The past few months have created instability and turmoil for many with whole market sectors been forced to suspend operations and sadly, many businesses forced into closure – we wouldn’t go as far as saying engineering and construction has thrived, but it does appear that this sector has been fortunate in as much as its doors have stayed open. Experts predict that with the re-opening of other markets the economy will see a sudden and sharp growth – this could ripple through and put a surge on the demand for most trades – whilst this is great news in general, rapid growth is much harder to manage than a steady growth rate.
We contacted one business who are very familiar with the peaks and troughs of demand in supply and see if they could help answer some questions around managing this problem.
HFE Signs Ltd are the UK’s preferred supplier for mail order Safety Signs & Printed Banners – with such a diverse market range, HFE are familiar with having to adapt to demand in short notice. We contacted their MD Karl Hunter and asked his input on the following:
Q: Firstly, how has the past few months been for you guys and what measure have you had to take?
Karl: The past months have been incredibly difficult for HFE, a large portion of our work is within the outdoor leisure and event industry – printed banners, flags and roller banners did grind to a complete halt. The measure we took initially was to look at the markets that were open and divert our marketing budget to target those industries – we also took advantage of the job retention scheme to preserve jobs and also we invested in development of a complete section on our website related to COVID safety.
Q: Safety and Warning Signs must be a big market – how do you manage a very large order at short notice?
Karl: HFE have 9 large printers and carry tens of thousands of pounds worth of stock – due to the nature of our trade we can go from quiet to rushed off our feet within a single order. We find this exciting, and we love a challenge – the team at HFE are very hard working and flexible – with the equipment, the stock, the planning and most of all the staff – we can honestly say we’ve never missed a deadline.
Q: So, during quiet times do you print the most popular signs, so you have them ready to go?
Karl: Not anymore, we find that more and more customers like to add their own branding to the signs, this is something we offer at no extra cost and it gives the safety signs a nice corporate image. We encourage businesses to push their brand, I personally believe adding branding to signs is a must. Printing to order doesn’t delay the delivery and it means all signage can be bespoke in both the warning messages and the branding aspect too.
Q: So when you are quiet, what do you have people doing?
A: Fortunately for HFE, we have a very wide range of products and there is always preparation work that can be done to make processes and assembly more efficient when the orders come. We have large signs in our workshops titled ‘What to do when caught up’ – a quick brain storming session should make it possible for all businesses to exhaust a simple and effective list.
Q: With such a competitive industry, how do you keep ahead of competition?
Karl: I believe our customer service sets us apart – we appoint a contact to a client who looks after them through the entire process, we offer free design and have many multibuy products online – we also have a loyalty discount scheme.
HFE Signs are rated 5 out of 5 on Trustpilot and have been supplying Signs, Banners & Flags since 1996 Check them out today at www.hfe-signs.co.uk