(Ambrosio’s note: One of my goals for this blog is to explore as many different franchise industries as possible to show prospective franchisees that there are many viable options available that fit different interests and goals. This is my first time to feature a promotional products franchise and Mark Johnson does a wonderful job in explaining the appeal of this category. I love that the stores are open normal business hours, and franchisees enjoy unlimited potential to grow their business with just a single location. Take a look at the EmbroidMe franchise opportunity and see if they offer what you are looking for in a franchise. Thanks, Mark!)
Mark Johnson worked for the SIGNARAMA franchise system for 5 years and left to open an embroidery business about 20 years ago. After some time, Mark partnered with the the CEO of SIGNARAMA, Ray Titus, to open the first EmbroidMe with a test store in 2000. They began franchising in 2001.
1. What made you decide to start EmbroidMe?
While I was running my business, I was looking for ways to grow it on a national scale. Ray Titus and I have been good friends since college (we played college basketball together) so I was familiar with what he had built with SIGNARAMA. It was a good combination of an industry that is very fragmented with no real name brand recognition and a veteran franchising organization that had built brands before.
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2. Why should someone interested in owning his or her own business consider an embroidery and promotional products franchise?
Every person is different in what they want out of business ownership. For some, it’s all about the money, yet for others it’s more about the quality of life that a business might provide. Both of those factors attracted me to this industry. We serve the business community, so our stores are open Monday through Friday standard business hours, and it’s also a very profitable business to be in. I like that we provide a custom service to other businesses in the community and help them build their companies. It’s a very rewarding industry.
3. What sets EmbroidMe apart from your competitors in the embroidery and promotional products industry?
One of the things I noticed very early in this industry was that most of the owners in the embroidery or screen printing business were the ones who were running the machinery and very often, they focused on just one particular part of the industry (they just did embroidery for instance). Our stores are full service in that we provide all kinds of promotional items to help serve all of our customers’ needs, but we also have the machinery right in our stores so we can control the process and the turn around time for our orders. That control allows us to provide high quality work very quickly for our customers.
4. What qualities do you look for in a prospective franchisee?
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Our business is a relationship business, so we look for good communicators as an important quality to run a successful EmbroidMe. The interesting part is that our owners come from many different backgrounds. We have ex-teachers, ex-high level corporate executives, ex-government workers — the backgrounds are really varied. The one constant is having good communication skills and the ability to relate well with clients and employees.
5. Can you describe the ideal territory and location for an EmbroidMe franchise?
We look for a good mix of businesses and population base. Our main customers are other businesses within a community, but we also do a great deal of work with high schools, churches, and community sports leagues. We run a full demographic study of an area before deciding on whether it is the right location for a store, and we work very closely with our franchisee on this to make sure it’s the right area and location. We both need to agree on the location and territory together.
6. Based on your observations, what concrete steps do your most successful franchisees take in order to build and grow their business?
The most successful owners for us are the ones who follow the systems that have been proven over the past 10 years, especially the marketing systems. This would include things like joining local clubs and organizations, using our marketing programs (both online and direct marketing), and capitalizing on the benefits of our retail location. During our extensive training programs, we show our owners the best ways to call on customers to find those long term clients.
7. What kind of ongoing support do you extend to your franchisees to help them become more successful?
We provide extremely extensive support from our corporate headquarters in West Palm Beach, Florida. We have 1-800 numbers for our franchisees to call for technical and marketing support. We also provide an online system with news and video posts to keep franchisees educated and to allow them to talk to each other and post questions for one another. We share logos and design work.
But I really feel the best way to support our franchisees is locally. For that reason, we have regional support offices throughout the United States (as well as Australia and England). These offices are staffed with a Regional Vice President, as well as technical and marketing support, so our franchisees have someone face to face that can help them with their business.
8. What would you tell a prospective franchisee who wants to know about the profit potential of an EmbroidMe franchise?
It’s a great business to be in because you can really build it as big as you want. We’ve got franchisees who have added more equipment and grown into really large companies, while we also have others who are very happy with the original package and are very successful. Unlike some franchises where you need to own multiple locations to achieve the income that some people are looking for, our franchisees are able to do that with one location.
9. Can you describe your typical day as President of EmbroidMe? What do you enjoy most about your job?
I’m very fortunate that I have a great group of people who I work with. I work with our general manager, CEO, and Executive Vice President daily on finding the best ways to help our franchisees be successful. I’m also involved with our major vendors and finance companies as well as meeting prospective franchisees that are looking at the franchise.
I enjoy the challenge every day and every day is different. It’s very rewarding to help someone go into business for themselves (which most people dream of their entire lives) and then help them achieve success. I’m amazed at what you can accomplish when a bunch of
really good people get together with the same goal in mind — run a successful business and build a brand together. I’m happy to say we have so many franchisees that are helping to lead us to further success in the future and have become great friends of mine.
10. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us about the EmbroidMe franchise?
Business ownership is the most challenging and rewarding experience all wrapped into one. Do your homework and visit with the franchisor to make sure there is a good connection. We take great pride in the fact that we are a privately held company and that EmbroidMe is a large family. If you’re looking for a great business in a great industry, please invest some time in looking at us.