Remember when changing gasoline prices involved the "suction cup" method of using long extended poles or climbing up a ladder to slide numbers into a plastic slot on your sign? Or when it took employees nearly 30 minutes to make a price change while exposing themselves to physical dangers and inclement weather? How about when the prices weren’t changed fast enough to be competitive?
If those are today's realities instead of the "good old days," it's time to consider upgrading to digital gasoline price signage. New signage and existing sign retrofitting is available, making upgrades a fiscal reality for nearly any budget. Also, the business benefits are numerous.
Instant fuel price updates – Gasoline price changes can be done remotely in less than a minute and connect directly to the POS system. Stores can stay competitive, never having posted fuel prices 5 cents too high or too low for any amount of time.
Labor savings – Employees can concentrate on customer service and other essential duties because they no longer have to go outside to change fuel price signs. The store is never left unattended.
Reduced liability – Without the physical aspect of changing signs, workers’ compensation claims and other liabilities related to the dangers of working at heights and around heavy automobile traffic areas can be minimized.
Attract customers – Digital signs have a wider viewing angle, which can be seen from more vantage points. Also, some consumers equate state-of-the-art signage to modern, cleaner stores.
Product promotion – Prices and promotions for in-store products, such as cigarettes, soda or milk can be displayed along with gasoline prices.
Harbinger has converted or installed more than 120 digital gasoline price signs for customers around the country since 2009. The company works with leading component suppliers, such as Daktronics, Future Media and Watchfire2 to ensure the latest LED technologies are used. New signs or retrofitting options are available.
Harbinger and Gate Petroleum have quite a few things in common – both companies were founded in Jacksonville, they are family-run businesses and they have worked together for 30 years. What started as a sign for a single location – a tennis club – has grown to managing the signage program for Gate's Southern Division, comprised of c-store and gasoline stations.
"The partnership has been successful because we've always delivered high-quality signage at competitive pricing," explained Jerry Johnson, Harbinger sales representative who has worked with Gate Petroleum from the beginning and continues to devote his part-time day solely to the account. "As well, Gate has always been very receptive to our recommendations."
One example is Harbinger's recommendation that Gate Petroleum switch to using LEDs. Therefore, two years ago Gate decided to make the change. LEDs are now used in all new locations. Harbinger also is retrofitting existing signs with LEDs and upgrading Gate to electronic gas price signs.
"The low maintenance and energy cost savings of LEDs really convinced Gate to try the new technology. Also, eliminating the need for employees to go outside to change gas prices was appealing," Johnson explained.
Today, the signage program for Gate consists of electronic gas price signs, fascia signs, pylon signs and various interior signs, including the branded Beer Igloo sign.
No two signs are alike. But to keep with brand standards of national clients, the difference should be undetectable. When seeking a sign manufacturing company to create dozens or hundreds of brand signs, inquire about its processes that ensure signage consistency.
Mike Lev, operations manager, explains the quality control checkpoints Harbinger uses when building multiple signs for a national account.
"Sign consistency and quality control begins with standards for each customer's product lines," Lev said. "Shop drawings and CAD drawings are set for every department, enabling us to perform several different fabrication functions simultaneously. When it’s time for final assembly, all the pieces are ready."
Harbinger uses lean manufacturing processes, such as cells instead of "assembly lines." When a product is moved from cell to cell, it is inspected and the work order is reviewed. Quality control measures including visual controls, templates and guides are in place at various cells to help equipment operators avoid mistakes.
Upon completion, the sign is thoroughly inspected for workmanship, safety and whether it meets the customer"s brand standards. Lastly, the product is inspected for proper labeling and destination before being loaded onto the freight truck for delivery.
"Lean manufacturing enables us to closely inspect and QC every single sign we manufacture, not just every three or five signs. As well, we provide this individual attention while actually increasing efficiency and product flow," Lev stated.