PEMBROKE, Mass. — Signage counts. A driver passing your Laundromat fails to spot the place because of poor signage. Prospects avoid your store because the signage implies that the shop is closed. Your signage is so uninspiring that sidewalk strollers don’t even register that your business is a Laundromat.
New residents choose a competitor because their signage is more inviting than yours. At night, drivers don’t notice your store because of the poor lighting.
I have seen all kinds of bad signage:
- A stand-alone building has signage in the front, but neglects to put any identification on the side, which is foolish because a side street goes right by.
- A large sign says “Ma & Pa’s” but doesn’t identify the type of business, and so lots of people are left wondering.
- A sign displays “Laundromat” nice and clearly, but because there is no company name above or alongside it, the location feels impersonal.
- A sign has script lettering, but its blue and aqua “underwashes” make it difficult to read.
- A sign identifies a shop as “ABC Laundromat,” but it is so small and unassuming that the place appears to be a hole in the wall.
- A protruding sign is so dwarfed by neighbor signs on both sides that the shop is often overlooked.
- The lack of a self-standing sign in the front parking lot means lots of drivers go by one store without noticing the building in the background.
Do any of these describe your situation?
As a starting point, re-examine your signage. I know you spent lots of time and money on the existing signs, but now is time for a reconsideration. Answer the following questions:
- Are your signs less than exciting?
- Do your signs unequivocally state who you are?
- Do your signs seem faded, timeworn, old-fashioned, rusty, cracked, or chipped?
- Do you have signs everywhere passersby look?
- Are your signs clearly visible at night?
- Could your signs be lower or higher to correspond with changes in the area?
- Is the lettering less than clear?
If you determine that you don’t score highly on some of these questions, now is the time to undergo a sign facelift. This is especially true if there have been changes in the area and perhaps traffic is rerouted, or new area stores have changed the atmosphere.
You’ve spent good money on your signs, I know, and there are a dozen other matters that need your attention. But your signs are the suit on the person. If the suit is shabby, then the person is less than appealing. If the person is less than appealing, people will not want to be around him.
The sign was needed when the store opened, but it is not so necessary now, you protest. After all, everyone in the area knows who you are. Truth be told, that’s poor thinking. It doesn’t take into account that you want/need a steady stream of new business. And while most area residents might know where you are, they might not choose your business because your signage is shopworn, unattractive, or just plain old-fashioned.
Consider this. A new resident sees your less-than-immaculate sign followed by a cleanly lettered sign installation several blocks away. “This store looks like a brand-new shop,” she thinks. “I think I’ll go there. I’d rather clean my clothes in a spic-and-span Laundromat than an old neighborhood one.” She makes this decision without even checking out your store. Add another lost customer to the invisible ledger of lost opportunity.
Possibly, your “sign man” could take down the old signs and replace them with a new face. That way, there isn’t the expense of the sign hardware. Possibly he has a used sign in his shop that can be utilized. Or possibly he would switch your sign with a new one offering some trade-in value. You never know unless you ask. But, even if you have to create a completely new sign, it will be worth the expense in the long run.
Let’s review the four basic rules of signage:
A SIGN MUST BE CLEAR
Simple block letters (ex: Ariel font) are the easiest to read. The words need to be spaced evenly apart. The letters should be centered between the top and bottom of the sign. The less adornment, the better. For example, Century font has edges at ends that take away from clarity. Simple says boldness, which makes for easy identification.
A SIGN NEEDS TO DEFINE YOUR BUSINESS
Your sign needs to tell exactly who you are. There is a Laundromat named The Bubblette in my area. Although it’s an interesting image, it doesn’t state that inside is a place for washing clothes. I have asked people in that town what the Bubblette is, and more than one person answered, “It’s a dog grooming shop.” Make sure your sign states exactly who you are.
A SIGN SHOULD BE VISUALLY APPEALING
By choosing appropriate colors, edges and borders, a sign can be attractive. For instance, blue and green go well with Laundromat décor. Perhaps you could create a wave border. Maybe your sign could feature a drawing of an old-fashioned dryer, a symbol of clean clothes.
A SIGN SHOULD BE LARGE AND VISIBLE
Make sure your sign(s) are easy to see. Walk around your premises to identify the best spots for signs, then drive around and do the same thing. Estimate the best height for these signs. Give yourself 100% visibility.
After you complete your signage, see where else signs will help. Would paper signs on front windows announcing specials turn heads? Would a sandwich sign out front announcing the offering of pick-up/delivery bring in trade? Could an around-the-corner sign pointing to free parking make it easier for customers to enter and leave? Does a sign above the rear entrance eliminate confusion?
The point of this column is not to get you to spend your money frivolously. My point is to assess your signage, and then to make changes so that your signs maximize visibility and say to passersby, “Come on in.”