Via our article written for GraphicsPro Magazine Feb 15, 2022.
One Sign Shop’s Journey to Finding a Focus
Sean Tomlin, Designer Wraps & Signs, says “I wanted to do it all, but I soon realized I couldn’t.”
As some of you may already know, it’s difficult to be the one-stop shop for everyone. Hence the old saying “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Stop trying to make everyone happy by being all things to all people — that’ll be your road to failure.
How can you physically (and fairly) split 100% of your focus/time on more than one thing at a time? Just saying that out loud makes no sense, and in my opinion, multitasking is a myth. How can one actually and efficiently multitask? It’s just not possible. If I’m working on Project A and Project B simultaneously, which one gets the most focus? You’re task-switching, not multitasking, and there’s a big difference.
Even computers that “multitask” are sacrificing memory and CPU power to do more than one task at the same time. Instead, focus on one task/project at a time; complete it and move to the next task, and so on. Keep a list; check things off as you complete them.
Focus is a superpower
The ability to focus on the most important task at hand is the superpower of high achievers and very successful people. I’m not saying I’m there. I struggle with this day-to-day; the whirlwinds of daily life always seem to get in the way. Whether it be phone calls, emails, walk-ins, questions, putting out fires, and so on, if we create an environment that allows that to happen, guess what? It will continue to happen.
So, what can we do to change or control our whirlwind?
First, close your door! No more open-door policy. I know you want to be “open and available” to your employees, but when do you have time to do your own work? When do you have time to focus on what you should be doing? What are you the best at? When do you make time to run your sign company, and not be run by your company? When do you make time to work on your business? I’m not just talking about tasks only here; I’m talking about the deeper, more important “direction of your company” stuff.
- Pro tip: Check out “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” — it’s a great read.
Choosing a focus for Designer Wraps & Signs
A quick personal story. Back in 2006, when I started Designer Wraps, I wanted to offer all things to everyone. I wasn’t very clear on what I wanted to do. I wanted to make signs, banners, and stickers; I wanted to letter trucks, wrap cars, and do PPF and tint. I wanted to do it all, but I soon realized I couldn’t. So I began to focus without actually making a strategic plan to do so.
I said to myself, “I don’t want to make signs; I only want to wrap cars. Actually, I only want to wrap race cars and exotic vehicles.” And so, that’s what I did. We began to create a name for ourselves in that space, and by 2008-2010, we had a pretty decent following for just that — race car liveries and exotic vehicle wraps (color changes and chrome wraps). That was our focus.
Then, fast-forward a couple of years later. I realized that color change wraps were not what I wanted to do, and it wasn’t making sense financially. The residual income for us was in commercial graphics, specifically fleet wraps. So I began to change our focus to that market. We were offering commercial wraps all along; we just weren’t promoting them too heavily on social media. When we did, the responses were rather unexciting and didn’t get a lot of likes. Well, guess what? Likes don’t pay the bills (unless you’re an influencer).
Commercial wraps, color changes, race cars, interior wraps, signs, and banners. I thought to myself, “Nope, still not doing enough.” I wanted more. So in 2015, I acquired a commercial printing and apparel business. I thought, “Man, so many of our customers also need apparel and business cards and brochures for their businesses, so we should be offering those to them as well. We’ll be a one-stop shop for them.”
The idea is wonderful. It makes so much sense. For some companies out there, it does. I believe they are doing it successfully. For our company and myself, something was being sacrificed out of the three divisions: wraps, printing, or apparel. Only one got all of my attention at a time, and for a while there, it was rather chaotic.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I finally realized something had to go. So I began to sell off the divisions that didn’t fit our end goal. We said goodbye to offset printing first, then about two years later, we eliminated our apparel division, which included screen printing and dye-sublimation. Since doing so, we have not looked back. Although some were upset due to convenience, most of our customers understood and are now serviced better than ever on their vehicle graphics needs.
Today, we are a commercial vinyl wrapping company specializing in fleet graphics, corporate interior branding, and signage. Focusing on what we do best has allowed us to develop systems that have made us more efficient and further grow in those markets.