The Importance of Customer Experience // TJ Bedacht - GCI Digital

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Your success as a shop owner depends on your customer's success You want your customer to have the best possible experience with your business. Join us as we talk to guest Tj Bedacht – from grand format trade printer – GCI Digital Imaging.

TJ Bedacht: Learn how to
build a better sign and

Bryant Gillespie: print
shop from a few crusty sign

TJ Bedacht: guys who've made more mistakes

Michael Riley: than they

TJ Bedacht: care to admit.

Conversations and advice on
pricing, sales, marketing,

workflow, growth, and more.

You're listening to The Better Sign Shop
podcast with your hosts, Peter Kaunas,

Michael Riley: Michael Riley, and Bryant

TJ Bedacht: Gillespie.

Bryant Gillespie: All right, guys.

Welcome to the next edition of
the Better Sign Shop podcast.

Brian Gillespie here, and as
always, I've got my friends and

colleagues, the Sign Shop, Yoda
Peter Karus, and the Sign Burrito.

Michael Riley . We need to
get a, another nickname.

I feel like we have to switch every

Michael Riley: episode.


Bryant Gillespie: Mayor
McKee signed burrito.

If you're listening to this right
now, send us your suggestions

for Mike's nickname On the next
episode, we want to hear from,

Michael Riley: You mean we need to like
hop on Jasper and let a computer, give

me a nickname, See what it comes up with.


Bryant Gillespie: Let's
get some AI involved.

let's let the Terminator
give you a new nickname.

. Hey.

So what's new with you guys before we
dive into all things customer experience?

Michael Riley: I'm getting married
in two weeks, so it's been, I am

stressed beyond belief right now.

It's crazy.

I don't

Bryant Gillespie: what is, what's
your stress level at a one to 10?

Michael Riley: Oh, it's
cranked up to 11, man.

, like it's just

Bryant Gillespie: as full spinal tap.

Michael Riley: Yeah, I'm handling it well.

It's just, it's very, it's
a lot of internal stress.

There's, we have a lot of balls
in the air right now trying to

get some stuff done in the house.

We have a bunch of guests that are
gonna stay here, so we're trying

to get bathrooms done and siting
done, and the house is just a wreck.


Bryant Gillespie: But you're not even
stressed about the wedding part or

like getting married or any of that?

It's just Hey, we've got
guests coming to the house.

Michael Riley: the guests
are the most stressful part.

Yeah, no, we don't know what we're
gonna do for food for the wedding yet,

so we're still, we're, that's a little
up in the air , which is of a big

thing, so we need to figure that out.

but no, the wedding plans
are pretty, pretty solid.

they're, that's for the
most part under control.

I'm sure that the, the shit will
hit the fan when people start

arriving here and parents and.

People get involved in tr
trying to help and everything.

But, yeah, it's really just, all
the prep work, trying to get ready

and then I'm gonna shut the business
down for a week and a half, to go on

honeymoon and everything like that.

So just trying to get
everything done and ready is,

Peter Kourounis: I got one
question for you, Michael.

Michael Riley: One question, lay it on me.

What's that?

Peter Kourounis: who was that
amazing photographer that you

Michael Riley: had we just, we hired
a, a local wedding photographer.

he's a pretty, pretty talented guy.

he's done quite a bit of, I think
like nature and landscape photography.

He's published a few books on,
like lake photo books as well.

But, it's a pat, my, my future wife on the
back, she went to school for photography.

She's got.

a degree in fine art photography.

And she was a wedding photographer
herself for many years.


So he just sent us the raw files,
which were, fairly unimpressive.

they were nice.

They were, compos and framed, but, but
she actually did all the editing on it.


Peter Kourounis: yes, she's outta here.

Oh my God.

Because I was gonna give, I was gonna
give your photographer all the accolades.

Those were the best
photos I have ever seen.

And I think I commented that.

it sincerely . I literally thought
my wedding photos might have been the

best, but that wasn't until I saw.

Your photos.

So whoever touched them up,
I whe whether it be your wife

or the photographer the best.

If you haven't seen it and you're
friends with Mike, go check it out.

They are literally the best
in, I guess what is it?

is that like a wedding
photo engagement photo?

what was that?

What was it?

Yeah, that

Michael Riley: was just an engagement,
like photo session that we did.

Cuz she, she wanted to have a
picture of us that we could send

out with the wedding invites.

so we just did a quick, like one hour
beach session with the guy, out of sunset.


So yeah, having a beautiful
spot like that to have pictures

taken as well, really helps.

having a background like, as beautiful
as that, doesn't matter what the photo

looks like, there's no such thing as a bad
picture when you're at the Oregon coast.

So, But no, she's a, like
a photo editing, master.

She's really good at it.

So she can take a.

Just a crappy picture and turning
into a pretty impressive work of art.

So I'm, I've seen some
masterpieces as well.

Oh yeah, she . I know she's made a
few . Photoshop is, she's good at it.

thank you, Peter.

Yeah, they, we were really happy.

I'm excited to see how the
actual wedding photos come out.

He's gonna be the safe photographer
for the wedding, and the wedding's

actually gonna be on that beach as well.

That'll be our backdrop for the wedding.

So, the only thing that we're worried
about is, we took those photos in

like mid-July when the weather is
pretty much perfect out there, but

the wedding is in late September.

which could very well be like, 50
degrees pouring down rain, like

sideways wind, like just the weather
is unpredictable in the fall out there.

So we're a little nervous that the
wedding is gonna have to be either moved

inside or we're just gonna get married
in like the pouring down rain on the.

Which I'm all for.

Like I think that's gonna be
awesome to get married in the rain.

if you're gonna have a Oregon
beach wedding, prepare for

rain, rain should be involved.

I think.

I mean it's just part for the course.


Peter Kourounis: rained on my wedding.

don't tell my wife that she hates three B.

Reminded rained on my wedding.

It was devastating cuz we picked
this venue for an outdoor venue.

and then we got huddled into
this like small little room.

So it was not the best scenario still

Michael Riley: a great, you're
getting married, it doesn't matter

like you're getting married.

just suck it up and do it.

And we're trying to brace ourselves.


Like I'm actually like secretly sort of
hoping it rains cuz I, I love the rain.

That's why I live in Oregon
because it rains so much.

I just think it's beautiful and like
a rainy day at the Oregon coast is

just otherworldly beautiful, but she's
a little less enthusiastic about it.

Raining so we'll, , kinda don't blame her.

The fence here, I don't blame her.

What about you guys?

What have you guys been up to?

Peter Kourounis: I'm planning
something but not planning a wedding.

I'm planning my son's second birthday
and my other son's baptism, so they

are within eight days of each other.

So it's a lot of, and I'm just gonna throw
this out there, cuz Brian, you got kids.

did you baptize your daughters?

Bryant Gillespie: yes.


We're not Catholic or anything like that.


Peter Kourounis: Sorry.

That's all right.

the first one, my first son, it was a full
out party, like a full out extravaganza.

I had dozens and dozens
of people at my house.

I rented everything,
including like the camel.

At my house, . This one, it's
let's just do it at a restaurant.

I swear to you, I feel awful.

I feel awful about it, but I'm just
like, there's a birthday with the

first kid and then there's a, like a
christening or baptism the second time,

like for the first, for the second kid.

And I'm like, this is too much
money happening at the same

time, so I'm just gonna listen.

It's a baptism, it's a birthday.

We're just gonna do the birthday
at home and we're gonna do

the baptism at a restaurant.

and my wife and I are feeling so
guilty about it because when mys, when

my second son gets older, he's, I'm
afraid he's gonna ask like, Why didn't

you throw, I feel like I'm damaging
his being by this, I'm not, it was

not as exciting as the first one.

And here I am just.

Feeling bad that my second son
happens to be just born Second.

Bryant Gillespie: we're on the third kid.


Like I, I know you're just now on the
second kid that's like the second kid.

You're, you just you're like, eh,
but when you get to the third kid,

you're like, like whatever, fuck it.

Yeah, the first kid.

Like we did all the baby proofing,
all the stuff, all the little things

in the outlets and all that stuff.

And now it's just you'd knock yourself
out, Oh, you wanna run around outside,

You wanna ride your bike without
knee pads and stuff like that.

Like fine.

get after it.


Oh my God.

Don't feel bad, man.

Don't feel guilty

Michael Riley: about.

I've heard that's the
way it goes with kids.

Like with every subsequent one you
have, like you your helicopter parenting

just goes down a notch or two until
you're just like, eh, they'll survive.

Like whatever.


This is a hundred percent true.



See, I'm skipping all
that young stuff too.

I'm inheriting a 15 year old
stepdaughter, which is awesome.

she's cool, but she's already grown
up and so I don't have to worry too

much about all the, about her just

Bryant Gillespie: dying on a daily
basis for self-inflicted death.

Michael Riley: no, actually, I still
worry about that for other reasons though.

She she's not always the best at
the logical decision making still,

but, less so I probably expect
than you guys with your young ones.


Hundred percent.

Bryant Gillespie: Yeah.

So what's the topic today, guys?

Michael Riley: Today we are talking
about customer experience and.

what you can do improve
your customer experience.

what makes customers keep
coming back and buying from you?

I think in the first place, and,
we're gonna bring on a guest today.

a lot of people probably
know the guy TJ Bak.

He owns GCI Digital Imaging
down in Cincinnati, Ohio.

You're, if you spend any time on any
of the Facebook forums, like those damn

sign guys or sign Shop Talk or anything
like that, you'll inevitably, seen

TJ's name, thrown about quite a bit.

He seems to be pretty much the go-to
guy for anybody who needs, some big wide

format digital printing or fleet of wraps
printed, or you're just like totally in a.

in a rut and need
somebody to save your ass.

It seems like TJ is like the, the Superman
and apparently he's doing something right.

I don't know the guy personally,
but I reached out to him to bring

him on the show because he's just,
everybody raves about him and his

service and everybody just says he
just, he will bend over backwards

for you every single time and get it
done and knock it outta the ballpark.

and on a rare occasion, he
doesn't, he'll be Johnny in the

spot to make it right for you.

So, he's definitely delivering some
sort of exceptional customer experience

and I wanna know what and why and how,
so I'm excited to talk to the guy.

Bryant Gillespie: do we
just bring him on now?


Michael Riley: he's in the lobby.



Let's go ahead and, let's bring him on.

He just sent me messages waiting.



All right, so welcome, TJ Bak.

Tj, did I say your last name right?

Bak abs.



All right.

I didn't want to butcher your name there.

Welcome to TJ Bak from
GCI Digital Imaging.

How you doing tj?

Doing wonderful.


Glad to have you.

Thank you.

Yeah, thanks for joining us,
especially on such short notice.

we just reached out to you this week
on it, so thank you for dropping

everything to, to accommodate us here.

so to start, just, just give us
the quick rundown, like the, the

nickel experience of your company
and how you got into the industry.

What led you to where you're
at and, we'll go from there.

Bryant Gillespie: The nickel experience.

I've never heard that.

The Tencent tour.

The Tencent tour.

The Tencent

TJ Bedacht: tour . There you go.


I might give you the 25.

All right, That works.

so once again, TJ bak, GCI Digital,
we're based outta Cincinnati,

Ohio, family owned business.

My dad and I, took it from
a three man operation out of

the basement of his house.

we were retail for a number of years, and
when I was finishing high school in 2001,

I don't know where that put you guys,
but 2001 was a very interesting year.

started calling wholesale,
vehicle rep companies.

fast signs locally, saw
very interesting niche.

And, we had equipment that nobody else
wanted, didn't have the space for my dad.

My grandpa kind of bred into me.

I'm fourth generation.

My grandpa always said, Buy something
that nobody else can, and, you'll.

A great success in it, build it,
they will come type of theory.

And, so we were buying 10 foot
machines when everybody else

had, five foot, four foot.

so we started printing banners.

Lots of them.

we're printing right now we're 40,000,
50,000 square foot per day in banner work.


We're running, a thousand sheets
through the flatbed department.

72,000 grommets in a week.

it's, it, the task of what we've
built is, is quite interesting.

to feed the beast is you call me
on a Saturday night at 10 o'clock

and say, tj, we have an emergency.

There's not too many people that
are going a answer the phone, but

to go in, get the estimate done
except the order on a Saturday night.

that's just what I do.

It gets me up every morning.


Michael Riley: Well,
that's why, just shout

Bryant Gillespie: out Sign
guys left and right, huh?

Michael Riley: Yep.


That's why I wanted to have you on
the podcast, tj, because I, if you

spent any time on any of the Facebook,
sign industry groups, your name is

inevitably gonna come up as the guy
who's gonna swoop in and save the day

when somebody's printer, shit the bad,
or they've got an impossible deadline

that they just flat out cannot meet.

I don't personally know how you do it.

it's mind boggling to me.

I know you've got a big staff and
a, some serious firepower at your

shop to fulfill those orders, but
still, like there's a human element

to it that's just, it's impressive.

And, like I said, what we wanted to
talk about the day was, cultivating and

creating a great customer experience.

And you're clearly doing something
right in that regard because these

guys, almost they stop short of
worshiping the ground you walk on.

I would say it's pretty impressive.

So how did you, how did
you get to that point?

What, how do you approach that customer
experience and, Teamwork makes dream

TJ Bedacht: work.

Teamwork makes dreams work.

every single one of my
customers has my cell phone.

it's of one of those things to
where my wife and the kids get it.

we've slept in the truck, delivering a
job on a Friday night in North Carolina.

my staff has worked all night to
give me the proper product to, to

make that drive the kids, helping
pounding the last couple grommets.

The wife's helping me hold the banners up.

it was, it's been fun,
very passionate about it.

We have, we have one of the best
teams in the industry for sure.


Michael Riley: how do you maintain
that, that passion for the industry?

Cuz you and I were in, I was a,
I have no idea . I have no idea.

You, you and I were in a similar
market, I was 50 miles north of

you and we had some crossover
customers, like we were talking about.

Some of 'em are crazier than others.

it's a hard industry.

It's a, it's an industry that
will definitely, grind you down.

Especially when on the end of the industry
that you were in and that I was in,

where you're, everything's a rush job.

Everything's gotta have it right now.

and printers don't always
work the way you want 'em to.

You get head strikes, you get,
things just go sideways on you

and it can be super stressful.

how do you maintain,
touch a positive outlook?

Is that something else that I notice?

Is that, you'll see you
complaining and bitching and

moaning a lot on those forums.

You maintain a pretty level
head and a, a pretty positive

outlook, which is unusual in this

TJ Bedacht: industry.

one of my big things with all of my
customers, I say, how soon do you need it?

And, the, like for example, it's,
1230 on a Thursday right now.

my event's Friday I gotta
install for my customer.

I'm like, Okay, but you
haven't ordered it yet.

what time does the event start?

So then I back into it, Okay, when
do I have to have it out the door?

Is it, are we gonna chance
it with UPS or FedEx?

Are we going to drive it straight there?

And they're like, Drive it.

It's 10 hours.

I'm like, do you want it or not?

that, that whole thing.

we've dealt the dashed projects before
up to New York and stuff like that.

there's not an option.

You have to get these jobs done.

And my dad, my grandpa,
it's your reputation.

It's the company name.

You have to make it happen no matter what.

I have to print faster than fast signs.

I have to deliver for all these agencies
and brokers and sign shots because at the

end of the day, if they lose that account,
it could be they lost their largest

customer because of TJ in Cincinnati.

He didn't deliver it.

I don't accept a loss ever.

even if UPS loses a package, my trucks
have full tank of gas in it right now.

I'm, I'll be there in a few hours.

Bear with me.

and that's just the motto
that we've always had.

my dad's hopped on an airplane,
it was like a $2,200 airline

ticket for a powerboat race
down in Fort Myers, Florida.

And, I put him on an
airplane because UPS lost it.

He went and delivered
that banner the afternoon.

it was like a Friday afternoon.

He was very mad that I sent him
to Florida, but, um, the customer

got it and it was only $150
banner, but I had to get it there

because the guy, he was so pissed.

And it was just one of those
things where you have to talk

people off the ledge sometimes.

And I'd rather just make it right than
put a bad taste in somebody's mouth.

So the customer experience, is
very important here at the shop.

Miss Patricia is, if you guys
call the shop, she's, basically

she helps me keep my sanity.

She's my, my right hand.

She handles all of my orders.

I still enter all of our orders right now.

I know that you guys, have, some things
that I wanna talk to you guys about

after the podcast and everything.

To help simplify my life.

we've got some online, ordering systems
in place to where people will be able

to upload automatic proof, and now it's
gonna go straight to the printer, so it's

gonna bypass our pre-press department.

where we are trying to get to is to where
it will auto tag it on the back side.

It gets cut and then, goes through
the whole shop without any hiccups.

But yeah, we'll see what happens there.

Bryant Gillespie: Let me ask you, you
put your dad on a plane, you said it was

like $2,200 plane ticket for $150 banner.


Is that, does that happen like often or?

TJ Bedacht: No?

We, my guys don't miss man, my guys,
if I have to do that, once a quarter.

that's a lot.

we, Okay.

my dad's not on an airplane every week.

It's, if we really screw
up, we make it right.

even if it's in store credit,
crediting it back to customer.

you wouldn't believe some of
the situations we get put under.

people, approve the proof, right?

The whole, I'm gonna prove this
thing, but I'm not gonna pay for it.

theory, when they get it, they complain.

We have a checks and balances system
will take a photo of almost every single

job through here to make sure that, the
i's are dotted and cre t's are crossed.

but there's that one banner that
just wasn't approved until late.

55 banners already went
through to production.

Are boxed ready to go.

That 56 banner got lost.


And, Gotcha.

So we have to make it right
and get it to the guy.

It happened to be the entrance
banner or the podium backdrop

for the power bit race.

Right, Right.

. Bryant Gillespie: Yeah.

No, I was I was just thinking if
you're customer experience is obviously

hugely important, but if you're like
bending over backwards for every

single customer, like it's every day.

Wait, how do you turn a profit?

TJ Bedacht: especially on,
we don't make any money.

We just like the print banners.

Bryant Gillespie: Are you, are you
comfortable sharing some numbers or?

TJ Bedacht: I feel like the number
situation would, would size me up.

in, 2001, when I graduated high school,
we were, we couldn't break a million.


My dad was in business for, I think
he started in 19, 19 91, 92, and

they couldn't hit that threshold.

And, it took me, And that was

Bryant Gillespie: retail work

TJ Bedacht: though, at that was retail.

posters, you're gonna sell
poster for eight bucks.

we were doing a lot of posters,
a lot of encapsulation of things.

And then we got into
the vehicle wrap market.

And, we still have a few retail
customers that, I still service.

They're legacy accounts.

I don't, it's, we don't
go retail door to door.

It's just not, we're not built for.

if somebody calls in I'll recommend
them to a local Fast signs or, one

of my buddies that sends me a decent
amount of work, I'll just pass it off

to them cuz I don't want the headache.


And, sorry

Michael Riley: Peter, I think it's an Ohio
thing to just refer people to fast signs.

I'm not sure.

I used to do the same thing.

TJ fast.

TJ Bedacht: yeah, these guys, they, most
of the fast signs guys here and some of

the other sign shops have the code to get
into our side door so they can go pick

up their, their jobs on the pickup shelf.

But, back to the number deal,
it took us a number of years

to pass that 1 million mark.

Two was really easy, three was
difficult, four and five were covid.

So we're up there past that right
now, and it's nine months in.

So I'm very pleased to say that the
hard work of the whole staff, the

customer service, the designers,
the everyth, everything, the freight

train's in motion, and, I couldn't do
without the awesome customers we have.

the worst thing is when, they're
used to using Science 365 or IND

or some of these other wholesalers.




Bryant Gillespie: some of my
next questions were like, who

are you guys competing with?

Like directly head to head with Science

TJ Bedacht: 365.

I'm, I'm putting in some equipment.

this is newly released, As of
yesterday, we're putting in a couple,

H five Tex and a couple, 16 footers.

So I'm swinging for the fences and I'm
going to, with this new online ordering

and with the stuff that we've been
implementing this year, I feel very

confident to step up to the plate 2 65.

I don't drive a silver dually,
so please don't blow me up.

365, . So, there's plenty of work
out there for all of us, but with

the request that we have been
getting, it's faster, higher quality.

What are, what limitations do you have
to, and I don't wanna have many, cutting

out the acrylic portion of things.

I wanna focus on rigid.

I wanna focus on banner
and mesh and vehicle wraps.

other guys can kinda take on the
acrylics and the higher end stuff.

I just want to the lower
margin, higher volume runs.

Michael Riley: So how do you keep your
staff motivated to, cuz you're to deliver

the customer experience that you guys
are, it's not, it's obviously not just

you like as you said, I it takes an
entire team behind you to pull that off.

You can't be out there, promising
the world that your customer

is, and then your staff isn't
gonna, tow the line behind you.

How do you keep them motivated
and moving forward and focused on

the same goal that, that you are?

Cause I think a lot of the, a lot of
the challenges that every business

owner faces, especially right now
is just, is staffing in general.


and just finding decent employees
who are willing to roll up their

sleeves and work hard for you.

And who care about that ultimate goal of,
making the company money and putting out.

Good service and a good product.

How do you, you're
running a high pressure.

Everything's a rush.

we gotta bend over backwards
and tire ourselves and knots

for every one of our customers.

How do you keep the staff
passionate about that alongside you?

how do you keep them
motivated and checked in?

TJ Bedacht: not afraid
to get my hands dirty.

I've got a kind of a famous line that
I came up with and that was here, at

this building, maybe at the old shop.

if I have to do your
job, I don't need you.

is one of those lines that I will
use if I, if we get behind and work.

we've got some really strong team players
that will step up, make things happen.

They understand that the
yellow ticket that's flying

through the shop is, it's hot.

it's to grab your attention.

we've got some, the yellow ticket
is the golden ticket, right?

I don't make a lot of money on that
one banner that you might send in and

give me seven to 10 day turn time.

We don't have things that sit
here for seven to 10 days.

It might only be a three to five day turn.

And we use that for fill in work.

The yellow tickets, the rush tickets.

I make a little bit extra rush fees on.


But as far as keeping the employees
focused and, getting the jobs

out the door, perfect example.

We've got a job in here right now for.

Company in Lexington, Kentucky.

All the UK banners, all the
field banners for all UK football

are going through the shop.

Hey guys, they're gonna
be here tomorrow morning.

I'll go back there and buy
each guy a drink or a candy

bar outta the vending machine.

and if you work through lunch,
bust out a little bit early today.

you guys were working your butts
off pick up tomorrow, last Friday.

We all left a little bit early
because it was a holiday.

We get that 30 to 50,000 square feet out
a day in just an eight or 10 hour day.

We're not running two, three shifts
like some of these other guys are,

and we're still making it happen.

treating the employees, with
respect has been one of my things.

Also, I can't have a guy pounding
a grommet, making a lot of.

I've been there, I've done it.

I've had to pound thousands
of groms five days a week.

I've been there, done it.

just having respect and, earning
their respect, I think is one of

the key to help be successful in it.

Bryant Gillespie: I just can't imagine
like every job being for like another sign

guy and having that not be like a pressure
cooker situation or I guess you'll

probably deal with some like marketing
agencies and folks like that as well.

But I just know the way that I was back
in the day when I ran the shop and I know

how discerning Mike is, and I know Mike
has been on the other side where he was,

is sling some wholesale prints as well.

But, parti like we're
a crusty bunch just by.

TJ Bedacht: my, my guys, I
mean they sent a banner out.

It was, I believe it was
like 20, 2200 inches long.

And it was like 180 feet by, what was it?

Nine and a half, 10 foot tall.

They forgot the grommet.

The one whole bottom
side, like 2200 inches.

So they forgot to do it.

So customer called.

He was pretty fired up
because they're installing.

I'm like, What do you want me to do?

I can drive down there and pick it up.

What do you wanna do?

I just gave him a in-store credit
on the other job that he has in

here, and he was fine with it.

But man, some of the stuff I've seen
, like we shift, we shipped out a pallet

and didn't even strap it down, shrink
wrapped it, one of the guys just.

Put forth the extra effort.

He's not here anymore.

Miss Patricia.

let him fly.

Michael Riley: Do you, it sounds
like a lot of your jobs are last

minute high pressure rush jobs,
which is typical in the area of

the industry that you operated in.

Is it are, do you have a lot of
redos and mistakes that you have

to fix and catch on the fly be just
because of the rush nature of the job?

Or is that pretty rare for you guys?

TJ Bedacht: We make more
mistakes when we're slow.


Peter Kourounis: that's a
very interesting statement.

TJ Bedacht: It's when we're slow, we
have to think about it when we're,

when we are hammered, the jobs just go
through and they flow well, I compare

ourselves to a fast food restaurant,
not a high end, sit down, meal.

We will have, I think UPS
typically picks up somewhere

around 150 or 200 boxes a day.

That one box could have 50 banners in it.

So you know, these guys, if
they mess up one order a day,

first off, it's not acceptable.

But we anticipate with the package count,
the amount of work that we're putting out.

we might double print one banner to where
there might have been an A and a B art,

that would make it through the shop.

But, the art room prints out
an A and a B proof sheet.

But maybe the customer only
approved a, so whose fault is it?

it's, We don't make all the mistakes.

Some of the customers will own up to it.

Some of the customers just blame it all on
us, and that's when they don't come back.

I'm that crusty wholesale printer that
will tell a customer, Hey, you were wrong.

And some of these guys don't accept,
Hey, I was slightly wrong in this.

No, it is Gcis fault.

it is the customer's not always right.


I always like it

Bryant Gillespie: when
somebody says that out

TJ Bedacht: loud, and I, and not
to throw rocks at, where I've had

the most trouble out of people.

But the northeastern corner of the
United States, those people tend

to be the most, see, they on the
sheet, the roughest to work with.

not to point fingers.

Bryant Gillespie: see Peter success
letter from the whole, these now , right?

TJ Bedacht: right.

No, I've got some really
good buddies up there.


Tamir, there's a lot of guys up
there that, I've done work with and,

versus called me, I've been mowing
my grass, shoot the shit with them.

that's the whole thing.

I'm wholesale to the trade, but it's funny
the amount of wholesalers that I deal

with and the relationship that I have with
these guys, I help a lot of people out.

And a lot of people help me out
when it all comes down to it.

Like I've called Chris up
asking for advice, it's wild.

I got, involved in the Cincinnati
Red's All star game tug, or with

blue media, it's a wild experience.

I needed help on an install.

He's Hey tj, just do it this way.

And actually my installers are done.

They're gonna help you out.

this dude's my competitor.

This dude's a monster in the
industry and he just is helping me

do something I've never done before.

okay, I appreciate the help.

And I helped them out yesterday
at the Great America, or down at

Paul Brown Stadium, the old one.

I helped them on an install
yesterday, so it's the good old

boys club and the wholesale world.

The guys that aren't in this, the big
inner circle, my arm, I'll talk to any of

them, know, I'll give 'em all pointers.

We're to a stage now to where if we
don't all help each other get through it,

it's, we're just gonna, we're gonna fail.


Bryant Gillespie: So you guys said that
you're, you have launched or are just

launching online ordering for clients.

TJ Bedacht: so we've got new system
that's getting ready to be released

here, to where it's very similar to
the other guys, where it's the online

proofing and it goes straight to the rip.

We wanted to bypass some things,
how some people have ordered from

B2 or Science 365 to where, Oh
man, that experience is so cool.


I've, over the last five years
have probably changed, two

to three software companies.

I've gone to two or three different ones.

I actually removed myself from
this, that whole side of things,

and that's one of my dad's projects.

I put him on like day to day operation.

He's still here every single day.

I wanna focus on the sales and the
production and the like, acquiring

of equipment, stuff like that.

And I've put him pretty much on
the, he is not it savvy at all.

He can barely turn on his cell
phone, but I've got him working with

a couple of our internal people.

And with some, outside help to get
this thing moving, it's very close.

You'll be able to order any size banner,
any quantity of the size automatically

picks up if it's low res and it'll shoot
a, this isn't gonna work, type of email.

And we're trying to make it so
simple that my dad can do it.

Bryant Gillespie: Nice.

So prior to this were you guys using
like online ordering as well or like how

do, how were most of the orders coming
in or how do most of the orders come in,

TJ Bedacht: I guess?

so we, we used to operate off of job
tickets and that just got out of hand.

now we're using Corbridge, currently
and pretty decent software.

Pete's got corbridge,

Bryant Gillespie: I think.

TJ Bedacht: Pretty decent

Peter Kourounis: Corbridge too.

Guess what?

Fast Signs uses Corbridge

TJ Bedacht: it's pretty good.

one thing that I, have been begging
Corbridge to do, and I actually

saw him down at the Atlanta Show,
prior to the gentleman passing the

owner, I asked them to, when you
build an estimate in Corbridge,

it doesn't automatically send out.

So the opportunities of all of
the estimates that we do daily,

if we don't pick up the phone
call each opportunity, it's lost.

It's stuck in the software.

It doesn't automatically send it out.

And that's a huge, flag
for me with Corbridge.

I can't, I can't call every
single customer that we've.

Send an estimate one banner
might be, we have a $50 minimum.

I might have a $50 estimate, I
might have a $50,000 estimate.

Which 1:00 AM I gonna call the 50,000
and I lose track of the $50 jobs.

So I'm trying to get those to
where it's the easy online order.


Bryant Gillespie: But what percentage
are like through email now?

And what percentage are online?

Is it all through like email?

I would say the call, I'm assuming
they're just, even if you talk to them

on the phone, they're sending you an
email with the files and the details

TJ Bedacht: of the job.


Most of it's 60, It's probably 60%, 70%.

so you do the estimate, you convert it
with the Corbridge thing, it walks its

way through the system if they know
how to use it and they use it properly.

we still get, I'm gonna say 70% old
fashioned way where they send over

to email, send over the artwork.

We have to send an estimate,
process, the order, and they

don't wanna really mess with it.

So we're still trying to train our
customers how we need to accept

the orders to help them out.

because staffing, we had 12 people
in the front office pre Covid, I

had, four people that did nothing
but make phone calls, telemarketing

to all the sign shops nationwide.

I can't get, I can't get four
people to come into work.

it's me, Patricia, and two
other two o three other people

in the front office right now.

So, majority of our sales is
still of the old fashioned way.

And is

Bryant Gillespie: that,
causing stress for you guys?

Or like what was the point
where you were like, Hey, I

want this other system in place.

what was the tipping point?

Like where were you at?

what was the time period?

How long ago was it?

TJ Bedacht: So I said five years
ago, it might, it's my, let's see.

We might have been working on this
project for the last eight years.

it's not that I don't wanna spend time
on a 50 or a hundred dollars order,

but I think it's wasting my time.

I don't wanna say it's wasting my time.

That guy that's placed that 50 or that
a hundred dollars order is a regular

customer knows how to send it over.

He should be able to place the
order online without calling

and asking for that estimate.

Every single day, You know what
my cost is, we're gonna get

it done, just send it over.

I've actually passed some of the smaller
things off to Mark who's in the front

office, so that way I can focus on
the larger, more profitable, projects.

But I would say, we've been
battling this for six, seven years.



In my

Bryant Gillespie: experience, given the
opportunity, customers will self serve.

if you've got, Hey, this is how
I've always worked with TJ and the

crew, and they're fine with that.

That's, that could be a headache trying
to onboard them to this new system.

TJ Bedacht: and that's something
that, some of these other guys they

don't offer, can't pick up the.

And call and ask for tj, Mark, Patricia.

our whole experience is we want to
be the good old boys, I'll talk to

anybody on the phone and I'm not gonna
hurry up and let 'em off, I'd like

when my people call and ask for a sign
shop, the point of contact there, Oh,

he's, they're out, whatever, we try to
find out, Hey, what's their birthday?

did they just have a kid?

And we try to build off
of that relationship.

We'll send them a pacifier,
we'll send them a newborn outfit.


If they're a Pittsburgh fan, we'll send
'em a Cincinnati Bengals t-shirt, and

actually with the boys over at Fire
Sprint, James and those guys, I took the

bus, I don't know if you guys saw that.

and that Rusty bus,

Bryant Gillespie: The Rusty bus.


we, did we share the picture
or I saw the picture, Yeah.

We'll make sure we add it to
the, the show notes as well.

TJ Bedacht: you watch
a movie, Cousin Eddie.

I'm so cousin Eddie.

Cousin Eddie isn't even Cousin Eddie.

we roll in anywhere and it's
just a magnet for people.

But, James and those boys over at
Fire Sprint, we were friendly betting

because they're so close to Kansas City
and, I actually made a bet with them.

And that reminds me I need to get.

Them all, some GCI hats, cuz I
never sent them all GCI hats to

put on and take a picture of.

They were in the middle of their
move and I think it's time.

I think they've had plenty of time.

I'm gonna be sending them some hats.

. But

Michael Riley: yeah, I like that.

I'm always preaching that you should,
your competitors aren't your enemies.


they never know when you're,
they're gonna need help from you or

you're gonna need help from them.

And, I got bailed out more than a
few times by some of my competitors.

And I'm thankful every day
for them because they help

contribute to my success.

And I think a lot of
shops lose sight of that.

And they see the competition is the
enemy and, you're at war with them.

And I don't real, it was too
small of an industry for that.


know, you never know when you're
gonna need somebody's help.

TJ Bedacht: Correct.

And How many times have we ran out of ink
because we're running all weekend and I've

called, hey, Sport Graphics up in Indy.

Hey, you guys have a couple cys.

Yeah, no problem.

Come up and get 'em.

and they know a lot of these people
in the industry know if they need

a part, if they need my machine
time, something, just gimme a call.

I'm more than willing to help out.

that's what makes the world go around.


Bryant Gillespie: do you guys do like
your clients, do they also purchase

from like Science 365 and some of
these others that are like hands off?

Yeah, I don't think I've ever talked
to anybody at Science 365, but I,

I used to order from them a lot.

TJ Bedacht: I could be
the, new Science 365 rep.

Their phone number is (513) 521-7446.

Give me a call,

Bryant Gillespie: but do you, do the
customers that you deal with, do they

prefer your good old boy approach and
that's why they're coming to you guys?


TJ Bedacht: is it, I th I think
it's like the pricing game.

they might send a project to 365
because that $10 flat rate shipping,

or they might be cheaper on one item,
but then I might get their mesh work,

or I might get their banner work.

So, like I said in the beginning,
I've got a niche banner, mesh,

coro, some flatbed stuff, right?

They have their own niche.

I have my own niche.

I, I don't know how they're doing
the $10 flat rate and making

any money, but it is what it is.

I know that they're build, they've
gotta be building it into their

front end price of their banner.


We're very aggressive on
our banner and mesh pricing.

They're a little bit
higher if you do the math.

Ours is still less money than what
they're doing, but people like

to see that $10 thing, whatever.

They can't call and talk to a live
body there like they can here.

So I think the good old
boy club, it does help.

It does help significantly.

Who is your

Michael Riley: ideal client or customer?

TJ Bedacht: My ideal customer would
be, a print broker or a signed guy

that, that, may be struggling to find.

Employees to help in their shop.

might have to upgrade equipment soon.

struggling to, to get the jobs
out the door, they call, they

just know it's gonna get done.

that's my ideal customer.

the people that have the machines that
try to do the stuff and then it's Oh, we

can't get it all done in this timeframe.

Let's just send it to GCI and
we'll get, we'll pay a rush

fee and have it done tomorrow.

I'm not gonna say it, that's
not my optimal customer,

but I make money off of 'em.

But they turn that, they
turn the wheelbarrow.

we're trying to streamline things
and then that one rush job we

might have to swap out materials
just to get that one job out.

It's not the optimal customer
that I want, but we take 'em.


Do you give

Peter Kourounis: your current
wholesale customers any type

of access to your wholesale

TJ Bedacht: print list?

So with print basically
actually you're a fast signs customer

or you're a fast I used you before.



So the Fast Lane ordering system, driven
specifically for fast signs, organization,

the Fast Lane, you can go on there and
we have, I think it's five, five items

that are our sweet spot that we felt.

Any fast signs could go on there,
order at a wholesale price to

list the pricing's in there.

you put your size and it's there.

We don't have a menu
for square foot pricing.

if that's what your question was.

it's just, it's a bit,

Peter Kourounis: it's been a, it's been
a question that I've talked about here in

this group, on this podcast before about
how few of our stein shop owners out there

actually have the, first the guts to ask.

that's one.

Two, the time to actually take a
wholesale pricing and then build out,

You have corporate, so building C bridge
products with a wholesaler in mind.

TJ Bedacht: Yeah.

so the pricing structure's changed
like almost weekly anymore.

So we're doing it over under.

Right now, I might lose a little
bit on one job to where another

job, I'll make it back up.

The core bridge is very, to go in
there and change a pricing structure.

You have so many line items
and so many sales to fill in.

It's not the easiest thing.

And that's where, the old fashioned way
I've got in the back of my head where we

can do it for and still get away with.

that over under part, a
buck 25 for mesh or banner.

it's, I'm losing a little bit
because the pricing, of the scrim,

the mesh might have cost us a little
bit more, but we are now back to

ordering it from overseas, containers.

So right now we've got five,
five containers of mesh

and banner on the water.

Michael Riley: Okay.

Is, are the current supply chain issues
raking havoc on your business in general,

or are you guys pretty insulated from it?

Just what the volume would do and the
quantity of material you order at a time.

TJ Bedacht: I go through a pallet
of 3M every couple days and they're

the 300 foot rolls of CB three.

And there was a couple times where we
were almost out, and when I say almost,

we're down to our last pallet and
then the truck backs up to the door.

But I was sweating it a little bit,
because in our business we have to have

vehicles printed ahead of time for the
installers because if the installer gets

the vehicle there, that whole chain of.

Organization up to that graphic kit
coming for the installation of that rep.

It might have taken, the installer,
five tries to get this guy to

bring a semi truck to their
location to get it installed.

So if we missed that window of
opportunity, it's not good . Sure.

But the supply chain issues,
I know we had, ran into a

couple issues with Grim Co.

they ran out of some material,
at one point be Craft had it.

So, you can't have all of
your eggs in one basket.

And I feel that's the same way a lot of
these guys feel with the wholesale side of

things, is they don't wanna put all their
eggs in one basket and I don't blame 'em.

but they do need to order more from.

That the other guy, just
feeds the, it feeds the family.


Peter Kourounis: there
something specific about gci?

Maybe it's about you, maybe it's about
your team, but is there something

specific that you do, in regards to
the customer experience that they just

can't get anywhere do you pay a lot of
attention to the, what the customer's

experience is, knowing that most of
your customers are sign shop owners?

What is it specifically that
comes to mind that really paints a

picture of, Why should I use you?

What is it that's different
than anything else?

TJ Bedacht: I feel that the, there's
no excuse for failure type of approach.

when a sign shop.

Places an order with us.

I feel that, the customer experience,
they know that it's gonna get done.

They can go home that night after
they place the order, they can go

home and they can say, sit down with
their family not working throughout

the night, and the job will get there.

If it was a rush job,
it'll get there by 10 30.

The next morning ups stress free.

that's the approach that we've had.

My, the process that my team has put
in place is to make it so much easier

for the customers to just want to
rely on us, bigger, small gci does

it all that motto, We'll get it done.

just emailed over.

Get it to me.

Lincoln from Fast, He's brick, Lincoln O'.

he calls and he's tj, I
got, I've got this mess job.

I need it done.

Okay, just send it over.

that's the whole conversation,
just wanting to that reinsurance.


Peter Kourounis: the, so it's the,
like the guy in your pocket of feel?

Is that what you're feeling?

it's the, I'm the sign shop owner.

You're a sign shop owner.

The job is, the focus
is to get the job done.

And the e the easiness of getting in
touch with your team is what Yeah.

Keeps me actively giving you
orders cuz of how simple it's

TJ Bedacht: correct.

Saying Correct.

And, the personalization that we
give to the sign shop owners, for

example, you place a mesh banner
order with us for a baseball field.


The line that I tell my whole
staff is if they're asking for a

six foot tall mesh banner, please
ask 'em what size the fence is.

Number one.

If it's a six foot tall fence,
you don't want the mesh banner

to go from top to bottom.

You want that little bit of a
gap for stretching the zip ties.

I can give you a better deal at five foot.


You go online and you type it at six foot.

Nobody's gonna ever ask that question.

we're, we'll give the industry
insight, over the phone and

that helps everybody in the end.

Cuz I can run two up at five foot on a
10 foot roll versus a six foot one up.


On the roll.

Saves everybody money
at the end of the day.

Very true.


Peter Kourounis: I had just one
follow up question here for you.

and this is, I guess it's maybe not a
question, but it speaks to your sentiment

about what we were discussing earlier,
and that's, I gave you, I guess it was

sometime last year, you had 10, You
had done a very large order for my fast

signs, job, but it was a little different
than what I was normally used to.

The experience was very different from,
from the, previous vendor I was using.

So I had this customer, this school that
wanted 1200 lawn signs, graduation signs.

you, you know what that was that, what
that was like, like during c, every kid's

got their photo and their name and every
parent was buying one for their kid.


So we had a lot of those orders
and I had this one order from

this one school said, I need this.

And the next week, we hadn't
ordered these yet, so my manager

reached out to you and said, Hey,
is this something that you can do?

And you said, Hey, Not only can I
do it, just give me the template and

gimme the photos and gimme their names.

And I'm gonna set out, I'm
gonna set up this file for you.

I'm gonna get it out here tomorrow.

Now, once that was approved, of
course, by, by the manager here.

But the fact that you took that
extra step, that's what, that

to me is your secret sauce.

Is that, I see, I sense that you're
doing that a lot with your customers.

Is, would you, would
I be correct in making

TJ Bedacht: that assumption?

delivering every job is very important.

I've, I'm gonna be very
bold by saying this.

I've never over promise
and underdelivered.

I believe your manager went, I can't
remember if it's that job or if it

was a, Job for Frankie out of Chicago.

there's two orders that kind
of cross paths mentally.

I believe that's the one that I said
that I would throw in my enclosed

trailer and deliver, if I remember
correctly, but I could be wrong.

the 1200 lawn signs, I'm
pretty sure I don't know.

We've printed so many damn
signs like that last year.

Yeah, I,

Peter Kourounis: I bet that one order
bleeds into the next, But for me, in

my perspective, I've used your shop
a couple of times after that because

of how wonderful that experience was.

But when we're talking about the
customer experience from a sign

shop's owner's perspective, which
is your majority of your clientele,

TJ Bedacht: that's my customers, right?



Peter Kourounis: When we're
talking about that, the biggest.

The biggest thing for me, and this is I
guess gonna speak true to what you were

saying, is that you went that extra step.

It wa you heard about the timeline?

I said I need it by next week, and then
you reverse engineered if I have to wait

for you to send me 1200 art files, Right,
because that's what you would need to do.

this, I can't promise you anything.

I can't promise you anything other
than a price today on how to get

that done for you in your timeline.


You'd made I'm not, I can't remember
the name of the woman who I was,

who my manager was dealing with.

It was a woman on your staff?


TJ Bedacht: Miss Patricia.

Miss Patricia.

Peter Kourounis: Okay.


Hats off to Miss Patricia for making
that like an incredible experience.

So I.

The logic there was that you backwards
engineered it, you heard the timeline,

you said, This is what I need in
order to get this done for you.

This is what I'm willing to do for
you in order to meet that deadline.

And it doesn't just mean delivery.

It was, I'm gonna set up
these art files for you.

Give me that CSV file, give me
that Excel spreadsheet, gimme

that Google Drive with 1200 photos
in it and we'll take care of it.

. And then a, a day or two later, you
sent it over to us and we were, we

were, we had a satisfied client.

And that to me is the
relationship that I love about

wholesalers and sign shop owners.

We're all sign shop owners, but
the ones that really do, the ones

that do a bang up job are the ones
that only care about the end user.

. And that seems to be what your
philosophy is that you don't

over promise and underdeliver.

But kudos to you for Thank you.

really focusing on the school's
needs, not the sign shop owner's

needs, or the end user's needs.

Because I think that's what's going to,
if there was, one way in one sentence

I can make that really separates you
from any other wide format wholesale

printer out there, is that's what you
care about Most care about the end user

getting what they need more than the
cus more so than the vendor meaning

us or the sign shop owner making a
profit or getting their customer happy.

You just want that customer
to get what they want.

And that to me is really
what GCI is all about.


That if you can put, if you can, if
you could put it into one sentence, is

that we don't care about the sign shop
owner, we care about your customer.

that, that would be the way I would.

But maybe not in such a
New York way of saying

Bryant Gillespie: No.

Peter also does copywriting for websites
on the weekends if you need a guy.

TJ Bedacht: No, I really
appreciate that creation.

My, my team will be, very pumped
of when this podcast comes out.

They will love to hear that story.

It means a lot.

Bryant Gillespie: Let me ask, that
brings up, Peter's story kind of

brings up something that I was
thinking of, but like, how are you

gonna replicate that with your online

TJ Bedacht: ordering?

So with that, with the online
ordering, I'm going to staff a couple

people to review every single order.

And if there's something that's
out of the ordinary, they will be

call, they will be called, yes.

It's supposed to be hams
free, paperless type.

But when I feel like when that process
gets there, it's gonna be more headaches.

So I want personalization
still on those orders.

if there's a typo or something
like that, it needs to be caught.

A sign shop's not gonna be able to eat
1200 signs that they only put one PDF

and it was supposed to be 1500 PDFs.

that online system isn't
smart enough for that.

So I want my team to,
okay, there's 1500 signs.

There's supposed to be
1500 individual artworks.

Where's the art?

We only have one pdf.

Oh man, I, something must have happened.

there's that I can afford to lose
$50, but I can't afford to lose 1500.

On a bunch of orders,
you know what I'm saying?

I want to make sure that every single
job is as perfect as they can be, but

that 50 or that hundred might, it's
just gonna go through the system.

I want them to just double check some and
just make sure you know who your customers

are that will send over the good stuff.


It's the ones that send over the kind
of questionable jobs from time to time

that you have to double check their work.



Peter Kourounis: who, who, did you
build this system for yourself or did

you have somebody build it for you?

TJ Bedacht: we have had
five people totally.

That have done some software stuff.

I don't have all of that knowledge.

Like I said, my dad has Tackled
that I'm not, I, we've gone

through so many different software.

I don't know where we're at
and who we're using currently.

, what's,

Bryant Gillespie: why have you gone
through so many different ones?

TJ Bedacht: because of, some didn't
integrate with Corbridge, some

didn't integrate with QuickBooks.

Some of 'em didn't ha
this was the best one.

So we spent like a year and a half.

and we found out that when we
started out with, Pace, ero, and they

had a limitation on banner sizes.

so the customer couldn't order
over a five by 10 banner.

I'm like, That's not gonna fly, dude.

He's we can't, expand it any.

So Corbridge adapted with us, and
we've had them the longest, but some

of the other, ones that we used,
they just, they were more of a paper

printer to where it was built by sheets
and with it being built by rolls.

So where we're using master rolls
of 750 feet in length in a sign

shop or a printer might have, 150
foot roll, it doesn't work for us.

and then the, they're used to
building it at 60 inch, where

ours are 126 or 1 96 here soon.

that's where a lot however,
signs 365 did it, and however

B2 did it, that's off to them.

They were the first in the market.

I don't, I eight, 10 years worth of
trying to, I'm not gonna say copy

'em because we are trying to make
ours better and we've stuck with the

same model over the last 10 years.

We just want simple.

We want a guy to be able
to go size, quantity.

Here's the artwork order, boom.

drop shipping is a must.

And Yep.

estimating the freight.

we got all the way through this last
software package, I think, I spent

almost 275,000 on the software package
and the guy told us, we can't, we can't

estimate weight and sizes of the package.

I'm like, What do you mean?

you're just gonna have to
do a standardized shipping.

And I'm like, that's
what the other guy does.

$10 a box.

But I'm not gonna lose $20
every box, $30 every box.

I want it to be accurate.

So that way there's a percentage
on markup, on shipping.

And man, that was the last go around.

And then there was another, we
tried the fiery EFI software.

we're moving down the road from that one.

But, it's,

Bryant Gillespie: it sounds like a
headache to me, is what it sounds like,

TJ Bedacht: That's why
I stepped away from it.

I wanted to focus on what I do best and
that's, getting the orders in, getting

them delivered, making the customer happy.

Dad, your job I'd need
this website up quickly.

. Okay, Dad, there you go.

And that's his project Jack.

That's his project, and he
still doesn't have it up.

Still doesn't have it up 10 years.

All right.

So for our listeners

Peter Kourounis: out there who, follow,
TJ on all these sign shop talks and

other Facebook groups and things like
that, me being one of them, I have

to ask, I'm gonna ask for the users
that are out there that are afraid to

ask, What is up with the Rusty Bus?

Where did that idea come from?

what is that all about?

Tell me.

I need to

TJ Bedacht: know.

All right.

So that Rusty bus, is a joke.

Craig Snowden, he's out of Indiana.

We were on the sign Shop talk and he said
something about, Hey, here's cousin Eddie.

I'm gonna be at Fort
Wilderness over Christmas.

And I'm like, No, shit.

I'm gonna be there too.

And he was like, let's have, let.

Let's see who has the
better looking campsite.

I'm like, Huh, okay.

And, . So we called
each other on the phone.

I said, What are you gonna do?

And he's I wanna put some decals
on my truck and I'm gonna make a

big cousin, Eddie Fricking sweet.

I'm like, All right, I've
got the perfect plan.

So, Jeff Roland, is one of my
designers, and, he and I sat down

and he goes, What do you wanna do?

I said, Here's a picture.

Make it happen.

I leave on Thursday.

That was Friday afternoon,
. That was Friday afternoon.

So, I had the, RV here at the
shop, and, so Jeff started

dropping files Monday morning.

By Thursday, the bus was done.

And, I'm like, Jeff, I need some
woodgreen for, to decide the expedition.

And he goes, You're doing that too.


I hurried up before we left,
wrapped the expedition with some

woodgreen, make it look like, Clark
Griswolds, the family Truckster.

It's one of my favorite
movies of all times.

And so I sent a teaser pitcher
to Craig and he was like,

You've got to be kidding me.

So he told a couple people what was
coming and then, I sent a video to

my buddy Matt Meyrick, that owns
busted knuckle films on YouTube.

He posted it up with, before I
hit the Florida Georgia line,

there was almost 5 million views.

on TikTok and on YouTube, and it was
just, I looked at Heather and Jeff called

me and we're like, We made something
really wild and crazy and the amount

of people that are checking this thing
out, it's making everybody smile.

So that was our approach.

We did it to make people smile.

It was a joke.

We wanted to have the best looking
campsite at Fort Wilderness and with all

of the tools that I have here, we did it.

And I think we're gonna hold that
title until I remove the wrap off.

There's not another wrap that's as crazy.

it's a 2014 Fleetwood discovery
that my wife makes really good money

and she's the one that bought it.

But I'm just a dumb sign guy.

she, It's created an identity
and the kids even love it.

And, so when we go down to Fort
Wilderness, there's some videos

that I sent to you guys and it shows
when Craig was of doing the drone

shots and the just checking it out.

He, he looked at me, he goes, This
thing is getting so much attention.

I said, I'm doing it
for the industry, dude.

I don't, I have a little small QR
code on the back, corner of the bus.

It says GCI printed by gci.

And I've got our Instagram for that
rusty bus and the, the Facebook thing.

I didn't do it.

I didn't want to be like a huge
marketing campaign for gci.

I wanted it to be holy shit.

We can make beautiful RVs look like shit.

Or shitty RVs look beautiful . And I
hope that the rap world is capitalizing.

On this.

I think there's, Chad out of
Fast Lane out in Illinois, he's

doing some really cool work.

Jamie, the rap artist killer work.

the, there's so many,
like vehicle rap people.

It's an art that the big thing with
that Rusty bus right now is p all these

RVs that have the 1.5 million coaches,
I'm gonna call 'em Karens, because they

don't want that in their RV resorts
because it looks like shit in their mind.

it's art.

It fits the year.

It's art.

You can't kick me out because it's
physically, it hits all the requirements.


It's sort of patinaed

Yeah, it's fun.

We, I, it's definitely holding the
title for the most photographed

RV on the planet right now.

. So, Fleetwood Discovery or
Fleetwood, rv, are you going, are you

Bryant Gillespie: gonna try to top
yourself eventually or are you just gonna

wait until somebody else comes along and
knocks you off the throne to reclaim?

TJ Bedacht: So version two
isn't gonna be on the same bus.

I'm thinking about the next one,
what version two is gonna be.

But with it being getting close to the
age requirement for some of the RV parks,

we have to, upgrade the next year or two.

Cause it's 10 years or older.

So we're at the eight year mark.



Bryant Gillespie: yeah, I know
nothing about the RV world, so

TJ Bedacht: when you come to Cincinnati,
I'll just take you a ride in.

You'll have to put the robe on and
go pump some gas . But, , no, it's,

you guys have to check it out.

It's that rusty bus on Facebook.

And, the family, we really
appreciate all of the, we're all

of the smiles going down a road.

it's unbelievable.

So That's awesome.

But, has anybody ever

Peter Kourounis: touched
it and thought it was real?


TJ Bedacht: Dude, it's, If you don't
walk by it and not touch it, I think

there's something wrong with you.

Like it, everybody walks
by because it did just win.

Where's that at?

I had a, an extra copy.

I don't know what they did with it,
but it just won like best, rap in

the signs of the Times Magazine and
it's on the, their website and stuff.

What Jeff did was he took and make,
made everything look so real in 40 plus

hours in design time was spent on it.

So Remarkable.





I love it, man.

It's great.

So we're talking, Heather and I are
actually talking about traveling with

the kids and I will actually want to,
we're, we've got a map planned out.

We wanna see some of the customers and
we headed up the sign show up at Indy.

couple of my employees and I, we
jumped in it, took it up there and

parked it out in front of the hotel.

But we're gonna do a sign shop visit tour.

And, I feel that the, that would be
pretty sweet to roll out in front

of a sign shop and, just see that
wild ass thing sitting out in front.

some of these guys probably
won't know what to expect.

Make sure

Peter Kourounis: you
come to the northeast.

TJ Bedacht: Okay.

Make sure you, we actually
plan part of your trip.

. We plan on it.

it's just, we have to, He's

Bryant Gillespie: gonna pull
it up in front of your shop.


Peter Kourounis: I'm pull it up.

I could use the publicity.

Bryant Gillespie: gonna block

TJ Bedacht: the street.

Do you have a sewer drain out front?

? Yeah, course I do.


I really do.



Not before.

I'm gonna drop the tank
right in front of your shop.

? No, in this bathroom with
the, in my bath with the hat.

Drinking a beer bush light.

And a cigar.

And a cigar.

No, but No, we do plan on coming up there
and, checking that northeastern area out.

Hopefully you guys will
accept us up there, so.


That's awesome.

No, we appreciate it.

It's it's been fun and the whole
princess, I think that's my escape,

but we just put the star link on and
now I have to work everywhere I go.

There's no excuse.



, there's no excuse to get away.

That's not fun.


Bryant Gillespie: cool.

I, yeah, I really enjoyed
this interview, tj.

I appreciate you coming on, man.

for everybody out there that, doesn't know
you or GCI yet, how can they find you?

How can

TJ Bedacht: they contact you?

they can, reach out [email protected].

They can go to print

they can search us on the
internet, gci badass banner, dude.

look at, if you're on any of
the sign shop forms, just ask

who they need to print with.


Bryant Gillespie: if I type
in badass banner, dude, does

that come up with you guys?

TJ Bedacht: My, no.

, Oh, actually,

Bryant Gillespie: Jeff, I should say I
would be putting that on my business card.

, Just Google Badass banner.


TJ Bedacht: Jeff's, email address
was, Miss Patricia, What was that?


It was like badass, designer
or something like that.

He made it up and, was like, badass
designer doc [email protected]

or something like that.


It was one of those bets with a
buddy of his and he's Yeah, dude,

you got a cat walking on your desk?

I do.

Is that a tiger?

Michael Riley: She looks like it.

Come here.


That's, one, one of my
three at least at least she

Bryant Gillespie: didn't shit on the desk.

This test.

Michael Riley: Yeah.

No, that, that's legit.

She has like irritable bowel
syndrome and I, she's had some

accidents like on my keyboard.

I've had to replace a keyboard
before . You just can't clean that out.

Shit happens.

TJ Bedacht: Shit happens.

She's something else.

, if anybody's wanting to come visit,
I, I strongly, suggest it, that

25 cent tour that, we were all
joking about at the beginning.

The Nickel tour.

The nickel tour.

so when we went down to the Atlanta
Sign Show, I made a comment to

my dad and my son actually was
the one that brought it up.

He goes, Papa Tom.

We have more equipment
than the sign show does.

And, , I looked over at my
kid, he's 12 years old, and I'm

like, Dude, you're not joking.

it's impressive to see, five latex
machines running two big Tex.

And then we got the new
10 foot, 10 by 10 colberg.

So watching those things run
still to this day, like when

I walk out there, I'm amazed.

So if anybody's in the Cincinnati area,
I highly suggest, coming in, taking

your kids to Cincinnati Zoo Museum or
whatever here in Cincinnati and coming

up for 10 minutes just to check it out.

I'll buy you some lunch or something.

Next time

Michael Riley: I'm in Dayton
visiting family, man, I'll

definitely haul down there and check
on the shop and visit for sure.

I definitely wanna do that.

TJ Bedacht: Will you do some collections
up in Dayton for me about the.

What we talked about before,

use this.

Michael Riley: I left Ohio because I'm
sick of doing collections in Dayton.

. Right.

I don't think there's
enough money on this planet

TJ Bedacht: No.

But, yeah, we'd love that.

I want everybody to print with
us, man, at least one time.

if we're not doing what I've,
strived for and put into effect,

by all means, try somebody else.

Once you're in.

I think it's one of those deals.

I treat

Bryant Gillespie: everybody like,

TJ Bedacht: Oh, go.


We treat everybody like family.

You're not an employee.

You're a family member team member.

I don't like to use the word customer.

it's, we're all a team.


Bryant Gillespie: your reputation
definitely precedes you and, uh,

Thanks again for joining us, tj.

TJ Bedacht: Yep.

Appreciate it.

Thank you, gentlemen.

Thank you.

I appreciate it.

Thank you.

Sounds good.

All right, see you guys.


Bryant Gillespie: let's
bring this one to a close.

Rapid fire takeaways,
Peter, He's here this week.

Peter Kourounis: listen, if I
want to talk a little bit about

the customer experience that man
does a lot of really great things.

That man does a lot, that business
does a lot of really great things

as far as customer experience goes.

So I think my biggest takeaway
here from today is just another

perspective of what somebody else
thinks of customer experience.

It doesn't necessarily
have to be systems or SOPs.

It could be just getting the job done.

focusing on the end user and what
they need and getting it done.


I, it was refreshing to hear just
how simple black and white, a very

big shop, a very big operation,
looks at customer experience.

we all, we often think about, we often
think about customer experience being

like, All right, did they get that email?

Did we respond quickly?

Did we shoot them a reminder text?

Are we being competitive with pricing?

Is it just doesn't even
have to be that complicated.

He simplified it in this little interview.

I love that.

It's just Hey, let's
just get the job done.

By all means necessary.

Bryant Gillespie: Simple and

Michael Riley: honest, Mike.

Yeah, I agree.

I love his, like his good old boy
club that he is building there.

it's like Peter said, everybody's
trying to automate everything and then

not that there's not a place for that.

I think the automation is
key to efficiency and profit

and making it in this job.

it's critical, but I like that he's not
putting all his eggs in that basket and

he's not turning his back on, on having
a personal relationship with his clients.

and, if you watch him interact with
everybody on the social media channels,

it is a good old boys' club and he is
buddies with everybody, everyone with

his clients that he's buddies with.

And I think there's, I don't think
any amount of systems or processes

or automation or fancy websites
or anything else can replace.

That one on one personal relationship that
you have with a crusty sign guy who has

walked a few miles in your shoes and knows
exactly what it's like to be in your boat.

And I don't think you can get
that experience from just placing

an order on a website, faceless
website without a person.

So I love that he's trying to combine
technology and modern efficiency with

old school business tactics and just
going out there and shaking hands and

interacting with people and being buddies
with people and building friendships.

and at the end of the day, I don't really
think there's any more way to, to have a

solid killer business than, being close
with your customers, I think's great.

Bryant Gillespie: 110%.


especially the market they're in,
it's all based on relationships.

the sign world is a small one.

it's a large industry, but
everybody knows each other.

We're all connected through
the seven degrees of tj, I

guess , but yeah, he's the Kevin

Michael Riley: Bacon Industry.

that's awesome.


ep-9: you

Bryant Gillespie: go, dude.

You're just spit out
nicknames left and right.


We struggle for

Michael Riley: you, my man.


Why can't we get one for me?

But dude, he so Seven Degrees
a tj , , but yeah, I wish he

was still on the call for that.

That's awesome.

Bryant Gillespie: But anyway, I think
systems and processes have their place,

but like you guys have said, there's no
substitute for having that consultative

approach with customers, even though he
didn't explicitly say that Hey, we're act

as consultants for our clients, but that's
essentially what he's doing or what he

described in, for that ballpark job where
it's like, Hey, how tall is the fence?

Is it five a five foot fence?

Why are we printing a five foot banner?


Peter Kourounis: Yeah,
he did mention that.

He did mention that.

And you wanna know, maybe, I was
just reading behind the scenes here a

little bit like in between the lines
when it comes to what he was saying

and what he was trying to imply.

But he's got all this equipment
and I don't, and I've seen the

videos, I've seen pictures of
like his new equipment arriving.

But I don't think the motivation
for purchasing new equipment comes

from like having that shiny new toy.

I think he literally looks
at it like, now I can print.

Now my customers, my son
shop owner customers can now

print 10 foot wide banners.


and he's gonna be the vehicle
for how that's getting done.

When he posts the new piece of equipment,
I feel like he gets, he's putting it out

there for all of his potential buddies
or clients to say I'm still your guy,

but, And now not only am I your guy,
I'm able to do this for you as well.

And maybe there's something in the,
maybe there's something in the back

of everyone's head when they're buying
that kind of piece of equipment.

But a lot of us are buying that
for the affair of what could be.

He's doing it to solve a problem.

I get the opinion that he's
doing it to solve a problem

with his, sign shot customer.

he said it himself.

He wants to be better than signs 365 wants
to be better than b2, and these are the

ways that he's thinking that he's going

Michael Riley: to be better.


And you know what, like he may
never build quite as big a business

as B2 or, sign 365, based on that.

Cause I, I think there's probably
like a natural ceiling to how much

you can scale if you want to have
that close personal relationship with

every single one of your customers.


you just can't do it if you're planning
for every single sign shop on the planet.

But I think he's probably gonna
generate probably more profit

in the long run because he's, he
is like family to these people.

And that's a huge thing.

And he is not hurting.

his business is doing
pretty well regardless, but.

I I love his approach.

I'm excited to see people that
still, take the approach that he

does and recognize that the personal
relationships are never gonna go away.

And that's ultimately, the
most important thing in this

industry, especially wholesale.

Bryant Gillespie: Absolutely.


I'm curious to check in on 'em
in six months from now and see

how the online ordering piece is
gone and if they've been able to

replicate some of that personalized
feel that they provide, with that

Michael Riley: system.

Yeah, I'm really anxious to see
how they're goes for 'em as well.

I hope it works and I hope they
figure out how to not lose that

personal touch, in it as well.

All right, guys, Great episode.

Go us.

Bryant Gillespie: if you're interested
in being a guest on the podcast,

make sure you shoot us an email
at, hey, better sign

Frank Fellers, we're putting
the call out for you, dude.

We'd love to have you on the podcast.

if you guys know Frank, if you're
listening, tell him, Tell 'em we

want Frank Fellers on the podcast.

What's the website we set up?

Talk to me

Michael Riley: Talk to me

TJ Bedacht: that's a real site.

Michael Riley: Oh, yeah.

It's amazing.

You need to look at it.

it's worth your

Peter Kourounis: time.

I thought you were just spurting
out the ideas last night when you're

like, That's it, we're going on.

Oh my God.

Okay, talk to me, Frank.

Talk to me.

Talk to me baby.

TJ Bedacht: If you liked this episode,

Michael Riley: make sure you hit

TJ Bedacht: subscribe to get all
the latest episodes and check out

our website, Better sign

Michael Riley: Get free resources

TJ Bedacht: and helpful
tools on growing your shop.

Thanks for listening.

Creators and Guests

The Importance of Customer Experience // TJ Bedacht - GCI Digital
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