You’re thinking about getting a sign for your business. You are moving into a new space and have to plan for furniture, electrical, communications, decorations, desks and so on. You know your opening target so you get to work planning all the elements needed to get you into your space and operational. You talk with your electrician on what is needed and how long it will take. You call your carpenter to discuss the configuration of your space and obtain quotes and how long the work will take. Next, you call your painter to discuss colors, costs and when he can start which is dependent on when the carpenter is done. From there you add the time it will take for the painter to complete his task. The list goes on and on and you are working diligently to coordinate all these components to get your business open.
Unfortunately, signs are either forgotten or thought of as something that you can purchase off the shelf.
The reality is that signs are just as complex as the construction aspect of your project and needs your early attention if you want to have them up in time for your opening. It is paramount that you get your sign company involved early in the process to reduce delays!
What goes into Requesting a Quote for a Sign?
Do you know how to read the code as to what you are allowed?
Every property owner, township and business complex has different codes in regards to what they will allow for signage. Everything from color pallets, square footage, and illumination to sign placement can be included in the code. Sometimes in shopping complexes, property owners have specific requirements for signage to maintain a uniform look in the center. The process of determining what you are allowed takes time but is essential. Most municipalities publish their code on their website so you can easily determine what types of signs and size you are allowed to install at your location. Having this information is critical at the start of the project in order to prevent a lot of work with design only to find out when you submit for permits that your design is not allowed in the district you are located.
As a full-service sign company we will work with you to figure out the codes and restrictions in your area, so don’t worry if you aren’t sure what you are allowed!
Do you know what you want for your sign?
Knowing what features you want on your sign saves valuable time in the design process. Colors, shapes, and styles are all elements that will help you describe to your sign designer what you would like for your sign. Images of signs on the internet is often a good way to showcase what you are looking for to your designer. The better the description of what you are looking for, the better your sign company can provide a budget estimate.
Do you have a strict sign budget?
Knowing your budget helps sign designers work with you to create the perfect sign for your brand and your budget. If you are budget conscious let your sign designers know! It is important to mention that signs are often more expensive than people perceive. Since signs are often thought of as an off-the-shelf purchase when in reality they are custom designed and fabricated to meet your specific needs.
Do you have digital art?
If you have any logo or artwork for your company, that would be great information to share with your designer. If you don’t have a logo or artwork for your company, graphic designers at your sign company can work with you to create one or digitize them for a fee. As you go through the design process with your sign designer, keep in mind that the more information you provide, the less time you may need for design. Remember that design time is not free so the more prepared you are less design time is needed which speeds up the sign process as well as saving you money.
You requested a quote, approved the art and put down a deposit. So what now?
Once we know what you are looking for we put together a detailed quote for your approval. After you approve the quote, the art and put down a deposit it’s time to begin production. At this point a business is – give or take – 2 weeks into the effort from the first contact, largely depending on how prepared you were upon first contact.
Permitting takes time!
But before you start production, you want to make sure the municipality will approve so you need to submit for your permit. Most sign companies will provide that service for you. Permits are required for all exterior signs in PA. Most municipalities allow themselves 30 days to review. Sometimes they can back to you within a week and sometime they will need the full 30 days depending on their workload at the time the permit is submitted. We don’t advise starting production until the permit is approved just in case there are changes requested or the permit is declined. Typically most shops will start production prior to permit approval only if the customer signs a waiver indicating they will be responsible for any cost associated with any changes requested and any costs incurred up to the point of the change request. So now you have the permit lead time (30 days) then the production time which varies based on the type of sign, the workload in the shop at the time the shop order is issued and the scheduling of the installers.
Your permit is approved it is time for production/fabrication to begin!
Once everything is approved, a deposit is put down and the permit is obtained it is time for production and fabrication to begin. Every sign type will have different lead types based on complexity. Materials are not ordered before a permit is approved so it’s time to ensure all raw materials are in-house.
For a traditional post and panel sign, assuming none of the materials are on backorder, usually 7-10 business days are needed for the materials to be obtained, primed and the graphics printed, laminated and laid on the panel.
For larger fabricated signs usually 4-5 weeks is required in order for materials to be obtained, the sign to be fabricated and ready for install. These numbers timelines are again dependent on materials being accessible, when the order hits and everything staying on track. The more complex a sign option the more time it takes to fabricate.
If your sign goes into the ground a PA one call is necessary before install.
A PA one call works with coordinates to check for electrical, sewage and other lines in the plane of the sign. If there are lines nearby a representative will paint lines on the ground to ensure the sign does not strike any lines. For any sign that is being dug into the ground and uses powered equipment a PA one call is required by the state. This is something a sign company will do before an install! This process takes 3 days.
Time to install!
The complexity of the install largely determines when we are able to get you in. If the job requires multiple people we have to schedule them. Once we get to this point in the sign process, the sign team has been projecting around when we think it will be time to install and mark your business down for installation. Just as is true with any business, the time from production completion to installation depends on the influx of other jobs. Typically once production is completed and the PA one call is completed we are able to get your sign installed within 7-14 days.
What if I need the sign sooner?
The timeline for all signs is different so make sure you know what you are looking for if you have a tight timeline. If there’s no way to provide your ideal sign in time for your opening there are still options available to you.
Many types of basic sign styles like A-Frames, yard signs, banners etc. can be turned around quickly and don’t require permits. Temporary signage is a great option for businesses that need the sign sooner than it is available.
So what does this mean for beginning the sign process?
For complex signs the process can take up to 3 months from start to finish. This means that it is essential that you start the process early if you want it before a grand opening.
If you are curious about the timeline for your sign feel free to reach out. While timelines are hard to predict, the better we understand your job the more accurately we can predict.
Contact us today for a free quote and let’s embark on this journey together!
We believe that getting you noticed is PARAMOUNT!