“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” – Abraham Lincoln
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the nation’s 16th president who originally said that, but he certainly could have. It’s a famous quote, not attributable to any one individual, that applies to our personal lives, professional reputations, and for purposes of this blog, the entrance signs we build for our clients.
No matter what type of property you manage – shopping center, hospital, office park, or mixed-use – the entrance sign is the first impression you will make to potential visitors.
I’m often surprised by how property managers and owners treat these prominent landmarks as afterthoughts. The fact is that an entrance sign can be the one feature that draws people in – or drives them away.
When visitors arrive, it is the entrance sign that tells them just what kind of place they’ve come to. Therefore, the big question you must ask when considering your entrance sign – whether it’s a pylon or monument – is, “What kind of first impression do I hope to make?”
Here are four keys to putting your best foot forward.
Top Property Managers Use This Tool to Keep Their Centers Looking Their Best
You work hard to create a great customer experience. The right tenants, well-maintained landscaping, and an attractive entrance pylon sign all help you create a great first impression. Curb appeal matters, right? Well there’s another important factor that you shouldn’t overlook and it may be the most critical if you want your retail center to look professional and attractive. It’s your tenants’ signage.
I can almost hear you now saying, “How can I control my tenants’ signs?” Well you can and you absolutely should. Not only will signage guidelines help you maintain the “look” you want for your center but they will also help prevent future disagreements with your tenants (and between your tenants).
These guidelines are called “tenant signage criteria.” The criteria document should be made as an exhibit in the tenant’s lease so that it is clear from the outset what the criteria are -- and also that the criteria are enforceable as part of the lease.
Effective tenant signage criteria anticipate problems before they happen, and explain the landlord’s perspective on all things signs with straightforward, clear-cut language. Your guidelines may address things like size, placement, materials, colors, and lighting.
Here are five keys to developing effective tenant signage criteria.
Retail centers in Buckhead, a wealthy Atlanta enclave, compete for some of the world's top brands as well as for local businesses that create world-class shopping and dining experiences. Buckhead Court shopping center, managed by our client Regency Centers, has seen a dramatic transformation in recent years to not only remain competitive in this environment but to become a destination of choice for local shoppers.
A great tenant mix has been a major factor in drawing customers back to the center. This property now features a signature restaurant, a luxury home goods boutique and several providers of spa and wellness services. The center and its tenants have also been working together on marketing and event planning to make sure that locals get the word about their offerings. Even with all this work, something still wasn't right. The center's old pylon sign wasn't creating a positive first impression.
By its nature, the commercial sign-making process does not enjoy a simple timetable. Every sign is different and so are the circumstances that surround its journey from concept to installation.
For a new pylon sign, the complete process from initial consultation to installation should take a minimum of 12 weeks. The process takes longer for more complex projects with more extensive sign needs. For instance, a shopping center project with multiple items, such as monument signs, pylon signs, wayfaring street signs, and directories, could require 20-22 weeks, at least. As you can see, your sign’s development needs to be prioritized so ensure it meets your deadline.
The sign-making process includes distinct stages, and each is critical to creating the sign that you want – and ensuring it’s ready when you need it.
At the outset, your company will meet with designers to discuss the sign or signs that are needed. It is important to attend this first meeting with a clear idea of the objectives, scope and budget range for your project.
The more clearly you are able to articulate the purpose of the sign, the better the designers will be able to serve as valuable consultants at the outset. In addition, clear objectives from the start can help lay the path for a smoother design, permitting, and fabrication and installation experience. Working with a sign-making business such as Ad Vice that offers comprehensive services – able to guide you through every step of the process – can help you avoid costly wrong turns.
From that initial consultation, the sign designers will detail their projected budget and schedule and you can determine if the partnership is a good fit.
The commercial sign market has experienced a watershed shift in the use of one of a sign’s crucial components. Fluorescent bulbs long were the favored technology for giving signs their glow, but LED bulbs have emerged in recent years as a preferred choice for many sign-makers and their customers.
Newly fabricated signs now often are installed with LED bulbs, including most signs designed and fabricated by Ad Vice Studios. In addition, shopping center operators and others increasingly are weighing the value of retrofitting their existing signs with new LED bulbs. Ad Vice, for instance, has seen a surge in retrofit requests.
A LED retrofit comes at an upfront cost. The ballast, trays and electronics must be replaced, along with the bulbs. However, LED bulbs provide an array of key advantages that often make a retrofit an attractive option that is well worth the investment. If you are wondering whether a retrofit is right for you, here are some of the critical benefits to consider.
Get our Sign Pricing Guide - Real projects, real pricing
Whether you’re developing a new property or renovating the signs at an existing one, the cost will be an important consideration. How much should you budget for new signs? What can I get for the amount that I’ve already budgeted? Our Sign Pricing Guide was created to help answer these and other questions related to custom sign development.
Pricing information for pylons, monuments, directories and way finding signs
Factors that determine sign cost
Alternative materials that may save you moneySign cost vs. other advertising options
Download your copy now!
Your friends at Ad Vice Studios just want to remind you to use this week to make sure your light timers and digital message boards are ready for the time change on Sunday, March 11 at 2 am. That's easier to do than to reset the clock on the stove!
More daylight means more visitors will see your signs, so be sure to make them shine. You may also want to replace any burned out bulbs and freshen up the landscaping around your signs.
All this talk about Daylight Savings Time made us curious about why we do this anyway. Here's what we found.
Daylight saving time 2018: 7 myths and facts about changing the clock (bigthink.com)
Part Two: What are the best websites, blogs, Twitter accounts and LinkedIn groups for retail property managers?
In our last post, we kicked off a three-part series on the best resources to stay up-to-date with commercial real estate and retail property management trends and news. Our second installment highlights some of the movers and shakers who use their Twitter handles to share their unique industry insights. We know there are many more and we hope that you will share some of your favorites in the comments section.
Next time, we'll go in search of the best LinkedIn Groups.
Real Capital - @realcapital
Real Capital Analytics has earned a reputation for having timely and reliable commercial real estate transaction data. They use Twitter to share information about deals, players and trends driving commercial real estate investments.
Regency Centers - @regencycenters
A preeminent national owner, operator, and developer of shopping centers located in affluent and densely populated areas. They tweet promotional items from time to time, sure, but they share a ton of relevant industry content, too.
Coy Davidson - @CoyDavidsonCRE
SVP of Colliers International, with nearly 32,000 followers (and more tweets than that). If you want a prolific insider who follows the CRE industry, Coy “The Tenant Advisor” is your man.
Shopping Center Business - @shoppingctrbiz
Keep up with the magazine by following along on its Twitter account. If you work in shopping centers and only follow one account, let this be the one – it’s all the news you’ll need to know.
Anne D’Innocenzio - @adinnocenzio
The Associated Press’ national retail writer.
National Retail Federation - @nrfnews
The voice of retail, representing all tenants (and America’s largest private sector employer).
BOMA International - @bomaintl
Going on 111 years strong, BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) works to advance the CRE industry through advocacy, influence and knowledge. Many states and regions also have their own BOMA accounts.
Joe Stampone - @joestampone1
Joe works for Atlas, a New York City-based real estate investment firm overseeing a $600 million portfolio. Joe stays on the cutting edge of CRE, often sharing technology insights for the industry regardless of property type.
Barbara Thau - @bthau
Business reporter for Forbes covering the retail industry. She will help you stay current to the trends your tenants are talking about (and the concerns they have).
Facilities Management Journal - @fmjtoday
Based in the United Kingdom, Facilities Management Journal is a monthly magazine providing intelligence property professionals. It’s a good way to stay current to more international trends in facilities and property management.
Brittany Wunsch - @BritHurleyCRE
NYC Real Estate magazine’s 30 under 30, Brittany (now based in London) offers sharp insights on CRE and the future of work. If you want to see happenings in the world’s biggest cities, she’s on top of it.
CRE Radio - @creradio
Says radio, but technically a podcast and video blog. It’s hosted by Howard Kline, a 40-year veteran broker, attorney and (more recent) blogger. Visit CREradio.com to follow along – there’s a newsletter, too.
What are the best websites, blogs, Twitter accounts and LinkedIn groups for retail property managers?
Whether you’re new to retail property management or a veteran looking to stay current, you should always make an effort to keep up with the latest trends, key players, and news across the industry.
There’s a firehose of information available out there – you could make a job out of simply trying to keep up. To help manage the load, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite retail and commercial property management online resources – people to follow, publications to read, and professional groups to join.
This post, the first of three, will explore our favorite industry news providers. This list is by no means definitive - we’d also love to hear yours! Leave your favorites in the comments. Be sure to follow the Sound Advice blog so you won't miss parts 2 and 3 of this series where we'll share our top influencers on Twitter and professional groups to join on LinkedIn.
Happy holidays from all of us at Ad Vice Studios. Having the opportunity to support your signage needs in 2017 has been an honor. We thank you for your continued support and look forward to serving you again in 2018.
Protect your company’s investment with these five ideas for making a great first impression.
Contrary to what you may read, the retail industry is not dying, but it has become harder than ever to get customers to put down their phones and computers and pay a visit to our locations.
People want to shop in places that look inviting, fun, safe, and have an appealing tenant mix of both quality stores and, if the location merits it, solid dining options. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain the appearance of your property from storefront to the street. When properties are neglected, they can contribute to neighborhood decline, lower property values, and even crime. When shoppers are given a welcoming, enjoyable environment, they stick around longer – and hopefully spend more.
Depending on the age of your shopping center, it may be time to consider upgrading the appearance. Here are five ways to do so.
You’ve got a lot of competition, online and offline. Create new reasons for your customers to visit your center.
In a world that becomes more digitally oriented every day, operating a brick-and-mortar retail location can seem daunting. There’s no denying that online shopping has increased in recent years, but according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 64 percent of Americans still prefer to buy from a physical store, and RetailNext pegs 94 percent of all retail sales stemming from a store.
Still, with the majority of Americans believing they can find a better deal online, it’s important as a property manager to get creative in finding ways to get new feet onto your property. You can do that by creating engaging experiences that shoppers can’t get on the web.
So if that guy you paid to dance on the side of the road spinning a sign scared away as many people as he brought in, here are a few other ideas to try.
Do your homework or risk major delays to your sign approval.
When I started in the commercial signage business 27 years ago, we could walk into a city or county permitting office and, 15 minutes later, leave with an approved sign permit.
These days, if you choose to wait, you’ll be sitting in that same office for about five weeks on average.
I love everything about the signage business, but after nearly three decades, the most challenging part remains the permitting process. Regulations have become more challenging, establishing overall height, setbacks from the street and nearby structures, square footage allowances for text, distance between signs, and the number of signs that a property is allowed to have.
Rules and regulations – which vary depending on whether it's a commercial, industrial, or residential zone – are done in the name of keeping a pleasant aesthetic to streetscapes and skylines (although beauty is in the eye of the beholder) and, perhaps more nobly, ensures displays don’t impede right of way and keeps people safe (which we support).
In an otherwise two-party, commercial transaction between sign designer/installer and property, the involvement of government bureaucracy can quickly slow down business. And sometimes, these stringent regulations can kill a project altogether.
Here are eight tips I’ve learned over the years to get through it as fast as possible and keep your project on track.
Ad Vice Studios
David Goodwin is the president of Ad Vice Studios, a Richmond, Va-based marketing services company. David has built his career and his business collaborating with property managers, developers and architects to transform commercial properties into attractive destinations with unique brands and customer experiences.