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Sep, 14 2010

Signs of success

If your interest lies in advertising and media, signage business is the just the right business opportunity for you. It a bit of fun, bit of art and of course, lots of business management, which you cannot escape.

Signs and graphic solutions have become a recurring need for any entrepreneur. A sign service franchise serves the business community well with graphic designs and signage solutions for all type of businesses. Vehicle graphics and custom banners are all taken care of by a sign service provider.

Business potential

Signage is an integral part of the marketing plan of every business. Sign making is a stable market, as every year lot of entrepreneurs enter the business and do well. In the sign services sector, business comes from small businesses, political campaigns, educational institutions, etc. Throwing light on the client base, Ravi Venkataramani, Master Franchisor, Sign-A-Rama, India, informs, “Our client distribution is usually 30 per cent from large corporate, 50 per cent from small and medium businesses and 20 per cent from educational institutions.”

Banners, box signs, channel letters, custom graphics, custom logos, digital graphics, signs, directory signs and individual letters are all taken care of by signage service providers. Banners, interior design signs, floor graphics, window lettering and vehicle graphics are also widely used signage in SMBs.

Though the market for signs is completely unorganised but that’s where the opportunity lies. Talking about the potential of the signage industry, Venkataramani says, “Signage in most countries generally represents .05 per cent of the GDP. Generally, its growth rate matches GDP growth, as new and growing businesses need more signage.”

Flip side

The challenge in the sign services industry is the constantly improving technology, introducing new signage products, which are less expensive and more versatile. However, this challenge can be easily overcome with constant upgradation of knowledge. Staying on top of these changes is one of the benefits franchisees receive from Sign-A-Rama. On franchisees behalf, Sign-A-Rama conducts R&D of new products and equipment, material supplier discussions and pricing negotiation, as well as attend industry trade shows to stay abreast of the changes.

Franchisability

Signage business is all about artistic talent. Taking up a franchise makes one familiar with the art of sign making. The franchisor supports franchisees by transferring business know-how and selecting the location and negotiating the lease. Training also helps in running the business. The franchisor helps with the equipment package too. Hiring manpower with artistic talent and sales/customer service is of extreme importance.

Sign-A-Rama provides comprehensive five-week turnkey training. The first week is spent at the corporate training facility to understand the business and industry. The next week is spent at another Signarama franchise, learning how that franchisee runs business. The third and fourth weeks are spent in technical and marketing training of staff and franchisees, right from developing designs and making signs to making sales and developing long-lasting relationships. The fifth week is a split week to make sure the franchisee is on target, based on goals mutually agreed upon in the first week of training.

One has to be really aggressive with the marketing in this business. Being where the customer is forms an important part of this business, though opening shop on ground floor is not necessary. Even a shop on second floor is a good idea, as it cuts down the start-up cost. Just make sure that your target consumers are in the vicinity. Marketing your sign business is very important. If customers don’t come to you, take the business to them. Having a mobile sign van is a good idea. Creative marketing ideas will add to the artistic interest in your services.

Expansion

Sigh-A-Rama has two stores in India in Chennai and Hyderabad. Hyderabad is its first franchised store. It also has agreements in place to start more franchises in Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Coimbatore later this year. To open a Sigh-A-Rama franchise, one requires an area of 1,000 to 2,000 sq.ft with an attractive location.

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