Getting Started


#1

I’m just getting started in the Billboard business and have a handful of questions that hopefully someone can help with.

  1. Is it better to buy the land or lease land from a landowner? Yes, buying land requires more capital, but to me that is the
    more profitable and reliable option. When you lease you are at the mercy of the landowner AND you have to share your
    earnings. That doesn’t sound like an optimal investment. Am I missing something?

  2. Assuming you want to go the route of buying land for the purpose of putting up your own billboard. Where do you even
    start? Is it best to just contact a realtor and tell them your zoning requirements and see what they come up with? I’m in
    Orlando and I was just reading the city code and it doesn’t even look like they allow new billboards to be constructed. Is
    every city different or is that a county thing? Is my only option in Orlando to buy and existing billboard?

  3. I’ve seen a couple of billboards that I pass by daily that are completely empty. How do I find out who owns it? I don’t
    know if it is for sale or not. They are in very busy locations.

Ultimately, I’m having trouble getting started as you see. I have so many questions and find so few resources to answer
them. The industry seems so large and I have no idea how I’m going to be able to get my foot in the door. Every billboard
I see seems to be owned by either CBS or ClearChannel. How does a little fish compete with that? If I go to the outskirts
of the city is it going to be a worthy investment?

Looking forward to hearing other peoples thoughts.

Thanks,

Tony


#2

Tony,

First of all, I strongly urge you to buy my book, offered here on the site. It is not expensive, and it tells you everything you need to know to get started. Without that roadmap, it will take you a long, long time to learn what you are doing. It took almost two decades for me to learn the material in the book. The book will show you the insider secrets of how to find locations – and they are nothing like you would imagine them from the outside. Finding billboard locations is part science and part art, and the science part is fully documented in the book. The art part is in negotiating, etc., and that you have to learn and get better at over time. All of your questions are answered in the book.

As for buying land versus leasing it, the surprise answer is that you are always better leasing it. Here’s why. If you lease the land you have no capital invested in the land, only the sign. And the sign can, worse case, be moved to a new location if it is lost. If you own the land, you have a huge capital investment in it, and if the sign becomes unusable due to blockage from a tree or another sign, you are stuck with your investment in the land, and can’t move or cure it. Only a small fraction of the billboards in the U.S. are lost over time to new construction. So you really don’t have to own the land to have a “permanent” location.


#3

Ok. I see your point on the lease/buy choice.

What about once I find a location? I see several lots that look like they fit the zoning requirements and spacing between
billboards, etc…

How do I go about contacting the land-owner? Some of the lots are owned by either LLC’s, or Banks. All I can find for contact
info is an address. Do I write the bank and say “hey, want to do business together and allow me to put up a billboard?”? How
does anyone recommend approaching the land owner?

Thanks.


#4

Tony,

You always want to send an initial letter to the landowner, followed up by a phone call and, if they don’t respond, a drop-by. The text of the letter I use is in my book.

I have found very low results in cold-calling people without an earlier letter to explain what you are wanting to do. The offer is too complicated for most people to comprehend in a “cold call”, and they will say “no” just to get you to go away, since they don’t understand exactly what you are talking about. Most people have never thought about the possibility of leasing a piece of their land for a billboard.