Billboards Offer The New American Dream: Having No Employees

There are many problems with America but one of the worst is the current environment concerning having an employee. At the same time the U.S. work ethic has evaporated, lawsuits regarding employees have increased by a thousand percent, and the drag on your net income from having employees around is hard to swallow when they are nothing but a source of trouble. One of the great attributes of the billboard industry is that it’s not really people reliant. So how can you own billboards and have no employees?

Why owning billboards does not require employees

There are many good reasons why you can own a lot of billboards and still have not a single employee including:

  • You build them once and that’s it for a lifetime. Unlike flipping houses, you only build a buy a billboard one time and then never again. This lack of repetition makes all of the factors in owning billboards – other than renting the ad space – a “one and done” scenario.
  • You only rent them once or twice a year. One of the most amazing attributes of billboards is that you only rent them once or twice a year. That’s insane if you compare it to every other form of advertising media such as television, cable, radio, newspaper and everything else.
  • Many advertisers renew their lease year after year. Even wilder than the fact that you only have to rent the sign once or twice a year on a 12-month or 6-month contract, it’s a simple fact that many advertisers renew year after year. I’ve had advertisers who stayed on signs for over a decade under my operation and they are still on their today decades later. You don’t get that type of consistency with other media.
  • You are making money on smart strategy and not hours of labor. A billboard is a giant salesman that works for you and you rent out to advertisers. You are getting paid for putting together the property owner, the permit, and the advertisers. You’re like a matchmaker that gets paid in perpetuity (as long as you own the sign) but don’t have to do a lot of work to get paid on a recurring basis.

The benefits of low overhead

People cost money. The more money you pay to other people, the less there is for you. It’s a pretty simple concept. While having an employee around may make you feel important, it’s a pretty costly way to stoke your ego. In times like these in which America is probably plunging into a recession, a lower overhead gives you financial security. And it also increases your staying power and reduces your stress. There simply is no better feeling than a business that does not cost a lot to operate.

The troubling tide in employee behavior

There are no shortage of articles on the “Great Resignation” and how today’s labor market is rife with trends that are bad from an employer’s viewpoint. If people won’t show up, how do you run your business and have trust in them? The American work ethic seems to be declining and that’s not something you really want to get involved with right now. Even if you are a hard-worker that tries to under-promise and over-deliver, how will that work if your employees let you down every time?

Avoiding litigation risk

Employees have become toxic. There are more lawsuits against employers than any other time in American history and they range from harassment and overtime to improper notices and wrongful termination. Personal injury lawyers love disgruntled employees for the same reasons that you want nothing to do with them. When you read articles about companies being sued by employees you can be proud you don’t have to worry about it. And, don’t forget, that you don’t even have to know the basics of employment law if you don’t have any employees.

Not having to manage around “sharing the riches”

Invariably there is conflict between employers and employees on who gets how much of the profits. It’s only natural that your salesperson will feel they are not getting enough and you’re getting too much. A better plan is to have no employee and therefore avoid this issue altogether. Throughout America there’s a general theme right now that employees are under-compensated, and you sidestep this discussion when there’s nobody on your payroll to complain. Also, don’t forget that the billboard industry inherently has some tough employee issues, such as how to treat commissions on renewing signs in which the salesperson does not work on any contract after the very first one.


It’s great to have no employees and billboards give you that luxury. You can literally build a giant portfolio of signs without a single person on your payroll. The way that the American employment market is developing, that’s a blessing.

Frank Rolfe started his billboard company off of his coffee table, immediately after graduating from college. Although he had no formal training on the industry, he learned as he went, and developed his own unique systems to accomplish things, such as renting advertising space. Frank was formerly the largest private owner of billboards in Dallas/Ft. Worth, as well as a major player in the Los Angeles market.