• Claude Dicks on the gun billboard, easements and a satisfying sale.

    Todays podcast guest is Claude Dicks, President of Allison Outdoor, an independent out of home company with 1,270 out of home faces and 29 digital billboards in North Carolina and Georgia.  Claude talks about moving from radio into out of home, the gun billboard, digital sign conversions, buying easements, sales mistakes and his most satisfying out of home sale.

    Tell us about the gun billboard controversy.

    That was a fun time…I was on a family vacation a couple thousand miles away when everything hit.  Our policy has typically been with billboards that might be stretching the bounds…to always run it up the flagpole.  Unfortunately, that one never went up the flagpole…it went up and got on social media and started making the news…It was a gun store in Murphy North Carolina and had the picture of the freshmen congresswomen…that started making news.  I’m getting texts from my friends saying “hey, is that you guys on the news.”  I knew we had an issue at that point…We started getting inundated with emails and phone calls for about three days straight.  At one point we had to turn off the phones because we were getting so many phone calls…We had been talking with the gun owner.  He wanted us to change the billboard very quickly after it went up…I decided on our facebook page to make a post saying that the board was coming down…We were working on new artwork in the meantime…It took a couple days to get the artwork straightened out…We were squarely in the middle which is not the place you ever want to be like this and were getting beaten up on both sides…

    What did you learn?

    The majority of the negative comments on both sides of the aisle were coming from people outside Murphy North Carolina and western North Carolina…Any politically motivated speech has to be run by us first and then we will apply the different steps that we have…The gun store owner had been working with us for five years…we had to have a good conversation about what’s going to be going up in the future.  He’s thrown out some ideas and then we’ve taken the idea and tweaked it a bit.  So far it’s working.  We haven’t made too much news since then so hopefully we’re doing things better.

    Claude Dicks, President, Allison Outdoor

    You mentioned recently that buying easements is a priority.  Explain.

    My grandfather always said you can’t control sales but you can control expenses…Our goal is to not have our expenses increase as much as our revenue…We’re setting some pretty strong goals for the upcoming year.  We’re working on one that pretty much fell into our laps.  Our rent with this one gentlemen doubled and he wants to sell the property and he wants the money from the easement…We feel over time we can create a better bottom line…

    What was your most satisfying out of home sale?

    I recall one where it was a small wine store.  They made their own wine.  I made a cold call.  He didn’t have a lot of money to spend.  He flat out said “I hate billboards.  I don’t like billboards.”  He even said he’d torn down a billboard in Florida…But my favorite part about that is we were making some headway…I laid everything out and said “this is what we can do for this price” and I laid the pen down and I didn’t say anything and it felt like 60 seconds and it was probably 15 seconds and he just grabbed the pen and he signed and he was a good customer for 2-3 years…There’s nothing better than making a sale…especially…if there was no interest and you turned their mind around and then you go from one board to two to three on annual contracts…

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