In this exclusive Q&A, we get to learn more about Signarama from one of its franchisees, Kent Randall.
Franchise Chatter (FC): When making the decision to open another business, how did you come across Signarama? What made you decide on this franchise for your next venture?
Kent Randall (KR): A colleague in one of my other ventures was working part time with a broker. I was looking at a variety of other options for varying revenue streams. Signarama was not actually one on my radar, so to speak.
However, my colleague insisted that I look into the Signarama model. I did so, and I was intrigued. I was mostly intrigued by the notion that the franchise HQ helps the startups get up and running and then trusts us enough to take the business where we want it to go. I like the autonomy, and the support that the whole community offers.
FC: What are the day-to-day operations like with Signarama? How are they different from your other business?
KR: The day-to-day operations are diverse. Each morning offers a new request or a different way to help local businesses enhance their message to the public. This is very different from business development and legal practice. In those fields, I would see the same issues or problems over and over again. There is nothing wrong with that, as my company then has templates and a background to help. But, there is something invigorating about not knowing what is going to come through your door on any given day.
FC: What products and services does Signarama offer and how do they benefit other local businesses?
KR: Signarama offers everything from banners to billboards, as we like to say. That just means that we have a product for whatever a business needs, or in some cases, is not even aware of, to enhance its business brand and marketability.
I just saw a study that 50 percent of people go into a business because they saw a sign about it; and 33 percent go in because of someone telling them about a local business presence. So, 83% of customers will go into a business just because someone saw a sign or product offering. So, our products generate brand awareness for a localized population.
FC: Why is signage such an important part of business success?
KR: People do not know what they do not know. I could have the best product or the best service or the best of something else; yet, if no one is aware of what I sell, then no one will show up for my product.
FC: How did your prior business ownership help you in getting your Signarama up and running?
KR: Prior business ownership has helped me understand what can make a business succeed or fail; and, my previous experiences have put me in contact with many varied and earnest business owners—owners who have gone through the good times and bad and found success and fulfillment.
FC: What are your business projections for your Signarama? Do you have plans to open additional locations?
KR: Projections are to grow from where we are right now. We have an option to expand our internal operations into a larger location in order to add other equipment. Thus, we could produce a more diverse set of products without needing to outsource or rely on a wholesaler.
FC: Do you have any advice on how to develop a strong and beneficial relationship with your franchisor?
KR: The best advice I can offer is to make sure the new owner lets the franchise do all it can to help with the set up. After that, the owner needs to push forward as if it is his/her business, which it is, and not the franchise’s. The owner is in the community and building the brand; the franchise is not.
I have seen franchise owners blame the franchise when things are not going well. For some reason, in the owners’ heads, they believe the franchise is going to make their business thrive or die. It is on the business owner to get things done—to sell, sell, sell and to produce, produce, produce. The franchise is there for support, but not to do your work for you.
FC: What advice would you give other would-be franchisees looking to open their own location? What advice would you give other business owners looking to get into franchising?
KR: Consult with someone who has started a business. I had the benefit of my legal background and understanding regulations to know that permits, tax ID numbers, registrations, down payments, deposits, and so forth, were required prior to opening my doors.
Too many people think that a franchise fee is all they will need to get going. Franchises offer a proven system; but, after signing a franchise agreement, there is still much more to do to get the store or location open and operating.
My final advice to anyone looking into a franchise is to do the due diligence. The person selling the franchise is trying to close you. Some of those people are pushy and some are patient. But, the franchise’s salesperson is not going to give you any more information than what he/she is obligated to give.
So, interested franchise owners need to look through the FDD, talk to other franchise owners, write down everything, cull through all the information they can, and then make a decision. It is not a simple decision, no matter how rosy the picture is sketched by the franchise—even the best of franchises have issues and disgruntled owners. So really look into the pool before jumping.