If you have read my other posts on how to buy signs you already understand the value of signage and know that a well-designed and professionally fabricated sign is an essential piece to the success of your business.
This can be a bit of a catch 22 for many businesses. You need a sign to generate business but you do not yet have enough business to buy a sign. This is where financing can come to the rescue and allow you to purchase a sign that will make your business appear established from day one.
The best option for financing is to include your signage into start-up or expansion financing along with other improvements and equipment. In fact, many SBA loans will look for this and want to make sure that you have a plan in place for signage before approving the loan. Start with a sign budget larger than you think you will need since it’s a lot easier to spend less than you need instead of going back for approval on a larger amount. An SBA 7a loan for equipment is typically a ten-year loan and you can usually ask for a startup period with interest only payments which will help bridge the gap until cash flow becomes positive. Always double check but 10-year loans will not usually have pre-payment penalties. SBA microloans are for amounts of $50, 000 and under and come with higher interest rates but lower up-front fees and are easier to qualify for. If you are starting a new business be prepared with a good business plan to show you are well prepared!
You can also lease your sign with a program that offers a low buyout in the end. Interest rates will vary greatly depending on how long you have been in business and your credit. Leases can usually be approved very quickly and easily but since you are paying on a lease schedule, paying it off early has little advantage. Some sign companies offer in house financing which is can be a good thing but you may also find out that you paid quite a bit more for your sign than you should have, make sure to work with a reputable company and ask for referrals. Other sign shops (like us) will work with a lender and help you to get connected and provide all the necessary information for smooth approval.
Get pre-approved! Heading into a sign shop with pre-approved financing will get you some VIP attention since it is obvious you are ready and able to make a purchase. This will also give you some bargaining power when it comes down to price.
Finally, be careful about timing. When applying for loans or leases ask them when they will need to do a hard credit check. You will want to make sure those credit checks all take place in a short amount of time so your credit appears good to all the lenders.