Milwaukee residents know the best local places for a burger and a beer.  High on that list is Café Hollander in the Tosa Village.  Constructed of exposed neon, the restaurant’s building sign is very recognizable.  The exposed neon adds a nostalgic, culture and European feel, which blends well with the architecture of the surrounding buildings and maintains the brand image well.

GOOD DESIGN

The intense brightness of the neon acts like a beacon!  The position of this 6’ diameter sign also helps make it work for them.  It’s mounted 50’ high on a wall that runs perpendicular to a heavily traveled road.   It takes motorists only seconds to figure out this is Café Hollander and where it’s located.

Upkeep of the sign is a key to maintaining brand credibility.  Café Hollander owners are aware of how important it is to maintain their image.  They know the effect of neglecting it because it directly impacts their revenue.  A poorly lit sign or a sign in disrepair can turn away customers, which has an obvious negative effect on sales.

THE CHALLENGE

Potential problems with neon are high voltage, which means higher power consumption and it can be unsafe because it’s hard to control.  Glass and high voltage in an exterior environment can be tricky. It’s a challenge to contain high voltage electricity in an outdoor application.  We use high-quality products specifically designed for wet, exterior environments.  But even the best components on the market can’t compete with Mother Nature and the effects of UV, rain, sleet, snow and ice.  It’s similar to what a boxer goes through in back-to-back multiple-round heavy-weight matches! 1-2 punches coming from U.V. and summer heat, then -30 degree temperature thermal cycles.

You can get 5 to 7 years out of most components of your sign.  After several years, you can expect to have to do some kind of repair on your sign but in many cases it happens earlier.  In the case of your car, even though you may have a 100k mile warranty, you still have to change the oil every 3k miles.  Signs are the same, you’ll get more out of your sign if you maintain it and repair it at the time it needs the repair.

We don’t wait for a tire on our car to blow out before we replace it.  Watch the signs of wear and tear.  This is another tricky area…on exterior signage, not all of the wear and tear is visible.  You can’t see the transformer on the inside of the sign.  They do have a life cycle.  We should think about replacing power supplies every 5 years, or at least expect it.

RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)

What does it take to service a sign like Café Hollander’s?  We block off several city roads and send out a minimum crew of 3: a certified crane operator, a signal man to communicate between the service tech and the crane operator and the service technician.

They recognize the importance of maintaining their original investment.  It costs money to make money!  And sign maintenance is one of the best areas to reinvest because you already have the initial investment costs behind you.

What are the repercussions if you don’t service your exterior sign?  Look at the ROI.  Your business revenue will drop off over time if your sign isn’t functioning properly. For example, it might cost $3k to fix a neon sign like the one at Cafe Hollander.  If that covers a term of three years, you spread $3k over 36 months.  The $83 a month would be covered by either retaining or increased revenue.

From an ROI perspective you can’t afford not to repair your sign.  We’re not giving a life insurance pitch, it’s an investment in your business that you CAN expect an ROI from.

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