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Shop Department Signs that Open Eyes

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What they are: Large, overhead department signs that catch customers’ eyes. 

The Inspiration: J.R. Hubbard says he has always been bothered by the “gloomy, dusty, dirty” image often associated with auto body shops. So, when Selecta Auto Body moved into a new building in early 2013, the owner wanted to create an especially clean, organized appearance throughout his shop. Hubbard also knew customers were going to get an up-close-and-personal look at his shop floor, since Selecta—located in a cramped San Francisco neighborhood—doesn’t have outdoor parking. 

Hubbard brainstormed with his wife, Jackie, on how to make things aesthetically pleasing in their 10,000-square-foot shop, which initially had the feel of an expansive warehouse. The couple eventually employed the services of a friend, Paul Scofield, a gifted artist and sign builder. Inspired by an old neon logo in front of Selecta’s building, the couple had Scofield create bold, eye-catching red signs that hung over each shop department. 

“We wanted our shop to be kind of a showpiece,” Hubbard says. “Where, right when someone comes in, they go ‘Wow.’” 


What they do: With aid from the massive department signs, when customers pull into Selecta, they’re immediately given an inside glance into the collision repair industry. Customers are especially intrigued by the shop’s “Emergency Room,” where a pair of frame machines are housed. 

Hubbard says the bold department signs not only help brand his shop, but also offer transparency and spark conversation from customers. 

“Body work is … a mystery to a lot of people. There’s a lot of people that just don’t trust it,” Hubbard says. “So we’ve built these signs kind of with this idea that let’s start to demystify. Because, if anything else, it’ll give somebody the opportunity
to ask the question, ‘What do you do in body work?’

Hubbard also jokes that his shop signage offers subliminal messaging. His reasoning: each department sign features five stars across the top, and Selecta typically garners five-star customer reviews on Yelp. 


How they’re Made: Hubbard’s friend, Scofield, made the signs out of wood, over the course of nearly a month. The signs range in length from 5 to 14 feet and they’re all roughly 2 feet tall. Hubbard says his friend hand painted the artwork, too. For the shop’s sizable “office” sign, Scofield added a large green arrow, and painted the appearance of light bulbs on it (Hubbard didn’t want to utilize actual light bulbs, due to Selecta’s green initiative). 


The Cost: Hubbard estimates that his shop’s six department signs cost around $500 each on average for a total of $4,950. 


The Return: The bottom line: the department signs spark dialogue and promptly put customers at ease once they pull into Selecta, Hubbard says. 

“We get a lot of comments,” the owner notes. “I think if
you post signs, you’re making yourself transparent. Customers like that.” 

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