatively Brief Yet Impactful Evolution of Wayfinding

This year, ASI celebrates its 50th anniversary, and one of our numerous core competencies throughout the years has been our wayfinding capabilities. Ok, I know that I just stated two obvious facts that you are aware of, but did you know that the term wayfinding was actually coined in 1960, just five years prior to the birth of ASI? It seems like a term that would have been around for much longer than just the past 55 years, and given this piece of information, it wouldn’t be wrong to conclude that the methodology of wayfinding is still in its infancy relative to the rich history of architectural design that has existed for thousands of years. In fact, many dictionaries still don’t recognize wayfinding as a word. Try typing wayfinding into MS Word or even into an email and see if it passes the application’s spell-checker.

 

Kevin Lynch, an American urban planner and author, gets credit for coining the term wayfinding in his book The Image of the City (1960). Mr. Lynch, who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright and received his Bachelor’s Degree in City Planning from MIT in 1947, wrote The Image of the City to present his findings from five year study of how users perceive and organize spatial information as they navigate through cities. The three cities that he studied for his book were Boston, Jersey City and Los Angeles. Kevin Lynch concluded that as individuals made their way through a city to a destination, they formed a cognitive map (or mental map) using five elements:

* Paths: Streets and sidewalks
* Edges: Perceived boundaries including walls and buildings
* Districts: Distinguishable large sections of a city
* Nodes: Focal points and intersections
* Landmarks: Readily identifiable objects used as reference points

Experts within the Architecture and Design community built on Lynch’s research with emphasis on defining wayfinding within the context of the building itself. Paul Arthur was a self-taught designer who became a Fellow and Founding member of SEGD, and he is often credited with coining the termsignage in the early 1960’s. Again, the time frame is a bit surprising and very close to when our company was established. However, the coining of the term signage came with some confusion as many architects and designers would assume that placing signs in a building equaled a wayfinding solution, which is not the case. Signage is a very important part of a wayfinding solution, but there’s so much more that goes into a wayfinding solution, and signage is what pulls the solution together.

Paul Arthur teamed with Romedi Passini, an architect and environmental psychologist, to write the book Wayfinding: People, Signs, and Architecture (1992). It was their attempt to fine-tune the definition of wayfinding, explaining that wayfinding is a spatial problem solving process. They explained that wayfinding is a two-part process. The first part involves mentally forming an action plan using one’s spacial orientation and various pieces of information about the building, and the second part involves implementing the action plan, moving toward the destination, and evaluating how well the building’s architecture and signage helped in guiding the user to their destination.

The definition of wayfinding has come a long way in 55 years, but 55 years means that this methodology is still in its relative infancy, with plenty of room for improvement based on examples of poor wayfinding that we regularly see. Wayfinding will undoubtedly take advantage of new technologies just as we’ve seen with new static and digital signage technologies. It’s interesting that our company began around the same time that the concepts of wayfinding and signage were introduced, and perhaps even more impressive is that over the decades we have developed a reputation as an industry leader in both areas, with the goal of continuing to lead the way for decades to come.

Questions? Contact andy.levine@asisignage.com

Buffalo, NY Buried in Snow – ASI, Buffalo Spared

This screen shot Is of a sign Installed by ASI, Buffalo weathering last week's blizzard - It is not a link to the video.

This screen shot Is of a sign Installed by ASI, Buffalo weathering last week’s blizzard – The Video link doesn’t work.

 

Thanks to all who have expressed concern about the impact of last week’s terrible blizzard on ASI’s team members in Buffalo, New York. Andy Bernatovicz, who is the ASI affiliate in Western New York State reports that the ASI, Buffalo office and manufacturing facility is located in an area outside of the ten-mile wide area near Lake Erie known as “The Knife,” which had up to seven feet of snow dumped on it. Andy reports that just a few inches of snow fell by ASI, Buffalo. However, he was quick to add that the people who were hit were buried in snow and they are still digging out.

Andy shared this screen shot taken from a CNN news story of the storm that was aired on a Buffalo TV station. The screen shot is of a sign from an ASI, Buffalo project that was buried in snow. Andy is most appreciative of everybody’s concern and well wishes for his team. He remains concerned for the well being of others in the Buffalo area that did not fare as well.

 

John Selig
Marketing Manager

Building Your Brand with Solar Signage

womans-hospital-solar-sign-day

 

womans-hospital-solar-sign-night

 

Brands gain prestige when they reduce their dependence on energy sources that release greenhouse gas emissions. Our last blog post discussed the exponential growth of solar energy as a renewable power source and the viability for its use in the United States. This post explores how solar energy can be harnessed to power your exterior signage. One of the first brand images that people see as they approach your facility is your exterior signage. Therefore, solar signs provide an ideal opportunity to showcase your organization’s dedication to reduce your carbon footprint.  Your green commitment builds your brand beyond your organization’s main business or function.

Benefits Provided By Solar Signage

Besides conserving energy and not having to pay for electricty to power the signs there are a number of benefits that solar signs provide. In areas surrounding your facility that do not have ready sources of electrical power, using solar signage can eliminate trenching costs. Running electrical lines a distance from your electrical power source requires digging as well as laying and burying the lines, which can be very expensive. Selecting solar signage also reduces the disturbance to traffic and pedestrians brought about by trenching. Solar signage provides an opportunity to place multiple signs around your facility in locations that would not otherwise be easy to power.

In addition to aiding wayfinding and branding, solar signage, when used where it is too costly to trench and run electrical power, adds more ambient lighting. People are naturally attracted to well-lighted facilities. Ambient light enhances safety. It results in safer walkways, safer driveways and safer parking lots. Ambient light also makes streets, driveways and parking lots safer to navigate for motorists who do not see as well at night.

The primary benefits of solar signage include:

  • Supports Sustainability Initiatives
  • Valuable Brand Enhancement
  • Operating and Financial Advantages
    • No Monthly electricity costs
    • Rapid Return on Investment (ROI)
    • Often Less Expensive to Install than Conventional Illuminated Signs
    • Low Voltage / Reduced Liability
    • Offset CO2 Emissions – Green Products
    • Immune to Power Outages

The new “look” of solar is quite different from the old image of ginormous photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. Much smaller PV solar panels are now used and they can be faced in different directions from the signs themselves so that signs can face in any direction. Solar panels must be located in areas that receive direct sunlight. Solar signs can include large monument or monolith signs, directories with or without maps and signs on buildings. Solar signs can share important emergency preparedness and evacuation information. Solar signs have the added benefit of remaining lighted even when the power grid goes down. Weather events such as bad storms and hurricanes can result in blackouts lasting for hours and sometimes days.

Solar Sign Components

Today’s solar signs are composed of a variety of components. Most obvious are photovoltaic panels, which collect the radiance from the sun and convert it to electricity, batteries, which store the electricity, and LED strips, which light the signs. The brain of solar signs, the power management system, is not as obvious. The power management system is key as it enables the solar sign to adapt to an ever-changing environment. The power management system is essentially a computer inside the solar sign. Power management systems solve challenges including:

  • Seasonal Variances – the amount and length of sunlight changes throughout the year
  • Environmental Variances – every day isn’t sunny
  • Directional Variances – signs aren’t always facing south, shade may vary as well as reflections from buildings and traffic headlights
  • User Requirements – signs are typically lighted seven days a week but the hours may change on different days and at different times of the year

Power management systems are run by software that takes into account all these variables and accounts for contingencies so that solar signage is dependable. Power management systems can be programmed with over forty years of local data to make sure that signs will remain lighted.

Solar signage is durable with batteries, LED strips, PV panels and power management systems designed to last many years. LED light panels typically last fifteen years or longer and PV panels are normally warrantied for twenty-five years.

Tax Credits and Rebates

Checkout DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency). It provides information on available federal tax credits, state rebates and utility rebates. There is money out there for use solely on green applications and this website provides useful information to help figure out how you may be able to offset some of the solar signage costs.

Solar signage is a ”no-brainer” when an electric power source isn’t located nearby. Solar signs are an excellent option in many locations to both convey messages and to promote your brand’s green commitment. Once installed solar signs eliminate all energy costs while being dependable in the event of power outages.

 

John Selig
Marketing Manager

Solar Energy Growth Builds Case for Solar Signage

Solar Energy

 

With the exponential growth of solar energy as a renewable power source the use of solar signage makes a great addition to an organization’s green plan. The high visibility of solar signage aligns your brand with environmental responsibility. This post focuses on the viability and growth of solar energy. The next post will examine exterior signage powered by solar energy.

Solar Energy Dwarfs All Other Sources

Solar energy continues to be the single largest energy source that is the most dependable, the most predictable and the most abundant. Solar energy dwarfs all other sources in comparison with both renewable and non-renewable sources (including total reserves of all the fossil fuels on earth).

 

Annual Global Energy Sources

(Terawatt Hours)

Source

Terawatt Hours

Direct Solar Radiation

350,000,000

Wind

200,000

Ocean / Thermal

100,000

Biofuels

50,000

Tidal / Wave

5,000

1 terawatt hour equals 1 billion kilowatt hours

.

Total Global Non-Renewable Energy Resources

(Terawatt Hours)

Source

Terawatt Hours

Coal

6,000,000

Natural Gas

1,500,000

Uranium 235

1,500,000

Oil

1,000,000

Tar Sands

800,000

Total

10,800,000

1 terawatt hour equals 1 billion kilowatt hours

Source of above data – SunCell by Christopher C Swan, updated by Steve Heckeroth

 

In just a single year more than 32 times as much direct solar radiation, in terms of terawatt hours, reaches the earth than the terawatt hour value of all global non-renewable energy resources combined. Clearly, solar energy will be a key element in future energy supply solutions for the United States.

Rapid Growth in Use of Solar Energy in U.S.

Supply is one side of the equation but what about technology and consumption? In 2008, the U.S. was in the top 10 nations as far as solar energy consumption is concerned but we were towards the bottom of the list. Questions were being asked about solar as to whether solar radiation was as good a source as wind, biofuel, geothermal and tidal and wave alternatives. Some emerging technologies like tidal and wave advances seemed more applicable and appropriate.

Up until 2012 Germany was the single largest adapter of solar energy. This in itself is remarkable because in examining solar coverage viability, Germany is like the state of Alaska in terms of the amount of sunlight coverage. Statistics reported earlier this year show that 39% of Germany’s power consumption was being powered by solar energy.

For the year 2013 the United States grew to become one of the top 3 leaders in the global share of new solar installations. China was in first place, followed by Japan and then the United States. Germany had fallen to 4th place. China remains the leader especially in the use of solar energy for production and manufacturing. China produces approximately 60% of the world’s photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.

In 2013 global cumulative PV capacity increased by 37 gigawatts to a total of 135 gigawatts, an increase in production capacity of over 37% in just one year.

How well suited is the United States to capturing direct solar radiation considering how the amount of sunlight available is impacted by weather, seasonality, the angle of the sun, etc.? The good news is that the U.S. is in extraordinary shape to make use of solar energy. In fact, other than Alaska and the northwest tip of the state of Washington, the rest of the U.S. is far better suited to the capturing of solar energy than Germany. Solar is viable not only in the Sun Belt states but throughout the rest of the country including the Northeast, the Midwest, the Plains states and the West.

In terms of new electricity generation capacity in the U.S., between 2012 and 2013 the amount of new power produced by solar nearly tripled in one year. In 2012 solar represented 10% of the new electrical generation capability in service. In 2013 solar had jumped to 29%.

Statistics provided by the Solar Energy Industry Association for the year ending December 31, 2013 are rather astounding:

  • U.S. solar market grew to $13.7 billion in 2013
  • There are nearly 143,000 solar workers in the U.S., a 13.2% increase from 2011 to 2013
  • The U.S. installed 4.75 gigawatts (GW) of new PV installations in 2013, up 41% over 2012 and nearly 15 times the amount installed in 2008 (just 5 years earlier)
  • Total cumulative PV capacity in the U.S. is now at 12.1 GW (capacity was at only 3.9 GW at the end of 2011)
  • There were 140,000 new solar installations in the U.S. in 2013, with 440,000 systems operating at the beginning of 2014
  • More solar has been installed in the past 18 months than in the prior 30 years (mid 2012-2013)
  • An additional 6 GW of new PV installations have been forecasted for 2014
  • The 30% Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has been extended through the end of 2016
  • The average PV system price fell by 15% in 2013

Obviously, the outlook for the use of solar energy is rosy and incorporating it as an energy resource throughout the U.S. is only going to become more attractive. My next post will share how solar energy can be used to power your exterior signage.

 

John Selig
Marketing Manager

Signage Is a Vital Component of Customer Service

Customer Service Directional Signs Edited 092914

 

Customer Service is being emphasized by a growing legion of businesses and organizations. Making certain that the interaction between organizations and their stakeholders has become keenly focused on providing the best experience possible. Customer service training programs abound, as do employer incentives rewarding positive results.

Customers Often Disappointed by Service

Certain industries are perceived as being especially challenged when it comes to service. The travel, utility, insurance and telecommunications industries, amongst others, are often cited as being unresponsive to customer concerns. Today many organizations have customer service representatives available to address customer issues. However, it has become nearly impossible to reach management who can address policy issues. Good luck finding phone numbers and email addresses for management in most organizations.

Several years ago a musician, whose guitar was damaged by baggage handlers, recorded three music videos complaining about the company that broke his guitar refusing to take responsibility for the damage they caused. The musician had been in contact with the company for nine months and they refused to take ownership of the problem. YouTube viewership of the first video shot into the millions in just a matter of days. Bad service has become so rampant that many people lived vicariously through the musician’s ability to stand up to the company’s unwillingness to accept responsibility.

Many organizations have implemented programs focusing on improving customer service. Unfortunately, training corporate staff on the importance of customer service has too often resulted in programs more concerned with their employees than the customers they serve. Programs that seem well intentioned at the corporate level can fall short when improperly implemented in the field.

The Misuse of Customer Surveys

The customer survey is one popular tool that can be misused. Surveys are often presented with the bill at restaurants. It has become the norm to also receive surveys after speaking with a tech support representative, having your car serviced, staying in a hotel, making a major purchase or even after a visit to the dentist. Receipts from grocery stores, home improvement stores and pharmacies invite patrons to complete an online survey. When customer surveys were first introduced they seemed innovative. But when one is asked to complete a survey every time one eats at a restaurant, speaks with tech support, visits a grocery store, pharmacy or other retail establishment customers may feel that the survey is nothing more than window dressing.

Not long ago I had my car repaired. Soon after the work was completed I received a call from the dealership asking about my satisfaction with the repairs. A few days later I received an email from the dealer asking me to complete an online survey followed a week or two later by another email and survey from the car manufacturer. What at first seemed like concern began to feel like harassment.

On a recent business trip the hotel clerk at the check-in counter accosted several colleagues and me. After completing our registrations and handing us our room key cards the clerk informed us that after our stay at the hotel we would receive surveys. He asked us to complete the surveys and added that the hotel staff would get in trouble if they received anything less than a 10 out of 10 on every question. One member of our party commented the next day that they had heard similar comments at breakfast. Apparently it was our responsibility as hotel guests to make sure that the hotel received perfect scores. The sentiment behind the survey was admirable. However, the implementation of the hotel chain’s focus on customer service became more about the welfare of the hotel’s employees than the service provided to guests.

Signage is Vital Component of Customer Service

What impact does signage have on service? When you think about it, signage is a vital component of customer service. When visitors, customers, patients, students, suppliers and even staff are in a facility (or a section of a facility) for the first time and they have to get from Point A to Point B they are often disoriented, short on time and on-edge. When the facility’s signage is attractive, easy to read and placed in the right locations it reduces the stress felt by those navigating to their destinations. Including a wayfinding plan produced by signage professionals as part of your signage program is every bit as important as your choice of signage.

Concentrating on the sign design and content is essential  but it is not enough. By focusing on the navigational needs of those visiting your facility people will be able to expend their energy on what it is they are wanting to accomplish while in your facility and not on worrying how they are going to get to where it is they need to go. Furthermore, folks will be able to find their way without having to interrupt your employees in the building for directions. Customer service takes many forms. Genuine customer service is always appreciated.

To learn more about the benefits of wayfinding download our Wayfinding Whitepaper.

 

John Selig
Marketing Manager

ADA Signage: Intent Is Just as Important as the Letter-of-the-Law

ada-venus-dealertrack-4033

 

Over the years we’ve received many good questions regarding the ADA and signage, particularly with respect to aspects of ADA signage that are not well defined within the ADA, and in some cases not defined at all. In these cases we must still make a responsible interpretation, largely based on the intent of the ADA Standards.

Defendant Didn’t Violate Law But Department of Justice Sided with Plaintiff

Here’s a great recent example, albeit not specific to signage, in which the Department of Justice sided with the plaintiff even though it appeared that the defendant did not directly violate the law:

In January 2014, a blind individual attempted to purchase items using his debit card at a Lucky Brand Jeans store in Miami, Florida.  Most Lucky Brand Jeans stores have POS devices featuring touch screens only, so the devices have no tactile/Braille keys whatsoever.  A blind individual has no choice but to give their PIN number to a third party to enter into the POS device, or simply not use the debit card and submit another form of payment. The blind individual states that Lucky Brand Jeans has violated the ADA by failing to provide him and other blind individuals with the means to independently purchase items using a debit card, including POS devices with tactile key pads.

Lucky Brand Jeans made two interesting arguments against this claim that are not entirely unreasonable. First, they noted that the ADA does not have a specific requirement for POS devices to include tactile key pads. Second, Lucky Brand noted that since blind individuals can purchase items using cash, credit, or by processing their debit card as a credit card, there was no discrimination under the ADA. Ultimately, Lucky Brand’s arguments were not very strong, demonstrating that they did not consider the true intent of the ADA. With both of their arguments they implied that they were willing to live with blind customers not being able to purchase using debit cards.

The DOJ Was Not So Willing

Although POS devices are indeed not addressed in the ADA, an entity conducting a commercial transaction or public accommodation has the responsibility under the ADA to provide effective communication, in this case effective communication that would allow a blind or sight impaired person to interact with a POS device during a debit card transaction, and certainly without having to divulge their PIN to another party, which no one should ever have to do. Effective communication can include special devices that enable access and protect privacy at the same time, and which Lucky Brand Jeans did not provide. The argument for using other payment options didn’t fly with the DOJ either, as debit cards operate differently than credit cards and provide certain benefits over credit cards, so denying that as an option to some people and not others is a bad idea. And what if the customer only has a debit card as a method of payment? The DOJ determined that denying an individual the right to pay for goods with his debit card, when debit cards may be used by other customers, is in fact discriminatory. As of April 2014, the DOJ validated the plaintiff’s claim and will move forward with litigation. The likely outcome is that Lucky Brand will be directed to make the necessary modifications to their POS devices.

Viewing Letter-of-the-Law Not Enough with Ada Signage

Related to signage, we’ve seen the same types of scenarios in which viewing only the letter-of-the-law is not enough. Digital signage is a great example of this lesson. If you search the entire ADA for “Digital Signage” or even “Electronic Signage”, you will find zero results. Nothing. So, digital signage is exempt from the ADA, right? As is the case with POS devices, digital signage is still impacted by the intent of the ADA. First, the “Protruding Objects” section of the ADA also applies to wall-mounted digital displays, such that the digital sign cannot project out from a wall’s surface more than four inches. And second, “Reach Ranges” ensures that wheelchair-bound individuals can access the interactive functions on any wall-mounted operable device, which includes digital displays.

Who would have thought that the Lucky Brand Jeans case was primarily about accessibility to effective communication when it initially appeared to simply be a POS device issue? When reviewing these types of issues, the Department of Justice will always consider if the intent of the ADA was violated. Was an individual denied access to (not limited to) communication, employment, public buildings and transportation that other individuals can access?

As long as we think in these terms when exploring the gray-areas of the ADA as it applies to signage, then our solutions won’t be part of future DOJ litigation updates, and most important we will satisfy the signage and wayfinding needs of all individuals.

 

Andy Levine
Director of Corporate Education

 

Wayfinding – Nationally Renown Forest Park in St. Louis

“One of America’s coolest city parks … and one of the world’s most beautiful city parks.”

—   Travel + Leisure

 

forest park old sign-2-edited forect park old sign-1-edited

Considering the quote and photos above, something just doesn’t jive. Can the quote and photos denote the same park? Both refer to our own Forest Park here in St. Louis. Believe me, Forest Park is a beautiful place. It is the 6th most visited urban park in the U.S. and it is estimated that a quarter of Forest Park’s 13 million annual visitors come from outside the St. Louis area. Even for those who live in St. Louis, who have previously been visitors to Forest Park, the Park’s existing brown navigational signs — intended to be temporary when they were installed years ago —appear confusing and incomplete. Quite frankly, the signs just don’t do the park the justice it deserves. That’s why the folks at Forest Park have embarked on implementing a brand new wayfinding system for the Park.

As a St. Louisan and president of ASI Signage Innovations office located in Downtown St. Louis for over 35 years, I am excited and proud ASI is the implementation partner on this new project that will certainly enhance the Forest Park experience.

So, how did we get to be part of this team?

It started with a Request for Qualification (RFQ) issued by the City of St. Louis in the summer of 2013. In our response to that RFQ, we highlighted our experience implementing exterior campus wayfinding systems for medical centers, major universities and other municipalities. We demonstrated our financial qualifications, provided documentation of our shop drawing process and detailed our staffing levels and production capability. Fortunately, we were short-listed along with another St. Louis company and four out-of-town firms.

Providing Our Proposal

The next step was to provide a proposal for managing the manufacturing and installation of the new wayfinding system, designed by Corbin Design, as well as disposing of the confusing/hideous existing signs. The project entails 239 signs located throughout Forest Park’s 1,371 acres (more than 500 acres larger than New York’s Central Park). Here is a preview of the new sign family.

 

forest park sign preview copy edited

 

We knew, like it or not, that final selection was most likely going to come down to price. It also was going to be dependent upon how well we included Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) firms on our team. We worked hard in trying to achieve the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) participation goals set by City policy. We believed that being located here in St. Louis, just minutes from Forest Park, would work to our advantage, since the out-of-town firms would be absorbing a lot of travel costs given the hands-on, intensive project management this project required. Ultimately, we felt that to be selected, we would need to be creative in our pricing approach and our outsourcing.

At the public bid opening in October 2013 we listened as the bids were opened and read aloud. Both the good and bad news are that we were low bidder at just over a half a million dollars, but maybe too low with a bit of space between us and the other bidders. Following the opening, we met briefly with a representative from the City Board of Public Service, who asked if we were comfortable with our bid. I swallowed hard and said we were. I knew our pricing strategy and I knew that my team had done a great job scouring the St. Louis metro area and the country sourcing materials and subcontractors.

Following the City’s review of our bid submission and approval of our DBE subcontractors, we were issued a contract in early March with 6 months to complete the work. The fun and hard work were about to begin.

I’ll share our experiences navigating through the implementation process in a future blog post.

 

 

Mike Gessel
President, ASI Missouri / Kansas


mike head shot edited

Case Studies Build Sales By Showcasing Solutions Not Just Products

 

The architectural signage industry contains a multitude of companies that sell a huge variety of signs. Focusing solely on products available, however, is not the way to differentiate our signage from that sold by our competitors. What sets us apart is that ASI provides solutions, not just products.

Expertise is As Important As Products

Clients who purchase signage are looking for far more than products. They are seeking expertise in selecting not only the right signs to meet their needs but guidance from signage experts who can effectively develop the right messages, have wayfinding expertise, possess ADA compliancy knowledge, can promote their brand and who are experts in message dispersal to both external and internal audiences. Prospects are seeking professionals who have experience, creativity and unique solutions tailored to their needs. Case studies are the tool that assures prospective clients that we are the experts who can best meet their needs.

Signage is not a tangible commodity. Sure, sales consultants can show sign samples galore but what message should go on them? Which signs will work best for a prospect’s various needs? Where should signs be placed and how many are needed? Should clients consider digital signage? How should signs blend in with the client’s architectural design? What experience does our company have with companies and organizations like theirs, within their industry? These are the kinds of questions that potential clients are asking themselves even if they don’t share such questions with a sales consultant.

Prospects Want to Know “What Can You Do For Me?”

It is no secret that word-of-mouth is the most impactful marketing tool when marketing to consumers. Social Media Revolution videos on YouTube tout that “78% of consumers trust peer recommendations while only 14% trust advertising.” Word-of-mouth is also important in B2B marketing in general and architectural signage in particular. Case studies are a powerful tool that shares the experiences and solutions of existing clients.  Case studies provide the insight and confidence that prospects seek. They show that our products, but equally important, our services based upon over 45 years of experience and expertise in working with other clients in their field, have produced exceptional results. Case studies showcase tangible results that answer the main question in the minds of prospects, which is, “What can you do for me?”

Case Studies Highlight Results That Provide Credibility and Build Sales

Case studies convey ASI’s expertise in getting to know the needs of our clients, developing just the right solutions to meet their unique needs and implementing the solutions. The results are strong enough for those clients to allow ASI to feature their solutions in case studies in a large variety of industries from healthcare to education, hospitality, corporate, libraries, cultural institutions and many other segments. The success stories provided in the case studies provide credence to the expertise shared by sales consultants.

Developing case studies also enables ASI to get better at what we do. They reengage us with our current customers. As we develop the case studies we tap into clients’ knowledge of what was most important in the development of their signage solutions. We incorporate that knowledge into future initiatives that help us better serve the needs of clients.

Knowledgeable sales consultants who detail product options and services provided are crucial to the sales process. Case studies, however, are the icing on the cake that provides credibility to what the sales consultants are recommending. Case studies enable sales consultants to build stronger relationships. Through sharing concrete results, case studies result in clients focusing more on results and not just costs and they also foster ASI’s reputation as an architectural signage industry leader. Case studies build trust and they build sales.

 

 

John Selig
Marketing Manager

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