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TheGreatBear

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How does the business work? Can't I just buy a small plot of land next to the highway and set up a billboard? Wouldn't it be generating money for centuries, and assuming the location I bought is good, won't it be continuously appreciating?
 

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AndrewG

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Nov 3, 2007
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I don't really know much about billboards but I'm sure you have to get special permits to place a permanent sign somewhere and especially such a large one.

Also you have to think about where you're going to get the large prints made and who are you going to higher to glue the sign up.

It's an old form of advertising so I'm not sure how much money is to be made. But you should think about a twist on the idea. Innovate the format to make it cheaper for advertisers, more noticable to consumers, and more profitable for you.
 

liv42dy

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Nov 6, 2007
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I have looked into setting up billboards in the Midwest and the West. It can be a lot more complicated than just buying (or leasing) a plot of land and setting up a billboard. In the Midwest, along many of the major routes, you are no longer allowed to put up new billboards. The old billboards have been "grandfathered" by the Department of Transportion, so they won't tear those down and the owners can continue to cashflow from them.

In the West, putting up a new billboard along a major route means consulting with the Department of Transportation to see what their requirements are: size of billboard, type of billboard, location of billboard (how many feet away from the road, and how many feet away from the nearest billboard), etc. There are also some communities that don't permit billboards of any kind to put up within their city limits.

Getting advertising for the billboard can mean either going through an ad agency (that want a huge %) or becoming your own ad agency. Being your own ad agency means you can write all kinds of things into the contract that the leasee should do to keep up on the maintenance, i.e. they provide their own banner and method of placing it, replace lights, etc. But you would need to build the billboard yourself (depending on the size could cost around $30,000). Typical contract lengths are five years.

The best story I ever heard was of someone in Texas who stumbled across an "abandoned" billboard. He did his due diligence to try to find the original owner, but none could be found. It was already "grandfathered" by the DOP, so they permitted him to claim it, and he started cashflowing almost immediately (it was in a prime location, and lots of fast-food franchises wanted it for their advertising).

Another story from Dolf de Roos was of an old abandoned rope factory, located right off of the freeway, that no one could figure out what to do with. Because it was a rope factory it was a very long, odd-shaped building. So they bought the air rights above the building and set up a series of billboards....$$$.

If I would have had better connections with investors 18 months ago, I would have applied my efforts to billboards and real estate. But now my focus is my research business. Hope this helps. :)
 

CarrieW

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I had a customer who was in billboards it was terry steen. phlgirl im sure has seen his signs all around her area.(they say steen in a blue oval on the bottom of his boards) he owns hundreds if not thousands of billboards around pa and nj and de. he is a very very rich man.

he has everything done in house. on empty billboards he puts advertise here signs with his contact info. he has in house people who do the maintenence on the signs(lighting changing signs ect)as far as the ads themselves usually they are purchased by the customer(their design) thru his business. all it is (unless electronic) is a huge banner thats lighted at night...steens boards dont glue they hang and are tied down on all sides...im sure theres still old old school ones that are painted on....

he was such a miserable old fart or I would have pursued finding out more info from him!

I actually live on a highway. the lady we are renting from wants us to buy the house. Id have a billboard in my front yard if I could!(if we do buy the property I am def looking into it. another thought that has crossed my mind is cell phone towers they do very long leases from 30-99 yrs!)
 

MJ DeMarco

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Arte Moreno is one of the richest guys in Phoenix (owns the MLB team the Angels) made much of his fortune in Billboards.
 

phlgirl

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I know very little about the billboard business but my first condo was in center city and positioned directly adjacent to a major bridge, which crosses over from PA to NJ. Our condo association was approached by a company who wanted to advertise, via billboard, on the rooftop of our building.

As a condo we loved it.....we didn't use the roof for anything else (other than viewing fireworks from time to time!) and the income it produced meant that our own, individual, condo fees were lower.
 

CarrieW

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yeah in philly theres tons of billboards. (most owned by steen lol) almost every building that overlooks 95 has that side painted with some type of advertising. as well as billboards on roofs all along 95!

Id say as an investment it would be very lucritive. esp when more and more they are becomming electronic and or 3d... I certianly wouldnt mind being a steen hier thats for sure!
 

randallg99

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I had a customer who was in billboards it was terry steen. phlgirl im sure has seen his signs all around her area.(they say steen in a blue oval on the bottom of his boards) he owns hundreds if not thousands of billboards around pa and nj and de. he is a very very rich man.

My parents used to be friendly with Terry Steen... I think he moved away and/or his wife died and the relationship just dissipated... from what I have heard, they had a pretty unique home.

what kind of business are/were you in that catered to Terry?

by the way, billboards are associated with "litter" thus have become taboo and politicians do anything to squash any possibility of road signs...
 

CarrieW

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I used to sell hardwood floors.(company called windowizards...well that was a small part of my job anyway I actually did everything else too) He was one of my bosses customers who I had to deal with on several occasions. He was mean! I had no idea who he was at all. He came in on my bosses day off and wanted to know about his order but refused to give me his name!

his wife was an awesome lady. I actually almost had him removed from the store. after I yelled at him for yelling at me and being rude he yelled back at me and his wife told him to knock it off and stop harrassing me! He was screaming at me becuase I couldnt find his order without his name!

once he told me who he was I found their order. and on monday when my boss came in I was informed who terry steen was. I was like I dont care how rich he is hes a d*ck!

he sent me (most likely his wife did) flowers and a note to apoligise after the fact...my boss gave him a hard time about how he treated me LOL>

small world egh!
 

LightHouse

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You have most of the general information already here. Most billboard companies do the signage in house via grand format printers. then get their techs to install it onsite. Insurance is high as well as legal. As someone mentioned permits and political issues are hindering factors. they are viewed as unsightly and getting permits for anythnig these days is already tough.
 

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TheGreatBear

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Nice, thanks for all the feedback.
Btw, most of the ads on billboards I see are stupid. Some steel widget, or "aluminum wholesale"... I mean, does anyone who passes them actually remember to buy from them? I mean... it's a specialized need, it's unlikely someone would drive on the highway and see a billboard for steel widgets and buy buy buy :p.
 

CarrieW

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most of the signs i see are for businesses... as you get towards jersey shore you see all signs for the casinos or stores on the boardwalks.
when your driving up 95 theres about 100 signs for south of the border.(north and south from pa to ga)

and every time you come to an exit or near an exit you see signs for mcd's and all the other fast food places and reastraunts and which way to turn and how many miles ect....

ive seen mtg signs and we buy houses for cash. theres one on 95 in pa for chick filet that had a cow hanging off it lmao...

most all the signs I see are in reguards to the businesses in the area. and obviously they work or people wouldnt use them...

idk personally I LOVE billboards! I read every single one that I can! and personally I have taken numbers off of them and called...

what they count on is the sheer number of people who drive by it. you may not buy a widget that day but if its a memorable sign and you all of a sudden find yourself in need of a widget your wracking your brain to remember the name on the billboard you saw once upon a time... and chances are if 100,000 or more people drive past it everyday someone is going to be in need of a widget eventually!
 

BEAR

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I don't know a whole lot about billboards but I do know that one of my competitors has a very large billboard on one of the main highways, he pays $K/month, that includes the art and printing fees though.

I also have a friend that lives just off a major freeway and has a billboard on his property, he receives $300/month from the company that owns it.
 

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