Cutting Corners When it Comes to Exterior Signage can Really Backfire
I had the absolute worst experience with getting signage done for my business due to (insert your choice from the following list here)
- an inexperienced sub-contractor
- an attempt to cut costs
- problems with permits
- a poor-quality finish and shoddy assembly
- all of the above
Let’s face it: this long-languishing economic downturn is affecting businesses and organizations in ways they never saw coming — even with their interior and exterior signage, of all things. Who in the world would have thought that would be a problem or headache for business owners and managers a few years ago. As people are seeing in almost every market, companies are desperate to diversify product and services to generate new business and keep cash flowing. The signage industry is not immune. More and more, seasoned, experienced and knowledgeable architectural signage providers are dealing with the wreckage of bad signage jobs due to new and inexperienced competition that has turned to offering signage services to help offset for lost opportunities within their current business core.
At most, this is frustrating, as we seem to be in more situations where we are listening to horror stories of bad signage implementation. Signage programs are not something that can just be implemented without expertise. It takes knowledge gained from real-world experience and implementing best practices based on those experiences. It requires understanding materials, installation strategies and the latest in building codes and permit processes.
A recent article from an architectural and construction trade magazine outlined one client’s problems with an exterior signage project. The story begins with the client choosing to not use a traditional signage company to fabricate and install the exterior lettering and logo for the business because a a sub-contractor for another part of the facility construction work said “we can do the signage for you at half the price!”
Red flag #1 — if it seems too good to be true, it is.
According to the client, the subcontractor’s price and delivery schedule was inline with the client’s desired project budget and the contact appeared knowledgeable.
Red flag #2 — the client decided what they should pay for the signage before consulting with a traditional signage company.
Fast forward a few weeks to the installation deadline, and low-and-behold, the project was off-schedule. It turned out, among other things, that permits for installing exterior signage — especially illuminated signage — can be a hassle to obtain. There are other details to this fiasco, but the biggest problem was the exterior signage delivered was un-usable in its current form.
Red flag #3 — Did we mention the sub-contractor needed the money up front to deliver the signage at the discounted price?
Unfortunately, the exterior signage was 100% paid up front, so no recourse was possible and the sub-contractor stood behind the product, as it was according to the drawings provided. The bright side, while hard to find, was that a traditional architectural signage company was finally brought into the picture and worked with the client to help salvage the signage and finish the project.
Here are four tips to avoid potential architectural signage problems
1) Make sure architectural signage is within the core services offered by the service provider.
2) Ask the potential partner for references and call on those references. If you are looking for healthcare signage, ask for examples of implementation within the healthcare market.
3) Take the time to ensure the project scope is understood to avoid excuses and setting false expectations.
4) Ask for additional recommendations to ensure you are investing the best possible signage program. For instance, perhaps you could utilize less signage or an alternate design that would be more effective, efficient and easier on the budget.