Property owner wants to see credentials


Like you, my business partner and I are relatively fresh out of school without any background in outdoor advertising. We researched the permit process in our market, spoken with sign companies, etc. We got an instant response of interest from the very first property owner we contacted (for a wall sign on a condo complex), but they would like to see references/pictures of other sites. Obviously, we don’t really have any real credentials in the outdoor advertising biz (we are both relatively successful young professionals, but in other areas of business). How did you deal with this type of situation when you were first starting out?

Show them a huge stack of photos of “similar sites”, and don’t mention, unless asked, that they are not yours. Make sure to say they are “similar locations” without saying “my other similar locations”. In addition, give them a full sheet of references, but personal references, not billboard site references. If they ask about that, tell them that you have just recently started adding wallscapes to your investment portfolio, but that you have a substantial background in similar businesses. If all else fails, you could align yourself quickly with an operator in another city, and say that you are from that company expanding into this market.

There is no question that the hardest billboard lease to sign up is the very first one. Once you have that one, you can always use that first location for a reference. But if you are honest with the landowner, and appear competent, you should be O.K. I was. Of course, another part of my sales pitch was that I would give the location way more focus than if I had 100. Another element is “bonding” between you and the landowner. Take them out to lunch and build a bond that is more important than references.