Understanding the Significance of Signage – for Franchise Tenants

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As we explain in our new book, Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals For Dummies, it’s much easier for customers to find your franchise store if you have a prominent sign with your business name on it out front. The bigger the sign, the better – and the more attractive the sign, the better too.

Don’t just assume that your landlord shares your vision of a large sign identifying your franchise story on or in front of his property. Franchise tenants can easily overlook that their landlords may want to restrict all tenant signage on the property. Tenant requests for more or larger signage are often rejected by landlords.

Landlords impose signage criteria and restrictions mainly because whatever they allow one tenant to do signage-wise, the other tenants may also want to do. Most landlords prefer an uncluttered property without extra signage simply because it looks more attractive. If your landlord does allow you to place a sign on the property, creating and maintaining it is typically your responsibility. This extra work on your part, however, can be beneficial:

Signage can make your franchise store business easier to find for customers who are specifically looking for you. Obviously, if you’re located in an area with a sea of shopping plazas, a sign with your name on it makes it much easier for customers to pick you out of the crowd.

Signage can bring in customer traffic. Motivated shoppers who don’t know you’re there may be drawn in by your sign as they walk or drive by.

Signage will become recognized by local residents who will see you as they commute to and from work daily. These residents are eventually more likely to visit your franchise store because they are familiar with your name.

With that being said, note that your landlord may allow certain types of signage and not others, Typically, the landlord usually requires graphic drawings of your sign for written approval or provides you with a signage criteria package that you must follow as part of your lease agreement.

The following are among the most common types of signage:

Building signage: This is the signage that almost every business will have and it will generally appear directly above your main entry door. However, do not overlook the possibilities of having signage on multiple sides or even the rear of the commercial property if that will provide you additional exposure to walk-by or drive-by traffic.

Monument signage: A monument sign resembles a tombstone coming out of the ground and, typically, advertises just one or a few select tenants. Monument signs are not that common, but they can make your franchise store business look more substantial if you can get one.

Pylon signage: The tall sign by the roadway that tells passers-by what tenants are in the plaza is called the pylon sign.  A property may have several pylon signs, which all display the name of the plaza at the top of the sign. Don’t just assume that you will automatically get a panel of the pylon sign or signs. There are often more tenants in a property than sign panels available, so make this a part of your offer to lease or lease renewal. Ideally, try to pick your actual panel (both front and back), because a panel higher up on the pylon sign is usually more visible and read first.

Sandwich board signage and banners: These may be extremely useful for franchise store tenants offering a limited time special but landlords may say no. If these are of interest to you, negotiate for them in advance. The Lease Coach will often negotiate predetermined times when the tenant can use these signs … landlords may be more comfortable in knowing these signs will not be out all year and thereby not create signage clutter.

Temporary pull-away signage: These are the signs on wheels covered with images or business messages. Most landlords hate these signs and the problems that they create. Don’t just assume that you may be able to have pull-away signage for your grand opening. Landlords think these signs clutter or obstruct their property and may only allow limited numbers of pull-away signs to be used (and shared) by many tenants throughout the year. Again, negotiate pull-away signage rights up front, because the landlord doesn’t have to let you put these signs up if they are not included in the lease agreement.

For a copy of our free CD, Leasing Do’s & Don’ts for Franchise Tenants, please e-mail your request to DaleWillerton@TheLeaseCoach.com.

Dale Willerton and Jeff Grandfield – The Lease Coach are Commercial Lease Consultants who work exclusively for tenants. Dale and Jeff are professional speakers and co-authors of Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals FOR DUMMIES (Wiley, 2013). Got a leasing question? Need help with your new lease or renewal? Call 1-800-738-9202, e-mail DaleWillerton@TheLeaseCoach.com or visit www.TheLeaseCoach.com.