Signarama Canada wants to show off a new sign of its own. It says “We’re Growing.”
The world’s largest full-service sign franchise is embarking on an aggressive expansion strategy in Canada. Only 40 of the company’s 900 worldwide locations are in Canada, but the plan is to increase that number to 100 within five years.
Signarama Canada Chief Executive Officer Saleh Al Aroud says that’s an achievable goal. They want franchisees who are committed to learning and growing along with the company.
“The ideal candidate would be someone that’s eager to own and operate their own business, and wants to belong to a brand rather than try to figure things out on their own,” Al Aroud says. “Someone with an aptitude to do well. “Many of our successful franchisees have no experience with signs or even running a business when they start. Signarama provides them with a training program that governs everything that they’ll need to get their doors open.”
Signarama has been in business since 1986, with global headquarters in West Palm Beach, Florida. The company has been franchising in Canada for almost 20 years, beginning with a store in Mississauga, ON. It now has stores in most provinces from coast to coast.
When thinking of potential markets– Signarama Canada wants to go where they believe the franchisees will be most successful. No previous experience in signs or graphics is necessary to be a successful Signarama operator. The company arranges to provide successful applicants with all the training and support they will need.
Franchisees begin with two weeks of training at Signarama’s Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence in West Palm Beach, followed by a week of on-thejob training at an established location. That in turn is followed by two weeks of technical marketing training in their new store.
The company helps franchisees to negotiate a lease, design, lay out and set up their store, find staff, and train employees. There is also ongoing marketing, advertising and public relations assistance. Al Aroud says it’s a true turnkey opportunity. “We have a local regional support office in Mississauga. We have a very effective mentoring program. And we do a lot of achievement recognition which franchisees like. They are rewarded for doing well.” He also notes that franchisees have access to the company’s mass purchasing power and strategic business alliances.
One example is the affiliation Signarama has with AIR MILES. “That’s huge for us,” he says, pointing out that it’s an exclusive relationship in the Canadian sign industry. It’s one of the things that helps to set Signarama apart from its competition in the marketplace. But that’s not all that’s different.
“This is a $50-billion industry, so there’s a lot of opportunity. And 70 per cent of our business comes from repeat customers, which shows that Signarama stores are supported by the communities that they go into. It’s a proven business model.”
More proof lies in the company’s repeated recognition from the Canadian Franchise Association. Signarama has been honoured in each and every year of the association’s annual awards. “We’ve won a Franchisees’ Choice Award from the CFA for five consecutive years,” Al Aroud says proudly, noting the company’s ongoing success in maintaining mutually rewarding relationships with its owners and operators. The award is based on responses to a survey that addresses a franchisor’s leadership, business planning and marketing, training and support, and operations, among other factors.
“Being a Franchisees’ Choice designee is a high honour because the high rankings in franchisee satisfaction come directly from the franchisees themselves,” Lorraine McLachlan, CFA President and CEO, said in a news release announcing the most recent awards last April. “To earn that honour five years in a row is especially significant because it shows that these recipients are consistently earning high marks from their franchisees.”
Signarama Canada has always believed in supporting the communities where it has established locations. The company wants to expand on that by supporting its country as well. One of its new initiatives is the Opportunities for Veterans Program. It’s designed to help veterans establish their own businesses.
Signarama is soliciting applications from veterans interested in being part of this program. The first successful applicant will have their franchise fee waived entirely, and all other qualified entrants will receive substantial savings on their fees.
In addition, for every veteran who opens a Signarama franchise, the company plans to donate $5,000 to a national fund that supports post-secondary education for military families.
“We’re doing this for many reasons,” Al Aroud says. “The main reason, quite honestly, is that Canada has been extremely supportive in many ways. We feel doing this is a way of showing veterans that we care for what they have done, and here’s a way for us to help and give back if we can.”