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Outsourcing to fuel your growth

Adam Davies
Adam Davies, Founder of COG Studios is a regular contributor to Sign Update

Subcontracting or outsourcing isn’t anything new to sign-makers. Ever since joining the industry just over a decade ago, and I suspect for many years beforehand, specialist trade manufacturers and subcontract installers have been working hard behind the scenes to create and install beautiful signage for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Our current challenge

At the time of writing, we find ourselves in a challenging situation, not just as an industry but as a country. Not only are we facing the prospect of a looming recession, but we’re also seeing increasing costs for goods and services. There is an unbalanced employment market where the volume of jobs advertised outnumber the supply of candidates significantly.

Traditionally this would be a time where everyone starts to become incredibly risk averse, they baton down the hatches, look to weather the storm and pick up the pieces afterwards. However, a question I constantly ask myself as a business owner; is that the only option available? 

I started my business at the beginning of the year, and I’d be lying through my teeth if I said the thought of all this negativity hasn’t hampered me at times - it’s only natural. When this inevitably happens, I have to remind myself that some of the most successful and well-known companies of the 21st century were founded in the last global recession. Opportunities therefore clearly exist to grow in similar circumstances, we just need to be smart about how we go about it. 

Is outsourcing a viable solution?

I come back to my point regarding outsourcing manufacture and installation, why do we do this already and what are the benefits? 

Well, some companies might use it for all their manufacturing and installation requirements and be incredible successful doing so. Others may only do it to cope with peaks in demand they can’t produce themselves and some may already have diverse in-house departments, but they may need a specialist skill or product to be outsourced; think traditional glass neon or abseil installation crews.

The benefits? Well they are simply huge. You can offer products to your clients that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to, and open doors to whole new opportunities. If needed, you could manufacture hundreds of signs quickly to meet a key client deadline, and then mobilise countless installation crews across the country to install them all simultaneously. You can have all of this while having fixed costs, limited risk and opening huge opportunities to grow even in the most daunting situations.

Now I can’t lie and say there are no negatives to outsourcing. The lack of control on quality or timescales is often one cited by people as a reason to invest in-house instead, and that’s okay. I’m a huge advocate of expanding the number of people coming into the industry to be trained in all manner of skills, but in my opinion, outsourcing is a great way to cope with peaks in demand, experiment with new opportunities, deliver huge projects and to scale your business in a way that is sustainable and commercially viable.

Expanding your outsourcing opportunities

Now you might be thinking, I already do all this so how can I fuel my growth further? 

Well, if you want to stick with the normal route, you could find additional manufacturing partners and subcontract installation crews to increase your capabilities, but there are also new companies and service offerings that could help transform your business even further. 

I should know, my business is one of them; COG Studio specialises in supporting sign makers to enhance their design departments, but there are also companies starting to offer things such as industry specific marketing support, freelance project management, business development and more.

So, are you going to keep doing the same thing and hope for growth, or could you take advantage of these opportunities to fuel the growth of your business in normal and the challenging times ahead?




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