If you’ve started or are looking to start a business with a “brick and mortar” location, you are going to need a sign. However, what sounds like a simple transaction can quickly become a very complicated process depending on where you are and what your budget looks like. We want our clients to make informed decisions regarding their signage, so we’ve put together this 5-step walkthrough to talk you through the process and make planning a little bit easier.
Just because you can go to a sign manufacturer and have them build any sign you want, doesn’t mean that’s the right approach. Where you are opening or operating a store can have a major impact on the quantity, size, type, placement and even the design and color of your signage. Therefore, the first step of any signage project is for you and/or a sign company to obtain details about your store, such as the address, site photos (these can usually be pulled from online in the early stages of a project), lease information and signage codes (if applicable).
Design & Quote
Once you’ve approached a company with your address and sign concept, the next step will be for them to create drawings to show what the finished product(s) will look like and give an estimate on cost. This preliminary design phase is the perfect time to consider your budget and decide whether to invest more or scale things back. Be sure to communicate your concerns and needs clearly with your sign company and be open to suggestions. It may surprise you how a simple change to the materials or fabrication method can control costs without compromising the appearance of your signage. The durability of sign materials such as aluminum grade and vinyl make/brand is a critical factor to consider when entertaining bids from multiple sign companies. Remember, an experienced sign company will know and be upfront about the expected longevity of the signage they’re proposing.
Survey & Approvals
This is the point at which money starts changing hands. After you accept a quote, a sign company will want a deposit. This is usually done so the sign company knows you’re serious and has some funds to start the more detailed process of surveying the project location and submitting paperwork to your landlord and the building department for approvals. Is it possible for you to do most of this work yourself? Perhaps, but you must consider how much your time is worth. Sign permit applications can be complicated and involve a lot of back-and-forth. That’s why our dedicated project management team handles the permit process for most of our clients.
Occasionally, things will come up at this step to send the project back to the design and quote phase. This can be disappointing if you really had your heart set on a specific design, so please let your sign company know if that is the case as they may be able to negotiate with the landlord or Building Department on your behalf. Our Project Managers maintain connections with the local building departments for just this purpose. Also, many places have a formal variance process by which a business can have code exceptions made to get the signage they want.
Fabrication & Installation
Once all the necessary building details and approvals are obtained, it is finally time to build and install your signage. This is often the most exciting phase of the sign project as days and/or weeks of planning finally start to materialize. However, this phase can still have its setbacks. Keep in mind that if something happens, a good company will communicate complications without passing them onto you unnecessarily.
Final Inspection & Billing
Occasionally, local governments require a final inspection to confirm the sign’s compliance with code and safety standards. Once your signs are installed, the sign company should provide photos and proof of inspection approval to demonstrate completion of your project. Only after this is complete, should the sign company request the remaining balance on your project.
We hope this article has taught you what to expect when you start a signage project. If you have any questions about this information, or want to know how we can help you with your signage project, please call 631-446-1121 or submit a request via our contact page.