• Diana and Hal Stevenson on running an independent out of home company.


    Diana and Hal Stevenson own Grace Outdoor, a South Carolina headquartered company with 300 billboard faces in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee.  On the Billboard Insider podcast they, talk about the importance of sales, being independent in a world dominated by the big three, cloud-based tools for managing your out of home business, and why you need to pay attention to Duke Energy

    Diana Stevenson

    On the importance of sales

    I view Grace Outdoor as a sales organization.  Without the sales there’s really nothing else.  You can have a great billboard.  If you don’t sell it, it doesn’t matter.  I look at sales numbers every day…I look at quarterly goals as well…The whole firm gets a bonus if we reach certain goals.  Our AE’s are the ones that are out there on the street…but we want everybody in the office to feel like there in sales too…if we get contracts processed and invoices out on time and if we have good collections…all of that helps…out creative helps in our sales effort, so we look at quarterly goals and we give quarterly bonuses for good sales results.

    On the challenge of being an independent company in a world where the big three (Lamar, Clear Channel and OUTFRONT) control two thirds of all billboards

    Hal Stevenson

    I was talking with an executive and one of the larger companies at OAAA and he said Hal we just get up every day with the attitude that we’re going to go out there and kick out competition’s butt.  I said that’s great but why don’t you go out there and kick the internet companies and TV stations and all those people because we’re no longer a threat to you.  We might be an irritation but we have more to gain by working together than we do by questioning our permits or pushing back with property owners…It’s been such a pleasure to be in the IBO and get to know a lot of other businesses which are just like ours…

    What cloud based services (scheduling, CRM, ad design, ad sales) does Grace Outdoor use and what’s been your experience?

    We started using Apparatix three years ago.  I can’t even tell you how much it’s helped us.  Keeping up with our contracts…It’s all integrated as well as production, work orders, all of that is in one system…it saves us a lot of time…We just converted almost all of our digitals to the scheduling program in Apparatix.  The girl who does our posting for us she’s coming to me telling me she’s bored and doesn’t have anything to do.  It’s saving us that much time…We’re almost paperless.  We used to have file cabinets with contracts and schedules.  And now we don’t even use those…

    Duke energy attended the last OAAA show and is entering the ad supported kiosk business in Columbia.

    Those kiosks were supposed to be installed in February…and they have still not been installed…It did concern us because basically…they were asking for a permit to erect…an outdoor advertising sign on the sidewalks of our streets…In our city it is extremely difficult to get an outdoor advertising permit and when you do there are all kinds of issues…It struck us the wrong way that here was this out of state company just kind of waltzing in here and getting a permit to put up a billboard…Fair ought to be fair for everybody.  If we can’t get permits…

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    1. Great podcast!
      Been selling billboard space for years/mostly for independent outdoor companies.

      Doug Kempf

    2. I really enjoyed hearing from Hal and Diane, versus just reading about them! I love what they stand for and the name they chose for their company. I bet their employees are happy to work in such an environment. I know I would if I lived in that state.