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Most sign company owners and brokers honor the work of designers whether the job sells or not. However, some people refuse to pay for designs even after the designer has invested many hours and work into the project.
When a salesman fails to sell a job it is not the concern or fault of the designer. Regardless of the outcome of the project, the designer should be compensated for his work. It is grossly unfair to refuse to pay for work. Sign designers do not sell signs, they sell sign drawings and designs. Pay us accordingly! 

https://www.nospec.com/
 

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You need to quote a price before you start.  Then get payment before giving your work out.  No payments after they look at it. ( and no credit cards )


You don't go the steakhouse and eat the steak, then ask for the price and pay only if you like it. 
Nothing is free

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Posted (edited)

What happened? Did a sign shop stiff you for not paying for your work?

 

All of my freelance sign shop clients sell signs with the design on spec... they take the risk, I still get paid whether or not it sells. Thats agreed on at the very beginning. Why would a designer design on spec to a sign shop. Once that design leaves your hands, too many things can happen... the salesperson can present it poorly, the sign shop or salesmen may not have vetted the client who may only be tire kicking, the sign shop or estimator may estimate the sign too high... why would any designer take that risk when you relinquish control of your work?

 

We do occasional freelance for sign shops that do larger projects where they sell design work. We just recently fired a sign shop because of the constant threat of "We can't pay you till we get paid"... granted, they always paid the bill, but sometimes it was weeks after we finished the drawings... and it consumed all our time. These are not channel letters or monuments, they were large apartment projects with a couple of hundred hours of work. 

Edited by Kingpin Creative

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I have had trouble with one particular sign shop that have given me checks that bounced and promises to pay that fell through. I finally told them I would not draw for them anymore. They relented now by paying me an advance on future work. They paid me $200 and I will give them $200 worth of work then demand more advance. 

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I spend hours and hours and hours (days) drawing sometimes on one project - it's typically those customers that end up not purchasing the sign!  Drives me NUTS!  I have been kicking around the idea of starting to charge for the design time before I present the drawing to them, but I have asked around and no other sign company around here charges for artwork, so I'm still torn about what to do.  But I think it's unfair for me to spend days and days on a project design and the consumer not expect to have to pay something for that time.  Especially those that don't purchase the sign and take my design to the next sign shop to have it manufactured!!  Thoughts??  If sign design was all that I did like you, Matthew, I wouldn't even start on a design without some form of payment up front as a deposit and I wouldn't let my design leave my hands without a form of payment for the balance that couldn't "bounce"!  If design was my livelihood, no way would it leave my office without payment in full unless it is someone you trust a whole lot!!

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This is where self worth, discernment and your intuition come into play with each customer. You will get a gut feeling about each customer and will begin to trust your intuition. Plus put some policies into place that keep you from excess drawing time. 

We only use a virtual layout of the sign showing how the sign looks pasted onto a photo of the wall and scale it to be accurate. For monuments or pylons we have a scale stick that we place in the photo so the scale is accurate. No specs or details with customers we have no history with. We answer all the customers questions about dimensions etc and tell them they will get the spec drawing or shop fabrication drawing with all the details once they contract with us to do the project. You can always tell the ones that want to get your drawing and shop it all around. Sometimes we get the feeling from the start they are slimy swamp creatures so we only show them the layouts in face to face meetings and we retain control of the layouts. We tell them to have all decision makers present at the meeting so they can see the layouts and decide. We do 2 initial layouts and then one revision of their favorite layout. If they want the layouts we tell them they come with the purchase of the sign. Over time you will find out good people who are serious about their business and are not manipulative have a different energy about them. The bad energy people just vibrate out of your picture and you won’t have to deal with them. Everyone that contacts you will not become your customer, only the ones that are your kind of people will become your customer. Be glad the time wasters and manipulators go away.

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