I’ve been making signs since 1980 and I really enjoy the creativity of the sign business. The most challenging part of the process remains permitting a sign. Cities and suburbs have sign ordinances that restrict the size, location and sometimes the lighting and type of sign used. Landlords may also impose their own restrictions; these are likely to be the most stringent in a mall. The reality is most entrepreneurs need professional assistance with signage since they don’t have experience in this area. You probably won’t know how big the letters should be to be visible from down the block, what fonts are readable, color combinations that make it easy to read, and you may not know which materials fare best in inclement weather. For this reason it make sense to seek out a sign professionals help. Still want to do it yourself? Here is a video that explains it or you can read all the tips to help in the process following the video.
Do your homework!
Cities usually have all the sign criteria online. Look it up and find out what is allowed in your neighborhood. It will save you time and frustration. I have met with many owners who have designed a sign and I have to let them know that it can’t be done because it violates the sign code.
Expect to spend an hour or more at the city!
Years ago, a permitting office would quickly approve your design. If it met the requirements, you were good to go. Today, properties face much heavier scrutiny. Many require review from the local architectural review board. Some need a stamped engineer’s drawing. Other county officials want to see the calculations used by the engineer to ensure they are accurate. You will need site plans showing where the sign will be placed, property lines, and dimensions. By the way, most cities do not like Google maps used for site plans. They require drawings. You will also need scaled drawings showing the sign, colors, attachment methods and if it’s an electric sign power connections.
Make friends with the planning and zoning people!
There is no other way of saying it, don’t be a jerk! Zoning rules are not always black and white; in the gray area are the relationships that you personally and professionally maintain with the individuals who are responsible for approving and rejecting signs. The folks that work at the city offices are working 8 hour days in a difficult environment. Be the “good guy” and things will move easier for you and them. Make sure you are the person they are glad to see.
Follow up and be persistent!
Be diligent and proactive. If they say call back in a week call back in 3 days. Be persistent and proactive but don’t be a jerk.
Ask a lot of questions.
Even if the ordinances seem crystal clear, ask lots of questions. The way they are written can be very confusing to understand and even the clerks at the city sometimes have trouble deciphering them. Most cities require a licensed sign contractor to even pull a sign permit or install a sign. So even as a business owner who is willing to put in the time to install a sign, you may not be able to obtain a city permit as an unlicensed sign contractor. Find that information out before you get too far in the process.
Let us help you!
If you’ve come to the conclusion that spending weeks learning codes and permits aren’t for you, then the next step is finding the right business sign professionals that will give you a full-service package and install a business sign you can be proud of. You’ll want a business that does more than just take your order, you’ll want a business that serves as an advisor, guides you through the process, and has open communication about any snags along the way. We are that sign contractor!
Think you’re ready to get that new business sign you’ve been dreaming of? Hopefully you’ve gained some helpful insight with the professional tips above. Good luck with the installation of your new business sign!