How to Lose an Employee in 10 Days: Lessons on building killer team in your shop - with Jeff Sherman

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Are you struggling with finding and keeping good employees? Learn what it really takes to onboard a new employee and how to keep valuable team members motivated and engaged.

Jeff Sherman: Learn how to build a
better sign and print shop from a

few crusty sign guys who've made more
mistakes than they 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 and Bryant Gillespie.

Bryant Gillespie: Right guys, we
are back with the next edition

of the Better Sign Shop podcast.

As always, I've got my colleague,
the side shop, Yoda, Peter Kaunas.

Hi Pete.

Jeff Sherman: What's up everybody?

Peter Kourounis: Nice
to see everyone again.

Bryant Gillespie: And we also
actually have Mike the signed

burrito costume with us this week.

Thank you.

You look good in

Michael Riley: that man.

Do I?

Is it working for me?

Bryant Gillespie: It's, I could see
why your wife married you, you stud.

and then we, I've been
saying this for years.

We've also got a special guest, an
old friend of ours, Jeff Sherman,

out on the West Coast, Jeff.



Jeff Sherman: signed, Jeff?


Hello, Hello.

How was everybody doing?

Thanks for having me in, guys.

Appreciate it.

Michael Riley: Right.

Happy to have you on.

Yeah, we're excited.


Jeff Sherman: so the, the signed burrito
thing, I, I, I listened to your last

episode and, you had people, you, you
put out a challenge for people to come

up with new nicknames for, for Mike.

So I, i, I, I hope you don't mind,
but I took the opportunity to, to

try to throw a couple together in
preparation for today's session.

So, if you don't mind, I'm just gonna kind
of throw those out there for you, Paul.

I can't wait.

Let's hear it.

Michael Riley: I don't wanna
be the burrito anymore, so.


Jeff Sherman: well,
well save me, Rescue me.

Well start starting with that one.

I'm actually just gonna go
with the sign Chimichanga.

Brian, you know, you, you got,
you got the sign, you got the

signed burrito, but I really think
Mike's a bit, cru ears in that.


Kimmy Changa.

Bryant Gillespie: Touche.

Chi Changa.

Okay, That's Nu Uno.

Jeff Sherman: All right.

we're, we're just gonna go simple.

Sign Master General Sign

Michael Riley: Master General.

Bryant Gillespie: Okay.

Sign Master General.

Mike, you like that one or no?


Let's, Mike, you gotta give, like,
you gotta rate each one of these.

Michael Riley: Right.

Like, I like Chi Cho.

I like that one, but I,
Let's back up Sign Chi Choa.

Let's start with the Chi Cho.

That one's, It's so good.

Jeff Sherman: I don't, I don't, Well,

Michael Riley: well, I don't, I
don't wanna like it, but I do.

Jeff Sherman: Let's, sign Master General.

What, what are your thoughts on that?

Michael Riley: I'm like 50 50 on that one.

I like it, It sounds more
official, but like, it's not as

Jeff Sherman: appropriate.


Well, I'm, I'm, I'm gonna go to
the weakest one next, but it's, you

know, topical, the fine husband.

Congrats on the recent wedding.

Well, thank you.

Yeah, that one's, that one's good.

We, we know we're all married
to our business, you know,

as, as sick as that is.

we'll, we'll, we'll go old school.

Sign your Wednesday


It was little

And then, and then I, you know, I
have to throw this out cuz I was

listening on my headphones yesterday.

I'm gonna call you the sign Podcast.

Barry White.


Do those do cones?



Michael Riley: I, ok.

Those are

Bryant Gillespie: the signed
shop, Berry White, the signed

podcast Berry White Mike.

I'm trying to resist the podcast.

Berry White.

Give us a few bars.


Michael Riley: I'm try,
Well, I'm trying really hard.

Not, I'm trying to think
of a Barry White song.

My brain just went like
totally spaced outta me.

Hang on, let me look at some.

Jeff Sherman: My first, my
last, my everything went . Yeah.

Bryant Gillespie: Yeah.

I didn't, he he just got married.

Like, like, come on now.

Did you not get, I know you'd
think I would, You didn't play

any very white at the reception.

Michael Riley: We didn't.

Jeff Sherman: I don't remember.

Oh, that's good.


Michael Riley: a good sign, right?

Yeah, No, I, I don't know.

Like I, that's a tough one.

I really like, I, I don't want
to be a Mexican, you know, menu

Jeff Sherman: item.

I'm tired to

Michael Riley: that, but the chi

Jeff Sherman: is really funny.


Michael Riley: I can't help
it . It's totally random.

It makes

Jeff Sherman: no sense at it.

Peter Kourounis: Definitely has my vote.

I think that

Jeff Sherman: is the most well
articulated name for you,

Peter Kourounis: beyond just being

Jeff Sherman: such a plain stale burrito.



Michael Riley: I'm gonna, I'm gonna
go to Home Depot and get like some

brown spray paint and just make
this look like it's toasted . Yeah.

I can, I

Peter Kourounis: can
wear, Yeah, definitely.

You could do that.



What do you think are those little
yellow things on your shoulder?

What, what?

What would

Jeff Sherman: that look like?

What, What is that?


Michael Riley: assuming it's cheddar
cheese, which is really inauthentic.

Shouldn't be yellow cheese and a burrito,
but, And I guess these are tomatoes.

I don't know.



I don't know why it's a, I
don't know why it's a burrito.

That's the weird

Jeff Sherman: part.


It looked kind, I mean, grow over here.

Anyway, it looked a little bit
like a pizza, like a pizza.

Yeah, you can't,

Michael Riley: you're not
getting the full effect of it.

You gotta like, see

Jeff Sherman: Oh, it's

Peter Kourounis: like, it's
got a nice little fold on

Jeff Sherman: the belly.

Chipotle take notes.

This is how you, this is how you a tight

Michael Riley: burrito.


. But I, I am sweating like a pig.


Bryant Gillespie: this is really hot.

The signed chi changa.

See that one's got flavors.

You give it a little kick to it.

if you're listening to this one, let
us know what you think of those five.

We're leaning towards signed Chi Changa,
but it may change next episode if

Jeff Sherman: you're, if
you're still listening.

So where, where does, where
does I have to ask though?

Cause I, you know, I've only
listened to a couple of the episodes.


Pete, where does the sign Yoda come from?



That's where that, that's
where it came from.

Peter Kourounis: I, I honestly
didn't come up with it.

It's, I am a Star Wars fan.


not, I don't warrant myself being
the Yoda, but it was a name that was

given on me and bestowed upon me.

And I said, All right, I'll rock with it.

Bryant Gillespie: You gotta ride it.

So I was, this is when I had, hired
Pete to do videos for us at Shop Fox.


, and I was looking for
a way to introduce him.

he had, I think he had just got done
with whatever clause that he had

about his selling his franchise.

So he came on board to do videos
and I was like, Hey, how am

I gonna introduce this guy?


Jeff Sherman: I was like,
just rolled through to,

Bryant Gillespie: Yeah, it was
something like, we started with like

Guru or something like that, and
I was like, this just doesn't fit.

So somehow, I don't know if like the
new Star Wars had come out at that

time, how many years ago that was.

but it just, It stuck, man.

Or maybe it was, maybe it was
when the No, it wasn't the

Mandalorian that was Baby Yoda.


Peter Kourounis: might.

It might, yeah.

But it might have been like, around
that time when, where it came out the

first season, it might have been optic.


Jeff Sherman: back, you know, if
we're talking baby Yoda then you

know, Mike's got that look down.

Totally right.

Peter Kourounis: Mike.

Mike, the baby Yoda.

Jeff Sherman: alright,
well, no, I derivative.

Michael Riley: I wanna know, I wanna know
Bryan, like the sign shop Yoda rolled

right off your tongue for Peter, like,
The signed burrito came to mind for me.

Like it's

Bryant Gillespie: It's, that's
what I was telling Jeff.

You eat so many tacos and Mexican food and
like every time I talk to you, you're at,

you're in the drive through at Taco Bell.

I very rarely do I call Mike on
his cell phone, but if I ever call

him on this cell phone, he's like,
Yeah, Taco, hang on a minute.

I'm, I'm trying to get
some lunch at Taco Bell.

Can I call you back?

I'm like, like, Okay.

Yeah, I got.

Michael Riley: Okay.

That's, that's fair.

I'll go, I'll give you that

Jeff Sherman: So I learned
something new about Mike today.

He likes to main poisoning

Taco, Taco Bell special.


Michael Riley: Yeah, I love it.

This nacho fries man are so good.

As we get

Bryant Gillespie: into it, obviously
anybody listening out there,

you haven't been on the podcast
before, Jeff, why don't you give

us your sign industry backstory?

Jeff Sherman: Sure.

well I think like a lot of people, I
got into the sign industry on accident.

didn't know what I was getting
into in the first place at all.

I've been in it for 20, 23 years now.

Literally through a miscommunication.

my, my, my grandfather moved into
a, a condo complex and, got to

talking to one of his neighbors.

And, they got to the part of, you
know, what do you do for a living?

And, and the neighbors
said, I do vehicle graphics.

And all my grandfather heard was graphics
and I'd gone to school for graphic design.

So my grandfather said, Oh,
my, my grandson does that.

And the guy said, Hey, I'm kinda
looking for somebody for the

shop once you bring him over.

And so I went over and.

Two minutes after meeting the
guy, I'm like, Yeah, I don't

do this, but, I need a job.

And I learn quick.

So when I give it a shot, and so 23
years later, I'm, I'm still a sign guy.

but yeah.

started off in vehicle wraps.

Basically used to do all the stuff
for, for Red Bull, believe it or not,

out of a little tiny, three man shop
in, in Huntington Beach over here.

We used to do all the promo vehicles.

Have you ever seen those?

Those little, little, little
cars cans on top of them.


That driving around the little, the
little, mini Coopers or whatever, they're,

they did Mini Coopers at one point.

They started off with, they were
Suzukis like, I can't remember.

It was a little Suzuki, that Red Bull
pretty much bought up every single one

that they had, X J 90 or something like
that, I think is what it was called.

and they would retrofit those
things and these cans onto them.

And we did all the, all
the graphics for that.

And this was, this was like pre, this
was like early, early digital days.

So that stuff wasn't done as wraps.

It was, They would, the, the, the
companies that were modifying the cars

would, you know, build a rigs and then
take, convert the trunks into coolers

and then paint the, the things in the
silver and blue, and then we'd come out

and put two color, CAD cut vinyl on it.

and so we did all of those and then we
were doing all of their, their fleet.

The delivery vehicles all
out of a little, little shop.

It was crazy.

Had a couple, couple 48 inch Rollins
that we were running like 24 7 just to

ship hits all over the, all over the.

Michael Riley: Nice.

I haven't heard anybody say
CAD cut vinyl in so long.

Jeff Sherman: Oh, really?




They gave, they gave me the

Michael Riley: warm and fuzzies.

Jeff Sherman: It's pretty funny.

What, what?

Okay, so I'm, I'm, I'm
old school apparently.

What, what is, what is,
what does everybody call it?

Oh, it's just always

Michael Riley: cut vinyl now.

I haven't heard anybody
about the CAD in front of it.


All right.

That's how I learned too, was the CAD cut.


Jeff Sherman: yeah, I mean, I
guess as an old school, what are

the other options at this point?

I mean, you gonna do non
CAD cut vinyl, I guess?

Yeah, it is a little redundant in it.


Well, hey, thanks for the, the, the, the,
the education I'm gonna head out now.

, thanks for making me feel old.


so yeah.

so yeah, started off in a vinyl
shop and then, spent the last

almost 19 years at a company that
specialized in, architectural signage.

Mostly interior for a lot of that.

So I got a ton of ADA signage and
interior sign system design and

manufacturer and install, under my belt.

And, and, you know, about
five to six years worth of

the electrical stuff as well.

So it's been a, it's been an
interesting, an interesting ride.

you know, I find myself at this point
in my career kinda reevaluating.

Where my strengths and where my
weaknesses are in the sign business.

For the longest time, I've been
kind of the resident subject

matter expert within the company.

And, what does that mean, you
know, so that meant that about 80%

of my day was spent, especially
since the advent of teams.

fielding messages and, and quick calls
and answering questions to everybody in

the, in the company, from the sales side,
project management, fabrication design,

Pretty much everybody soup to nuts in
the, in the business would, would hit

me up with, Hey, I've got this thing.

What are we supposed to do with it?

You know, how, how do I design this?

How do I sell it?

What's the right material to use for this?

What's, you know, how do we install this?

What's the hardware I need?

How do I deal with the city on this?

I, I mean, literally I was like
the Wikipedia of the company.

I, it was, it was a
very odd, very odd role.

I mean, technically speaking, for the
longest time, my, my title was Vice

President of Operations, but honestly,
it was, I mean Chief Cook and bottle

washer, you know, But yeah, it was af
Jeff, you know, forget Ask Jeans and Yes.


There's another old one for your mic.



Cause nobody remembers that either.

I saw, I remember that one.

Michael Riley: Do you

Jeff Sherman: That one was cool, right?


I, I actually never even used it.

I just knew it was a thing.

but yeah, it was just, it
was, it was like, that was

the company process, you know?

You got a question, you just ask.


You don't, you don't look it up, you
don't look into records, whatever.

It's just call Jeff, figure it out.

You know?

And then of course I was the, I was
the resident shop box expert too, you

know, if, if there is such a thing,

Bryant Gillespie: And that's
how Jim and I got introduced

to each other through Shop Box.

Peter Kourounis: This is true.


How, Let me ask you this.

Let me ask you as a follow up here.


In a way, you became the
Sign Shop general, right?

If, if you got, if you have all.

Of these people asking you

Jeff Sherman: questions, you're,
you are the source of all of

Peter Kourounis: all of those answers.

How does that make you feel as an
owner that you are, that tied into

all of those operations, all of
those key components to your business

that you know, that everybody goes

Jeff Sherman: to?

How does that make you feel as an owner?

Well, so let a couple things.

number one, and, and, and you don't
know this, so forgive me for correcting

it like this, but I wasn't the owner.

I, I, it was the small
shop when I started.

There were five people there, but I
got hired on, I was a hired, okay.

So, you know, there's that layer
to that onion, but, you know, it's

at a certain level of gratifying.

It's good to know that you bring a
value, that people value what you

contribute, that value, that people.

recognize that you've got, you know,
knowledge that you can, you can

bring to, to, to help them out at
the, on the other hand, it speaks

to the kinda lack of training that
went in, you know, systemically

into the company as, as a culture.

you know, it, and I was just talking
to somebody, I was interviewing with

somebody yesterday morning, and asked
them what their biggest struggle was.

And, and without dropping any names,
I'm just gonna say this is one of

the largest national companies in the
US that I was talking to yesterday.

and I asked them what their biggest
challenges were as an organization,

and one of the first things he
mentioned was, was people, you

know, finding signed people.

Is difficult.

So often you find yourself, especially as
a smaller shop, having to build your own.

And that can be a challenge.

You know, there's, there's,
it's very difficult to supplant

just time and experience.

You know, you can, you
can, you can support it.

but I think the way that, the situation
that I ended up in where everybody

was constantly coming to me asking
questions is, is an example of, Maybe

not having a so good of a, system of,
of onboarding and, and building a, a,

a basis of knowledge within the staff.

You know?

Peter Kourounis: So let's, let's
start with that for a moment.

For our listeners out there that
are always concerned about finding

people, there's tons of owners out
there that own their own shops and

they have the same problem, right?


, they have the same problem.

Like, where, how can I find people,
How can I find people, But I don't

want to talk about how to find people.


that, that, that's a, that's a simple,
you know, 10 or 15 minute conversation.

But how do you build people up?

How, in your experience, how have
you taken somebody that doesn't

have experience and what have you
done in, in your experience to build

them up so that they can become sign
guys or sign people, whatever you

Jeff Sherman: wanna call em.


You know, I, I think, I
think one of the first, and.

Most effective ways of dealing
with that is doing rotations

through all of the areas in your
business, whatever that might be.

so many of us, and I'm I I, I mentioned
this before we started here, many

of us are that kind of chief cook
and bottle washer is, is a sign guy.

You know, it, we, we tend not to be
so focused on, I'm a sign designer

or I'm a science fabricator, or I
sell signs, or I'm a project manager.

Yes, there are companies that are
structured that way, but even in those

companies, the people that tend to succeed
in this industry, at least from what

I've seen, are the ones that are a little
more rounded and at least understand how,

what it is that they're doing impacts
the overall process because, You know,

every single little thing that we touch
from the sales conversations to what

we recommend to the customer is the
solution to what gets designed to get

what gets produced ultimately has an
impact on the final product and how well

it suits what the client needed and how
happy they're gonna be with it, right?

So to me, to build that kind of sign
person, you've gotta, you, you've

gotta build that understanding of
the process from start to finish and

put people in different areas and let
them experience the different areas.

So send your sign designer into the shop.

Let 'em, let 'em work with the guys.

Let 'em, let 'em weed some vinyl.

You wanna, you wanna, you wanna
discourage a, you wanna discourage a sign

designer from setting up quarter inch?

Cut copy, cut vinyl, copy.

Let 'em try to weed some
of it for about an hour.

what else?

yeah, put put em, you know,
put em, let em let em go.

Maybe don't put 'em in the paint booth.

You know, put 'em in air, but let,
let, let him get around it, you know?

let, let, let him see how, how things
take them in through the MetaLab shop.

Let see how to channel letters
are, are put together again.


You want discourage a half inch stroke
on a, on a five inch deep channel.

Let him have a conversation with the guy
in metals, spas, trying to get his, his,

his welding gun down to the inside of the
channel and grip at him about, Hey, you

see how this doesn't fit in here, I get
so get your sales people through there.

You know?

So what you're

Peter Kourounis: saying is you,
you basically take them through

all phases of your operation from
anywhere, from front of the house

to very deep into fabrication,
possibly even into installation, I

Jeff Sherman: would guess,
as well, out in the future.


Peter Kourounis: And, and you're,
and you're getting them ex, you're

giving them exposure into all
elements of what this business is.


And then, and then at the end of the.

You're hoping that they're gonna
pick up some of those nuggets, right?

Like that there, that there's gonna be
something there that resonates with them,

that teaches them, that exposes them,
that maybe they could find a home with

comfortability in some of those aspects.

But what do you do as the, the
manager to kind of make sure that

they are receiving some nuggets,
Like they can walk around and I could

play around in your paint booth.


I don't know if I'm gonna learn anything.

So what do you do

Jeff Sherman: to kinda enforce that?

So it, it has to be a guided activity.

I mean, you, you need to map out.

Here's things that I wanna
expose this person to.


So you're gonna work with your staff.

You're gonna say, Okay, put, put,
put an agenda together for the day.

Hey, I, I want you to, I want
to spend an hour in vinyl.

I want 'em to see, show
'em how things are cut.

Show 'em how you load the media.

Show 'em how things are weeded.

Give them some vinyl to weed so
they experience what that's like.

then get 'em over into this area here
and show 'em this, that, and this.

Map out.

Map out a, an actual agenda for the day.

Then you gotta sit down with
them at the end of the day.

And talk to 'em about it.

Do a, do a debrief with them.

Ask them questions.

What did you see?

What, you know, what kind of,
what kind of things made sense?

What things didn't make
sense when you saw this?

Did, did, do you know
why they were doing that?

So, to me, any kind of training
program and that, that's gonna have

value and is gonna stick, my approach
always goes to give, give the, give

the holistic, give them the, how does
this fit into the bigger picture?

Give them the why behind why
something is done rather than just

this is, this is how it's done.

If I don't understand why something
is done the way it's done, odds are

I'm not gonna quite grab onto it.

Or at very least, I'm not gonna buy in.

If I don't buy in, then it's not gonna,
you know, it, it, it's not gonna grab you.

So yeah,

Peter Kourounis: there, there's,
there's definitely an, there's

definitely an old Benjamin Franklin
quote that really resonate, resonates

with what you are talking about.

You know, it's, it's a quote
that I've taught about.

It's a, it's a quote that I live by, you
know, it says, it says, Tell me and I

forget, teach me and I or may remember,
but involve me and I learn mm-hmm.

and that, and that's basically what
you are, what you're saying here

is that if you involve them in the
process, they're going to retain a lot.

And essentially yes.

You can't find that in
any training manual.

So the only thing that, that our listeners
need to make sure that they're doing,

when, if they, if there are sign shop
owners out there that are doing it very

similarly, like to you, that you are,
is that they need to have some sort

of sit down the checks and balances
of it all, where they're gonna sit

down and they're gonna say, Hey, You
know, tell me what you picked up on.

Tell me what you're concerned
about, what you saw, What are

your fears, What are your doubts?

What are you excited about?


. And then let's kind of
talk through those points.


. Yeah.

That's, that, that's a really great way
of developing people in this business.

I, I tend to really like that.


the only pushback I've gotten on that
in the past is how long it takes.



It's not like you can, it's not
like you give them a playbook.


, you're, you're giving them,
you're giving them, you're working

around your operation schedule.


, you're working around your schedule.


and sometimes that could be convoluted.

So that's usually the pushback there.

What are your comments on

Jeff Sherman: that?

I mean, let's face it, No matter
how you slice this, this onion,

training people and developing
people is a time consuming process.

if you're concerned about the amount of
time that that's gonna take, think about

how much time it's gonna take to replace
that person when they don't work for you.

Think about the time spent to recruit
onboard and go through that, if that

person doesn't succeed, failure rate, you
know, the, the, the replacement cycle and

doing that is much more expensive from
a time and, and, and money perspective.

So put the time in and get it right.


You, you, and, and you, you, you
don't get, you don't get a lot of

opportunities for that, you know?

un unless you wanna be a
shop that has high turnover.

And then if you do have, have a shop
that has high turnover, you really need

to be looking at why that is, Why , you
know, and, and I can say this, that, I,

I've come from a shop that had very high
turnover and I, I can talk about some of

the reasons why that was, but, and some of
it really was in the onboarding processes.

So I've learned, I've learned
through, through mistakes, but.

Well, let's talk

Peter Kourounis: about that.

That's, that's a really
great thing to bring up here.


You know, when you're talking around,
when you're talking about people, right?



, and you're, you have to, you have
to talk about turnover, so mm-hmm.

go without really putting any owner under
the bus or any mentioning any names.


What are some of those obstacles
that you've seen during recruitment?

Jeff Sherman: Mm-hmm.

and also onboard.

So one of the, one of the biggest
things on the recruitment side, and

I know a lot of small business owners
are guilty of this, listen, during

your interviews, ask questions and
shut up and let the interviewee talk.

So many times I've sat in on
interviews where the person

who's applying for the job does.

A quarter of the talking, maybe more,
less, almost as though the business owner

is more intent on selling the job to
the applicant than the other way around.

I don't know if any of you've experienced
that or seen it, but I've witnessed it

more times than I can possibly count.

so yeah, shut up.

Listen, pay attention,
Let them talk to you.

Bryant Gillespie: what do you,
what do you attribute that to?

Like, Hey, I'm just
trying to fill the seat.

Or like, Hey, the, the person
doing the interview is nervous.

I mean, I can, I can kinda understand
if it's, if it's a smaller shop and

like you're a newer owner mm-hmm.

Like, being kind of, Oh,
I'm trying to hire somebody.

This is my first couple hires.

You might be a little nervous.


a little prone to talking
more than you should.


. But,

Jeff Sherman: I think a fair amount
of it is that I need a body, you

know, people, So sometimes it's,
it's the, we waited too long.

We really needed somebody two months
ago, but we didn't think about

it, and now we're in dire need.

And so it's, you know, get me
somebody now type scenario.

And yeah, there's a little bit of, you're
breathing, you're here, let's, let's,

let's get you in and, and, and see how
you do which, you know, I, i, I don't

agree with, but I, again, I, I've seen it.

the small shop thing I
think really plays into it.

I, I mean even, even at the peak
where I was before, you know,

over, over 40 employees, there
was still, but still a small shop.

You know, it, it, you got more bodies,
but it's still, it was still very

much a small shop mentality, you know?

and I think that's one of the things
that, that, that was always struggled

with there was, is, was breaking
out of that small shop mentality

of the, of the five man shop.

That was, that it was,
when I started there.

And, and getting to the next level
of being, you know, a professional

organization with actual hiring practices
and, and, and that sort of thing.

that's, that's something that I know I've
witnessed twice now owners struggling

with, of, of getting beyond where they
were when they started the organization.

Cause so much of both of those
businesses for me was it, it

was the identity of the owner.

You know, the, the, the, the
business becomes a reflection of

that owner regardless of what the,
the rest of the team tries to do.

, there's always a portion of that
owner that's, that's, that's, that's

visible in that, in, in that business.

I, I was, I, I, I listened to the
last podcast and you guys were

talking to tj, the, was it gci?

The, the, Yeah, the print company.


Great example.

I mean, just, just talking to him and
hearing him talk about his business, that

that business is a reflection of him.

A hundred percent.

That's, that's the customer experience is
everything that TJ says that should be and

is, and talks about that's that business.


so I think I, I think, you know,
ownership, having that influence on

what the business looks like and,
and, and basically having a difficulty

of kind of separating themselves out
of it and letting the business grow

into what it can be as a bigger.

Standalone entity to get
to those larger levels.

I think, you know, people talk about
the, the, the hurdle for, for small

businesses, you know, like the first
one being like cracking that million

dollar a year mark, and then the next
one's the 5 million mark, and then after

that it's 10, and once you hit 10, it
kind of goes exponential from there.

at least from what I've heard anyway.

we, we, we really struggled.

We, we hovered around 5 million
for, for about 10 years now.

Part of that was, you
know, 2008 recession hit.

Part of that was c you know,
chalk that up to what it was.

But honestly, I think even if that had
all been taken outta the equation, I think

the business would still be, you know,
hovering right around five to 6 million a.

Because I don't think it's
been able to evolve beyond that

small business mentality yet.

And I, and I think that's a, I think
that's a struggle that that ownership is

gonna have there in, in, in doing that.

So I think

Bryant Gillespie: that's like
a whole hour long conversation

in and of itself probably.

Oh, yeah.

Getting past this mentality that so
often we have, you know, and, and

like admittedly even I like personally
have some of those hangups now.

Like growing up we weren't rich and we
weren't dirt poor or anything, but like,

even some of the financial decisions
that I make personally now, or like,

I'll catch myself like, Oh hey, like,
hey, like these beliefs that were

there 10 years ago when I was young
and, and tons of credit card debt.


They still bubble up to
the surface sometimes.


and totally a hundred
percent on the business side.

That identity of the owner can be an
asset in the very beginning because

you're driving the whole thing.


, nobody's more invested than you are.


if you can't let go of the reins, and
I've, I've seen this inside shops and

other companies that I've worked for.


, nudge Mike A.

Little bit there.

if, if the owner is afraid to let
go of the reins a bit, then you,

you stall out growth, you add
all this complexity and headache.

let's say for an instance, you spend
hours and hours or weeks and weeks

putting all these processes in place.

I know you know what I'm
talking about because you set

up your shop box account mm-hmm.

there, your former company and I
worked with you on some of that.


and then for the owner or somebody else,
higher up to come in and just totally

dis, dis not even pay attention to the
process at all, just skip the process.


Jeff Sherman: Well, and you know, it,
it, you mentioned something there, and it

kind of goes back to Pete's question from
earlier, the, the, if, if as an owner.

You are unable to let go of the reins.

And if you're unable to allow the
people that you bring in to do what

it is that you brought them in to do,
and you, if you're unable to allow

them a certain level of autonomy to
help you move that business forward,

then those people will leave.

So we talked about kind of turnover
and churn that I, that, that,

that I saw, from an employee base.

And that was one of the biggest things
was bringing people in, number one,

without really fully establishing
what it was that they were gonna be

doing or what the, what the role was.

Because it was, again, a more of
a sales pitch to get them into the

door rather than an actual recruiting
and, and, and hiring process.

but two, then once they're there,
Not really letting them, do what

it was that they needed to do.

Not empowering them, you know,
tasking them, but then coming in and

stepping in and taking things over
and not letting them do what they

need to do and not letting them fail.

Being afraid to let them fail, you
know, going back to the training

thing, you, you've gotta be able
to let people make mistakes.

You have to be willing to absorb
that cost in the learning as

part of the learning process.

Cause that is the only way you're
gonna learn, is to make the mistakes.

Bryant Gillespie: A hundred percent.

Let me ask you this, Jeff.


I, I was having this conversation
with somebody earlier today on one of

my 8,000 meetings that I've had this
week, but it, like, what was the, you

guys did a fair bit of fabrication.


, like what was the onboarding time?

And like, what would you peg the
estimated cost at to get somebody

up to speed to where they could
actually produce signage for you guys?

Jeff Sherman: you, you mean, so
you're talking an, an inexperienced

person, a a, a green, a green hire.

Peter Kourounis: Yeah.

Bryant Gillespie: Yeah.

Basically I, I've got this guy that I
was talking to, having a very hard time

finding anybody that's, that's actually
skilled in the, the trade mm-hmm.

and, you know, for better or
worse, that's the story for a

lot of shop owners that we talk

Jeff Sherman: to.

Sure, sure.

I, I would say a minimum of six
months to like, have actual,

like solid contribution value.

You'll probably start generally figure
you start breaking even around month

three or four on like, you know, what
you're paying them versus what you

might be getting out of them in a, in
a, in a contribution to the production.

First three months are a straight loss.

but yeah, I would, I would say six
months to get to a point where you're

actually like starting to make some
actual profit dollars off the labor

that you're getting out of them.

and to have a, like is every shop is
so different on how they run things.

And, and, and I, I've, I've, you know,
it's one of those funny things working

for the same place for almost 19 years.

I'm a little bit insulated from how
things are done around other shops.

You know, I, my, my exposure
to other shops is not.

Nearly what you guys have, you know,
working where you did and, and coming in

contact with so many different companies.

So, but so I, I do know that, that some
places, you know, they, they'll have

people that just do one particular thing.

Like you've got, you got a guy
that just, just applies vinyl.

You got a, another guy
that just runs the theban.

You got another guy that, that
runs the CNC and what have you.

For us, we had a, we had a
finished department that, you

know, they would do everything.

Like we didn't have a
painter or two painters.

All of the guys that we had
in our finish area would do.

They'd do plastics fab, they'd
do vinyl applications, they do

painting, they do prep, they do edge
treatments, they do trim capping.

They do, you know, banner lays.

They, they pretty much, you know,
were all around signs, fabricators.

So to get somebody from nothing to that
kinda level, I mean, you're talking

years, but you know specifically
Yeah, I'd say at least six months.

And, and, and then again, part of
that is, is how do you approach that?

You know, do, do you do the approach that
I'm talking about, where do you send your

fabricator out with your installer, right?

Do you take the time, Do you invest
the time to, to give them that

extra, that extra training do?

I mean, for me, sending a fabricator out
with an installer is huge because them

getting to see something out in the field
or experience something out in the field,

maybe the difference between them building
something one way or building something

slightly different so it's easier for
install down, down, down the field.


Bryant Gillespie: Absolutely.


And I know that's one of your
claims to fame, Mike, on the sign.

side of things is like, Hey,
I know I've been in the field.

I know what it's like to have to
improvise on an install because the

designer didn't do his homework.


on the front end.

Michael Riley: Yeah.

That's, that's, that's huge.

I mean, I'm amazed at how many
shops don't understand that.


, I mean, I, I think, I think everybody in
the shop, what, you know, has anything

to do with the sign from, from sales
all the way down through fabrication.

Should always be on site, on an
installation, Well, not everyone, but

I mean, they, they definitely need to
spend some time out in the field with the

installers because install is a totally
different discipline than anything else

that happens under the roof in the shop.

I mean, it's a completely
different animal.


and it's, it's really hard to
understand until you've actually been

there and done that and seen the shit
hit the fan in the field and you.

Think on your feet, Figure
out how to fix this.

Cause you know, like remaking
the sign isn't an option.

Like it's gotta be on the wall today.

No, we have sands or butts.

How are we gonna do this?

And it, seeing that happen in real
time and seeing those guys figure

it out in real time A is amazing.

I mean, like installers in
this industry don't, don't get

the praise that they deserve.


They are, I don't even know what the
right adjective for them is, but they're

miracle workers and a lot of the things
that they face in the field could

and should be prevented if everybody
else in front of that understood

what the installers had to face.

I'm a, I'm a huge proponent of
everybody, especially designers

going out in the field and, and,
you know, either participating in

or observing installations because
there's so much to learn there that,

you know, in this industry where the
rubber hits the road is, is critical.

And that's where it turns, It goes
from a fabrication project or an art

project to a construction project.

And at the end of the day, signs
are construction projects and, and

thinking about it and looking at
it from that perspective is hugely

valuable for, for everybody involved.

So, you know, I'm, I'm a hundred
percent team, send everybody out.

And I, you know, I agree
with you Jeff, too.

I, I, I saw the same thing
at my shop, the three to six

months to really start seeing.

I don't even know at six months if
the, if that employee is profitable.

But that's really where they start
contributing and making a difference.

And, and, and prior to that six month
mark, I mean, you have to look at

it as that's investment time only.

You can't, even if somebody's a really
seasoned, experienced sign person,

they're probably not gonna start
contributing right away because you

do things a little bit differently.

There's no, there's zero consistency in
this industry from one shop to the next.


Jeff Sherman: Very least your
shop's laid out different.



Michael Riley: Exactly.

Like, I don't, I don't
know where this tool is.

It's gonna take me an hour to find it.


I, I think that if you're hiring
a new employee, like you just

have to look at that first three
to six month onboarding time as.

as, as an investment
and only an investment.

And, and I think that's where a lot
of shop owners fall short is they're,

you know, like you said, they're so
desperate to get somebody in that seat

that they, they don't have the forward
vision to recognize that this person isn't

going to solve my problems right away.


And it's gonna take a while.

And, and so then that just keeps that
business owner in the mindset of, of

doing everything themselves and not
delegating, and not giving people the,

the time and space to learn and make
mistakes and learn from those mistakes.


. And so then they never learn.

And then that problem is never solved.

It just continues to
compound over and over

Jeff Sherman: time.


. Well, so, I mean, you, you all, you,
you, you had a franchise, right?

You, you own, you owned a franchise.

You ran a franchise.

I created a franchise.


You created a franchise?


Oh, okay.

All right.

that's, that's a whole, that's

Bryant Gillespie: why I
called him Sign Shop Yoga.



Jeff Sherman: That's right.

Edit the franchise.

I, I wasn't, I was not aware of that.


Well, good on you, man.

that's, that's a, that's a whole other,
that's a whole other, beast there.

And, and Brian, I know you had your
shop and Mike, you had your shop.

So having like, did each
of you have struggles with,

How did you onboard people?

How did you train people?

Bryant Gillespie: Throw them to the fire?

My friend.

That's, that's the like 95% solution
for every shop that we talk to.

Hey, watch this guy work for two weeks,
and then hey, you're gonna contribute.

You know?


Back in the day, I didn't
know what I know now.


You know, we, we.


yeah, we were in a super small town, which
is always hard to find talented people.


. Even, even not experienced people,
just people that had a good work

ethic and could show up on time and
willing to learn and put in the hours

because it's, it's not easy work.


and it's, you know, you can't
show up hungover at a 30

minutes late and expect to do

Jeff Sherman: good work.

You can Oh, okay.


I mean,


Bryant Gillespie: least I could

Jeff Sherman: Unless you're owner.

Unless you're the owner.

You're the owner.



Well, you know, I'll tell you, you know,
being in Southern California with, you

know, literally millions upon millions of
people in the area, it's still difficult

to find people who wanna work and put in
a, a hard day's work and, you know, be

willing to stand on their feet and, you
know, this, that, and the other thing.

so I don't, I don't know that a
small town is, is, Is is much worse.

But, I think it's just more
opportunity for failure out here.

But, yeah, I mean, so like, yeah, and we,
and we did our fair amount of that, you

know, to bring, bring them in, let 'em,
you know, have, you know, you're gonna

weed vinyl for a week, so let's just,
you know, let's just pull a bunch of

vinyl at you and expect you to do that.

And, and that's, that's
everybody's onboarding.

And then, then, you know, then you
hand them, you know, then you hand them

some sand paper and you have 'em start
sanding things and prepping things

for your paint guy and, you know,
eventually you get him productive.

I dunno, that's,

Bryant Gillespie: that's fun stuff.


Back in the day, it, it wasn't
a, a solid plan know mm-hmm.

, you know, at at shop box.

you know, when I hired folks like Mike or
anybody else, I tried to be more strategic

about that and have, like an actual plan.

Like, Hey, here's your
first three or four weeks.


but, but honestly should have
extended that even further.

Yeah, about two, six months.


Michael Riley: if, if, I think that's,
that's a tricky comparison though too,

because like something like training
people to use software, I mean,

there's a lot of nuances to it that are
customer specific, but it, it's cut.

It's a little bit more of a repeat.


It's a little bit more a
repeatable process where

there's no creativity, signages.

Bryant Gillespie: I mean,

Michael Riley: you can get creative just
to kinda, well, the board . I don't know

if it's the same kind of creativity.

I, you know, I think, I think
in a sign shop like it, because

every job is so, so different.

Even if, if this job calls for, you
know, metal fabrication and paint and

vinyl and, and assembly and whatever,
even though the steps are fairly similar

from sign to sign, like every sign is so
different and there's so much, there's,

there's, there's just, there's a huge
difference from one side to the next.

And the skills required, even though
they're, they're similar on paper.

There's so much thinking on
your feet that has to be done.

There's so much figuring it out as you go.

Just by the nature of this, this
industry that it's hard, it's hard

to put a really, like a hard and fast
like training program in place that.

All the bases.

I mean, you can teach people how
to be a good employee and you can

teach 'em the rules of the shop
and, and, and the high level stuff.

But at the end of the day, like there's,
there's zero substitute for experience.


and just hands on, you know, rolling up
your sleeves and doing it and screwing

it up a few times to, to be successful.

And the only, I think the only people
that are successful in this business,

cuz this, you know, this business is a
trade, and this is true of any trade,

is, is the people that are successful,
the ones that are gonna be able to learn

from their mistakes and, and, and piece
that, you know, piece of thread together

there and say, Okay, this is what I did.

This is the outcome.

It wasn't correct.

If I go backwards and re-engineer
this in my brain, I can figure

out what I did wrong and next
time I'm gonna do it this way.

If somebody doesn't have that ability
to do that, no matter what, like no

matter how good your training program
is, they're not gonna, they're not gonna

be successful in this industry or any.


You can't teach somebody to be a
problem solver and a creative thinker.

That's just that innate, You gotta

Peter Kourounis: ask.


When I was, when I was training owners,
or when I was training employees

or recruiting, the, the, the number
one bucket for me was they needed

to have this, do whatever it takes
mentality, you know, and mm-hmm.

and that, and that kind of speaks
to what Mike was just saying, but

also what you said earlier, Jeff, is
that, you know, God gave you two ears

in one mouth, so you should listen
more than you should talk, Right?

So when you're, when you're interviewing
those people, even in that first

interview process, or even on the phone
call, the first phone call during the

recruitment, you know, you're, I'm,
I'm training my owners and training

my, managers that whoever's doing
the rehiring and recruiting, that you

are looking to ask questions to see
how they're gonna respond in that.

The ideology of, will they be able to do
whatever it takes to get the job done?

Mike said something earlier that they,
they, the people that find success are the

ones that can learn from their mistakes.

I'll even second I, I'll echo that,
but I'll go a step, I'll go a step

beyond that and that people that
are successful have to go into this

knowing that they will make mistakes.


and when they go, when
they are making mistakes.


Then Mike's, what he said is
right, is that they have to

learn from those mistakes.

So whether that's hiring the right
people or hiring the wrong people, or

training somebody, or training somebody
terribly and then it didn't work out.

They have to be able to make changes,
whether it's incremental or drastic.

in that, in that people
recruitment topic, right?

Whether it's, whether it is hiring
or whether it is training, whatever

it is, you have to be able to
learn from, from those mistakes.

One little helpful tip for, for some
of the, owners out there just that are

thinking about how to prove that their
training could be better or how to make

their training better, there is a great
tool out there, called One Huddle.

One Huddle, if you've never heard
of it, there based out of Newark,

New Jersey, and they take the train.

Jeff Sherman: They, they
have rethought thought

Peter Kourounis: and reimplemented
the strategy of how people.

Thinking about training and
turned it into games to play.

So they gamified the training platform.

So you can make a course that, say
for a graphic designer, you can

make a course of videos to watch.

Maybe you can download them from
YouTube and that if you want,

you can only take the easy way.

You can do it that way, or you could
make your own and then you're gonna

give a game that you're gonna play.

After watching that video or reading
this article or case study and you're

gonna quantify their knowledge, right?

And then here's the best part.

They can compete against
other team members, other

employees, other shops even.

And being able to have like
that competitive nature

that games normally have.

So I've seen, I've seen a
couple of shops go this way.

You know, there are a lot of shops
that use like train to develop manuals

and courses and little and pieces
and collateral and things like that.

But I've seen many franchises go,
or many shops go toward the down

the rabbit hole of gamifying their
training to make it more engaging.

Cause like I said earlier, involving
your candidate into the process.

By getting them to do something.

Compete is a way of retaining
knowledge and, and maybe shortening

that window from what you said
earlier about minimum six months.

Maybe we can bring that down with
something like this, down to three

months or maybe even sooner, depending
on the role and the size of the company.

But for the most part, and I think
I was talking to Brian about this

earlier in the week, that there is a,
there's a line in the sand right there,

there's a line in the sand between
shop owners, shop managers, and, and

then there's franchise owners, right?

Franchise owners, when
they buy a franchise.

This is a little bit more in my
background here, when they, like I

said, I was telling this to Brian
earlier, when you're buying a franchise,

you're not buying, Yeah, okay.

You could be buying their name.

Sure, but if you are, But what
you're really buying is all those

systematic approaches that you and I
are discussing that shop owners on the

other side of the fence don't have,
They have to invest time and money into

designing and making it themselves.

Whereas, okay, all of those playbooks,
all of those manuals, all of those

onboarding processes, training on how
to recruit, training on how to hire,

what interview questions to ask, what
job descriptions you should write out,

you know, all of that has been done.

All you gotta do is just take it, change
a couple of variables and throw it out

there in the universe for your shop.

And that's where the franchising piece
my background comes into is that when

I'm train, when I'm working with shop
owners or shop managers on how to improve

their business or their role, It's often
in developing these strategies that you

find in this sector of the business.

Franchising in the signed
business gets a bad name.

We've had guests on this show
that have made fun of the fact of,

you know, these little franchise
locations, like fast signs.

They, they just do these little stickers.

I think

Bryant Gillespie: the hosts
have made the host made,

Peter Kourounis: but, but what you're
not seeing behind that fence might also

add some value to what you're saying is
that if you are a shop that's struggling

in these areas, that you don't have
the time to, to, to coach or onboard

or develop those training manuals or
playbooks, whatever you wanna call them,

that, that there is an avenue for you.

There is an avenue to go
down to obtain all of that.

obviously it costs money.

It's gonna, it's it, but if you
don't have time, then you have money.

If you don't have money,
then you must have time.

So, For those of us that are, that.

Well, that's what I was getting at.

If you don't have time or if
you don't have time or money,

go work for somebody else.

Jeff Sherman: Don't Yeah.

Don't, don't start a business.



You know, it's interesting.

I, something occurred to me as you
were talking about that, Pete, it, we

talk about learning from our mistakes.

You know, I, I wanna say
there's a, there's a value also.

You need to be willing and able
to learn from your successes.

You know, if you, if you have that
employee that takes off, spend

time, sit down with them and, and
figure out what you did right.

And then try to replicate that, you
know, so, so, so often we only focus

on the mistakes, the areas of failure.

and we lost Mike.

Oh, . We had . That's
like, what's back there?

. . So it's so awesome.


Bryant Gillespie: a guy in a
burrito suit holding a . It's

Jeff Sherman: something
you just don't see.

That's, that's Mike.

Thank you.

guy in a burrito suit holding a cat.

Michael Riley: My life is very strange.


Jeff Sherman: Mine just got
a little bit surreal as well.

But yeah, yeah, I mean, you know, learn,
don't, don't just focus on the failures,

Learn from the mistakes, but figure
out what, what went, what went right.

Why, you know, if, if,
if you find somebody.

Having a moment where they make a really
solid decision to change something

or do something, ask 'em why they
did it, find out what their thought

process was, figure out what went into
building that thought processes and

see what you can do to spread that.

You know, just to, just
the thought off of this.

Cause like I said, it's so easy
to go negative so often, you know?

Michael Riley: Yeah.

Bryant Gillespie: You've obviously,
you were at your former company for

Jeff Sherman: 19 years, you said?

Almost 8, 18, 18 years.

11 months and yeah,
just, just at 11 months.


Michael Riley: hours.


Three days.

Yes, exactly.

Bryant Gillespie: and what, what
is, obviously that's a long time.


especially two people
in the this day and age.

Like I was talking with somebody else
yesterday that they mentioned something

about, millennials think that that
three years is a long time in a job.


, what did they do right to
keep you there for 19 years

Jeff Sherman: ish?

Well, the, the, the role developed
and expanded to take advantage of my

skill set, I think is the, you know,
it was recognized where my strengths

were and I was allowed to apply
my strengths into different areas.

I was, for a long time, I was allowed
to contribute and, and have a voice.

so that the kind of contradictory to what
a lot of people that, like we were talking

about churn, when they kind of come in
and then, and then go out, a lot of times

it's because they're not allowed to, you
know, have their voice heard, you know,

and, and, and anybody, I don't care who
it is, I don't care if it's the guy that

you brought in to, to sweep the floors.

You know, he, he's, he's
got a brain in his head.

He's gonna have some idea about something.

Giving people a, an actual valid and,
and and effective forum, or even just an

ability to know that they can be heard and
respected and valued as part for, for the

contribution that they bring that's gonna,
that's gonna buy you your longevity.

It really is.


money helps.


You know, a lot of owners think,
you know, Well, I just need to give

raises or bonuses or this kinda stuff.

Yeah, Money helps, but
it only buys you so much.

It really does.

You know, I would not have,
It doesn't buy loyalty.

No, it doesn't.

It buys you time.

But you know, I mean, you really
want to be paying somebody top

dollar if they're not loyal to
you or if they're not actually.

I'm gonna use the word committed
to the success of the company.

You know?


They might be going through the motions.


They might be doing a certain amount
of work for you, but, you know,

it's, it's the whole hearts and minds
thing, and really that, that's all

about, it's all about validation
and it's all about acknowledgement

and, and, and, and contribution.

You know, I heard something a while
back that was like the, the, the

best way to get somebody connected to
you is to have them do you a favor.

you would think you'll
do the other way around.

You do them a favor and
then they're connect.

No, it's the other way around.

You have them do you a favor
and that, that ties them to you.

I, I think from a business
perspective, it's the same way.

Get, get them to contribute, get them
to know that they're contributing,

acknowledge that they're contributing
and they're gonna wanna contribute more.

There it, there's, there's self, you know,
people can, can get self worth from that.

And ultimately, in addition to, in
addition to money, in, in a way of, of

living, this is what we spend the majority
of our waking hours doing every day.

And if we don't feel as though
we're actually contributing or

doing something of value, why do it?

Bryant Gillespie: Amen.


Couldn't have said that better.

I think

Michael Riley: that's the best advice.

Come outta that.

No, I, I totally, I mean that I, I've
kind of beat on that horse until it's,

it's dead quite a few times too, Jeff.

I mean, and I, I totally agree.

Like, employees have a life and
they're human beings just like us,

and they, everybody wants to feel
like their existence is for something.


, everybody who wants to feel like,
you know, whatever they're doing,

whether it's vacuuming the floor,
Cleaning up a cat accident on a chair.


, or making a sign like, Right, Like they
wanna feel like what they're doing is

contributing to the bigger picture.

That's just part of human nature.

Some people don't, some people really
genuinely don't care and those people

shouldn't be working for you anyway.

But talking, you know, all things being
equal, like all employees want to feel

valid and valued, and they want to feel
like the work that they're putting in is

having an effect on the bigger picture.


and I, I agree, like the fastest way to
ruin employee morale and drive off, off

really good employees is to not make
them feel valid, not hear them, and not

give them a platform or a forum to voice
their ideas and concerns and opinions.


And, and, and not genuinely
listening to them and, and you know,

running with, with what you hear.

I mean, that's, I think that alone is what
separates a good boss from a bad boss.

I mean, if, if there was one thing
I had to say that that really is

the differentiator, it's, it's
a boss's ability to treat their

employees like human beings.


and not

Jeff Sherman: cog in a wheel.

Well and you know, it, it, it from a
weird perspective too, and this is, you

know, like we've talked so much about
retention of employees, one of the things

that you can do that will actually tender
the ones that you wanna keep is holding

on too hard to the ones that shouldn't
be there or don't wanna be there.

That's the other thing, you know,
you have to be, and I struggled this

with this just as a manager, cuz.

Again, it's, you know, the whole
onboarding and hiring and recruiting

process can be so cumbersome and so time
consuming and so, so energy draining

that you really don't wanna go through
it unless you absolutely have to.

So you, you, you will find it's easy
to, to kinda like grab onto that

employee and try to hold onto them
and squeeze onto them for dear life.

Like, Don't leave me, you know, you
know, I need, I need you to succeed.

You know, But, but you know, you have to,
you have to be willing to, to, to, again,

you have to be willing to fail, right?

You have to be willing to let them
fail, and you're gonna have people

that you bring in that leave,
you know, for whatever reason.

You have to be okay with that.

You have and, and, and you have
to let the rest of your staff

know that you're okay with that.


So that it, it's a, it's a, it's a
living, breathing organism rather

than kind of this stagnant pond
that you're, that that, that you

could potentially create, you know?

Michael Riley: Yeah, totally.

Say that again.

You have to let them fail.


Everybody repeated with

Jeff Sherman: me.

You have to.


You have to let them,
you have to let them fail

Bryant Gillespie: now.

Now we're like getting into like a seance.

Yeah, I like it.

Well, there's

Michael Riley: a, there's an
advertising agency here in, in

Portland called Wyden Kennedy.

They're, they're very famous ad agency.

I don't know if you guys
have heard of them or not.

They, they're responsible for like all of
Nike's advertising, and they're the ones

that came up with the gist slogan in.

They have a really amazing office
here in Portland and they have

this giant wall on it where they
did this kind of art installation.

There's like 150,000 like clear
thumbtacks or push pins on the wall.

And they made this thing that
spells out the words fail harder.

and it, it's a really,
Sorry, I just got distract.

Can we hold on a second?

Jeff Sherman: Mm-hmm.

Bryant Gillespie: So

Jeff Sherman: it's the sign husband

Bryant Gillespie: Oh, sign husband.


Peter Kourounis: he makes
an appearance . That's

Jeff Sherman: great.

That's fantastic.


Michael Riley: my, my
cat shit on the chair.

That's why I had to get up
and take her outta here.

I'm like, I'm sitting here
talking and I'm like smelling

like, what is that awful smell?

And then she took a, the chair, it's
like a common occurrence in my life.

So I was texting.



Bryant Gillespie: a podcast episode until
one of Mike's cat shit's on the chair.

Michael Riley: How many
times has that happened now?

At least three, I think.


It used to happen all the time when I
was doing like shot box meetings too,

and like she has a habit of walking
across my desk and then she's, she's

Jeff Sherman: dropped
a few right on computer

Michael Riley: She's an elderly
cat with irritable bowel syndrome.

It's, she keeps me.


and sorry about that.

Anyway, there's a ad agency here
in, in Portland and they have this

big wall that says, Fail harder.

And it's kind of like their, their
mantra, like they're, they encourage

everybody to take as many risks as
they can, you know, creatively with

clients, really push the envelope
and, and, and actually hope you fail.

I mean, that's really part of their
culture is, is building failure into

it because so many great things come
outta learning from, from, from failure.


and, and it, I, I see so many
business owners, especially in this.

you know, that, that tries so
hard to discourage failure.

And they see, they see somebody making a
mistake as, as a, I think, as a reflection

on them as a business owner, but all
of us are prone to making mistakes.

It's just part of being a human
being is you're gonna screw up stuff.

You're not gonna do everything.


And, and none of us would be where
we were if we hadn't learned from our

mistakes that we made in the past.


. But as a business owner, for some reason,
it seems like there's just like this

innate, like just disregard for for that
like universal truism that I'm allowed

to fail, but because I'm paying you.

You better damn sure not fail on my time.


And that's such a, that's
such a huge mistake that

business owners make, you know?

Whereas you should be encouraging them,
like I said, to push the boundaries

and step outside of their comfort zone.

And they're probably gonna fall flat
on their face the first couple times.

And you have to expect that and encourage
it, because that's how these people

grow and expand and become better
at what they're trying to, to do.

And, and without an environment that
actively encourages failure to a point,

I, people can only grow to a point.

I mean, obviously there's a point where
like, if you're just constantly doing

the same thing over and over again and
messing it up every time, like that's,

that's different than the failure I think
that we're talking about here, right?

We're, if somebody just isn't good
at their job and they're just not

paying attention and making stupid
mistakes, that's a totally different

thing, and that person should go.

But if they've had the opportunity,
I mean, given the opportunity to,

to try and fail and try again.

And figure it out and get a little better
each time and improve then that, that

type of failure is good and it's positive
and it's, it's it's moving forward.


Jeff Sherman: Yeah.

The, the, the failure thing requires,
we were talking about with, with the

training thing, just like that, with,
with the, with the failure thing.

It requires the right kind of
response and follow up to a failure.

You know, some sort of, some sort of
questioning and not, not an interrogation,

you know, why did you do this type thing,
but you know what, what, what happened?


What do you know?

Why do you think that happened?

Why do you think that
resulted the way it did?

Walk them through that mental process.

You talked about, Mike, of, let's go
back through the chain here, figure out

reverse engineer this and think about
how we could have done it differently

and what, what might have been the better
result, you know, as a result of doing

that, that that's, that's key to it too.

You know, It can't just be.

Unbridled failure all over the place.

, there, there has to be, there has
to be some feedback loop in there.


And it has to be, it has to be done in
the right tone and the right attitude

and the right, and the right approach.

Bryant Gillespie: Yeah.


So I've got, I've got another question
for you, Jeff, and then I, you know,

maybe this will kind of bring us full
circle and try to wrap this up, I guess.


what was like the, what was the
final straw or what, what was the

series of events that led you to
the end of the, your relationship?

And just to, to preface that,
like, the reason I asked why

you stuck around so long mm-hmm.

was, I, I've noticed there's, of our
listeners, there's a lot of smaller shops.

Maybe it's one owner, maybe it's
a, an owner and a couple employees,

where at some point in time the owner
was like, Hey, I'm gonna grow this

business and I'm gonna bring somebody.

Like you into the fold.


and I, I say this because I, I
respect your knowledge base, your

experience, you know, of all the
conversations we've had mm-hmm.

among these guys, Pete and Mike,
you're probably one of the other

most knowledgeable guys in this
industry that I've spoken to.


, so, You've stayed with that
company for 19 years, obviously

something worked there for a while.


. But these other guys that I see
that, hey, I taught this guy

everything I know about the business.

And then what did he do?

He turned around and left and started
his own shop across the street.


. And now like that either that trust is
gone or he is scared to try again, but

the business is running him over still.


, you know, five years later,
10 years later from that.

So what was the, You're that guy, that
promising number two guy that mm-hmm.

stepped in, helped grow the business.


doing awesome things.


. So what caused you to leave?

Jeff Sherman: Yeah.

well I, I want to touch on one thing
you said there for a second and Cause

it's, it's applicable to my scenario.

Not everybody.

Wants to be a business owner.

Not everybody should be a business owner.


I, I think we can all agree on that,
, and, and early in my conversations

in my development, you talked about
me being the number two and early in

my conversations with the owner of
the company I worked for, there was

discussion, very serious discussion about
transitional plans, about eventually

me being the per, you know, taking the
business over from him, you know, when

it came time for him to retire and ways
that we could have worked that out,

you know, mechanically from a financial
perspective, et cetera, et cetera.

and I had to do some
serious self-evaluation.

As to whether or not I wanted
to be a business owner.

And the bottom line is, I
don't, you, you, you know, the,

it, it takes a special breed.

It takes a, I think first and foremost
for me, the thing that I know that I don't

have is the comfort with, personal risk.

I'm not a gambler.

I hate Las Vegas.

I don't like the idea of
potentially losing money.

I'm not comfortable with it . So
I shouldn't own a business.

Cause there is a possibility for that.

Very much so.

There and, and, you know, I,
it, it's just, that was the,

that was the thing for me.

So it, it was never, for me, it was
never a, a, a factor of getting, you

know, building myself up, building
my skill set to a point where I

felt like I could take what I'd
learned and go start my own thing.

That was never, that was
never the, the issue there.

for me, ultimately it became a point of.

at a certain point, I, my
voice too stopped being heard.

We got to certain points where I was
trying to work with the owner to make core

changes on certain front end processes
in how the business was being run.

Because all, all of, all of the
downstream, at a certain point, all of

the improvements that we were trying to
make on the design team and the production

team and the installation team, and
all of the processes, you know, on the

operational side of the business, we hit a
wall in improving those processes because

of how we were taking orders and how we
were processing quotes and how we were

bringing things into the, into the shop.

And at a certain point, I started
focusing on trying to implement

change there and what was met
with, I'm gonna say inability.

It's not, maybe not knowing,
unwillingness, but at least an

inability to make that change and to
allow me to influence change there.

And so at that point,
I stopped being valued.

I stopped contributing and developing
and growing, and I started to stagnate.

And then I got C and ended up in
the hospital and had two weeks

in the hospital to by myself
to do nothing but self reflect.

And then another three months
on my couch on oxygen to.

Be separated from the shop environment and
think about how, you know, my work life

was going and how things were going there.

And, very quickly realized I was unhappy
and, and, and need, needed to find some,

some other avenue, some other place.

you know, ultimately I will say,
the last day was not my choice.

The business, you know, needs
changed and, and, and I was let go.

I didn't leave myself.

which was surprising.

but, you know, I, I'd been, look,
I've been looking for, for months,

so it, it, it was inevitable, I
think is really at that point.

But yeah, to answer your question,
it was about, it was about finally

getting to a point where even
after that amount of time, I was

no longer heard, I was no longer.

And because I was no longer heard, I
was no longer valued regardless of how

many times I was disconnected, how,
how many, regardless of how many times

I was told, Oh, you're so important.

And, you know, you know,
I value what you tell me.

If your actions don't back that up.

If you're not listening to the things
that I'm telling you and, and the things

that I know need to happen, you know,
in my heart of hearts, I know we need

to do this, but we're not doing it.

What value am I bringing?

Why am I here?


Bryant Gillespie: know, Boom.

So that's, that's Jeff for everybody
listening, that's Jeff dropping

the truth on you right now.

, if you're a business owner and you've
got team members that are, are valuable

to your organization and you don't
let them be heard or feel heard, or

feel valued, they're gonna leave you.


they're gonna check out, at the very
least, they're gonna check out of work,

and they're gonna go through the motions.

And if you're not paying attention,
you're not gonna notice it.

And then, then they're gonna leave.


, and you're gonna be in that six month
cycle that we just talked about all

over again, or longer, especially
if you're trying to replace an ops

manager or somebody that has a ton of
experience on how your entire operation

Michael Riley: runs.

Speaking from experience.


Jeff Sherman: No, not at all.


Not at all.


Bryant Gillespie: wink.


Michael Riley: doesn't
sound at all like you've

Bryant Gillespie: said that here,
I've, I've caught you throwing

some shade from time to time.


Michael Riley: So, so Jeff, I, we started
this conversation off and you said that

you're in a, a position for the first time
in a long time, where you can really sit

back and think about where you want your
career to go in the future, and you have a

little bit more control and say over that.

So, What do you see coming
down the line for you?

What, what do you, what do you
want to do for the rest of your

career in the sign industry?

Jeff Sherman: You know, I, I,
I'm looking at things where I

can be a little more creative.

there's so much opportunity
and possibility within

the sign industry itself.

I've been in a box of architectural
signage for so long and

specifically, Signage for like high
rise office and, and hospitals.

That tends to be pretty cook.

You know, that's a small box to be in.

You know, there's not a lot of creativity
involved in that kind of stuff.

Generally speaking, you can stretch out a
little bit here and there, but, you know,

ADA code and fire regulations and all that
kinda stuff, really, you know, they, they

really bring those walls in real tight.

So, I'm, I'm looking at things
with, with, well, number one, with

where I'm at right now, my options
are pretty, I, I'm looking bigger

organizations, you know, places where,
maybe they've got, processes in place.

They darn well better have
processes in place, but places

where I can come in and, and, and.

Bring a voice that's gonna be heard.

That's the biggest thing.

And I don't even care where it is.

I mean, I'm, I'm looking, I'm
looking into design stuff.

I'm looking into project management stuff.

I'm looking into operation stuff.

I'm looking into department manager
stuff, general manager stuff.

Heck, I've even talked to a
couple people about doing sales.

it's that, you know, it's that
chief cook and bottle washer thing.

And me having been, you know, for
a small shop for so long and having

touched every single aspect of that
business, you know, my biggest thing

again is where can I contribute?

Can, can my voice be heard?

You know, and, and where can it be heard?

That's, that's my thing.

You know, No, no amount of
money is gonna offset that.

Well, maybe a certain amount,
but we won't get into that

you know, I've gotta make a
living, let's put it that way.

I do live in California.

So, there's that factor.

But yeah, it, it really is, It's,
for me, it's about where can,

where can my voice be heard?

Where, where can I bring value?

And that's what all of my conversations
to this point have been centered around.

You know, you look at my resume,
it's like, it's a hodgepodge.

It's all one, it's, it's
all one company, really.

But all of the things that I've
done within that company, it's,

you, you name it, I've done it.

So, you know, people ask me when I, when
I, when I approach these sign shops,

is, you know, what do you wanna do?

It's like, Hey, tell me where your need
is, but tell me, tell me what that biggest

hole is and let's see if I can fit it.

Let's see if I can fill it.

It's an interesting spot to be, honestly.

Michael Riley: It's a difficult spot to be
too, cause it's like, Employers don't know

what to do with that . Well, like, it,

Jeff Sherman: it requires, it's, it's
a different kind of conversation.

It's, it's a, it's a much deeper
conversation than the, than, than the, I'm

gonna post an ad on whatever, you know,
on, on Glassdoor and, and have somebody

send me their resume and, and sit, sit
down and do an interview with them.

It's a very much different conversation.

I've, I've literally been cold
calling myself to, to the different

sign companies around the area.

You know, reaching, reaching out,
you know, doing all, looking at

all the websites and reaching out
and, you know, saying, Hey, I,

I've been in this business, you
know, 20 plus years, let's talk.

And having, you know, our two
hour, three hour conversations

with business owners around.

You know, what do you do?

Where, where are your, where are
your, where are your challenges?

And can I bring something to
help you with those challenges?

Michael Riley: Boom.


I wish you would move someplace cheaper
like Iowa, because I'd, I'd love to have

you as part of my team, but I can't even
come close to Ing . Yeah, Sorry man.

If you ever move to
the Midwest, lemme know

Bryant Gillespie: Jeff.

Always a pleasure, man.

I always enjoy catching up.

for any sign company that's out there that
wants to talk to Jeff for two and a half,

three hours, , if you're looking for an
impact guy, you've got a hold to fill.

Jeff Sherman: it, it, it
hit, hit up Jeff, Will it?

? Yeah.

Hey, Praising yeah.

I don't, I don't, I don't how that
with recruitment tool, but, Okay.

Right on.


You, I appreciate Yeah.

. Yeah.


Michael Riley: next
cease and desist letter.

Bryant Gillespie: Another one.

Another one coming.

It never fails.

All right, guys.

let's wrap this one up.


Rapid fire takeaways.


Peter Kourounis: you gotta, you
gotta stop talking on an interview.

You gotta listen more than you talk.

That's gonna be the biggest takeaway.

It's biggest takeaway for this
episode, specifically for those

that are asking about how do we,
how could I hire the right people

in order to hire the right people?

You need to find the right people
in order to find the right people.

You need to let them talk.

You need to let them advertise themselves.

Sell themselves, not sell yourself.


Bryant Gillespie: the sign.



. No, I just like, it's
got a ring to it, man.

Michael Riley: Sign.

Does it?

Can you hear yourself?

I think that, the biggest takeaway for
me is something that, that, that Jeff

just kind of got done seeing, and that,
that is, this is a guy that's got as

much experience in this industry, is
anybody you're ever gonna encounter

has, And he's in a way got a buffet
of choices in front of him for where

his career goes in front of him.

And what he just said is that he wants.

He doesn't care what he does, whether
it's design, fabrication, installation,

sales, or whatever it may be,
whatever role that is, Jeff can do it.

And he doesn't care.

He wants to be in a role where he can
contribute, he can move the needle, and

his voice is heard, think, and everybody
needs to let that soak in that this,

he, his experience doesn't matter.

He just wants to have a
voice wherever he's at.

And that's huge.

And that's true of, I think, every single
employee out there with a few exceptions.

And I, I think that's a really
critical takeaway for everybody

to, to really let that soak in.


, a

Bryant Gillespie: hundred percent.

Jeff, anything else

Jeff Sherman: you wanna share?

Oh, I think I've said enough.

I think I'm gonna, I'm gonna echo
Pete thing and, and say, , you know,

listen more, talk less, and I'm
gonna heed my own advice and, and

listen more and talk less right now.

Bryant Gillespie: Perfect.

Well, for me, yeah, Mike said it best man.

Uh, employees want to be valued.

They want to feel like they're
part of the organization.

They're not family.

They're, I always, kinda struggle when
say, Hey, we're a family here because

we're not like, I have a family.

This is, they're why I do part of what
I do, but also I wanna feel valued.

We all wanna feel special,
for us, younger generation.

I don't even know why I say younger,
like getting ready to turn 35.

So , I wake up with neck pain every day.

So I, I guess I've lost the, the
permission to use younger at this

Jeff Sherman: moment.

It doesn't get better.

Bryant, just, just so you
know, it doesn't get better.

Michael Riley: I.

The next five years for you, or
you're in for a world like those are

the , 35 to 40 were the hardest for me.

, the aging that happens in that
short amount of time is incredible.

Guys, I, I

Jeff Sherman: look forward to meeting.

I, I, I just turned 48 2 weeks ago,
so Yeah, I, I'm, I'm, I'm feeling

a whole other level of mm-hmm.

. Mm-hmm.

. Yeah.


Michael Riley: appreciate that.


Bryant Gillespie: Yeah.


All right guys.

great episode.

If you would like to be a guest on the
Better Sign Shop podcast, what do you do?

you email, Hey, at better sign

Check us out.

what else do we have?

What else are we supposed to say?


Michael Riley: join the Facebook
group and join the Mastermind group.

Yeah, it's worth your time.


If you're a

Bryant Gillespie: sign shop owner, check
out our Better Sign Shop community.

It is a private, safe space.

We screen everybody for ownership,
so it's just owners there.

Talk about whatever you want.

Vent a little.

Come chat with us.

What else?

Anything else?

Nope, that's it.

. Thank you guys.

Thanks for listening to us ramble on.

Jeff Sherman: Awesome.

We appreciate you.

Thanks for having me, guys.

Appreciate it.

Thank you, sir.

Take it easy.

Peter Kourounis: All right guys,

Bryant Gillespie: we'll see.

Jeff Sherman: If you liked this episode,
make sure you hit subscribe to get

all the latest episodes and check out
our website, better sign

Get free resources and helpful
tools on growing your shop.

Thanks for listening.

Creators and Guests

How to Lose an Employee in 10 Days: Lessons on building killer team in your shop - with Jeff Sherman
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