Industry Insights: With a Little Help from Our Friends

Franchises are a growing aspect of the on-premise sign and visual communications industry. They provide many benefits and resources to those wishing to open a new sign or print shop.

I wanted to explain how the International Sign Association works with franchisees and franchisors at the national and local levels—all with one goal in mind: to help our industry and our individual businesses succeed.

ISA and our state-affiliated associations work together in ways that are similar to the franchisor/franchisee relationship. Those who join an Affiliated Association not only can connect at the local level, but they also receive automatic membership in ISA.

Together, we help our members fight unreasonable sign codes, and we’ve been successful at influencing and assisting communities as they develop new codes. A few months ago, the town planners in Frenchtown Township, MI, contacted the Midwest Sign Association asking for help as it developed new sign codes. ISA was able to provide a 60-minute workshop and another 90-minute work session on sign technology, legal concerns, and shortcomings of the current regulations.

We also participated in the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission Roundtable earlier this year, discussing the economic boost that businesses receive through signage. At that event, attendees received a copy of “Finding Common Ground,” an ISA publication that helps city officials regulate electronic message centers in a way that benefits both the community and its businesses.

ISA’s government relations team takes dozens of trips like these each year. Sometimes it is to bring an expertise related to a specific project, such as a sign code variance, or to influence sign codes that will have an impact on the business community. Other times, it is to provide education to city leaders and planners through accredited training programs. Because we work across the country, we have a good understanding of the issues that will come up, and we’ve developed the resources to help.

We are not always needed on site. Our website includes resources, including a model sign code that communities can adapt to suit their needs.

We also partner with the Signage Foundation Inc. to study areas of importance to our industry. The SFI website includes research that can help when an issue arises. For instance, someone may assert that signage—particularly electronic message centers—are a distraction for drivers. Research completed by Texas A&M University has found that there is no relationship between EMCs and traffic accidents.

Perhaps a new business in the community wants to save a few dollars and skip a comprehensive signage program. The Economic Value of Signage studies can show how signage can positively enhance a business’ bottom line.

SFI will be releasing a new study that explores temporary signage—which can be heavily regulated. We expect that the study will show the value of this signage and help communities understand the role temporary signage plays to business.

ISA also works with other organizations, such as the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the International Franchise Association, and the National Retail Federation. Often, our interests overlap. Just as the sign association is stronger because of the many voices, working with these organizations brings an even bigger voice to issues that affect us all.

None of this would be possible without the input and assistance of our members. ISA and our Affiliated Associations rely on our membership to be involved at the grassroots level, to bring issues to our attention, and to participate through volunteering.

ISA, our Affiliated Associations, and the Signage Foundation work together with our members to advocate on behalf of signage—which we all understand is an important component of a business’ success. As all of us work together, we grow the sign industry and our individual businesses. More importantly, we make a positive impact on our communities and the businesses that we serve.