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Understanding the Significance of Signage – for Franchise Tenants

Franchisees can’t just open a franchise location and expect customers to beat a path to their door. Those customers need to be able to find them.

One of the easiest methods to ensure that your business is conspicuous is by means of signage.

While you may envision a large sign prominently identifying your place of business, don’t assume that your landlord will agree. As we explain in our new book,

Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals FOR DUMMIES, commercial landlords may, in fact, prefer to decrease your amount of signage and will often reject tenant requests for more or larger signage.

This may seem counter-productive to you; however, landlords often find that tenant requests granted become similar demands from other tenants. Therefore, it is easier for the landlord to draw the line on all signage requests. If each tenant leasing in the property is given a larger sign, the site will become cluttered and people may dislike visiting there. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask but remember that you are going to be responsible with creating and maintaining that sign. This extra work on your part, however, can be beneficial:

Signage can make your 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 or office buildings, 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. People 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 place of business 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 requests that you provide graphic drawings of your sign for written approval or supplies you with a signage criteria package that you must follow as part of your lease agreement. Read this information carefully and understand that your landlord may consent to one type of signage but not another. To give you a better idea of what may or may not be allowed, here are the most common types of signage:

Building signage:

This is the signage that almost every franchise 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.

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. 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 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.

For a copy of our free CD, Leasing Dos & Don’ts for Franchise Tenants, please e-mail your request to

Willerton and Grandfield are co-authors of Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals FOR DUMMIES. Visit

To learn more about franchise opportunities, visit

Dale Willerton and Jeff Grandfield The Lease Coach
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