Choosing the Right Sign and Sign Shop for Your Business

Choosing a sign is one of the most important decisions a retail business will face. And while a lot of factors go into company signage, you have to know the rules of the game before you start playing. A major rule important in the signage field is  ZONING.

Zoning: Know your local zoning regulations

The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time and money creating a sign, only to have to throw it away and start over because the sign doesn’t meet your local zoning restrictions. This is why before doing anything else you want to make sure you understand the zoning requirements related to your sign. A great sign company will know the zoning regulations for your area.

At Forerunner Signs & Graphics, we know that every community has some form of requirements governing signs on display:

  • Width
  • Height
  • Color
  • Font Size
  • Materials
  • Message Display – some communities restrict message content

Once you know the zoning requirements, the next step is to come up with a budget for your new sign.

Types of Storefront Signs and Average Cost

Fabric Sign $3 to $9 per sq/ft

A budget-friendly choice, fabric signs can be colorful and unique; however, they do require upkeep and replacement. Vinyl, plastic or nylon banners can range from $3 to $9 per square foot. Expect to pay more for heavy-duty fade-resistant fabric and for hardware and installation.
Painted Plywood Sign $50 to $500

Simple and personalized, this type of sign is affordable and creative.  A 4’ X 4’ painted plywood sign can start as low as $50, not including installation fees. The types of paint, and size of fonts you choose, along with how big your sign is are all things that will impact cost. These signs are subject to weather damage, however, and may need to be replaced frequently.

Painted Glass $150 to $1,000’s

If you are looking for a low-cost, yet attractive and distinctive option, use your store’s windows as the canvas for your sign. Depending on your design and its complexity, painted glass signs start around $150 if you just want some letters for a name on your door. However, you can get more detailed designs and use high-end, all-weather paints and pay in the thousands of dollars.

Punched Metal Signboard $200 to $1,000’s

Durable and weather-resistant, these signs can offer a clean and modern feel or a historic flavor, depending on the design. A two-sided metal sign that is 18” x 24” can start about $75, not including installation. The addition of size, color and texture add to the price, but will typically be between $200 to $1500 depending on design and size.

Metal Logo and Lettering $200 to $1,000’s

These three-dimensional storefront signs, and any shadows they throw off, add texture and interest. Depending on the size of the letters and the type of metal used, these signs generally start around $200, not including installation or custom design fees. I recommend getting them lighted to attract more attention to your business, especially if you operate at night. You will pay a $300 to $500 more, but your customer visibility will increase.

Metal Sign band $400 to $1,000’s

Eye-catching and professional, these signs work well in a variety of locations. An average 4’ X 8’ metal storefront can cost around $300 and up, not including installation. The key to remember here, that the more detailed you get with your artwork, the more the sign will cost. For example, if you use a metal sign board, with individually cut out lettering, you’re going to pay more than if you painted the same style lettering directly onto the signboard because there is more custom labor involved. These signs don’t weather bad at all, but you should budget for touch-up work every couple of years.

Awning signs $500 to 10,000’s

These offer the option of providing shade for your business, shelter for your customers as well as attractive signage. Costs for awning signs depend on the size and fabric of the awning as well as the hardware needed to hang it. According to the American Society of Heating and Air Conditioner Engineers, merchants with awnings may see up to a 25 percent savings in their energy bills. Awnings are also built to last in bad weather, making them a great long term choice.


Rock signs $500 to 10,000’s

Stone and other rock materials serve as excellent choices for signs. They handle weather conditions well over long periods of time. These signs are heavy, permanent, and provide a sleek look for businesses. The cost of stone signs depend on size and material.  Ask for alternative stone to save a little extra cash. Sometimes you can save hundreds by using composite stone-like materials. A drawback to these signs is that they are permanent, and can be costly to relocate if you decide to move your shop.


Glass Tube Light ($500 to $10,000’s)

These are the “Luxury” cars of the sign world. The designs are endless and the eye appeal is second to none. Custom tube signs have a wide cost range based on size and design complexity. Smaller, “off the shelf”, tube light signs are generally far less expensive than designing your own. Upkeep can be expensive so keep this in mind before purchasing. Also, tube lighting can get damaged during bad weather, or even by something as simple a rock thrown from a lawnmower. These signs are expensive to repair, but again look beautiful and appealing to customers.

Installation Costs: What are the impacts?

Keep in mind that some of the above signs are cheaper in cost, but installation is expensive.

For instance, awning signs are less expensive, but they come with complex support systems that need to be installed by trained professionals. The same principals go for the rock and stone signs.

Plywood signs, custom metal lettering and metal signs need to be attached to your building. Each needing to be supported in their own way while on display. Remember the harder any sign is to display the more your installation costs will increase. You’ll also need to check your lease agreement to see if you can make these types of structural changes.

Questions to Ask When Choosing A Sign Shop

It’s important to get several estimates in order to make the best decision for your business. Here are some questions to ask when you contact a sign company:

  • Will the sign company apply for any needed permits?
  • Does the company offer design service?
  • What are the cost differences among materials?
  • How does more color add to my cost?
  • Does the company offer installation?
  • Is there an extra installation fee?
  • What maintenance and cleaning is required for the sign?
  • Does the company offer maintenance and at what cost?
  • Inquire about company’s insurance for installation and if the insurance covers any mishap should the sign fall or hurt someone in any way?
  • Does the sign company offer a guarantee or a warranty for the life of the sign?
  • What about scheduling? How long will it take to get your sign ready and installed?

Design and Branding Considerations For Your Storefront Sign

Now that you know about zoning, the types of sign and have a sign in mind, think about design and branding.  Keep these thoughts in mind when you are deciding what type of message you want your sign to communicate:

  • Is it visually pleasing – Make your sign easy to read. Use colors and tones that are vibrant but still match your surroundings and meet your zoning regulations.
  • Does it match your brand – Make sure you sign leaves no question about what to expect inside your doors. If you’re a dog grooming business, us a picture of dog and brush.
  • Is it easy to maintain – Most natural materials succumb to nature over time. Be sure to select materials that don’t weather, like stone, treated metal, treated wood and the likes.

Summary

There are many types of signs to choose for your business. The materials and associated costs used to produce your sign will vary greatly. My philosophy? Build it big enough for everyone to see, design it colorful enough to stand out and attract attention and build it out of a material that will last you a long time. This is your chance to stretch your advertising dollars, by getting the most out your sign.

Ask questions and do your homework up front. Have a clear picture of your image and budget.

At Forerunner Signs & Graphics, we understand you have a lot of choices when it comes to your business signage.  Our team will work with you and within your budget to get the design, graphics and signage you need to best promote your business.  Contact us today!