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When Should a Sign Company Move, Expand or Stay the Same?

Also, some tips on improving your chances in our annual sign contest.

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We have an amazing location on Main St. with lots of drive-by traffic. Unfortunately, it’s way too small so our debate is whether to move to a larger location with less drive-by traffic or stay put. How much business do signshops get from drive-by traffic? Is it all about location, location, location in 2024? We have been keeping track of leads but we are still unsure of what to do.

Let’s start with that last detail: keeping track of leads. As your location is “amazing … with lots of drive-by traffic,” we’ll assume a very significant percentage of your leads drive by. As this would be lost in any relocation, have you considered expanding into a second location? Yes, it could be a pricey option, but you would retain all the traffic of your current location and reap the benefits of building upon a shop that’s “way too small.” Expansion can take a number of forms, not all of them incurring 100 percent of the financial burden yourself, especially if that’s not feasible. What about merging with another sign company or partnering in the expansion — perhaps someone you already consider a friendly rival or you outsource overflow work to each other. Another option, in a word: outsourcing. Bottom line is this: Don’t lose that sweet source of leads.

When do other sign companies decide to expand, sell or stay the same?

Numerous factors figure into this three-part question but the focus seems to be on the timing (the “when”) of the decisions. “When to expand?” Luckily, the answer above addresses that to some extent. The sign pro above seems unable to keep up with demand in their current location, but the urgency expressed in the question suggests a decision must be made imminently. “When to sell?” Hopefully, when the value of your company is high and you are ready to exit the scene. The timing of these two factors figure heavily. Of course, one of the two could be so compelling that it overcomes any barrier the other might present: an offer you can’t refuse, an ailment forces your departure, etc. “When to stay the same?” In other words, when to ‘stick not twist’ — to decline expansion or sale — or any other change. We receive a number of tips through the Brain Squad and one oft-repeated piece of advice is to keep doing what you do well. A recent Shop Operations column by Dale Salamacha bid farewell to gigantic, time-consuming projects so that Media 1 Wrap This (Sanford, FL) could focus on core competencies and succeed (see ST, February 2024, page 41).

How can I improve my chances in the Signs of the Times Sign Contest that opens May 6?

First, enter your actual “best” signs from each category. Unique signs tend to get noticed more. As the contest is judged primarily by the photos submitted, send the best possible pictures of your projects. Consider having them taken by a professional for your own marketing as well as the contest. You would not believe how many shops submit “evidence of install” images with ladders and tools in frame, their reflection in the window, the new business not yet opened, etc. Go back after the business is open, has customers in the scene, the landscaping has filled in, etc. Take shots of both the full signs and the more interesting details. If you are submitting an internally illuminated sign, send good night shots, too. If you don’t know how, learn to take great pictures of your signs. An article from a couple of years ago can help (see ST, January 2020, page 18).

Want to see your questions featured in this department? Send your emails to: ask@signsofthetimes.com

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