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By: Casie J. Dring

So, you’ve decided to invest in a new sign for your church. What’s next? Where do you start?

This is no small investment, so here’s the first tip: Take Your Time. Take the time to ensure that you’re getting the best quality product for your investment.

Shop around, get multiple quotes, and don’t forget to look deeper than just the bottom line. There’s more to this purchase than a number.

Are you in the city or county? How is your sign allowance determined? If you want a Digital LED Sign, what are you allowed to have?
Your first step will be to determine what size sign is allowed by your governing entity. You’ll want to contact your City/County’s Zoning and Permitting Departments to help you determine these. Sometimes a sign company will help you with these questions.

Find out which sign companies have a permitting department; they can guide you through this process and usually get the answers for you. A sign company with a permitting department is a huge asset for the customer, as this saves you a lot of time and stress trying to navigate the zoning and permitting process.

How do you make sure you’re getting the best?
Once you know what size sign you want and are allowed to have, then you can begin your research to find the best quality product for your investment. Not all signs are created equal. There are a few key points to outline that will help guide you along this journey.

Find out what features and components are being quoted to ensure you’re comparing apples to apples. You’ll want to know the history of the companies with whom you’re consulting. Look at aged examples of their products. Find out what makes their product different than the rest. Ask lots of questions. Find out details about where and how your sign will be fabricated. Let’s dive in!

What’s the company’s history?
Check out a company’s past before you decide to make them a part of your future. You can find a lot on the Internet these days and any company can talk a big game; however, how well can they back it up?

How long have they been in business? What do their customers say about them? What kind of warranty is offered? How well do they stand behind their product? What makes their product different than the rest?

These are all valid questions that should be asked of every company you consider. Once you know more about the company, the next step is looking more closely at their products.

Have you looked at the signs?
Get up close and personal with multiple signs from each company you consider. Ask each company for a list of their signs near you and what year they were installed. Don’t just look at pictures of brand-new signs and don’t just look at brand-new signs in person.

You’re making a big investment, and you want to know how your sign will look and perform years down the road. Go look at as many signs as you can that are at least five years old and older. Look at signs that have been weathered for years and see how they stand the test of time and the elements.

What are the features of the signs?
How well are they sealed and protected from the elements? Are there any parts of the sign that would interfere with your message when the sign is illuminated – like hardware on the sign face or the metal border of a vandal cover? Does the sign have a smooth appearance or is it choppy with different parts?

Is there a simple vandal cover or an actual door that fully encloses the entire face of the sign? How does it lock? Would a simple tool open the cover or does it have actual keyed locks? How well can you access the interior of the sign for service? It may not seem relevant now, but down the road, you could save money if you’re able to access it yourself to change bulbs, etc.

Get close up to the signs and take notes about what you like and don’t like. It may seem like overkill, but it is worth the effort to ensure you’re making the right decision.

Once you’ve seen the goods, then ask questions. Use the notes you took to ask companies about what you liked or didn’t like. Ask each company what makes their sign different than the rest. And, don’t forget to ask for referrals.

What about the facilities where your sign will be made?
Many companies have a satellite sales office and your sign is not fabricated at that location. However, some companies’ operations are completed 100% from the same location. This is a huge benefit to the customer.

Communication flows more smoothly from sales to production; the production progress can be easily monitored; changes can easily be made; and it saves you time, money and stress, as there is no middle man.

Are their signs all a “cookie-cutter” design or are customizations possible?
Some companies custom fabricate each sign as it’s ordered, whereas others have premade signs. Custom fabrication allows for more flexibility in the design and customization of your sign.

Again, confirm that your sign is being fabricated by the same company that is selling the product. Knowing that the same company is performing every aspect of the project from start to finish is invaluable, as it minimizes the possibility of errors and delays.

What is the quality of the product and customer service?
One last thing to keep in mind: it’s important to remember that the colors and design of your sign can be accomplished by any company, but the quality of the product and the service a company provides are what will set it apart from the rest. The quality of construction will be evident in the materials used, components, features, usability, aesthetic appeal, etc.

Also, who is willing to go above and beyond in service? Look at reviews and ask for referrals from each company you consider.

You want to work with a company who will still be there for you even after the job is complete. Compare the quality of construction, aesthetic value, usability of signs and service…not just who draws the best sketch and has the cheapest bottom line.

Casie J. Dring is marketing and sales consultant for Innovative Signage – Church & School Signs, Subsidiary of Florida Sign Company, Inc. – Since 1951, www.Church-SchoolSigns.com.

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Religious Product News