How To Find A New Billboard Location In One Afternoon

It is very intimidating to look for your first billboard location. You feel like you don’t know what you are doing, and that you can’t possibly compete with the big companies. There is a simple exercise to cure you of these feelings, and start you on the road to building your own billboard company.

When Sam Walton built Walmart, he started outside of the big cities, and later worked his way in. That way he didn’t face as stiff of competition when he got started. You need to follow his example. You need to get out of the big city and into the countryside to find your first billboard locations.

So how do you begin? Take a map of the city you are located in (assuming you live in a city; if not, then get a map of the nearest big city), and take a highlighter and color the highways leading in and out of town. Now, pick the general direction of growth in that city (north, south, etc.), defined as where there is the majority of new construction, home development, etc.). Your next step is to drive out one of the highways that run in that direction, and keep going until you see the billboards start to die out. You have now reached the limits of the universe for billboards, which makes for fertile territory for you.

You need to find the first legal billboard location available in this new territory – the first location since the string of billboards dies out. Why did the signs die out? Probably because there was not a whole lot of demand for the ad faces, and the big companies figure if they ever want a new location, there should be plenty available. However, this is a very good place to start your billboard career.

How can you make a billboard like this work when the big companies don’t want it. Several reasons:

    •    You have far less overhead (like zero)


    •    You will rent the advertising space for less, since you have no corporate rules to worry about.

    •    You can build the sign for less if you really work it.

    •    You will put in 150% effort because it is your first sign

The safest way to approach a sign like this is to get the practice of obtaining a groundlease and permit, and then try and pre-lease the advertising space. That way, if you are unsuccessful in finding advertisers, you can just terminate the lease and not have to build it. Or you can try and sell it to another company (it won’t bring a lot, so don’t get too high expectations). Make sure that your groundlease allows you to cancel the lease in the event that you can’t rent the advertising space – just in case.

Once you have gained your confidence and learned from a couple of these type of billboards, you will be much more confident to attack the ones closer in to the city center.

So if you are having trouble getting started in finding billboard locations, go to the far reaches of the metroplex, and you can find plenty of product to start you on your way. Even if you don’t build that first sign, you will learn several lessons along the way.

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.