A Sign of the Times

Date Released - October 29, 2013.

The world is a rapidly changing place, and it seems that the epigram by French Journalist Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr, ‘the more things change, the more things stay the same’ rings true in the world of real estate and property.

QM Properties’ sign writer Leon Fallows is a classic case in point. Leon, who hails from Caboolture, has been sign writing for the developer for 28 years, which they are sure is some sort of record.

“Real estate and property development has changed radically, since the eighties,” said QM Properties Sales Manager Damien Ross. “But many aspects of the business, like sign writing remain the same, and are crucial to marketing success”.

“You can have the best property in the world but unless potential buyers know about is, you won’t be able to sell it,” said Damien. “That involves a mix of advertising options such as press, television and one that has proven crucial to us – signage.”

“The internet and social media have given presented us with other options, however basically it’s still an ad that we have to produce’’ he said

“Outdoor signs, like press or social media, are crucial to our communication with our market and just as important as it was 30 years ago,” said Damien. “We have sold over 5000 allotments in the Caboolture area over 20 years, many with the help of Leon Fallow’s signs.”

Damien and his sales team see that most clients looking for a property, either land or home and land package, begin their research on the internet.

“The internet has proven a great tool for clients to compare ‘apples with apples’, looking at land quality, size, infrastructure and obviously price,” said Damien.

“However, very few people would buy off the internet without seeing the land or house first,’ he said. “We have found that even investors prefer to physically check out the development”.

So that the process puts the ball back into the court for sales people, display villages and traditional elements like signage.

“We estimate the number of cars passing an outdoor sign each day on the Bruce Highway to be 42,000, so looking at it this way a sign is very cost effective medium,” he said.

Leon agrees, and is pleased that the trade he learnt as an apprentice at TAFE for four years has survived the changes.

“My dad was a sign writer too, so we are happy that sign writing has not gone the way of the roneo machine!” said Leon.

However, in the early days it did take a lot longer to create the visual marketing tool than it does today. Originally on a 20’ x 10’ outdoor sign, it took a week to finish including digging holes, building the sign, painting it and sign writing it.

“Now there are no nails, it is digitally printed onto a vinyl skin and then screwed down.”

That process is also a lot more cost effective, taking about a day.

“There are a lot of new options for signs as well as the traditional road sign, now there are more, smaller on-sites as well as vertical banners.”

Leon has also noticed the changes in the way property is approached and designed.

“When you spend a whole day on a site, you really notice things that may not stand out to the casual observer,” he said.

“For example developers are much more interested in building communities and looking after the environment, rather than just building houses,” he said.

Leon has worked with QM Properties in Central Lakes, Pacific Harbour, Noosa Waters and Norfolk Lakes to name a few.

“The best job I ever did for them was in Noosa, when they sponsored the Surf Club and needed some signs up,” he said.

“I went and had a look at the clubhouse and it was a shocker, paint peeling off, and I told them their sign would look like rubbish,” Leon said. “So QM then said to me, well you better paint the whole damn thing Leon.” “So I did.”

“I stayed in the club for a week and it was the most fun I have ever had on a job!”

Leon’s printing skills have taken him from Caboolture to California where he set up a thriving business and sold it just before the Global Financial Crisis.

“I wouldn’t have even been in the States if it wasn’t for QM,” he said.

“I told the Acquisitions Manager I wanted to go to the U.S. to work on the charity Friend Ships, so he wrote out a cheque for my airfare,” said Leon. “Now I’m back working with QM again”.

Friend Ships purchase old vessels and convert them to hospital ships to work in needy 3rd world countries.

“Most buyers outside the industry would have no idea the number of businesses and people involved in creating a home from a piece of land to a finished house’’ said Damien ‘’ At QM we value all our contractors like Leon, many of them have been with us from the beginning.”