Archive for the ‘buy a billboard’ Category

Succeeding With Outdoor Billboards

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I am often asked what are the secrets to success when investing in outdoor billboards. This is a two-fold answer. First, remember the rule of twenty. Next, focus all your efforts on finding the correct location.

The Rule of Twenty
If you want to be successful in the billboard business, you only have to remember the rule of twenty. This number is essential for three key reasons:

1. Never offer more than twenty (20) percent of the gross revenue. Many novices offer the landowner a much higher amount, like 30% or 40% to get the deal, only to find that they never make any money with it, and can’t even sell it because other companies won’t touch a lease much over 20%. Do anything to get the deal signed without going over 20%; you are much better off giving the landowner a signing bonus rather than an extra 10%.
2. Never want to build or buy a sign that offers you an immediate return of less than a 20% cap rate. This cap rate is the minimum amount you should expect as compensation for your efforts. For instance, your sign can be obliterated with an obstruction, blown down in a storm, or your ground lease cancelled. You need to get a high level of compensation for all the time, effort and risk of operating a billboard.
3. Do not build a billboard with a life expectancy that is less than 20 years. When dealing with landowners, offer a 10 year lease with an additional 10 year option. If you build a billboard that will come down within 10 years, you have only achieved maybe three years of profitability, and that’s not nearly enough to compensate you for your efforts.

What happens if your deal comes up short in any of these three areas? Do everything to get it under contract anyway. Get every ground lease under contract! After all, you can still flip a bad lease to a competitor for a lot of money. Even bad billboard leases are rare.

Location Matters
Aside from the rule of twenty, there is only one real essential rule to making money in the billboard business that overshadows all of the others. And that is that 99.9% of making money in billboards is finding legal locations.

The key to making money is to find legal locations. If you never build a single billboard in your lifetime, you can make a very comfortable income just flipping billboard leases and permits. I know people who have made a fortune doing just that, without ever risking a penny of capital themselves, and often just as a part-time interest.

With just these few tips, you are already in a much better position to succeed than others. It’s time to take action now that you know these insider secrets.

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 and is now sharing his expertise to anyone interested in getting involved with outdoor billboards.

Rolfe is the author of the Billboard Home Study Course, which teaches you the secrets of investing in . For more information, go to .

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