Entrepreneurs can't just open a 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 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 your landlord will agree. 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 counterproductive to you, but 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 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 visitors 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 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 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 business owner 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 which 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 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.

Temporary pull-away signage

These are the signs on wheels covered with images or business messages. Most landlords hate these signs and the problems they create. Don't just assume that you may be able to have pull-away signage for your grand opening or other promotional events.

Landlords think these signs clutter or obstruct their property and may only allow a limited number of pull-away signs to be used (and shared) by many tenants throughout the year. Again, negotiate pull-away signage rights up front, because the landlord doesn't have to let you put these signs up if they are not included in the lease agreement.