3 Ways to Finance Your Next Billboard

As a Billboard Operator your job is hard enough…

  • Finding the perfect site
  • Securing the permitting
  • Making sure the traffic count is plentiful 
  • Double-checking retail density in the surrounding area
  • Negotiating long-term land leases

You’d think after having all these steps in place for the perfect billboard- securing financing would be the easiest phase.  However, banks seem to think you’re speaking a foreign language whenever you pitch them your amazing proposal.  

Why?

From the bank’s perspective, due to the small size of the billboard industry, it is not uncommon for a lender to have never seen an opportunity come across their desk.  Due to the limited amount of billboard lending experience, many commercial lenders have minimal market value knowledge, and there is confusion about how to document, or underwrite, these loans.  Instead of taking the time to educate themselves on the market, many lenders simply pass on your request. 

With the majority of local banks passing on billboard deals, many operators are forced to become creative on how to push their proposals into fruition.

The following article is intended to outline 3 common ways to secure billboard financing:

 

#1: Educating Local Banks

Cheapest Money Possible: ~5.5-7% Interest*
*Results may vary depending on the lender.


The lowest rate you’ll be able to find is through a bank lender that is open to learning the billboard industry.  Although the majority of operators don’t have luck with this option- it is possible if you have established a good relationship with a lender. 

If you’re interested in putting yourself in a good position to get bank financing, we suggest:

  • Getting to know your local bank lenders before you need them
  • Establishing multiple relationships
  • Getting a valuation done from an Industry-Expert

Although it is possible to get a commercial loan from a bank, the majority of operators have to look elsewhere.

#2: Specialty Non-Bank Lenders

Quicker Alternative: ~7-12% Interest*
*Rates may vary depending on personal credit and business history.  Additional fees may also be included.

If you want to accelerate the process of obtaining a commercial loan for your billboard- there are a handful of niche lenders who have invested the time to understand the billboard industry and are able to provide financial solutions to operators. 

Their expertise does cost more; however, these lenders may be a great alternative due to the quick availability of funds and a thorough understanding of the industry.  A good specialty lender will work with you to ensure that your project, and their money, will be profitable.

Although this money does come at a higher cost, these niche lenders have built their business model to ensure profitable opportunities have a way to get funded.  As most operators know, an average billboard is worth ~3x the amount it cost to build it.  Even though specialty lenders charge a higher rate for their money, the value created by completing the project far exceeds the cost of the financing.

Some projects require more flexibility than a commercial loan structure can provide.  For these projects a private equity partner might be the best solution.

#3: Private Equity

Most Flexible Alternative: Percentage of Ownership in Business*
*Percentages vary dependent upon deal structured. 

Depending on your experience in the industry and the complexity of your project, some specialty lenders or non-bank finance companies may propose an equity deal in exchange for providing funding.  In addition to institutional investors, some operators seek out individuals (family/friends) for private equity funding.

With private equity funding, the repayment terms are typically much more flexible than traditional commercial loans.  Payments may be delayed until there is sufficient cash flow, unlike commercial loans where payments typically start as soon as the loan is made.  In exchange, the investor takes a percentage of ownership in the company or assets.  While this type of deal structure provides maximum flexibility, the value of the equity given in exchange can be much more significant than the interest cost under a loan structure.   

Conclusion

Due to the niche nature of the billboard industry, many operators find themselves struggling to obtain local bank financing.  With this noticeable gap, many operators rely on specialty lenders or equity-partners to provide the capital and accelerate the process of putting a plan into action. 

If you are struggling with financing your billboard deals, or simply want to have a confidential call with a trusted advisor who understands the industry, we’d like to schedule a time to talk to you:
Contact Stark Capital Solutions

 

Author’s Note: Chris Stark has been in the Billboard/Communication Tower Industry as a lender and advisor since the late 1990’s.  The following blog information is intended to highlight his experience inside the industry and provide value to independent operators.  The following information is based solely upon the experience of the Author and should not be used for legal or financial advice. 

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