Q1. I don’t know anything about ordering signs. How do I get started?
A. The biggest challenge is defining the correct combination of function, appearance and cost to best meet your signage need. A great place to start is to have a conversation with one of our Design Consultants. Armed with an understanding of your goals and budget, they will walk you through the available options in terms of materials and fabrication methods. We will then prepare a formal quotation with the specific project description and relevant pricing. Based on your decision to move forward, we will then prepare a pre-production, scaled color rendering of the finished signage for your review and approval.
Q2. How large can a sign be?
A. The size of a sign is virtually unlimited, relative to the ability to fabricate it. However, other factors may directly affect the allowable size. For instance, many types of signage are limited in size, as well as fabrication method, by municipal code. Specific size limitation can only be determined after a thorough understanding of where and how the signage is to be used. Contact us
for more info.
Q3. At what size do I have to have seams in my sign?
A. The need for and location of seams on a sign is dependent on the materials being used. The largest sign faces that can be done seamless are banners and polyester faces (normally used in lighted cabinet signs). Typically, seams in sign faces are not a problem. Sign faces large enough to require seams are usually designed to be seen from a distance. Consequently the seams are not obvious. The exception to this norm however, is in the case of back lighted sign faces. With these signs, the seam shows as a dark line through the face when it’s lighted. This is not uncommon in large lighted faces (more than 5’ high or 10’ wide). Many people will opt for the seam as opposed to incurring the substantial cost to move to a roll stock material which would eliminate the seam. Whichever way you go, it is an important consideration in the initial concept design of the sign.
Q4. What is the turn-around time to have a sign made?
A. Typical lead time from order placement to completion of a sign is seven working days. This takes into account the length of time required to generate a proof, make any design changes necessitated by the proofing process, and move the sign through the production and quality control processes. In rush situations, we can move the process through in a little as a couple of days. In cases where there is significant or complicated construction required, and or the need to pull permits, the lead time can lengthen.
Q5. Do you pull any necessary construction permits for signage projects which require installation?
A. We offer the service of pulling municipal and county permits as an option on all our sign projects, when we are performing the installation. This service is charged separately, since some clients will opt to spend their own time obtaining the necessary permits. In those cases, we will provide scaled drawings of the signage, which the client can incorporate with the balance of the documentation required to apply for the permit. There are also separate fees billed directly by the permitting entity. The cost of these fees is dependent on the nature of the signage project.
Q6. Are sign companies required to be licensed contractors?
A. California state law requires a sign company (or any other entity) to have a contractor’s license to install anything with a combined labor and materials cost in excess of $500. The sign company cannot avoid this requirement by contracting the installation to a licensed contractor. Contractor law states that an entity cannot sub-contract out work that it is not licensed to perform itself. Additionally, there are different levels of sign contractor licenses. In our case, we hold both a non-electrical and an electrical sign installation qualification. There are several significant risks to the client in dealing with a non-licensed company. The most obvious is the question of expertise and resultant quality of the installation. Not so obvious, but potentially much more serious, are the financial risks should a worker be hurt on the job, or a passerby be injured; or should the work result in damage to third person property. A licensed contractor is performing an installation function legally. He will have his own workers compensation, property damage, and liability insurance. This coverage will be primary in the event of a claim, and the client’s insurance would only be called upon in the event that the contractor’s insurance was inadequate. In any case, the client is protected. On the other hand, if the installation is being performed ILLEGALLY by a non-licensed entity, all bets are off on whether the installer has insurance. And if he does have insurance, what might the willingness of his insurer be to honor a claim resulting from illegal activity on his part? Additionally, if the client’s insurance carrier has to step in, how might that carrier respond to accepting liability for a claim which accrued as a result of knowingly working with an unlicensed contractor?
Q7. How long can I expect my sign to last?
A. There is no universally applicable answer to the question of sign life expectancy. However to even discuss the subject, it is first necessary to have a common definition of the term itself. When is a sign worn out? A sign doesn’t just suddenly become unreadable. Beginning on the day it is installed, the environment, ultra violet exposure in particular, begins to work on deteriorating the sign. Over a period of years, color fades, blistering occurs, the background surface deteriorates, and etc.. We have all seen signs that are in obvious need of replacement, yet they are still readable, and continue to serve their function. So, for someone who isn’t concerned with cosmetics, the life of their sign will be much longer than for the person who is. However, for purposes of this discussion, we will define life expectancy as the amount of time before a sign shows color fading or surface blistering. Much is dependent on what the sign is constructed of, the color of the copy, and what environment it will be exposed to. Simple outdoor rated signage, such as cut vinyl film on plastic, wood or metal surfaces, can range from three years to seven years of exterior life. With regard to cut vinyl film, the primary determinate of exterior life is the quality of the film. Premium (cast) vinyl films from 3M have an estimated outdoor life of seven years. Standard (calendared) films are more in the three year range. Another major determinate is ultra violet light exposure. The more continuous direct exposure to the sun, the more impact there is on life span. Color also has a significant impact on ultra violet affect. For example, red and pastel colors tend to fade much faster than darker colors. Normally, exterior life ratings are assuming worst case conditions. Exterior life expectancy for printed signage is similar to that of the standard vinyl films. Utilizing the proper inks and materials, you can normally expect a couple of years of exterior life if the sign is not laminated, and three to four years if it is. With printed signage, the key is the kind of ink used. At The Sign Place, we only use latex ink and U.V. curable ink in our printing systems. Both are formulated for maximum outdoor life. Life expectancy for lighted and unlighted dimensional letter signs, cabinet signs, and monument structures is much longer due to the construction materials and installation methods utilized.
Q8. Will you come to my construction site or business location to assess a project?
A. Absolutely. A large portion of our business involves working with clients on site in the assessment and planning for their particular signage project, large or small.
Q9. What are your hours of Operation?
A. Our offices and showroom are open daily from 8:30 am to 5:00pm, Monday – Friday. If you need attention outside of these hours, please call to arrange an appointment.
Q10. Do you provide neon signs or service?
A. In past years we have provided neon sign products and repair; however we no longer do so. Technology has moved on, and we, like the industry in general, are now focused exclusively on LED based lighted signage. It is hugely more energy efficient, less subject to breakage, and more cost effective to maintain than the neon signs of yesteryear.
Q11. Do you offer a discount to non-profit organizations?
A. Yes, we have a standing ten percent discount, which we provide to all non-profit organizations.
Q12. How do I know if I’m getting a good deal on my sign?
A. What most people mean by this question is, “Am I getting the lowest price?” In truth we all inherently know that price is rarely the most revealing method of assessing any purchase. Yet, un-reminded, it is the one we have a tendency to default to. Ask yourself why companies and individuals selling on EBay make such a fuss about how highly they are rated as an EBay seller? There couldn’t be a simpler assessment of who has the best price, than an EBay search. But those ratings remind us again that there is more to consider. Will I get my product as offered? Will I get it in the time frame promised? Who will stand behind it if it’s damaged or defective? (words eliminated) How safe is my credit card information? And in the case of EBay we are usually talking about a commodity item that exists. We know exactly what we can expect to receive as the final product. The list of concerns gets much longer, if our purchase must be custom manufactured to our specification. Clearly, the lowest price is only a “good deal” if the company behind the product or service can genuinely offer all the other assurances that provide true value for your investment. At The Sign Place we have been meeting that challenge for thousands of companies and institutions, large and small, since 1989.
If we use the same purchase criteria for our sign supplier, we might have the following concerns:
- Has the company been doing business locally long enough to have an established reputation and following?
- How many signs like this has the company made?
- Who are some of their other clients in the area?
- How do I know that the company will stand behind the sign if something goes wrong?
- Does the company have adequate staffing to insure timely response and on time delivery?
- Are the steps in the process, from placing my order to receiving my sign, defined and protective of my interests?
- Is the company a licensed contractor, and legally authorized to install my sign?
- Is the company adequately insured to protect me from any liability arising from their participation in the sign project?
Once comfortable with the answers to the above questions, the time is right to evaluate price. What, if anything, are you willing to trade o for a lower price? The Sign Place has been providing signage of all kinds to businesses and institutions of all kinds on the Central Coast since 1989. We have passed this test many times, and we welcome and encourage this value comparison.