Make no mistake, purchasing a building sign is a big decision. Should your logo be involved? And what about corporate colors? To help determine what type of exterior sign is best, here are 5 pitfalls to avoid when buying a building sign.
1. No Planning in Place (buying at the last minute)
- All signs are custom-made.
- All require permitting from the city.
- All are manufactured to your specific requirements.
Because they are sized and styled to meet your business’ branding, there is design work to provide an accurate proposal. There are also details to know about the building it is mounted to, the type of lighting, and the existing electrical wiring needed to install the sign correctly.
This may require a building survey. Then a process of approvals is needed – first from the landlord and then from the city. Between the two, this can take two to three weeks or more. Once approved, the manufacturing time may take about a week, which differs from the manufacturer’s lead time due to the projects they have ahead of your sign.
Put together, this can lead to time frames ranging from two to three months from first inquiry to final installation. Our advice is to build in a time allowance just as you would to create a website before opening a business.
2. Not Budgeting Enough
In our experience, most business owners do not know how much signs cost. Why would they, since it is not a common practice to buy signs? Do they cost $1,000, $5,000, or $20,000?
Sign types can vary to a large degree. Size, materials, colors, lighting, building electrical systems, installation tasks, design complexity, and city permitting; these factors contribute to the variances presented with custom signage. Our advice is to budget well in advance of moving into the property, ideally at the same time as preparing the tenant improvement budgeting.
3. Underestimating the Value of a Building Sign
The sign, when made in the right way, is a three-dimensional representation of your brand image. It needs to be as accurate to your brand logo design as possible. Similarly, it should reflect all the nuances associated with the company’s brand values.
Because it is the first image employees and customers see when approaching the building, the sign needs to have a ‘wow’ factor that creates an excellent first impression. Our advice is to partner with a sign company that fully understands the value of branding.
4. Not Negotiating the Sign as Part of Your Lease
Location, location, location; this adage does not just apply to real estate purchases. Many businesses decide on the building of choice due to several factors, including, but not limited to, price, function, size, and location.
Why would a company not want their business sign prominently located on the building in one or more places? The sign reflects your brand image and, in a way, is free advertising for that brand, especially if it is visible to a high level of traffic.
Our advice is to check the property lease for signage rights and negotiate for the most prominent sign location(s) you can obtain. It might give you a little more leverage when negotiating $/sq ft or lease terms. If your business is not renting but buying, the same applies when negotiating with the seller concerning payment for the sign’s cost.
Check with the city about sign code restrictions before agreeing to the purchase contract; we once worked with a client who bought a building only to find out from the city that they could not put a sign on the most prominent place facing a freeway.
5. Choosing the Lowest Price
Nothing can compare with buying from a sign company you trust and may have worked with in the past. If this is not the case, you may be getting two to three bids from companies, which is where a major problem can occur.
The proposals you receive are like comparing apples to oranges. The sign might have the same letters in your company name, but the specifications are different. This is when many a decision-maker makes their choice based on the lowest price. How different can they be, after all?
Well, if the price difference is slight and the specs are the same, then you may be making an informed decision. However, if the price difference is substantial, are you able to realize comparable savings? There is a chance that this is not exactly true; you may be buying an inferior made sign that, after a couple of years, starts to fall apart. Colors fade. It becomes a fire hazard.
Our advice is to take an extra step and call each bidder. Ask them why you should buy from them and if they stand by their work.
You have read the 5 pitfalls to avoid when buying a building sign. Therefore, you learned what to ask, found out what to consider, and understood why the lowest prices are not always the best choices. When you are ready for a professional building sign, we can help. Call us at 949-748-1070!