Gas is expensive and there’s no reason to waste it. And time is even more valuable. In this Billboard Mastery Podcast we’re going to review some methods to cover territory more efficiently and more respectful of your time and money.
Episode 89: All About Saving Gas Transcript
Gas is expensive right now, and so is your time. This is Frank Rolfe, the Billboard Mastery Podcast. We're gonna talk about methods, simple methods to make it where you have to go out in the field less. Now, we're gonna break that into two different zones. One, obtaining the new billboard location, and the other, is in operating the billboard effectively. So let's start off with finding a location to build a billboard. Now, we all know that since they passed a Highway Beautification Act back in the 1960s, billboards are only allowed in certain zonings and at certain spacings. There's no point in going out in your car and driving around until you have a zoning map. There's no point in driving around until you know what the laws are in that city between the spacing between signs, and the zonings that they are allowed in. And let's add on top of that, the other more minor items that can still derail a location like radius is from churches and schools and exit ramps and all of that stuff.
So before you even think about turning on your engine and driving out to look for a billboard to build, I've got to know the laws, I've gotta have a zoning map in my hand, I have to know the spacings. So there's a big savings right there, going out and just driving around aimlessly looking for a billboard location, that does not exist. There's no science in that at all. You are just burning gas and burning time. Now, if you wanna look for a billboard to buy, if you wanna drive around and look for old wooden billboards that are abandoned or that are underutilized, sure, you could do that. But as you drive around, you wanna map out, you wanna have a science to where you're even driving to begin with. You should be looking for those kinds of opportunities, at the same time, you're looking for new areas you can build in, because they all tie together.
Start by getting all the laws of your state, because if you're not in the city limits, you fall into unincorporated property, which is controlled by your state. Know their sign laws, and then in any city along the way, get their sign laws and you'll need their zoning maps in the county land, and the stuff that's not in the city. In most states, where you can build the sign is based on what's called unzoned commercial, which is often related to where the existing businesses are located at. But you gotta get all those facts and items. And I would take those zoning maps, and I would color code the legal zonings. You can't do that when you're out there in your car burning time. So let's map out, okay, in this city, these are the zones that allow for billboard construction, have those all highlighted in some color. I prefer yellow.
So you have all that done, ready to go. And that way when you're out there, you know what you're doing. As far as measuring the spacings, don't get out of your car and start walking around trying to measure. Do it off your odometer. We know there's 5280 feet in a mile, so a 10th of a mile is 528 feet. Most spacings, thankfully, are built on 500 foot centers. So some states, the space between signs is 500 feet, some is 1000 feet, some is 1500 feet. Well, great. That's either one, two, or three clicks of your odometer. Are you off by a little? Sure you are. You're definitely off by little. If you really could get the location nailed down, yes, you might take a roller wheel and dead hand measure it, but initially, when you're looking in broad brush terms, you don't need to do that.
That's just a complete waste of time. Now, let's move on to the operations side of running the billboard. There's two things that come up with billboards that you wanna know about. One is the condition of the sign after a big storm. And the other is whether your lights are turning on or off. Because billboards don't have a lot of moving pieces, all they have, unless they have a digital, is they have a moving wheel in inside that houses the on and the off teeth for the light. That's it. So in the absence of a storm, typically signs have no problem at all. They're extremely strong, very simple, very sturdy. They rarely break. But if you see on TV that you're having an issue as far as a giant storm passing through, like on the National Weather Service, a big red cloud looking thing, and they say, ah, this is a severe storm with high winds, damaging hail, tornado potential and you're worried because, gosh, darn it, that red zone's right over your sign. It doesn't mean you have to jump in your car and go out there.
Whenever you build a sign or buy a sign and make a note of the businesses that are nearby that look out on your side. In many cases, there's a 24 hour convenience store or a restaurant or something that you could call in those times and just say, "Hey, is my sign okay? Look, can you look out the window and see what you see?" And they'll report back, "Yeah, it looks perfectly fine. I see no problems whatsoever." Which means you never had to drive all the way out there. It would've been a completely fruitless drive to go out there. The same is true of your billboard lights, rather than you drive out and check on them, hey, is there somebody else that you could have who could just look out the window and tell you? It makes life so much easier.
And if you're gonna go out and drive out and look at the lights, if you have a site that's in more of a rural area and you can't do it any other which way, then at least do it in an organized fashion. Get your calendar and go out and check your lights on a regular but very organized basis. You might say, "Well, I'll go check my lights once every month." That's probably fine. And you might even map out the shortest route between your signs to make sure you don't have any excess travel time. The bottom line to it is, if you just use some common sense and technology, you will find that you can cut a ton of hours out of your year that would've been wasted doing needless things that you could have done more efficiently. And remember that time is money, not to count, wear and tear on your car and gasoline. So with all these tools at hand, let's just be more efficient in the year of 2024. Let's go out there and get things done without having to go out in the field all the time in kind of a non-structured environment. But instead, let's hold down the costs and make things happen. This is Frank Rolfe, the Billboard Mastery Podcast. Hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.