What Business Owners Need to Know About Sign Insurance

Signs are a key part of a business owner’s plan and assets, and like the rest of your property, business owners will often want to make sure their signage is insured.

In this blog, we breakdown what you need to know for your signage insurance.

What type of insurance covers my signage?

Signage is covered under the umbrella of “Commercial Property Insurance”.

According to Nationwide.com,

“Commercial Property Insurance covers your business against everything from a minor hiccup to a major loss.

For example: 

  • A fire could destroy your building and the contents inside
  • A burst water pipe could damage valuable documents
  • A storm could damage your outdoor sign”

Weather in particular is a common reason for signs to be damaged. Wind, hail, snow, earthquakes, and tornadoes are all reasons why a sign may incur damage.

Is Commercial Property Insurance different from General Liability Insurance?

TheHartford.com defines General Liability Insurance as insurance that “helps protect you from claims that your business caused bodily injury or property damage. It can also protect you if someone sues you for advertising injury.”

This is different from Commercial Property Insurance, which “covers your business’ physical location and equipment, whether you own or lease it.”

These insurances may often be paired together in a package by your insurance company; however, you should double check with them to be sure.

Who provides Commercial Property Insurance?

Commercial property insurance is covered by many large and small insurance companies alike.

Does insurance differ for on-premise signs and off-premise signs?

Depending on your lease agreement, you may need to acquire insurance that covers your on-premise signage.

If you have a roadside sign like an Electronic Message Center then you should consider insurance for your sign. These signs are often more costly than on-premise signs, and their positioning can sometimes make them easier targets for weather, accidents, and vandalism.

I’m leasing a tenant space in a commercial property development. Do I cover my sign’s insurance or does my landlord?

While lease agreements may vary, you as a tenant are generally required to purchase the signs for your business. Therefore you are also the ones required to secure commercial property development insurance to cover said signage.

Does my sign company need to engage with my insurance company when my sign is damaged?

In the case of a damaged sign, if it needs to be fully replaced then your insurance company may reach out to the fabricators of the sign to determine the original cost. If it needs to be repaired then they may reach out to a local sign company to get a quote for the potential repair costs.

How much will my sign coverage cost?

According to Obierisk.com, costs will be determined largely by “the size and location of the sign.” Also under consideration will be if the sign is “in an area prone to extreme weather, such as wind, which could damage the sign.”

All You Need to Know About Project Management

Project Managers are the backbone of our team at Ortwein Sign. They oversee the project from the time it’s sold to the time we drive our crew off your lot after successfully installing your signage. To get even more detailed, they handle permitting, work day to day with our fabrication team, and hand off all the needed notes to our installers, while ensuring they have the needed information to do their job. Simply put, our Project Managers make things go smoothly. So in this blog we thought we’d not only give a shoutout to our great team, but we would also break down what makes an effective project management team. So you can see not only how our team works, but also we hope you can take away some pointers for your business.

What is Project Management?

Project Management in many ways is just what it sounds like: managing a specific, or multiple, projects from start to finish. Project Management is used for projects of all sizes, scopes, and industries. For companies without a Project Manager or Project Management team, having an expert project manager on your team can be a revelation to really see how effective and essential a Project Manager can be.

What is a Project Manager’s Role?

While the nuances of a Project Manager’s day-to-day work varies based on the work itself, essentially they oversee the completion of a project from start to finish. This includes creating a timetable for the completion of said project, scheduling and delegating tasks to the team, checking-in on the progress and completion of said tasks, assessing what needs aren’t being met and where needed pulling in additional resources, and all of that while reporting routinely to their supervisors, the relevant parties involved, or both, the overall status of said project.

What is the Project Management Triangle?

Project-triangle-en.svg

The Project Management Triangle is how a project manager manges the quality of the job. The three lines making up the triangle are: scope, time, and cost. You may have heard the old adage “you can have it cheap, you can have it fast, or you can have it done well” This speaks to the very push and pull that makes up the triangle and the struggles of a Project Manager’s role in balancing these demands.

Do Project Managers Need Expertise in the Industry They’re Managing?

While it certainly helps, there could be an argument that the industry elements may be less required than general know-how on simply effectively managing the many elements of a project from start to finish.

At Ortwein Sign, we’ve had Project Managers enter with little experience in the sign industry, but with training we were able to work together to get them up to speed with the nuances of the sign industry.

At the same time, we’ve had Project Managers with experience in our field, and while that’s certainly sped up the onboarding process, what we relied on from them most was their ability to organize, delegate, and manage all aspects of the projects they were given.

What Skills Do Project Managers Need?

Project Managers need a variety of skills, including:

Detail-Oriented Thinking

Projects can vary in scope, but as is so often said “the devil’s in the details”. It’s these details where an excellent Project Manager shines, because by overseeing all the smaller elements of a project they help the full project come together.

Time Management

Though many projects may have deadlines coming from leadership, or some external deadline, a Project Manager may need to set these deadlines, and certainly they’ll need to work within deadlines given to them. Project Managers therefore often rely on timelines and progress charts to keep up with where the completion of the project is and also the status of each individual contribution to the greater project.

Communication Skills

Communication Skills may seem obvious as a need for any employee; however, for Project Managers its essential. Not only do Project Managers need to communicate to employees up and down the chain of leadership, but they also need to really listen and grasp the information they’re being given by everyone involved. Oftentimes they’ll have to take the information from the top of the chain and relay it down and vice versa.

Ability to Run Meetings

Though essentially a component of communication skills, one aspect we’d like to single out is the ability to run meetings. Now a smaller project may not require many people to be in a room at one time; however, whether the meeting is small or large, this is another time where the Project Manager will have to field questions, listen closely to all that’s being said, transcribe these notes and often relay them after, and more.

Organizational Skills

These almost needn’t be said; however, sometimes the obvious needs to be stated and that is to say that Project Managers absolutely require organizational skills. Organizational skills are essential at every level, as it’s needed when constructing a timeline, when coordinating notes, when preparing for meetings, etc.

Do Project Managers Need to Be Certified?

Some companies may require certifications, while others may not, but if a Project Manager is looking to get ahead then there are certifications out there established specifically for Project Managers.

One such certification is the Project Management Professional (PMP)®. The PMP is offered by the Project Management Institute.

For more details on the Project Management Institute, visit their website: www.pmi.org

What Pushbacks Do Project Managers Hear Most Often?

Project Managers are an essential tool for many companies; however, that doesn’t mean that the inclusion of Project Managers on a team isn’t sometimes met with doubt and skepticism. Many employees may feel they’re already “handling” their projects just fine, and while that may be true, Project Managers often allow managers, sales team members, and others more time to do the job they were hired for.

Likewise, Project Managers are like a safety net for any missed moments in a project. While it’s ultimately up to the employees working on the project to complete their portion of the job, Project Managers act as a guide and safety line. They make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

What’s the Biggest Struggle for Project Managers?

Project Managers in many ways are the unsung heroes of an office. They usually do not have direct authority over those working on the project, but ultimately their job is ensuring the projects success. Therefore they are incredibly reliant on the work of their team. They often lack “sticks” to ensure success, but they can and should use “carrots” to encourage and support workers up and down the line who help bring the project together. Project Managers can be asked to relay difficult messages to higher-ups, and line workers; however, they also have plenty of opportunity to pass along praise. It’s a difficult balancing act for sure, but an excellent Project Manager rises to these challenges every time.

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    Guide to Signage for the Self-Storage Industry

    The industry of self-storage continues to thrive, and more and more entrants are coming into the industry to set up their own self-storage businesses. At Ortwein Sign, we’ve had the opportunity to support many self-storage businesses with their signage, and in that time we’ve been able to use our expertise to establish some tips we recommend for owners purchasing signage for self-storage units. In this blog, we breakdown what you need to know about signage if you’re considering starting, acquiring, or growing your self-storage business.

    Why is Signage Important for Self-Storage?

    Storage Pug, an industry leader providing websites and marketing support for self-storage companies, recently emphasized that proximity is one of the key factors self-storage customers consider when looking for self-storage options online. They go on to say that for self-storage owners a strong Google My Business profile is essential as online queries will pop-up the nearest businesses on Google. A business with a strong GMB presence therefore will capture would be customer’s attention more successfully than a poorly managed GMB.

    Much can be said that signage is important for essentially the same reason. A good looking, working sign will attract local passersby, especially if the signage stands out like a pylon sign. Whereby an unlit sign or a sign that doesn’t stand out means the would-be customer may drive right on by for a self-storage option just a little further.

    What kind of Signage helps self-storage companies stand apart?

    Though every municipality is different, and thus may allow or not allow certain signs, for our clients the bulk of our orders have been for a combo of pylon signs (or monument if pylons are not allowed) and channel letters.

    Pylon Signs

    Pylon signs are freestanding business sign structures with a custom single or multi-tenant illuminated sign box supported by one or multiple steel poles. The sign base and pole surroundings can be constructed of various materials. Pylon sign bases can be constructed of high-density urethane with a stucco finish, brick or block structures, or welded aluminum base primed and painted. Single or double sided, custom paint colors are available to complement your architecture or corporate identity. Most sign companies can incorporate a full color LED digital message board if desired. A digital message board can be programmed in a matter of seconds from a remote location.

    Pylon signs are an incredibly effectively way to bring attention to your property or business. If you have a complex with many tenants, then pylon signage featuring business names and logos are an effective way to provide advance notice for the location of your tenants’ businesses. Often, the first impression of your business is a pylon signs. Pylon signs therefore offer high impact and low maintenance exposure for only a few dollars a day.

    Custom pylon signs can help direct traffic to your business location, and they can help communicate the message of a single business or multi-tenant complex. Customized pylon signs are very popular when it comes to identifying shopping plazas and industrial complexes, car dealerships, gas stations, restaurants, mini-malls, hotels, and retail locations. By implementing a pylon sign into your project’s design scheme you can take your brand to new levels.

    Monument Signs

    Taft Hwy Self Storage monument sign with blue mountain sketched above lettering

    Monument signs vary in size; however, they are often the approximate height of a person. They can be made of a variety of materials including bricks, sign foam or aluminum.

    Though pylon signs are often taller than monument signs, there are occasions where a monument sign can actually be a pylon sign. The signage used to highlight all occupants of a strip mall calls for the services of a monument design with the height of a pylon marker. It is the best of both worlds and helps to give each merchant a chance at attracting customers, which of course benefits the other businesses as well.

    Property owners usually favor a tall design that gives each occupant a signage spot of similar size. With a smaller marker, only top-billers get good-sized signage whereas the smaller businesses might have to make do with a crammed display of their name or logo.

    Channel Letters

    A typical channel letter is a three-dimensional graphic sign element. Its channel is fabricated from sheet metal, most often aluminum since it will not rust. A flat sheet of aluminum is typically cut on a table by a computer-controlled router. This creates the back of the channel and is the basis for the letter shape. The letter can is painted and fitted with any lighting components necessary such as neon gas tubes or light-emitting diode (LED) modules. When illuminated at night, channel letters draw the eye of passers-by.

    Channel letters are a prime choice among for those looking for exterior business signs. The shape, size, and illumination of each letter ensures that your sign will stand out among other businesses, especially at night. The construction of these letters allows you endless options for custom signs. The letters are available in nearly any font, color, and size. As each letter is individually crafted, you can also incorporate your business logo in the design.

    What kind of Signage is essential for the day-to-day operations of a Self-Storage company?

    Once you’ve captured their attention with strong exterior signage, you also need to ensure the signage around your complex can help present and future customers navigate your storage units. This is where wayfinding signage especially comes into play.

    Wayfinding Signage

    Wayfinding signage systems consists of signs that let you know where you are, where you want to go, where you need to be, and sometimes even where you aren’t allowed.  When used in tandem, these signs should help direct customers and visitors alike right to their destination.

    Directional Signage

    Directional Signage is a valuable tool for self-storage units to help direct customers to their units. These signs often include arrows to help point more precisely in the direction of the destination.

    Identification Signage

    Identifying Signs at storage units consist of signage that helps label the key buildings, including the main office or offices, as well as the as names or numbers of the units themselves. If a self-storage unit has a group of units called Complex A and Complex A consists of Units 100-120, then identifying signs would be placed at the start of each complex and on the door or facade of each unit.

    What will the sign company need from me as a Self-Storage Owner?

    To be the most effective partner for your sign needs, Sign Companies will generally need three things:

    Logo and Branding (Vector Format)

    If your signage includes your logo at all, and it most likely should, then your sign company partner will need your logo art to help them design and fabricate your sign. Vector format is the preferred type of file sign companies will need as it allows them to scale the art to fit signs of various sizes.

    Survey of Your Site/Conversations During Pre-Planning

    Sign companies can help build a plan for your signage needs and how best to satisfy them. By providing your sign company early information on the site, both and you and the sign company will be better served as they help understand what signs will need to be fabricated and where they’ll need to be installed. This will also help the sign company permit the signs, which is a requirement in many municipalities.

    By contacting your sign partner early, you’ll also help alleviate potential unknown headaches along the way that may crop up if you haven’t already built-in signage to your business plan.

    Access for the Installation

    Bringing a sign company in early is the best way to prevent access issues; however, whatever time you begin to work with your sign partner you should consider what access they will need to installing signs.

    Cranes in particular are heavy and take up a fair amount of space. Therefore the surface on which they stand, and the space allotment, is important to consider. Storage companies also often have retention ponds too, and these can be often overlooked when considering access until the sign company is brought into the conversation. Be sure to mention to your sign company if and where you have a retention pond as early as possible, so the sign company can use this in their planning.

    How to choose the right sign company for the job?

    When considering which sign company to partner with, you want a company with a strong record of customer service, project management skills, as well as the know-how and equipment to develop, fabricate, and install your sign package.

    We at Ortwein Sign pride ourselves on our fabrication, customer service, and project management skills, and we believe our 99 years in business can be put to great use to help develop and execute the best sign plan possible for your self-storage business.

    Call us today at (423) 867-9208 or fill out a quote request form to see how we can help with your signage needs!

    How to Enhance Your Office with Interior Signage

    Signage and branding can be used to enhance the work environment, from the entrance, to the foyers, the hallways, and the offices themselves. This can be used as part of an overall strategy to help boost productivity, employee retention, and to promote a strong positive work culture. Signage is also key for promoting a strong sense of place with visitors and can be effectively used to guide visitors to where they are needing to go. In this guide, we breakdown the types of interior signage, along with how each can be used to effectively enhance your office space.

    Second Surface Door or Window Vinyl

    Moonlight Roller Interior Sign on Glass Window

    Whether you have a large complex, or a small office space, second surface vinyl is often the first interior signage that visitors and your employees will see. If you only have one entry door then this is the perfect space to brand your door with your logo, and it’s also a key location to add business hours to help indicate your open hours. If you have a complex with many doors, then interior door vinyl can help indicate which doors are publicly accessible, and which are not, and with further branding you can promote a sense of place as your logo could appear on all the doors of your facility.

    Wall Logo / Lobby Signs

    If you enter an office for the first time, you’ll likely see the logo on a side or back wall opposite the door so that when anyone enters the room it’s one of the first things they see. This can be done in a simple fashion or in a more ornate artistic style. Either way, by including this feature this sign not only helps highlight your office’s brand but it also helps assure any office visitors that they have indeed arrived at the location they’re seeking.

    Entryway Directory

    Directories are essential for new visitors in particular to find their way around your office space. By providing a directory upon entry, visitors will find who they’re looking for quickly and see what room they’re located in.

    Wayfinding Signage

    Interior wayfinding signage that says South and Town Center on two walls at the front of a hallway

    Pair a directory with additional wayfinding signage to help get visitors on the right foot. Wayfinding signage systems can be a perfect way to help direct traffic where you want it to be, and it can also be an opportunity for branding as brand colors and fonts can be included. Wayfinding signage can include everything from statuatory signs, built to display rules and regulations, to identificational signs, which indicate the name and purpose of a place or space.

    Learn all about the six types of wayfinding signage in our blog: Wayfinding Systems Solutions Through Signage

    Title Signs

    Title signs are perhaps the most omnipresent example of identificational signs. Each office space will undoubtedly have an occupant, or more, and by putting the name and title of the teacher, professor, office worker, etc. in a small sign on the door visitors know that they’re at the office space of said person. These can be fabricated in such a way as to slide in a frame , should they need to be replaced as office workers come and go. Digital LED screens can even be used in this manner as well, which will help increase the longevity of the sign though at a perhaps greater initial cost.

    Branded ADA Signs

    ADA sign on table with reflection; sign says PRIVATE 123

    ADA signs are a requirement for most any office, and while there are specific requirements for ADA signs there still exists the opportunity to brand ADA signs with colors or logos.

    Environmental Graphics, Murals, and Wall Art

    Graphics of Chattanooga and text on wall interior

    Wall art and mural art are perhaps the greatest assets for adding creative uses of branding in an interior space. Even if the logo isn’t included you can use brand colors in the art to signify your brand in a more subtle fashion.

    Oftentimes too wall art is an opportunity to tie an office closer to the community they serve, whether that be photos of the city from which they operate or perhaps photos or graphics of their customers. Employees can also be represented through wall art as well.

    Neon Signs

    Neon signs have historically been considered primarily as exterior signage, except for perhaps the many neon bar signs one finds. More and more though neon signs are used as accent pieces to brighten, metaphorically and literally, office spaces. These can be fun ways for offices to emphasize a motto, the brand name and logo, or to simply create a pleasant vibe in the office space.

    Our team fabricates Neon signs for Interior and Exterior uses:

    Download our FREE guide to learn all about neon signs today!

      Signage and Sign Refresh Return On Investment (ROIs)

      Signs are considered such an integral part of a business; however, that strangely means they’re often overlooked when developing a business plan. It’s often assumed that signage is an easy final step, so less thought is put into the budget needed and time to procure said sign. We’ve covered in great length the pitfalls of this kind of thinking, and why you should prepare early for your signage, but here we want to truly emphasize how signage can have direct benefits to your business and what it takes for signage to be effective.

      For our first two points, we’ll be looking at a 2012 report by The University of Cincinatti’s Economics Center. In this report, the researchers considered the impact of signage on businesses and found a few key findings from their case studies and surveys.

      Readability and Legibility

      Signage that can’t be read easily is quite simply signage that isn’t working for your business. Business owners when surveyed indicated for them that “helping customers find their location was the most important purpose” for signage. At their core businesses provide a service or need customers want, and the more time a customer spends trying to understand your business, or finding your business, is simply more time they’ll consider another business. Therefore sign readability and legibility is a key component when ensuring your signage provides the best ROI possible.

      Direct and Indirect Benefits of Electronic Message Centers

      Rossville Church Electronic Message Center on Monument Sign

      In a case study on the dealership Chuck Anderson Ford, the researchers looked at the implementation of a new electronic message sign on a pylon and its effect on the revenue. The study showed the dealership’s revenue was up 10% compared to the previous year. Additionally “an estimated 30 percent of the new sign’s message time is focused on community announcements and public service messages”, which according to Anderson, the store owner, has impacted their perception in the community in meaningful, positive ways.

      For our next two points, we’ll look at the Sign Research Foundation’s “Retail Signage: Practice to Increase Return on Investment”.

      Architecture Integration

      In this publication, the SRF report emphasizes the importance of “architectural integration” as one of their measures of successful signage. Architectural Integration in this case is considered effective when the signage matches the design and look of the environment where it’ll be placed. One case study in the report highlighted Valley Green Bank and specifically showcased how the firm “Metcalfe Architecture and Design utilized the graphic palette when designing new banks inside of renovated existing buildings, with each of the three community banks reflecting the unique neighborhood character.” This meant Green Bank reflected the community’s looks and values and thus helped them integrate more easily into the community space. This was beneficial for the business, as “return on Equity (2014) [for] Valley Green was 8th in ROE of 4,000 U.S. Community Banks.”

      Perhaps a more familiar example of this in practice that you may have seen is the restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings, which successfully and ably adapts to fit community spaces. Buffalo Wild Wings, according to the SRF report, “boasts a strong internal design team of in-house designers and architects with a holistic approach to building design that touches every aspect of the exterior and interior.” This allows them to adapt the exterior of the building, and even the building design itself, to the community look and standards, while also keeping a strong familiar presence in the interior look and feel of each restaurant.

      Management and Effective Signage ROI

      The SRF report also emphasizes that the success of signage ROI is best when linked to store or business management.

      In the report, they showcase four “Leading Management Practices for Increasing ROI:

      • Making Sign Excellence a Strategy to Reward
      • Integrating Signs into ROI Metrics
      • Community Engagement
      • Experience Designers Making Signs Central to an Integrated Brand Strategy“

      In particular, the last point is key. As the Buffalo Wild Wings example shows, design can be adapted to match a community while still maintaining overall brand integrity. Business managers often have the power to oversee these design changes, so it’s up to them and their design team to ensure the best integration of signage into a winning brand strategy.

      Conclusion:

      Though signage itself varies from business to business and jurisdiction to jurisdiction, a strong, winning strategy for signage design and implementation can be an incredibly effective draw to bring in customers and clients. Simply adding a sign as an afterthought is not enough if you want your business to succeed though. Your business must think strategically about the look, location, and design of your signage and branding.

      Aligning yourself with a sign company at the onset can prove effective, as we can take your business to the next level and ensure your signage is working for you. Call Ortwein Sign at (423) 867-9208 to see how we can help maximize your signage ROI.

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        Guide to Establishing Your Brand Identity

        Branding has been an established concept now in business and marketing for sometime; however, to many laypersons they may see branding as little more than creating and using a logo. That is only one facet however of building a successful brand identity, whereas the full result of successful branding is to bring about a positive view of a company and its products and services. Here are a few of the key steps to developing a brand for your business.

        Find What Makes You “You”

        Each company is unique in their own way, otherwise why would you have set about to build your business in the first place? Figure out what it is that sets you apart, your unique value proposition, and use that to help identify your business and what you offer to your customers.

        Identify Your Values

        What does your company stand for? You may have values you represent externally, and then values you hold internally, but whichever values you have they need to be something you stand for and something that helps how you communicate to your clients and employees. At Ortwein Sign for instance, we value craftsmanship and pride of work, and this means that not only are we focused on fabricating the best signs for our clients, but when we do a great job it’s not only its own reward but it’s also rewarded internally.

        Develop Your Visual Identity

        This is the component of branding that is most familiar, as a “brand” is often represented through the visual medium of logos, signs, ads, and other marketing assets. Even here though there’s more to it than just designing a logo, as you’ll want to consider the colors you use, the style of font, and of course consider not only what your logo should look like but how well you can represent your logo across all mediums. You’ll want a logo for instance that can look good on a sign, a business card, and a social media profile photo.

        Speak with One Voice

        One concept that companies often struggle with is the concept of a company “voice”. Especially with the continued growth of social media as a business platform, companies now more than ever need to find their voice and try to use it for their communications internally and externally. Companies like Moon Pie are now known for their humorous, almost sardonic voice, especially on Twitter. However, for some companies, such as a bank, they may want to go for a more serious, yet friendly tone. Though it may take you sometime to find the right voice, once you do it’ll benefit your brand, and therefore your business, incredibly.

        Your Brand at Work

        Branding isn’t always the end all be all to your business problems; however, the lack of a cohesive brand could be the cause of many problems. Therefore it’s important to use what we highlighted above, an established identity, strong company values, visual assets, and a singular company voice, and with those in place you can use it to guide your business for years to come.