Discovery Phase: Understanding the steps and tools of managing facility conversions during mergers and acquisitions (M&As)

Managing a facility sign conversion through a merger or acquisition (M&A) can be challenging for most companies. This six-part series will walk you through Monigle’s process for successfully navigating a complex undertaking.

An organization’s network of facilities can be its most significant and visible brand asset. But for many, changing out signage can be daunting. Typical questions we hear are:

  • Where do signs come from, and how are they produced?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How quickly can we make the conversion?
  • What is the process from start to finish?
  • What stakeholders should be involved?

We built our industry-leading methodology specifically for large-scale signage conversion programs. Our clients find that we effectively manage expectations throughout a long and complex process. Ultimately, we strive to deliver the most efficient, cost-effective, and on-time implementation with the highest quality products tailored to your needs.

Learn more: Enriching environmental experience: Integrating brand across your physical spaces

A successful sign conversion program begins with a Discovery Phase designed to build an in-depth understanding of client needs, expectations, and alignment on approach. Through our experience, the following are key steps:

Take inventory of your facilities and locations

Companies often don’t have a clear understanding of their facility network. If they do, it is based on data in a spreadsheet, addresses, square footage, or facility type, but not usually a physical understanding of each site. Adding to the complexity can be sets of mismatched data from real estate, facilities, or insurance lists. Scrubbing these lists for duplicate or invalid addresses at the start can help with overall project efficiency and accuracy of budgetary pricing.

Align on a strategy

Different approaches to converting signage have implications for project management, cost, and timing. Two common strategies are:

  • “Like-for-like”:A streamlined approach where new signs match the size and placement of existing signs. This approach is appropriate for organizations looking to implement quickly or achieve a high degree of cost efficiency.
  • “Like-for-right”: A more comprehensive approach where each facility and signage element are (re)evaluated for optimum branding, identification, display of information, etc. This approach is appropriate for organizations wanting to upgrade their presentation. It is also recommended for older facilities with outdated or inconsistently applied signage.

Consider how decisions are approved

Does your organization have a centralized facilities team, or will decisions be made at a regional level? Centralized corporate or brand-level management allows for the best overall process, ensuring consistent execution and alignment with brand standards.

Learn more: Enabling a consistent brand experience

Establish a budget

Program objectives must match the financial resources available for the conversion. We do this by establishing a rough order of magnitude (ROM) cost estimate, including three components:

  • Internal costs:Costs associated with internal resources assigned to the program.
  • Partner costs:Signage design, project management, and consulting fees.
  • Hard costs:Cost of signage fabrication, installation, and site work (patch and repair, other improvements).

If facilities are similar in age, size, and function, as with bank branches, costs can be extrapolated based on the number of locations in the network. But, if the footprint varies, as with a hospital system, it is best to analyze each site independently. Accurate budgeting is critical to meeting the expectations of leadership. Budgeting can also factor in the conversion strategy decision and timing.

Create a detailed schedule/work plan

Set realistic expectations for signage conversion, considering the distribution of locations, budget, and resources available. Two other important considerations are:

  • Meeting a specific date: If meeting a particular date is required, as in the case of a brand launch or legal day 1, we build the schedule by working backward. This approach only works when the time required to achieve each step in the process (site surveys, design, development, site-specific recommendations, approvals, permitting, fabrication, installation, and punch list) is realistic. A condensed schedule can mean adding internal, consultant, and vendor resources to the program.
  • Front-to-completion:If timing is not the primary factor, the project schedule can be developed from the front end, working toward completion. But the longer a program runs can have cost implications too.

Learn more: Bringing brand to life in physical spaces

Initiate site surveys

With the core program parameters defined, the next step is site surveys. We visit each location (sometimes hundreds) to capture photos and gather data on existing signage assets, including location, measurements, materiality, construction, and illumination. Our designers, project managers, vendors, and the client team will use this critical information to recommend and approve new signage in the following phases of work.

There are many steps to defining and developing a project through the discovery phase of a sign conversion. At Monigle, we have developed the tools and processes to make any sign conversion successful. We have the expertise from managing design systems and brand architecture to sign design and wayfinding issues, navigating landlord and municipal approvals, aligning the appropriate vendor partners, and ensuring a smooth implementation process. These are core areas of our vast experience with clients across various industries: retail, financial services, energy, healthcare, and more.

Through the year we will share more of our thoughts. Our next post will be looking at the system design, specifying products and managing the recommendation process using SignChart®, our program management tool

Visit our environmental website or contact us directly here for more information. And stay tuned for additional parts to this series on signage conversion.

John Dohner
March 1, 2023 By John Dohner