By Frank Rolfe
Even though you pass by outdoor billboards every day, if you’re like most people, you probably never think much about them. However, did you know that those same billboards could change your life? If you own just a few billboards, you might be collecting checks in the mail every month rather than worrying about how to pay the bills next month. And starting an outdoor billboard business is not as hard to do as you think.
The billboard business is a very easy business model. The primary goal is secure the rights to build and operate the sign from the land owner. You pay the land owner rent to use his space. Then, you build the sign and rent the billboard to an advertiser. After paying a few bills, you keep the difference. The “difference” is where your fortune lies. It can range from a few thousand dollars per year to over $100,000 per sign.
Although most of the prime locations in the major metropolitan cities have been gobbled up, there is still significant opportunity in the outdoor advertising industry. Every time a property is rezoned, or a highway built, there may be a new opportunity to introduce a billboard. I also look for opportunity outside the city or underperforming signs in the big cities.
Here’s another secret industry insiders don’t want you to know. One of the best opportunities right now is small wooden billboards in smaller to mid-size cities. You can generally build these billboards for $4,000 to $8,000. They should cash flow about $3,000 per year each. If you owned just four of these signs, you’d have an extra $1,000 per month in your pocket. Ten would give you $30,000 in additional cash flow. There are some individuals out there that have 100 signs or more, yielding over $300,000 in cash flow per year!
Is it hard to break into this industry? Not really! The billboard business is a game of strategy, not of who has the biggest checking account. It’s also a business in which the big, public companies have no advantage over the individual. There are no scale issues or barrier to entry. In fact, often the small guy has a distinct advantage over the big company, as the small guy can move faster in negotiations and may bond with the land owner better.
The billboard business is something that can easily be done in the evenings or even just on the weekends. This isn’t meant to be a full-time job as it is not really time intensive. When you build a sign, you do it once. When you rent the advertising space on a sign, you only do that one time per year. It’s a business that revolves around thought and strategy, and not a whole lot of time in the field. Many people manage their billboard empire by putting in only a couple hours a week.
The billboard business is very enjoyable and rewarding. It is a true win/win business because you help advertisers sell their goods and services, and at the same time, help land owners maximize their income from their property. If you don’t enjoy sitting at a desk for hours on end, this is the perfect business for you. It requires that you get out of the office and into the field.
Your spare time, properly focused, can yield great financial and satisfaction rewards through outdoor billboards. Just a hand full of these things can dramatically change your life for the better. So don’t ignore those billboards you see along the highways every day. Instead, think about how this business can change your life. You’ll be glad you did.
About Frank Rolfe
Frank Rolfe became the one of the largest private billboard operators in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. He eventually sold his billboard empire to a public company 14 years later. Rolfe is sharing his expertise to anyone interested in getting involved with outdoor billboards. He is the author of the book, “Big Bucks from Big Signs”, which contains everything you need to know in order to get started.