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Tips for Buying Business Signs Get your name out there with the perfect signage for your business.

By Mie- Yun Lee

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

For many small businesses, signs are an important means ofadvertising a company's existence. However, signs are not forpublic display only. They can also help direct visitors around youroffice and alert employees to hazardous or off-limit areas.

This guide is designed to give you the facts you need toevaluate and choose signs for your business. The various sectionsare listed in the box above. You can choose to read this guide frombeginning to end, or jump directly to a section of interest.

Types ofSigns
Signs can be created for outdoor or indoor use.

Typically, outdoor signs are used for marketing purposes or todirect visitors. They can be found on rooftops, walls, and awnings;standing alone by buildings; hanging as banners; and even displayedon the sides of cars and trucks.

Indoor signs are usually hung from ceilings or attached towalls. These signs are usually created for use in a reception areaor to direct visitors. Signs are also often created for trade showdisplays

There are many different materials companies can use to make signs.Sign makers typically break down requirements in terms of letteringand substrate materials.

Sign lettering can be as straightforward as adhesive vinyl or aseye-grabbing as neon. Other materials commonly used for letteringinclude metal, wood, plastic, and foamcore. Lettering can also beengraved. While once quite prevalent, paint is now much less commonas a lettering medium.

Get free price quotes on business signsat

Buyers also have the choice of many substrates, which serve asthe backing for the lettering. Materials used for backing includeplastic, paper, cloth, vinyl, wood, foamcore, glass, and aluminum.Mixed substrates are also available.

Since sign materials come in varying levels of quality, youshould inquire about their durability when comparing quotes.Accompanying warranties for the materials can also serve as a goodproxy for quality.

Buyers need to consider a number of factors to create effective,long-lasting signs.

First, think about the distance the average viewer will be fromthe sign. In addition, factors such as as sign height, lighting,and time of day can affect how easily the sign can be viewed.

Also think about the sign's expected wear and tear, and makesure the appropriate materials are used. Signs can be destroyed notonly from weather conditions, but also from travel and generalmishandling.

Choosing aCompany
One of the first things to do when choosing a sign company is tofind one that specializes in the type of sign materials you desire.Although most companies will not claim any specialties in theiradvertising, many will in fact be particularly proficient at makinga certain type of sign. You will often find faster turnaround,higher quality execution, and better pricing when working with sucha company.

Sign companies can also specialize in particular types ofprojects. For example, some companies have substantial experiencein the planning and placement of signs throughout a building.Working with people who are particularly knowledgeable about theissues surrounding a given project can significantly impact thetypes of signs that are created.

Also consider the capabilities you require. Buyers that do nothave designers in house may want to assess the portfolios ofgraphic designers working at the sign company. Alternately,companies that already know what they want implemented should lookfor a sign company that accepts computer files on disk for directoutputting.

Complying with theADA
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all commercialfacilities (which include any building open to the public) toaccommodate the special needs of individuals with disabilities byremoving physical and communication barriers. This means thatbuildings such as hospitals, government buildings, public andprivate schools, transportation terminals, hotels, restaurants, andmanufacturing facilities must meet ADA requirements in terms ofsignage design and installation.

There are companies familiar with the ADA and that can help yourfirm conform to the regulations. Keep in mind that while there arecosts involved with ADA compliance, the government also providesADA-specific tax refunds for businesses.

About ZoningRegulations
Many towns have specific regulations about the type or size ofoutdoor signs businesses may erect. If the zoning laws in your areaprevent you from installing the type of sign you desire, you mayneed to apply for a variance to the existing code. Sign companiesshould be familiar not only with local regulations, but also withthe process for applying for a variance.

Sign costs depend on size, material, color, and content. They canrange from $8 for a small sign (12" by 6" with a basicdesign) to nearly $100 for a larger sign (30" by 30" withmore complicated features). Sign costs can easily climb up to thehundreds or even thousands of dollars when using costly materialsor producing gigantic signs.

When comparing quotes, remember to add in any deliverycharges.

Special Tips
Allow for Updates if Needed
If you expect signs to change over time, look for a design that iseasy to update or change. In many cases, updates can even be madeby your staff instead of returning the sign to the signagecompany.

Consider Stock Signs
Although most signs are custom made, it is possible to findpre-made standard signs. You can often find stock signs for use inlaboratories, retail stores, and warehouses. Buying stock signs canbe much cheaper than having a sign custom-made.

Make Use of Magnets
Magnetic signs can be a good alternative for companies seeking toadd a sign to cars or trucks. That way, employees who also use thecar for personal use can remove the sign after business hours.

Be Prepared to Wait During the Summer
Sign companies are generally busiest during the summer. Expectlonger turnaround times during this time of the year.

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