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Pandemic cuts into Olds chamber advertising sign revenue

Some companies asked to get out of advertising sign contracts due to falling revenue as a result of COVID restrictions

OLDS — It’s a sign of the times, you could say.

During the Olds & District Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting on March 10 it was revealed that revenue from signs the chamber arranges to display advertising local businesses dropped precipitously last year.

Revenue figures primarily reflecting sign revenue fell to $12,598 after having initially been budgeted to be about $55,000. 

President Clare Janitz said that’s basically because a couple of companies that had contracted for signs dropped that commitment due to the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on their businesses.

“I do believe some companies – one company in particular – went out of business. Another two companies I believe, are basically trying to get out,” Janitz said.

Anticipated revenue in that area for 2021 is projected to be $21,000.

"The treasurer really wanted us to be very conservative on the collections that we anticipate to have and we are expecting to lose a couple of the funds,” executive director Caroline Bodmer said.

“So unless we replace them with new advertisers, we wanted to make sure we were being very conservative on the collections. The board has given us permission to really be flexible with our businesses."

“Obviously a lot of them have been closed or reduced in operation so severely that it really is affecting those decisions and we have been requested to let several signs out of the five-year contract terms, so we are going ahead with the conservative figures,” Bodmer added. 

“I agree with being conservative. We don’t want to over-estimate that and end up in a (bad) situation,” Janitz said.

Former chamber president Doug Rieberger asked about expenses incurred to set up the advertising signs.

"The only time we have expenses for signs is when we are renewing the signs,” Bodmer said.

“So until we have the new contract in place, we don’t place it on the budget unless we have the commitment that the next term is being accepted by the applicant business.

"So that’s why we do not have expenses on an annual basis. Those have come due in the first year of any new five-year term being signed up. So until that paperwork is in order we do not put it on the budget.”

Janitz said it costs about $400 to remove an advertising sign.

Coun. Mary Anne Overwater wondered if the chamber could undertake a campaign to get more businesses to have signs installed. 

“That’s an excellent point,” Janitz said.

“And no, we do not have a campaign in place, but that’s something for the new board of directors to really jump on because as you can see, once we have that in place, it’s excellent revenue, the cost is minimal really,” she said. “Something for our board meeting next week. Thank you Mary Anne.”