Signs of Progress
Learn about best practices for signage maintenance and what technology is on the horizon.
By Amelia Bridgford
Proper signage is critical to the successful function of any business, particularly in the multi-site facilities world. Whether it’s a storefront sign proclaiming the name of a business, directional and “wayfinding” signage leading visitors to their destination, or safety signage ensuring the welfare of all who enter, signs are truly the informational backbone of facilities. Yet, the maintenance and repairs required to keep signage shining are often overlooked.
“Signage is funny,” said Bryan Walker, Director of Facility Services at Triangle Sign Services. “It’s something that customers and prospective customers see very clearly, and it’s often their first encounter with your brand.” At the same time, Walker says, it’s the very thing facilities managers can be most blind to. “We may not even notice when there is an outage because we leave before dark or are inside the store, and then it’s shut off by the time we leave.”
Staying on Schedule
Despite this, Walker advised facilities managers to make routine inspection and maintenance of company signage a priority. “It seems like a nuisance, with everything else facilities managers are responsible for,” he said. “But ultimately, your signage is representative of your brand, and it’s important to protect your brand in any way that you can.”
Best practices for sign maintenance vary depending on type and location, with interior signs requiring more basic cleaning and regular updating to reflect current information — wall-mounted menus in fast-casual restaurant spaces being a prime example. The care of exterior signs that are exposed to the elements, however, calls for more involved maintenance: wind, rain, and even prolonged sun exposure can certainly take their toll over time.
“Like so many elements of facilities management, we are seeing signage maintenance move toward being more preventive than the old method of break-and-fix,” Walker said. “Constantly having sign outages can be costly and frustrating — so why not just go ahead and check all of the electrical connections instead of just the one that’s out?” he adds. The same goes for bulb outages, water sealing or cracking letter faces. Instituting regularly scheduled upkeep can save facilities managers time and headaches, and if your sign company can provide these services, so much the better.
“The single best thing a signage provider can do is take maintenance off the facilities manager’s plate,” Walker said. “Give them alternatives, handle it well, and get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible.” Many sign companies offer such maintenance programs, often performed monthly or quarterly, similar to the common practices of lighting maintenance.
When looking to partner with a signage supplier, Walker recommends facilities managers seek out a company with both depth and breadth of experience — and if possible, a nationwide reach. “Remember that whomever you choose will ultimately be a partner in protecting your brand,” Walker said. “Years of experience matter. Knowing that they can handle every type of signage you may have or need and will be there to handle everything when you do have issues – that matters even more,” he added.
What’s in Store?
Looking toward the future of signage, Walker is particularly excited about innovations in neon signs — specifically faux neon. “Neon signs are amazing — they bring a warm, nostalgic element into any space, and there will always be a place for traditional neon in the signage world,” he said. “But in many ways, it is an art form of a bygone era.” He notes that over time these (often custom) signs have become very expensive to produce and maintain, and as a result, more and more sign shops and technicians have found it cost-prohibitive to work with these elements at all.
The good news is that there is now a less expensive and more sustainable alternative to traditional neon in the form of LED technology. “LED lights can very convincingly mimic that wonderful warm look we love in a neon sign while providing the user with many more options,” Walker explained. “For example, faux neon allows you to change colors within the same tube, brighten or dim the lights, and play with all kinds of dynamic effects that were not possible with traditional neon.”
ConnexFM members interested in learning more about this new approach to a classic design style are welcome to attend a DEMO Lab Session Walker will lead at the ConnexFM2023 National Conference in Dallas/Fort Worth this April. Joined by longtime friend and colleague Craig Bayless, Director of Facilities for Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe, the interactive presentation will include an informational session and the opportunity for attendees to be hands-on with demo units provided by Triangle Sign Services.