If you’re researching and looking for a new business location, please take note:

It’s a little known fact that signs are the best investment in advertising you can make to attract new customers to your business. About 54 percent of American consumers failed to find a business because the sign was too small or unclear. And we know what happens if people passed by and saw no sign at all. Your business was invisible and they didn’t come in. The missed opportunity multiplies every time a passerby doesn’t recognize your storefront. 

Unless you’ve purchased a custom business sign before, you may not be aware of this. Until now. In this article, we’ll give you three steps to include when selecting a new business location so you’ll be satisfied with your signage. 

1. Put signage in the forefront of your planning

When you are opening a retail business for the first time, you are considering locations based on the city, state, cost, type of location and building space. And these factors are all important. But you need to add this detail in the mix: Signage.

Signage is key because when new customers are asked “How did you learn about us?”, 46% of them responded on-premise signage was the major reason they learned about the company as compared to other forms of advertising. And remember customers discovering your website still rely on highly visible signage when they venture out to find you.

“85% of your customers live or work within a five-mile radius of your business. If you want to grow your business, you should focus on this customer base. The quickest, easiest and most economical way to do this is with signage.” International Sign Association

Laura Shreve, Marketing Consultant, said owners usually think about signage as an afterthought and then are unpleasantly surprised when they realize the business signage required is above their budget.

“For example, they are moving in a new strip mall location and everyone has to have individually mounted channel letters, which is at the higher end of custom business signs. So a small retail business probably shouldn’t be looking at moving in there unless they have a $5,000 to $10,000 budget for their channel letter sign,” she said.

In other cases, owners budget enough money for outdoor retail signage, but unwittingly learned too late about codes and regulations restricting their options. 

“I’ve found a number of times where customers come and think they can do whatever they want to do for their signage, and they can’t. They are allowed a little tiny 2 ft. x 4 ft. sign and if they want a larger sign, they have to seek a variance,” said Laura. 

So add signage options to your planning checklist.

And just as you would talk to a realtor and lawyer as the need arises, seek the advice of a reputable sign consultant. In a 20-minute conversation, you will know whether the possible business location is a right fit for your wish of an outdoor light box sign or if more research is necessary. Sign consultants have down-deep knowledge about signs. You can eliminate poor locations early in the process, and then focus on the few suitable ones.  

2. Examine signs in and around the possible business location

When scouting for a business location, you’re also learning all you can about the area surrounding the vicinity. Are there competitors nearby who are driving customers to the area? Are businesses close with similar clientele who could also help your business? What does the location look like at night? Is the exterior lighting sufficient for customers to feel safe and comfortable to shop in the evening hours?

While you observe the environment, check out the signage. We recommend taking pictures of signs in and around the possible business location in the daytime. You also need to see the signage at night and in different weather conditions. 

“It gives you an idea of what’s allowed and what’s existing on the property,” said Laura.

Talking with the landlord is useful.

“What does your landlord allow? Is the sign going to be within in your budget if this is really the location you want?” Laura said.

Among the questions to ask, include questions about signage codes and regulations. Laura encourages customers to bring up signage questions during the first conversation. It’s better to know before you sign a lease than to experience regret.

3. Learn the regulations

In over 25 years in business, our professional design team has created amazing signs.

Like this:

image of City of Summit monument sign

And this:

image of Vailsburg steel arch in Newark, NJ, by Loumarc Signs

Our team is imaginative and creative. And we love working with a complex product which offers a wide range of choices of materials, colors and layouts. But let’s share a secret we’ve learned in these 25-plus years:  

It’s a waste of time and effort to design a custom business sign you’ll never be allowed to display. 

What signs are allowed and not allowed depend on permits, codes and regulations. And this reality can confound some customers. There’s no general guideline you can follow. We don’t want you to be blindsided, which is why we cover the topic frequently in our blog posts about understanding the permit process and getting the business sign of your dreams.

So what can you do? Before you approve a final layout or order a sign, we suggest you choose between two options:

Get the regulations from the township first.


Work with a reputable custom business sign company to help guide you.

Wondering how to know if a custom business sign company is right for you? Download the guide, 10 Important Questions to Ask Before Selecting a Sign Company.

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