Small Town Billboards


#1

I always like the idea of building small billboards and placing them in small towns, is this possible to make a living doing this?
Doing a search on the internet for small billboards the following website came up:
http://billboardadvertisingbusiness.com/

The pictures on the website looked like they were from the 70’s so the information they are selling may not pertain to today.
After reading about junior billboards I was in Farmersville Texas that has a Population of 3,476 and seen 3 junior billboards someone had put up. They looked like they were 8 feet by 14 feet.

One of the billboards had both facings rented out to a dentist that was right by the billboard but the other 2 billboards were not rented at all. Talked to some people and found that the guy who put up the boards is from Richardson Texas and is suing 2 businesses for breaking leases.

If I were him I would have given the companies that broke the leases the Vinyl back and said if you want to try again sometime down the road we would be more than willing to have you back, but instead it seems like he is going to piss these small town business owners off, which of course they know everyone.

How many junior billboards can a small town support?
Example:
Population:
2000 = 1 Maybe
5000 = 1
10,000 2
25,000 5
50,000 10

PS: Here is a small video of the Farmersville billboards:
http://excaliburgateopeners.com/BillBoards/Farmersville%20Mini%20Billboards.wmv


#2

The type of sign you are describing is called an “8-sheet”. They were most popular in the 1970s and 80s, and used to promote tobacco and liquor in low demographic areas. There is nothing wrong with them, except they are very small by billboard standards (about 60 sq. ft. as opposed to the 672 sq. ft. of a standard highway sign). The people I know who have done well in small towns have focused on 30 sheet poster units (roughly 12’ x 24’) on wooden poles. They are reasonably priced, and if you do it right, you can rent the sign for $295 per face and all the numbers work. The reason this guy may be having trouble with his 8-sheet occupancy is two fold: 1) they are too small 2) they are non-illuminated.

I know a guy in Illinois who has built a very nice business in his retirement, based on nothing but 30-sheet poster units or, when the economics are not there, 8’ x 24’ units built entirely of wood. These signs can make a net income of $3,000+ per year – so 30 of them would make you $90,000/year after the debt is paid off.


#3

Hi Frank,

When you say:

“The people I know who have done well in small towns have focused on 30 sheet poster units”

What size towns are are you talking about? The 3 junior billboards(8’ by12’) in the city limits of Farmersville is not doing very well, he only has 2 faces rented out of 6. I would hate to go to a town of approx 3,500 and spend $3,000 dollars and then not have anyone rent them. Is there a limit to the Town size and should the sign/s only be located in the City Limits or should they only be on the out-skirts of the town in an un-incorporated area.


#4

John,

I don’t know anything about this guy in Farmersville, but there is no excuse to have an empty face in any market, as I explain in my book. He is either not selling the space effectively, or it is priced too high. 8-sheet billboards (which you have described as “Junior” billboards) are way too small to attract advertisers very effectively, so that may be part of his problem. The absence of illumination isn’t helping either. He would have been better off to build a simple wooden sign with lights instead. I don’t have any first-hand of this guy’s operation, but in my town of 4,500 in rural MIssouri, the signs are 12’ x 24’, 90%+ occupied, and all of them are lighted. I know that Farmersville is a way better market than mine, But the operators here charge a fair price [$200 to $300 per month] and they have very high retention of their accounts.

8-sheets are built for urban, pedestrian environments along surface streets. They don’t work well in small towns – although they might if priced right and on terrific downtown locations only. Anything smaller than about 8’ x 24’ on a highway (even farm-to-market road) is going to be too small. And having no lights kills your hopes of renting to motels, truck stops, restaurants – basically almost everything you’ll find in a small town. 8-sheets were built to advertiser cigarette and beer brands.


#5

Frank, I would love to build a wooden 12’ x 24’ but the issue is finding a good location. I would love to come to your book camp one day and see firsthand how to find locations but I do not have the money right now, but may in the near future.

I don’t want to build the board in the wrong location like this company named BROWN did in town of Westminster,Texas off of HWY 121 about 5 miles east of Melissa Texas. The companies built 2 stacked monopoles and they both, all 8 faces do not have advertising.

BROWN probably has the money to do this because he has lots of other great locations but I do not.

If I was able to build a wooden 12’ x 24’ by hand, and then get it rented, that would be awesome and give me some confidence and momentum to build another one.

  1. Would it be better to build the sign inside the city limits or outside the city/town but close as possible?

  2. If there was a town of 5000 with one main hwy running through it and it had 3 big billboards on both sides, would the location already be saturated?

It seems like finding good locations is the hardest part.


#6

John,

While the boot camp is expensive, you might want to consider the home study course, as it is not. It can give you the entire methodology of how to do it correctly.

If you want to build a wooden unit, you will need to be on raw land (developed properties pretty much demand monopoles) and find a piece of that land that has a natural obstacle to future development, like a ravine or overhead power lines.

Pick a market that has a future to it – in the path of development. Find a location that you feel good about the future on, as part of the billboard business is predicting future growth. Pick a highway with higher ad rents.

Use price as the weapon to rent your sign. Undercut the monopole rates. Make sure it has clear “in your windshield” visibility.

McKinney is pretty picked over on 121 and 75. Look at some lesser farm-to-market roads or state highways. Try and find an underserved niche.


#7

Thanks again Frank for another great post, I will start searching the some lesser farm-to-market roads or state highways and see what is avaiable.