Just joining an established franchise system isn’t enough to ensure
business success and to have customers beat a path to your door …
you need proper signage to help your customers actually find your
The problem here, however, is that the points of view on signage
often differ between the tenant and the landlord. As The Lease
Coach, we have worked with tenants who often envision a bold,
“splashy” sign to showcase their business and incorrectly presume
the landlord will agree and install such signage; however, this
does not always happen. If you are in such a situation and your
landlord objects to your requests, remember that the landlord isn’t
necessarily being difficult or stubborn … you are leasing in the
landlord’s property and the landlord has every right to say “no” to
something that he/she considers unattractive (or, potentially, will
have to remove if your business fails and you are forced to move
If you take a close look at a pylon sign (the tall sign adjacent to
the roadway), there are limitations of the number of available
panels and it would be impossible to provide a panel to each tenant
in the property. Therefore, landlords tend to save these sign
panels for their premium tenants or to use as leasing incentives
for a new tenant coming in to the property. Landlords often fear
that too many signs will clutter the property (meaning it may be
less inviting for shoppers to visit and may become devalued).
Landlords also reasonably want signs to not exceed a certain size
as they could block the view of the property or make the property
look cluttered. You may like the idea of a flashing neon sign (or
an electronic television screen that scrolls out messages)
advertising your franchise business outside of the commercial
property; however, the landlord may view these as tacky or
something that detracts from the aesthetics of the property.
Before you even approach your landlord about the possibility of
erecting business signage, understand that much of what will be
involved will be your responsibility and you may have to comply
with strict signage criteria regulations set out by the landlord.
You (and your sign company) must design, install, and maintain your
signs in most cases. This work on your behalf can pay off, however,
as effective signage can make your business far more conspicuous
and direct customers to you.
There are various types of signage that may work for you. Evaluate
all the following options and discuss with your landlord which
would work best for both of you.
Building signage: This is the signage that almost every business
will have and it will generally appear directly above your main
entry door. It can be to your benefit, however, to also have
signage on multiple sides or even the rear of the commercial
property. This additional signage can provide you with additional
exposure to walk-by or drive-by traffic.
Monument signage: A monument sign resembles a tombstone coming out
of the ground and, typically, advertises just one or a few select
tenants. Monument signs are not that common, but they can make your
franchise business look more substantial if you can get one.
Pylon signage: This is the tall sign which motorists and
pedestrians will often see first when approaching a property. It is
not uncommon for one commercial property to have several pylon
signs surrounding it and for all of these signs to display the
plaza’s name. While a franchisee is often a major tenant in a
shopping plaza (even perhaps becoming an anchor tenant), it can be
a mistake to automatically assume that you will be automatically
given one of the sign’s panels for your own business. Tenants may
also overlook requesting a certain panel – those situated higher up
will be more visible. Also, are panels located on both the front
and the back of the pylon sign? Evaluate the traffic flow and
decide for yourself which side would be best for you.
Sandwich board signage and banners: If part of your promotional
strategy includes limited time offers, sandwich boards can be
useful. These are the signs that can be folded up and placed on the
front sidewalk outside your place of business. A coffee shop, for
example, could use a sandwich board to list daily drink specials.
As landlords don’t always approve of such signs, The Lease Coach
will negotiate for these in advance of a tenancy. Alternatively, we
will let the landlord know that such signs will only be placed at
certain times or on certain days. Knowing that the sandwich board
may not always be an eye-sore may be enough to convince the
landlord to agree.
Temporary pull-away signage: A wheeled sign where you can change
the business messages may seem like a good idea; however, most
landlords hate these signs and the associated problems. Such signs
are often magnets for vandals who find enjoyment in shifting the
letters and/or words around to create entirely new (and possibly
inappropriate) messages. As with sandwich boards, we can often
negotiate with the landlord to agree to a tenant having this type
of signage at specific times of the year.
For a copy of our free CD, Leasing Do’s & Don’ts for
Franchise Tenants, please e-mail your request
Dale Willerton and Jeff Grandfield - The Lease Coach are
Commercial Lease Consultants who work exclusively for tenants. Dale
and Jeff are professional speakers and co-authors of Negotiating
Commercial Leases & Renewals FOR DUMMIES (Wiley, 2013). Got a
leasing question? Need help with your new lease or renewal? Call
1-800-738-9202, e-mail DaleWillerton@TheLeaseCoach.com or