Bonding And Billboards

This is a photo of the very first billboard I ever owned. On Interstate 30 E in Garland, Texas it’s a giant 120’ tall with two 20’ x 60’ advertising faces. How did I get this deal? Through bonding. And it’s a powerful force that you can’t buy.

What is bonding?

Bonding is the magical force that is derived when the landowner likes you. It’s a force that transcends just money considerations. I have seen cases where the landowner goes with the low bidder simply because they liked them best. And I’ve seen landowners enter into leases that are insanely long in length because they didn’t want to disappointment their “friend”. It’s a very, very powerful force in the billboard business.

How does it work?

Bonding comes from spending time with your landowner, as well as being the type of person they like to spend time with. By time, I don’t mean necessarily in-person time, as it can also be by phone and does not even require a constant update. Once a landowner likes you, you’re golden. Sometimes it’s because you remind them of a family member, or themselves at a younger age. Or maybe they just like your personality and want to reward you for being a good person. There’s no exact science to it – but it’s an undeniable force.

How do you start the process?

One of the best introductory questions to start a bonding conversation is “so how did you come to own this land?” That story will include their childhood, college, early career, current plans and by the end of it they probably already like you. Letting them talk endlessly on the phone or in person is another great tool. If you say “I’ve got to go” you can forget bonding – they are very negative on those who do not value their friendship.

What bonding can do for you

My first sign – the one shown in the photo above – came about strictly by bonding. I had no clue what I was doing, nor did I have any existing other signs. But I walked into this veterinarian’s office and asking him to sign my billboard ground lease and he signed it, even though he knew that I didn’t have any experience. He just liked me. He told me “I know you don’t know what you’re doing, but you seem nicer than the other billboard guys that have walked in here, so what the heck”. That’s the power of bonding.


Bonding is a very powerful force in life, and especially in the billboard business. Understand and embrace this fact and make yourself available for the force of bonding and all of the benefits it bestows on those who simply try to be nice to others.

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.