Bandit Signs – Everything You Need to Know

How to Create High Converting Bandit Signs

What is a Bandit Sign?

Bandit signs are small yard signs, usually made of corrugated plastic or cardboard that is used for advertising. The signs are usually placed on the side of the riads and highways so they can be seen by passing traffic. In most cities, bandit signs are a code violation and users face the risk of being fined.

Real Estate Investors Use Bandit Signs for Marketing

The market is getting crazy out there, and I realize that real estate investors are using bandit signs to generate motivated seller leads other than direct mail campaigns. That’s smart! You should never put all of your eggs into one basket.

In today’s informative post, I wanted to share with you some interesting facts that I’ve learned about bandit sign marketing. The information in this video isn’t a hypothesis. It’s data that I’ve collected over the years of using bandit signs as part of my consistent and diligent marketing campaign.

You should always be testing different messages, colors, media types, and markets to find out what delivers you the highest and best returns on your marketing dollars. Just blasting out a campaign without split testing different variables may leave you short changed in the end.

Watch the video below, and discover what I’ve found to be the ultimate seller high converting bandit sign, after testing dozens of variations.  Then, don’t take my word for it. Test it yourself.  And let me know your results! (Results certainly may vary).

DISCLOSURE:  Bandit Signs are a violation in most cities across the United States. Putting them out, either in the ground or on telephone poles could result in monetary fines.  This training should not be construed as legal protection.  Use Bandit Signs at your own risk. 


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Bandit Sign Basics

When it comes to generating highly motivated and qualified seller leads, bandit signs are at the tippy top of my list.  While controversial in nature, they certainly do the prescribed job, which is to get the attention of someone who needs to sell their house. They’re pretty affordable, as well. and Dollar for Dollar, nothing compares quit like the bandit sign.

In 2012, nearly 25% of my closed wholesale real estate transactions came from Bandit Sign Advertising. Of those, it made up more than 50% of my income. I made more money from this one single source of leads than any other campaign that we did. In 2013, more than $80,000 was earned from a bandit sign campaign. So, do We Buy Houses signs work? Absolutely!

I’m always testing and tracking the results from different bandit sign campaigns, so this training page was written to share with you the results of the BEST of EVERYTHING that was tested. Hopefully this gives you some good real estate bandit sign ideas!

Bandit Sign Testing

I’ve tested numerous fonts, colors, messages, and sizes.  I’m not going to tell you that they don’t all work. They ALL Work. What I am going to tell you is which one works the BEST for ME (meaning the one that gets the most calls and conversions).

NOTE: When referring to any bandit sign, I’m referring to a corrugated plastic sign.

How Many Bandit Signs Should I Put Out?

How many leads do you want to get?   This question can be answered the same for any type of marketing campaign that you decide to execute. The more signs that you put out, the more leads you will get.  The most important thing you can remember about marketing with Bandit Signs (or any form of marketing, for that matter) is consistency.  If you put out 100 signs, and you don’t get a deal, don’t give up!  It doesn’t work like that.

Bandit signs have to be something that becomes part of your business.

“On again, off again” isn’t going to deliver.

I have 20 signs put out every day, Monday through Friday. That equals 400 signs per month. By doing only 20 per day, it only takes 45 minutes – 1 hour. I outsource this process to what I call my “Bandit Boy”. He takes care of getting the signs put out and charges me $1.25 per sign.  I don’t pick them up and I leave them out. They end up disappearing anyway. Sometimes after 10 minutes, sometimes after 10 weeks.

If you’re just starting out, my recommendation is that you do at least 100 signs per month (25 per week). Put them out on Friday after 5 pm. and be consistent.  Hire someone to do this for you if you can’t carve the time out of your schedule to make sure it’s done every week. 

Bandit Signs Size

When you go online to order Bandit signs, you’ll be given numerous options when it comes to your signs. You may be tempted to get crazy with your order, and try something wild.  Don’t do it. Keep it simple, clear, and readable.

There’s 2 options that you should choose from when it comes to sizes. Well, really one size – 2 variations. The most common size for a bandit sign is 24″ wide x 18″ high. You probably see most people utilize the 24 x 18 signs.  And that’s perfectly ok. I put a little bit of a twist on things, though.

How to Get More Bang For your Buck with Cheap Bandit Signs

I love to get the most bang for my buck whenever I can. If want to know where to buy bandit signs on the cheap, you can design your own bandit signs. This is a SURE FIRE way to get more signs for your money!  Here’s a way to get 200 bandit signs out of an order of 100!!

When you design your sign online, create 2 signs on 1, so that it can be cut down the middle.  Make sure it’s nice and centered so that when its printed on the sign, you can cut it right down the middle and get 2 signs out of it. Here’s an image of what the sign will look like when you create the more bang for Your Buck design: 

bandit signs

Or you can watch this video that will show you How to Order Handwritten Signs Online at Dirt Cheap signs. (There’s no audio in this video – it’s meant to make you pay attention to what’s going on.)

This is a great way to make the most of your marketing dollars! The stakes (half or full) will fit in these even when they’re cut in half.  Nice, right?

Or if you want The Simple and Classic “One Sign Per Sign” Sign, then it will look  like the image below.  This will get you a much larger and easier to read sign. But I’ve tested both, and the passer bys can also read the pint sized sign just as well.

bandit signs

Bandit Sign Color

Keep this simple too.  Order a yellow sign with black lettering or red Lettering.

Bandit Sign Font

Too many choices, right? I know. Let’s keep this real simple.  Use a handwritten font. It’s ugly and unprofessional and it looks like a Mom and Pop shop. And despite what some people say, normal people like to do business with normal people.

I’m sure there are certain cases where they want a big box company to step in. But with motivated sellers, they like to deal with people who understand their situation.  People that seem real and down to earth.  For these subconscious reasons, using handwritten bandit signs make you look like a normal person. That’s the handwritten font.

If you use Dirt Cheap Signs , they have several different handwritten fonts that you can choose from that look pretty good on signs.  The names of them are ” AKBAR”, “YELLOW JUG”. I’ve included a sample below of what they look like so you can see. It’s definitely good enough for a sign.

Watch this video on how to order your Bandit Signs Online (it’ll make things easier)


What I like about Dirt Cheap Signs, other than the fact that they’re “dirt cheap” is that you can design your signs online. That’s pretty cool.

Bandit Sign Message

There are plenty of variations of Messages that you can use on your signs. DIRT CHEAP SIGNS has 37 templates that you can choose from. Or, of course, you can create your own.  You should definitely test out different messages and see which one gets the best results in your market.  I used to use “TRACY BUYS HOUSES” on all of my signs, and even created a sort of branding. That is, until the city started to track me down online and through other various methods (articles in the newspaper), and figured out who I was.

I HIGHLY advise that you DO NOT use your real name on your bandit signs.

I can tell you from all of the testing and tracking that I’ve done with Bandit Signs that using a FEMALE’s name gets a higher response rate than when using a MALE’s name.  Don’t ask me why. I don’t fully understand human psychology. But I’ve tested it. And I have first-hand results.

You can certainly drill down your target audience with more specific messages.  If you decide to test different messages on your signs, TRACK your results in a real estate CRM. If one sign is outperforming another, then KEEP ORDERING THAT ONE. And the only way to tell is to track the results.

Google Voice Numbers

Ahhhhh Google Voice. Another one of my favorite topics.  Google Voice has done so many wonderful things for my business. Especially keep the city off my back.  A very costly mistake is to have your cell phone number OR a landline number on your sign. BAD BAD BAD!!  Get a Google Voice Number and learn how to use it.

May I also suggest that you have several different google voice numbers for different types of marketing? Choose numbers that are easy to remember, so that when people see the sign they can remember the phone number. This is a great way to track leads and results!

Tracking down the owner of a Google Voice number is virtually impossible.  And if a city official can’t determine who OWNS the phone number that’s listed on the signs, then they can’t fine you, can they?? Sneaky isn’t it. I know. It works great.

Be sure that you never put the same phone number on any website that you would use on your sign.

It’s too easy to enter the phone number into Google and find a match. This can lead them straight to you.  Not cool.  Dedicate one google voice number specifically to bandit signs only.

Voice Mail Message

Since you’re going to send all of your callers to a Google Voice VOICEMAIL, you’ll want to tell them exactly what information to leave for you when they call. This is a very important tip, to prevent yourself from calling back a code enforcement guy or a “friendly” neighborhood sign policy guy.

Try to get them to leave as much information that they will on your voice mail. It’s hard to get people to do this, but if you tell them what to do, and give them clear instructions, then they’ll do it. You want them to leave their name, phone number, the property address that they want to sell, and a good time when you can call them back.

With this information, you can verify in your tax records that they ARE the owner of the house. (The sign guys are sneaky. They’ll call posing as a motivated seller with a house for sale). So whenever possible, verify ownership before returning a call. And in a world of phone tag, asking them for the ideal time for you to call them back eliminates alot of that.  Be sure to call them back at the time they request.

Here’s a sample voice mail script for you to use on your Google Voice (or whatever number you’re using to handle the calls/voice mails from your bandit sign callers).

Notice in the voice mail script that you don’t state your name.  (INCOGNITO) . You may even consider hiring a guy or girl on to do a voice reading of your script, and upload it into Google Voice.  That way your voice isn’t connected to the bandit sign either. It’s totally random.

If you’re using a man’s name, get a man to voice over the script. If you’re using a girl’s name, then hire a girl.  In the end, though, it doens’t matter what name you use on your sign. The sellers will forget what name they saw. They just want to talk to the decision maker – the one who can buy their house.

Bandit Sign Stakes

There are more than a few ways to post your bandit signs. You can zip tie them to a pole, you can hammer them to a pole using a Sign Stapler and roofing nails, or you can stick them in the ground. I stick mine in the ground. Mainly because it’s the easiest and fastest way to get 20 signs out every day.

I must warn you about telephone pole signs, though (at least in our city).

The fine for a bandit sign in the ground is $55 – the fine for a bandit sign nailed to a telephone pole is $355.

So maybe brush up on the rules concerning bandit signs before you decide where to put them.

So if you decide that you want to stick your signs in the ground, you’ll need to order sign stakes. You’ll want to order “Wire H stakes“. (I’ve included the link to Dirt Cheap Signs that takes you directly to their metal stakes). If you’re confused about what size to order, then keep reading.

A 15″ stake will be low to the ground, and are the least expensive. The 30″ stake is going to be the taller one. Don’t waste your money on the heavy duty sign stakes. They’re the ones that Realtors use for FOR SALE signs in the front yard of their listings. Definitely not something you want to be sticking out on the side of the road.

They usually come in a box of 50, so remember that when you’re ordering your stakes – especially if you’re doing the “More Bang For Your Buck” method.

Be sure to order VERTICAL FLUTES on your bandit signs so that the “H STAKES” fit into them properly.

Placement of Bandit Signs

Where should you put your signs? That is the question. You want as many people as humanly possible to see your sign, especially since it may not last as long as you think. Sometimes I can put out bandit signs, and on the way home, they’re gone.  That’s just how it goes sometimes. It’s not always the city who picks them up, but citizens and members of the community. They get upset about bandit signs, too. And they’ll let you know about it, too.

Here’s a list of a few places where I put my signs on a regular basis:

  • Stop Signs
  • Traffic Lights at Busy Intersections
  • Yield Signs
  • On Ramps to Highways
  • McDonalds
  • Targets/Wal-Marts
  • Movie Theatre Parking Lots
  • Pawn Shops
  • Telephone Poles (if you hammer them up)
  • Places where OTHER Bandit Signs are (they get attention)

Here’s some places where you DON’T want to Put your signs:

  • In Someone’s Yard
  • Subdivisions
  • Really nice neighborhoods
  • In front of mechanic/tire shops  (they hate them!)

Bandit Sign Violations

Are bandit signs illegal? I’m sure you know by now that Bandit Signs are a violation in every city in the United States. Any time you put them out, you’re putting yourself at risk for being fined. The fines in Jacksonville FL for signs in the ground starts at $55 for the first offense, $75 for second, and it keeps escalating from there. For signs nailed to telephone poles, it starts at $355.

In other parts of the U.S., the penalties are much stiffer (Some states can issue a $1000 per sign fine). Before you start putting your signs up all over the place, be sure to check out the rules in your area to see what the potential risk is.  The weird thing is, it’s very hard to enforce these fines, especially if you can’t be tracked down (Refer to the Google Voice Number Section).

“Weekend Only” Sign Bandits

City workers have bankers hours. They usually work from 9 am – 5 pm Monday through Friday.  If you REALLY want to be cautious about putting out bandit signs, then you can be a weekend bandit. Put your signs out on Friday (you can start around 3:30 pm  – 4:00 pm) and pick them up on Sunday evening.

This is a little bit of extra work, but it will keep you out of hot water with the city. You’ll still get nasty gram calls from the locals, but there’s nothing they can do (except call the city). By the time they report you, you’ll have picked your signs up.

If you plan on being a weekend sign bandit, be sure to keep a map or notes on where you’ve put your signs.  Also, keep your route simple so that picking them up will be simple.

ADVANTAGE OF BEING A WEEKEND BANDIT: You get to use your signs over and over again (SAVES YOU $$$)

DISADVANTAGE OF BEING A WEEKEND BANDIT: You spend more time picking signs up. 

7 Rules for Avoiding the Bandit Sign Police 

We all know (or you should know by now) that Bandit Signs are a non compliant way to generate seller leads. I don’t think there’s a city in the entire United States that doesn’t have a code violation section written for bandit signs.

But, being the free thinking individuals that we are, we’re going to keep putting them out. Right?  I understand.

Sometimes the risk is worth the reward. In fact, one year 26% of all of my deals came from bandit signs. The crazier part is that that 26% made up 65% of my income !!!

The city guys are getting slick!  They want to track you down and issue you a citation (fine) for putting out your signs. They must get bonuses, or at least brownie points, for tracking down the owners of bandit signs.

Anyway, they’ll go as low as to call your number and act like a seller!!!  They wont leave a property address, but a phone number where you can call them back. This is where you have to develop some habits or else you MAY get busted.

Here We Go

RULE #1: Don’t ever call sellers back from your cell phone or your home phone!  You should have a dedicated Google Voice number for your Bandit Sign Campaigns.  You can use the Google Voice app to call sellers back, or even use the talkatone app.  This way, your true “identity” is never revealed.  Once they have your cell #, they CAN track you down.

RULE #2 :If you don’t have a dedicated Google Voice number for Bandit Signs, then GET ONE.

RULE #3: DON’T PRINT YOUR WEBSITE ON YOUR SIGNS!  This can easily be tracked back to you as being the owner of the domain.

RULE #4: Don’t print Your Company Name on your Bandit Signs.

RULE #5: If you record a message on your Google Voice Number, DON’T LEAVE YOUR NAME. Just tell the callers to  leave THEIR name, their phone number, the property address, and a good time to call them back.

RULE #6: If you can fathom it, use an alias name on your sign.  After all, it IS only a marketing piece. The sellers wont remember whose name was on the sign once they call anyway.

RULE #7: Google each phone number that leaves a message before calling it back. City guys usually will call from their desk and Google will tell you when it’s a city employee number. (This tip was Courtesy of my friend, Justin McLelland).

Some of these rules are common sense (they should be). But if you aren’t practicing safe signing, then get your ass in shape.  Don’t let the city guy in on your secret.

How to Get Free advertising in the Local Newspapers

Back in 2010, I got a call from a reporter form the local newspaper.  He was doing an article about Bandit Signs littering up the city, and he couldn’t help but notice my signs all over town. So he asked me a few questions.  My story hasn’t changed much since then. HAHA

Check out the story here. 

Outsourcing Bandit Sign Placement

Putting out bandit signs yourself is kinda bullshit. It’s not fun. But it has to be done.  So let’s talk about outsourcing this task. If you have a teenage kid, with a car, you can hire them to put out your signs. When I hired my son, it was the only time I felt confident that my signs were getting put out. I never had to worry.

It’ used to be very hard to monitor whether or not someone is actually doing it, without getting in the car and looking yourself to see if they’re out. I’ve been through at least 20 people over the last 15 years, trying to find someone willing to do this, and that I could trust.

I haven’t had much luck yet. They’re great in the beginning, and then they start to taper off.  You start noticing a change in behavior. They’re not so enthusiastic any more about putting out signs. Then, they end up dumping your stack of signs in a dumpster somewhere.

Until recently, it was very frustrating wondering if your signs were getting put out like they said.

That is, until I discovered (through a fellow mobster, in fact) the APP for your Mobile Device called SIMPLECREW!!

This app allows the bandit sign guy to take a photo every time he sticks a sign out, which date and time stamps it, and also pins it on a map right inside the app! All you have to do to confirm that the signs are out is login from your desktop, laptop, or your smartphone and open the app! There they are!!

Ad for Hiring a Sign Bandit

Currently seeking 1 person to be responsible for putting out bandit signs every Friday evening. Here is the process that will need to be followed each week.

At 6:00 p.m., you will come to the office, which is located in Jacksonville Beach FL. You will need to assemble signs to the stake for the signs that are going out that day, and also hand write any signs that need to be written (instructions will be given to you each week for the hand written signs).

Most of the signs are already pre printed, but some of them need additional details written in.

Once the signs are prepared and written, you will use the maps that are given to you, and place the signs out where indicated on the map.

Most of the signs are placed on busy intersections, facing traffic, so that they can be easily read by passerbys. The sign placement needs to be completed on Friday evening, weather permitting. Once you have placed all of the signs out, you will need to log in to our system and update the system with the number of signs that you put out. This will trigger the manager to confirm that the signs were put out (by spot checking the areas) and request a payment for your services. A check will be cut and you?ll receive int he mail it within 7 days after you?ve completed the sign placement.

The check will be delivered from Bank of America Bill Pay Service. You’ll be paid $1.00 per sign that you put out.

This is a 1099 Independent Contractor Position

There is a MINIMUM of 50 signs put out each week, with a maximum of 150 signs. The area we cover are from Jax Beach, then west all the way to St johns Bluff. Sometimes we?ll have signs that need to go out in the westside, mandarin, or northside, but not often.

We need someone who can commit to doing this every Friday night. The only excuse is severe weather conditions. In that case, you can postpone the sign placement until Saturday. You will be required to have dependable transportation,be a responsible adult, know your way around the city, and have a schedule flexible enough to leave your Friday evenings free to put these signs out. Its sometimes better if you have someone to help. Like one person drives, and the other sticks the signs in the ground. So keep that in mind ? you can split the monies.

DO NOT SEND RESUMES for this position!!!!! They’re not needed. If you send one, you’ll automatically be eliminated for consideration. Instead, call and tell me why you would be the perfect candidate for the sign placement job. My number is (904) 419-xxxx

Warning About Outsourcing Bandit Signs 

Sometimes when you outsource, you get screwed. Watch this video to find out how.

UPDATE AFTER THE VIDEO: I was out meeting a seller the other day, and I noticed a bandit sign hammered to a telephone pole that said “Dave Buys Houses”. I recognized the phone number.  So I called it to see who it was, and it was this clown!! He got so inspired by putting out our signs, that he decided to do his own.  Be careful who you hire and train.  I may even sign a Non-Compete Agreement next time.

Using Bandit Signs to Sell Houses

Unfortunately, most people only use bandit signs to find motivated sellers and neglect this inexpensive little tool entirely when it comes to finding buyers. I can tell you that we personally sell more than 35% of all of our properties on bandit signs alone.

Each tie we get a new property under contract, a task is automatically created in Zoho CRM that tells us to put out 10 bandit signs. The messages on these signs vary a little bit, but we do have a list that we choose from (as far as what to write on each sign).

Here is some the Verbiage that we use on our signs.

Putting bandit signs out to sell your properties will kill 2 birds with one stone. #1, you’ll sell the property. #2 You’ll build a buyers list. Anytime someone calls off of your signs, interested in BUYING a property, you can pre-screen them a little bit and, if qualified, add them to your cash buyers list.

Setting up Bandit Sign Campaigns in your CRM

With any marketing campaign, you want to track and measure your results.  By using a dedicated Google Voice number on your bandit signs, you’ll be able to easily track your results form your campaigns.  

When you get a call from one of your signs, be sure to enter the lead into your CRM, even if it isnt a motivated seller!  This way you can review the data that you’ve collected after 30 days or so, and analyze the results.  You’ll be able to quickly determine how many leads you can generate from the amount of signs you’re putting out.

Plus, you will also be able to tell how much each lead that calls is worth.  You’ll also discover how many calls it takes before you actually land a hot one!! This data is mesmerizing to me, which I’m a big stickler for tracking data and using a good CRM.

No matter what, KEEP PUSHING FORWARD and stay consistent on your marketing plans!  GOOD LUCK, MOBSTER.


Hire a Human to Hold a Giant Bandit Sign

I can’t put out bandit signs anymore due to being an identified “litter bug”. [Read About The Bandit Sign Scandal if you haven’t already] So I came up with a new idea. I bought this giant bandit sign about a year ago, and never used it. I dug it out of the garage, and hired a teenage dude yesterday to hold the sign for me at busy intersections. He’ll work from 4 pm – 7pm on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Here is the ad that I wrote to hire this person. (I was hoping for a bikini model, but no luck yet):

Side of the Road Bandit Sign Holder Needed (Jacksonville)

I am hiring someone to hold my giant (4 foot) sign on the side of the road. All you have to do is stand on the side of the road holding my sign. I will pay you $25 per day as an independent contractor to hold the sign for 3 hours at a busy intersection between 4 pm – 7 pm. Days of work will be on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Must have your own transportation, since the locations will change each day. Must be willing to travel to all parts of town.
Will pay $5 extra per day for hot girl in bikini to hold my sign.

Please reply to this email if interested. If you’re the girl in a bikini, send bikini photo.

I had several people reply, even some lady who said she wasn’t the “same” since having kids, so I ended up going with this kid. He said he needed a job, and was prompt to reply to my ad.

we buy houses bandit signs

Once you watch the video, leave your comments below and tell me what YOU’RE highest converting bandit sign is.

bandit signs

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24 thoughts on “Bandit Signs – Everything You Need to Know”

  1. Tracy, you mentioned in the video out of 400 signs you got 52 calls and 11 deals. Did you put out 400 at once or did you spread that out say 50-100 signs a week?

          1. Wanted to let you know we did what video said and tried female name on signs…put 50 out Saturday and 10 calls so far!! WOW

            Great info!

          2. Hi Mallory! I’m new here and getting a feel for this. I’ve done bandit signs for an MLM before. I forget the exact numbers as I was a newbie and not tracking cost per lead. So if 400 signs are placed and 52 leads come in, here’s the math/average I got that we should be expecting to invest per lead. Assuming the 400 signs were cut in half, you guys ordered 200 signs at $200 (it seems they are $1 each in bulk) and paid $1.25 per sign to have them placed (definitely time saving!) That would be $200 + ($1.25 x 400) 500= $700 (at least) / divided by 52 leads= $13.47 a lead (on the lower end) Is this about right? I definitely realize that 1 good lead can close and be a potential $5,000-$15,000. About how much would you tell new investors is the norm to “pay per lead”? LOVE this blog!

          3. AWESOME. Thanks for breaking this down, Tracy! And if I’m correct, it’s the norm that one out of about every 20ish leads ends up being a deal?

  2. Is it illegal in the state of Florida to put bandit sign? Since you said you had to pay some fees for sign there were not yours.

  3. what about using the google voice app and the google voice number on your cellphone to call sellers, can they still track your phone?

    1. The Flamingo

      As long as you dont publish your Google Voice number anywhere online, then yes you can do that. Google VOice numbers arent published with account holder names

  4. Okay good. I have two numbers and ill use one on my bandit signs and the other on my car signs.

    If the city cant track you down, what is the most they will do? Just remove your signs right?

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