RV Park Mastery: Episode 18

Signs, Signs, Everywhere A Sign

The 1970s brought us many classic rock anthems including “Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign” – but I’m sure the writers of the song never thought of it’s apt description in RV parks. In this episode of the RV Park Mastery podcast, we’re going to drill down on proper signage in RV parks including what it is, where to get it, and how to keep the cost low. From property appearance to proper marketing, every RV park owner needs to know about signs.

Episode 18: Signs, Signs, Everywhere A Sign Transcript

A popular song of the 1970s was signs, signs, everywhere a sign. This is Frank Rolfe, the RV Park Mastery Podcast. It's as true with the RV park industry as it was with the music scene of the 1970s. Signs are a very, very important part of what we have going on in any property. And they're very, very inexpensive to have done properly if you only know what you're doing.

Let's start off with your entry sign. Now, how do you build a good entry sign to your RV park? How do you put people off on the right foot that this is a good quality property to stay at? Well, one of the best ways to build a good RV park entry sign is using a very simple technology of white vinyl posts. The very same post they use on white vinyl fencing, these posts can be purchased, which don't have the slots in them for the fencing. And you can buy a little white vinyl cap to go on the top.

You sink two 4x4 wooden posts in the ground and concrete those in. You slip the 4x4 white vinyl covers over those posts with the tops on them, and then you put your sign in between them. That sign in between can be made out of simply aluminum in any color you choose with white vinyl lettering or any other color lettering you want on it. That can all be built by Fastsigns. And what you end up with is a very, very hearty, nearly indestructible sign that looks fantastic. You could also tie that to white vinyl fencing at your entry to give it that extra additional pizzazz. And now you've got an entry which looks stupendous, but does not cost very much money.

Now, how big a sign should you build? Well, let's start off with what the regulations are. If you're in a city or a county, they may have their own ideas of how big you can go. If there are no regulations on it, then you're probably going to want to go no larger than the standard size of those aluminum sheets, which come in either 4x8 or 5x10 in size. And in most application, that's plenty big.

Let's move on to the signage inside your property. What do you do there? Well, you repeat, so you have consistency, 4x4 wooden posts concreted into the ground, sleeved with white vinyl PVC with a matching white vinyl PVC cap that matches right to your entry sign. You can place these throughout the property, and then you can screw into that post whatever you want: speed limit signs, children at play, directional to where the office is, whatever you want to do. Take all that old angle iron, all that old ugly stuff that mom and pop have in there and just throw it all in the trash. There's no reason to suffer through that. You can build a 4x4 post sleeved with white vinyl PVC for under $100. Those signs only cost roughly $50 brand new. As a result, you can replace all of your faded, distressed, worn out, rusted, hideous signage in any RV park at not that much money. And the great part is you never have to paint it, so it just basically lasts forever, which is terrific.

Also, you may want to identify each lot in the RV park. One of the best ways to do it, well, you guessed it, 4x4 wooden posts cemented in the ground, sleeved in white PVC with matching white PVC cap. And then you can have a little plaque made numbered for each lot. It's not hard. How many lots do you have? 80? Well, then have 80 of these little numbered blanks made. Typically, you want to make the background, the aluminum on that, again, to match your entry sign with the same color lettering as your entry sign. And now, everything's all tied together. Looks very, very professional to people.

Now, what about flags? Flags are another part of a signage program. Although they're not truly a sign, unless you put words on them. Nevertheless, they gather attention and they blend in well with your signage program. So what do you do there? Well, you can go online and buy from any number of sources what are called feather flags. These are vertical flags that stay furled at all times. The problem with normal flags are without any wind, all you see is a post what looks like someone's hanging their laundry on it. But these vertical feather flags, they look terrific even when there's no wind at all. You can buy those online, typically, for a couple hundred dollars a flag. They're very hearty, they last long periods of time. Again, I would tie the colors together. I would have either a pattern of different colors that goes throughout the community or the same color. But when you add those feather flags to that entry, with that sign, now you've really got something that looks very, very professional to people and garners a lot of attention.

And let's also not forget banners. If you happen to put in that white vinyl fencing across the front, three rail, four rail, whatever you choose, we prefer three rail, now you have a canvas that you can put banners on. So you can put anything you want, special rate, an amenity, whatever you want. But now you've got an advertising source that costs you nothing more than having that banner printed. And then you can furl and unfurl that anytime you want. And that, again, leads to the whole marketing ability your entry. Now, you're reaching traffic going down the street, you're letting them know the RV park is there. You're maybe putting something up on the banner regarding a special, new amenity, whatever the case may be. Keeps it looking very fresh, very active, very attractive to that new customer.

And what about signs outside the RV park? Many RV parks like to use billboards as part of their marketing. Maybe to reinforce people that the exit is approaching. Be able to reinforce people who maybe didn't preplan that much ahead that, "Hey, we exist. And we're just up here, just exit shortly." How do you do that? Well, in those cases, you may have to go out there and rent the billboard from a billboard company, or in some cases you can build your own.

Now, there's a thing throughout America called the Highway Beautification Act, which limits what you can put on roads and highways in America, it limits the spacing and the sizes between them. But many times, RV park owners go out there and they just kind of ask for forgiveness rather than permission. And they will erect signs that let people know how to get to the RV park, maybe not in exact compliance with some of those state or federal laws. I'm not urging you to do that or not, but I am urging you to look into the possibilities of what you can do to direct traffic to your RV park. Things that I've seen people do is I've seen them put up, for example, signs on the side of an 18 wheeler and conveniently park that in just the right location that's visible from the highway.

And if you're looking at possibly advertising on a billboard, here's how that works. Talk to all the local billboard companies. See what they have as offerings. Typically, you'll want something, if possible, that is lighted, because you're trying to reach customers at the end of the day to come in, and in the winter, we all know it gets dark kind of early. Lighted sign would be best. As far as the information on it, most billboard companies can create copy that is pretty good. But bear in mind that, today, all signs are printed and that means you can use pictures. And the best signs are ones that have not only the words telling about your RV park and where to exit, but also show maybe the best scenes.

So take a picture that's very, very compelling, that people say, "Ooh, I want to stay there, because I like the looks of that." Maybe that's a view from your lake, maybe that's a view from some scenic wonder that's nearby, whatever the case may be. But if you need to rent a billboard, then rent a billboard. If that's your option, then you can go with that option if that works for you. But again, signs are very important, because you reach all that traffic on the highway. RV being pulled behind it, doesn't know where to go, and this gives you a chance to get them there.

Also, consider bandit signs. Bandit signs are signs that really are not allowed under any code, city, county, federal, but people do them anyway. It's a sign that basically effectively tells people more specifically how to get to your property. A bandit sign, for example, might be at the exit off the highway. Let's assume you've even got a sign that says RV park exit. And then, it's a sign that pushes in the ground, typically made of metal, you can have them made at Fastsigns, and they might give you, with arrows, more granular information of where the RV park is. Lot of people when they get off at the exit they're somewhat confused. Do I go straight? Do I go left? Do I go right? These bandit signs help you guide them in. And in this manner, they more than pay for themselves, because they're not that expensive to have built. And they can often last a long time unless someone steals them.

Another item you can do on signage off property is try and get on those logo sign programs, typically administered by Lamar billboard company. You've seen these things on the interstate as you're approaching the exit, it'll show you what's at that exit. Not a bad idea to have your RV park on that board is listed in one of the items at that exit. Those are not typically that expensive, it might cost you $50 to $100 a month. And if you really think about it, you don't have to draw on that many customers from that sign to be effective. It also reinforces customers who are already looking for you, but maybe they're a little nervous, "Is this the exit or is this not the exit?" It's very, very good to give them that additional reassurance that, "Yes, this is the exit. Go ahead and exit now."

The bottom line is that signs are a very important part of the RV park industry. But the other good news is they're not that expensive, they're not that hard to maintain. And really, if you look, dollar for dollar for the impact, then really every RV park should have signs, signs, everywhere a sign. This is Frank Rolfe, the RV Park Mastery Podcast. Hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.