Business services May, 27 2010

Signature of franchise success

By Abha Garyali
Signature of franchise success

Signage business a new concept for Indian franchise industry was introduced by SIGNARAMA. In an exclusive interview, Ravi Venkatramani, Master Franchisor, SIGNARAMA India talks about the company and its future plans.

Abha Garyali (AG): Shed some light on the origin and success of SIGNARAMA?

Ravi Venkatramani (RV): SIGNARAMA brand was founded in 1986 by Ray and Roy Titus. Having worked for many years in the printing industry, Roy and his son, Ray, were familiar with the signage industry and realised the need for an efficient signage making company. The first store in Farmingdale, NY, became an instant success. It being the pioneer in the industry, SIGNARAMA quickly evolved as a better resource for signage needs.

We bought the Master Franchise for SIGNARAMA in 2007. As a custom for all SIGNARAMA Master Franchisors, I opened a flagship franchise store in Chennai before beginning the franchise sales process. This process is followed by all Master Franchisors launching the SIGNARAMA brand in their countries. This is done in order to prove the  success of the concept in a new country, and gives the Master Franchisor, the first hand experience of operating a franchise as well.

AG: What is the USP of SIGNARAMA?

RV: SIGNARAMA is a part of business-to-business franchises system under United Franchise Group. Our award-winning network of sign centres is approaching 1000 locations in 50 countries – truly making us ‘where the world goes for signs.’ Now that we have grown to become the world leader in signage, we still work hard to maintain the localised support and individual attention that made us who we are today.

At SIGNARAMA, we believe in going the extra mile to produce more than just quick, standard signage. Every SIGNARAMA sign centre offers full-service signage options.

AG: What inspired SIGNARAMA to take the franchise route to expand the brand in India?

RV: For the past 11 years, SIGNARAMA has grown internationally by selling master franchises to local nationals in over 50 different countries because they realise that local knowledge and understanding will bring greater opportunities for success. This has allowed SIGNARAMA to concentrate on what it does best – selling and supporting Master Franchisors and franchisees.

AG: What are the eligibility criteria for taking the franchise of your company?

RV: Some work experience or prior experience in running a business is necessary. Most importantly, the right candidate should have the passion and desire to succeed.

AG: How many franchised stores do you presently have? What are your future target locations to expand?

RV: We have over 900 franchised stores across the world. We have one franchised store in Hyderabad. We are looking to expand across Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra this year.

AG: What are the future plans of the company in terms of expansion through franchising?

RV: We plan to sell 20+ franchises this year and continue to focus on strengthening our support role as Master Franchisor for our franchisees.

AG: What kind of training and support do you offer to your franchisees?

RV: A franchisee receives several weeks of intensive training once they partner with us. We train on business acumen, running a business, and goal planning skills to be a successful entrepreneur. Moreover, we also train on product, industry knowledge, sales and marketing. Furthermore, we offer continued support via email and phone, global franchise-wide interactive online forums to share ideas and ask other franchisees questions, expos to gather franchisees and vendors, regional franchise meetings and much more.

AG: What were the challenges faced by you while establishing your business in India? How did you overcome these?

RV: We took time to understand the market and tailor the brand to suit the country. We have encountered little to no challenges in that period and our brand has been received very well by our customers.

AG: What advice would you offer to aspiring and young entrepreneurs?

RV: The only advice is ‘Follow your dreams, work hard, find mentors, and build a strong team.’

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