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The Sign Expert Says: Comprehensive Sign Programs – What Do They Do and How Do They Do It?

people and signsComprehensive Sign Programs – Blog Two

As a multi-tenant property owner or manager, what is really your biggest problem? What is the factor over which you have the least control? Isn’t it a “people problem” primarily?

bad sign
What Happens Without A Sign Program!

And of all the objects that are found in, around and on your facilities and its grounds, which are the most noticed, attracting the most attention? More than likely it would be the signs, for good or for bad.

Combined together then, a major issue you have to deal with has to be tenant signage, the lessees’ tendency to do what they think is good for them without consideration for the damage it could do to your property or for how it may detract from the beauty of your buildings and campus.

So, how can you deal with this effectively? Is it best to just deal with every issue as it comes up and not worry about it until it does? Or is there a better way?

There is, and it’s called a Comprehensive Sign Program. It’s taking a proactive approach to the problem by communicating to your tenants what they may and may not do, in advance and clearly so that there is no question. And if your City cooperates, they can become a partner with you in insuring your rules will be honored.

What it Does and How It Does It.

Primarily, a Comprehensive Sign Program is a very detailed and sophisticated document that establishes every rule regarding every sign on your property. Many owners make it an addendum to the lease, so that at the very outset of a relationship with a tenant, they are bound by it’s rules or they will have broken their lease

general requirmentsIn our Comprehensive Sign Programs we begin with a page dedicate to General Requirements. These will include the types of signs that are acceptable as well as those that are not allowed, definitions as to terms and directions as to how a tenant can obtain permission from you to proceed for permits. They establish that a city permit must be obtained and that the contractors they hire must be qualified, licensed and insured so that they don’t use a fly-by-night company to save money or attempt to do an amateur job themselves. All of this can be supplemented by a warning as to what your legal rights are and what you will do if they violate any of the regulations you’ve established.

Following General Requirements, our Comprehensive Sign Programs then begin to address every sign type that the tenant may be allowed to use or be a part of. There will be pages on Monument and / or Pole Signs, Individual Tenant Building Signs, and sometimes Window Signs, Address Signage and Temporary Signage. In each case, theretenant sign parameters will be fully illustrated designs, showing the sizes, colors, materials and detailed construction, so that there will be no questions as to what level of sign manufacture and installation is expected. As regards individual tenant signs, there will pages showing exactly how to determine what size and area the tenant’s sign can be, as well as where on the building their sign can be placed. Whatever sign type it is, there is plenty of information, direction and detail that can assure you that your tenants will know exactly what to do.

Also included will be a detailed Site Plan. This helps orient the tenant as to what types of signs are allowed on the property and where they can be located.

For some of our typical examples, click on the links below (please note that these have old phone numbers!):

Fairway Village

Lantern Bay

It Can Protect You and Secure Your Rights

But more than just for the tenants, a Comprehensive Sign Program can help protect and even enhance your rights with the City to obtain permits for the signs you want to have or reserve for your tenants to have.

There is no doubt that having good sign opportunities is an attraction to potential lessees. So, more than likely you will want to have sufficiently sized and attractively designed Monument or Pole Signs that have plenty of tenant panels. You may also want to establish that tenants who are leasing corner, end or pad shops have rights to have signs on more than one wall so that they are sufficiently seen from all approaches. And if you have large or big box tenants, you’ll want to make sure they can have signs that are sizable and attractive enough to be seen from a distance and display their established trade marks effectively.

In many cases, your city government may require a Comprehensive Sign Program or encourage you to submit one. Often they will allow a higher percentage of sign area and other sign allowances in appreciation for your cooperation and expense. The end result is, with a Comprehensive Sign Program you will typically be able to secure sign rights and better allowances that will benefit not only your tenants but your own sign needs. Becoming an established document, the Comprehensive Sign Program can hold these rights for you into the foreseeable future, even if the City becomes more restrictive over time. The way many cities are going, you may want to consider submitting a Comprehensive Sign Program as soon as possible!

The City Can Be Your Last Line of Defense

Finally, since many cities will accept and approve of your Comprehensive Sign Program, they become your last line of defense. They will not allow your tenants to obtain permits that do not agree with it. They will (if it is in the rules) make sure you have signed it off before letting the tenant proceed. They will also make sure the contractor your tenant is using is qualified by requiring them to present appropriately professional sign designs and to have contractor’s licenses. And if your tenants ignore your rules and fail to get a permit, the city has legal remedies to force the tenant to remove their signs or bring them up to code and even fine the scofflaw.

If you are like most property owners and managers who have sign issues with tenants and  the city, a Comprehensive Sign Program just might be the ticket to your peace of mind!  If you have a need for one, just let us know and we’ll be glad to help.

Sign ExpertStay tuned to my next blog about Comprehensive Sign Programs, “How Can I Make Sure I Get the Right One?”, coming soon!

John Myres, “The Sign Expert”