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What Do Your Signs Say About Your Shop?


Signs are everywhere. Some communicate their message effectively, while others fall flat – and some are just downright confusing.


The Five Man Electrical Band sang in 1971: “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind. Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”

Comedian Bill Engvall’s video “Here’s Your Sign” referenced the topic as well, and there is something about a sign that causes us to take note of its message, for better or for worse.

  • What type of customer would this sign draw?
  • Is your shop signage sending the message that you want?

Do your signs look fresh? Does any element of the sign require attention or does it have peeled paint, or faded or cracked vinyl? Is your sign legible from the roadway while potential customers drive by at high speeds? Poorly maintained signs may send a message that your shop doesn’t really care about the details – and you know just how important the little details are when you repair a vehicle!


When a customer, vendor or tow truck pulls into your driveway, is there directional signage pointing them to where you want them to park?

Your sign needs to communicate its message clearly. In doing so, it becomes a simple and effective communication tool.

Primary Purpose

When we think of signage around our shops, our focus typically goes to (and then stops at) the primary sign used to identify your shop. But think for a moment about how many signs you actually have around your business. From the acceptable credit card sign or the exit above your door, you are displaying a lot of information.


Step one: Avoid clutter. It is important to develop your brand to stand alone, and then you can weave the program group and supporting brands of companies you work with into your shop’s identity.

In my marketing classes, we talk about a number of branding failures, then illustrate the success stories of shops we’ve worked with throughout the years.

You don’t have to be a national brand to look like one. Nealey’s Auto Service in Maryland and Garry’s Automotive in Boise, Idaho, have very clean brand imaging, and you’ll notice that Garry’s leverages its relationship as a NAPA Auto Care Center as its main sign. Garry’s Automotive is the primary brand which is supported by the NAPA Auto Care Center brand.

Garry's Automotive Boise Idaho good signage

Remember, your shop’s sign should be clear and highly visible to current and potential customers from the roadway at posted highway speeds. Check out the U.S. Sign Council (usscfoundation.org) for tips and best practices regarding color combinations and character sizes for the best legibility.

Developing a ‘Lot Plan’

Of course, just having the right signs won’t help if they’re not in the most advantageous location. Creating a lot plan – a layout of your buildings, walkways and parking spaces on a piece of paper – is a good first step. On the plan, you’ll see dedicated placement for customer and employee parking, and drop-off areas for customer vehicles and parts. Having directional signage to guide your customers to a designated drop-off spot goes a long way toward alleviating any confusion when they first arrive at your shop.


Look at your entire shop from your customer’s point of view – what are they seeing? For a list of the signs you should evaluate and why you need to evaluate them, click here to read the full article from our sister brand, Shop Owner.

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