“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.
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.
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.