As someone who has been in the sign industry since 1992, I have pretty much seen it all. If you own a business, signs are an important part of that business. If you lease or sell commercial properties, your client will be looking to you for the assurance that he or she will be able to have effective signage. Your sign professional should be there to assist you in this matter and provide a “value added” service for both you and your client.
The best advice I can offer in this regard is to get your sign person involved as early as possible. This can even include having him or her evaluate your properties as they come on the market and report to you on their signage potential. Consider these time frames. From experience I can tell you that from the first meeting with a business to the time the art work has been completed and a price agreed to, this process will probably take an average of 30 days. This is without design revisions or delays in making decisions. Permitting may take up to two weeks or more unless a variance is involved and that procedure may take up to 6 months. Actual manufacturing and installation may take 45 days or longer, depending on the project, from the time the actual permits are approved and pulled. Add it up. That’s 90 days from start to finish. And that’s on a good day!
A qualified sign professional should be able to provide you with:
Realistic expectations in regard to the time needed to get artwork and estimates, permits, and manufacturing and installation.
An intimate knowledge of the local sign ordinance including any overlay districts that might be involved, for example, an historic district. This would include being aware of any special sign programs that might be in effect for a specific property.
Sound, and brutally honest advice on what it will take to get your signs approved at all levels.
A working relationship with local planning staff. Beware of the sign sales person that hands your project off to somebody else for permitting. This of course is my professional opinion. The fact is, when I need to take something to a city that requires “special attention”, I do it myself because I have developed those relationships and will want to “hand walk” your application through. Your signage specialist should be prepared to do the same.
A commitment to personally seeing your project through to the end and not just to the point that they have your deposit.
What you can do to assist in these efforts:
Whether you are the agent or the tenant, make your sign person a part of your team and provide them with the information that they need to go to work for you. This would include any established sign criteria and landlord contact information, if applicable.
As the tenant or owner, it will be very helpful to provide your sign person with quality artwork, your preferred signage options, a realistic budget, and your best advice regarding the time frames involved. This would include communicating any changes that may occur in a timely manner.
If you find particular sign person that you you trust, use them to help you to evaluate any competitive bids that you may have received. In this business as with most, you get what you pay for and that “pretty picture” you may be looking at may tell you little about actual construction or materials used. Chances are that your sign person understands their industry better than and you should leverage their knowledge.
If new construction is involved, you will want your sign person involved early and you should place them in contact with all construction parties involved. Wall signs may involve needed backing behind the walls for support, trenches may need to be dug to ground mounted signs for electrical service, and any illuminated signs will need electrical service stubbed to the sign location. The choice is yours. You can arrange to tear out that new sheetrock to provide backing and electrical service or maybe even have to break up that nice new asphalt to get power to a ground mounted sign or …………. make arrangements ahead of time and save in the associated costs and timing.
What everybody will receive in return:
A good clean project within your budget, the quality you expect, and signage delivered within the agreed to time frame. These are the results one should expect when retaining a qualified sign professional.