Bandit signs are a simple and effective method of advertising for real estate investors.
It is a top marketing strategy to find both motivated sellers and cash buyers. There is much to be learned by having a system that will separate you from the competition.
If you implement what you learn here in this guide you will distinguish yourself from the novice to that of the top real estate investors that achieve long term success.
A smart marketer will consider all factors of a marketing campaign. As a real estate wholesaler you must test, track and modify your results to maximize your results and increase profits.
The smart marketer does not just haphazardly post scattered signs around town and hope for the phone to ring, we have a system ensuring our signs go out each and every week in strategic areas and all without our involvement.
The objective of this article is to help you build a successful bandit sign system and how to implement to generate leads for your real estate business.
- Target good Locations
- Plan your routes
- Outsource to a reliable assistant, team member, intern, part time help, friend, neighbor anybody other then YOU
Lets start from the beginning…What are Bandit Signs?
I am sure you have seen them before even if you are new to real estate investing. You probably have noticed the mini billboards around town on telephone poles or posted on sign stakes. They are usually made of corrugated plastic with some type of message like “We Buy Houses”, “Avoid Foreclosure”, Sell Your House Fast”.
When bandit signs are placed in the right areas they can be a great lead generation tool. A sign placed in a highly visible and high traffic area can put you in front of a distressed seller prompting them to contact you.
Bandit sign prospects are great because they already qualify for some level of motivation, they have a need. It’s also a non-invasive marketing method, unlike cold calling, door knocking, or direct mail and can be done at little cost.
The Good and Bad
- Fast way to generate leads vs. They violate town codes and ordinances (you could get fined)
- Prospects are motivated vs. Signs get removed easily and need to be replaced often
- Cheap to purchase vs. Need to have a system that monitors the fulfillment
Why are they called Bandit signs?
The term Bandit refers to the cat and mouse game that investors play with the “Sign Police” or town officials. As I mentioned above most municipalities do not permit signs as they are a violation of city code, when placed on “public property”.
I have to tell you to check with your town official before posting but in my experience all towns have ordinances against bandit signs.
There are ways to avoid detection, but it is important to remember they will act on complaints, so be reasonable about how you distribute and the extent to which you are posting signs.
Some towns will enforce the code very strictly others just don’t pay attention to it as long as you do not get obnoxious.
There are risks, but many investors have found the reward of abundant seller leads and potential deals far outweighs the penalties.
For the reasons above I recommend that you DO NOT personalize your signs. Do not use your office number, house phone, personal cell phone, personal email anything that can directly link back to you or your company.
TIPS on remaining anonymous:
- Get a prepaid phone like Trac Phone at Walmart or Target and add minutes
- Set up Google Gmail under a pseudonym
- Activate the phone via the pseudonym account you just set up
- Then link Google Voice to the prepaid phone
If you do get a call from a town official, be polite, let them know you are just an answering service and will forward the message to the owner and let them know they signs will be removed immediately. I suggest you comply and move away from that town for some time.
Tips: Ways To Avoid Sign Police
- Find residents or business owners in good locations that will agree to a referral fee for any deal the signs generate or possibly pay them a flat monthly fee for keeping the sign on private property
- Post the signs on vacant or abandoned property
- Ask a family member or friend that lives in a good location if they would let you post the sign in their yard
- Posts the signs on a Friday afternoon and take them down Sunday night. Town officials don’t work on weekends
- Have the homeless guy at the entrance ramp collecting change all day, stake the sign in his shopping cart and pay the guy or buy him dinner or something, (I have actually seen investors do this) Its definitely out there but I cant fault anybody for getting creative with marketing, you never know where a lead comes from next.
When it comes time to take the lead, you can have the calls forwarded to your voicemail that you set up with google voice. Not taking the call live will allow you to screen the call.
Also it sets up one more layer of anonymity when you call back the prospect. Let them know you were referred by someone that said you had a house for sale.
Hello Mr. Seller, My name is Joe. I don’t have much information on this but I was referred to you about a house that you might have for sale. Is that correct? I am a buyer, how can I help you?
By stating you have gotten a referral does not link you to your bandit sign, and there is no law against getting referred a lead and also no connection of ownership to the sign.
AGAIN…. I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS - YOU ARE AWARE OF THE RISKS AND DO SO AT YOUR OWN EXPENSE, I CAN NOT SAY THIS ENOUGH, SO KNOW YOU LOCAL CODES.
But really you may never get a call, so test it out small first and see what results you get from different areas.
If you get a call from an inspector comply and take the signs so you don’t get on their bad side. The last thing you want is somebody in the town trying to making an example out of you.
Another reason if you plan on doing rehabs, you definitely don’t want to be on the bad side of inspectors…they can make a 3rd world dictator seem reasonable.
Set Your Budget
As I said with all marketing start small and test it out.
If it brings positive results and looks worth investing some more dollars, then you can scale it up. Remember to track all your numbers and response rates as this will give you the data needed to determine if the cost of the campaign and results will justify a bigger investment.
It only takes one deal that will pay for the entire campaign and a nice profit too.
Buying your Supplies
For your first order get between 100-250 signs, buying in bulk cuts costs and also order stakes to place in the ground.
Signs are best placed as high up on telephone poles as possible. This makes more visible and also more difficult for competitors and pissed off neighbors to take down. Yard signs should only be used when there is not a pole available. Buy 1 stake for every 3 signs you order.
You can make a sign stapler if you are on a budget here is a guide that shows you how for under $20: http://www.realpurposeinvesting.com/real-estate-investing/build-sign-stapler
or you can purchase them online:
Target your Locations
You will want to target areas where there are distressed sellers and distressed properties. You will have better response rates in neighborhoods where homes need work.
My experience has been that this method of marketing is best used in median and below median price home ranges, blue collar working class neighborhoods. Do not expect a favorable response in an upscale subdivision, and it is likely the signs will generate multiple complaints prompting a call from the sign police.
Where to place?
The best place is at busy intersections with traffic stops. Busy intersections will garner more visibility. High traffic = more potential.
Highway on off ramps are prime areas to consider, along with busy roads. Commuter Parking lots and shopping center entrances to building supply houses, like Lowes, Home Depot, malls, plazas etc can also be an option when considering your bandit sign route.
Don’t place multiple signs directly across the street facing one another, stagger them apart spacing at least a ¼ mile.
Once you begin to get some properties under your belt you can now place the signs on your rehab or wholesale properties. The signs placed on your investment property will bring attention, and will let people in the neighborhood know you are an investor.
Here are a few Locations to consider:
- Major intersections
- Main Roads and high traffic zones
- Highway exit & on ramps
- Busy parking lots (home improvement & grocery stores)
- your rehabs or wholesale properties
- front yards of family and friends house
- local business owners who are agreeable to having sign placed on property
Creating your Route
To have a successful campaign it must be systemized and you must follow a plan. If the signs get placed sporadically you will get poor results. Creating route maps and setting up a weekly rotation is key to outsourcing this marketing. I like to have at least 4-6 routes with about 15-25 signs per route depending on the size of the area.
There are a couple different software programs available to help you set up your routes. I use Microsoft Streets and Trips.
It can be purchased here:
You can also use Google Maps to create your routes its free and works perfectly fine.
As you can see doing this properly is quite involved and requires constant maintenance. Trust me if you leave this up to yourself to fulfill this system it will fall by the wayside.
The solution is to hire someone ASAP that is reliable and wont need to be micro managed.
It’s a great job for a intern, retiree, or someone looking for part time work. It is important that you do the routes a couple times so you know what to expect when it comes time to train someone.
I usually will post to general help wanted on Craigslist. Here is the exact copy I use to hire driver.
Driver Wanted (New Haven Area) Compensation: $12 hour plus gas expenses
Real Estate company needs someone to work 5-10 hours a week posting signs. Looking for someone reliable and who feels comfortable driving around and getting out of car to put signs on poles and in the ground.
Hours/routes can be increased along if proven reliable.
- $12hr +gas expenses covered
- MUST have car and valid drivers license and insurance
- MUST own a smart phone with camera to take pictures
- Great part time job
- Start immediately If interested reply to this email and we will forward an application.
Lastly, once you have done this a couple times and made your first hire, you are well on your way to creating a foundational marketing system for your business.
Keep it up and remember that consistency is the key to success. You will thank me for it when you cash those checks on the next deal.
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To Your Success, JB