The Lazy Person’s Guide To Watching Over Your Signs

Billboards have very few management responsibilities. You build the sign once every 30 years or more, and you rent the ad space typically only once per year. So after that, you simply need to casually watch over the sign to make sure that 1) it has no storm damage and 2) the lights are working (if there are any). So how can you minimize that time obligation?

Build a fun ritual for checking on them

To make it entertaining to check on your signs – so you actually look forward to it –you might tie in some other activity to the drive. For example, if there’s a great BBQ restaurant in the proximity of the billboard, you tell yourself “I sure miss that BBQ restaurant so I’m going to go drive the sign and then reward myself with going there for dinner”.

Keep a list handy and mark them off

If you have a handful of signs, you should make a list of them and then xerox it and say “OK I’m going to hit all of these signs over the next couple months. Then every time you drive by one, you cross if off the list. If you don’t keep track in this manner, you run the risk of forgetting that one sign that more than likely actually has a light bulb out or the vinyl loose.

Find a small business owner or employee nearby that can see it from their window

Another trick to reducing your duties in checking on your signs is to find a nearby business – like a gas station – that can see the sign out of their window, or that drives by it every day on the way to work. Then work an arrangement with this person to watch over it for you and to pay them a small amount per month (like $10). You’ll make it back in gasoline cost, and you can also then use this reference to help you get important data when you hear about a storm in the area.

Whatever the plan, do something!

If your advertiser ever sees their lights out or their ad damaged – even if it just happened and has never been an issue before – they will lose confidence in you and begin to think that your sign company is not as good as the competitors. No matter what your plan is, the bottom line is that you need a plan. Do not let the advertiser be calling you to complain – take a more proactive approach.


Checking on your sign on a regular basis is an important part of your responsibilities of being a billboard owner. So don’t let it lapse. Find some type of system to make it fun or to reduce the time you must spend on it.

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.