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Every day, we are asked the question, “How much will a typical custom sign cost?” And we answer, “It depends.” Because there’s no such product as a typical sign. Since we’ve been in the custom sign business in New Jersey for over 24 years, you might think we would have a straightforward answer. But we don’t, and let me explain why. 

The purchase of custom business signage is similar to buying a kitchen remodel or a home addition. No one’s kitchen is exactly the same. No one chooses the same home improvements. Same for business signs. Quick quotes are hard to give because every aspect of the product is custom made.

In this two part series, we’ll answer frequently asked questions about the costs and budget for purchasing a commercial business sign. Part One covers general costs for different types of signs, the factors that influence a sign’s cost and the problems with a “ballpark estimate.”

  • How much does a custom sign cost?

Loumarc Signs team can produce almost any customizable sign you can imagine. Here are some custom signs we sell and install regularly. The prices include design and installation.

  • How much does an awning sign cost?

The average price of an awning sign is $3,000 and up.

  • How much does a channel letter sign cost?

The average price of a channel letter sign is $7,000 and up.

  • How much does a monument sign cost?

The average price of a monument sign is $8,000 and up. A monument sign may have a simulated stone base or pillars.

 

  • How much does a lobby or reception area sign cost?

The average price of a lobby / reception area sign is $1,500 and up.

 

  • How much does an Electronic Message Center sign cost?

The average price of an Electronic Message Center (EMC) sign is $15,000 and up.

 

  • What information do you need to help me choose a sign within my budget?

Your business sign is a long-term investment like your building or location. The sign will represent your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year for as long as you display it. Getting the right sign matters if you want to reach your business goals.

So you enlist the help of an experienced sign consultant. How do you make sure she maximizes your sign investment? Tell her these two important concerns: your budget and your business goals.

With a budget number, she can help you prioritize the most important factors to you. Perhaps the highest priority is functionality: visibility and ease of someone finding your location. Instead of wasting time recommending signage you cannot afford, she can focus on the best sign choices within your budget.

Remember: Every signage project is unique because your business is one-of-a-kind. There is no one sign that fits every situation.

Be prepared to be asked questions like the following. Your answers give her information to research options and evaluate how to use your budget wisely.

  • How important is visibility?
  • What is the type of business?
  • How important is functionality?
  • How important is image?
  • Does the sign need to be visible at night, and rainy or snowy weather conditions?
  • Are you concerned the town has restrictions on the size and quantity of signage?
  • Do visitors have difficulty knowing where to go at the business location?
  • What challenges does the signage need to address? (For example, visibility from a long distance, a new location or too few signs.)  
  • What factors influence the price of a sign?

A long-lasting custom sign distinctive to a business or organization consists of numerous details.

  • Size
    • In general, the material and labor cost exponentially increase per square foot. Larger signs may affect installation rates because more than one technician or special equipment is needed to transport and install the sign.
  • Regulations
  • Materials
  • Illuminated or non-illuminated
  • Single or double-sided
  • Adding metals
  • Multiple layers
  • Logo
  • Complexity of construction and design
    • The intricacy of the design affects the sign’s cost.
  • Difficulty level of installation
    • A large simulated monument sign, for example, needs a foundation and requires multiple site visits. If installing an individually mounted electric sign to a building, then each individual letter’s wiring needs to be pulled through. The process will be more expensive as compared to an electric sign on a panel with wiring centralized and attached in one spot.
    • Type of equipment used
    • Sign’s height
    • The truck’s accessibility to the front of the building
  • Location of installation
    • Labor costs may be higher depending on the placement of the sign, such as jackhammering through pavement versus digging postholes in dirt.  
  • Stock colors or customizable colors
  • Specialty finishes
    • Brushed aluminum is a highly popular specialty finish. When you customize the finish beyond standard options, this will add to your cost. 

“Anytime you’re doing any combination of any kind of custom looks … the more your custom sign looks different than everyone else’s, the more it costs,” said Laura Shreve, Loumarc Signs sign consultant.

  •  Why do you say a “ballpark estimate” may not be helpful?

Weighing the factors (see previous question) is near impossible for a person with no experience purchasing a custom business sign. Although Laura has over 20 years of sign experience, she will tell you estimating a project is definitely time-consuming.

So when customers request “ballpark estimates,” they may not fully understand the process to create a quote. And the process works better for the customer when budget and needs are identified before creating a quote.

All estimates – whether “ballpark quotes” or “final proposals” — require many steps. At a minimum, Laura creates a rough design. Then, she assembles time and material inputs from design, production and installation departments. She creates a quote based on her experience with similar products and the information she’s gathered. The quote may take a week to complete.

“I have a whole checklist that I go through in order to come up with an estimate. So it’s not like I can say, ‘Oh, they’re looking for a 2019 Subaru Outback. Then find the price in a catalog and say, ‘It’s $22,000,” Laura said.

So when the customer receives the ballpark quote of $15,000, but reveals his budget number is $7,000, the quote isn’t useful.  

She understands customers may be uncomfortable talking about their budget requirements. But when they tell their budget number in initial conversations, they will be more satisfied because the process is easier, smoother and less time-consuming.

If you don’t know where to begin to determine a sign budget, return to our blog next month for Part Two and we’ll give you some tips. Would you like to chat with us today about your custom signage needs? 

Shannan Seely

Shannan Seely is a NJ writer for Loumarc Signs. She writes about choosing the right business sign, how the permit process works, sign costs and other business signage topics. Loumarc Signs is a NJ custom sign shop in business for over 24 years. Once a customer approves the sign, Loumarc Signs handles the rest — from permits to plans, fabrication to installation. 

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