Signs of Success
Name: Liam Marshall
Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose your franchise?
I have owned a successful Franchise in the past and know the value of a proven business model. Opening a new company is scary enough as it is and with a proven franchise model, your chances of success are that much greater.
I chose the Sign-A-Rama franchise as I have always been involved in the advertising and branding industry and realised that I could best utilise my skills through a Sign-A-Rama Franchise. I also wanted a business where there is no real ceiling as far as growth and profits are concerned. There is possibly more risk but also far greater rewards if you stick to a tried and tested formula.
What did you do before taking up a franchise?
I was the Sales Director at Ster-Kinekor and prior to that lived in Dubai for 7 years and was the Group Sales & Marketing Director for Motivate Publishing.
How did you raise the finance?
I raised 50% personally and financed the other 50% through Nedbank Small business. The franchisor assisted in the application for finance.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
Initially I received a 2 week intensive training programme in Florida, USA. Thereafter 2 weeks onsite support when opening the business. We now receive on-going scheduled support and ad hoc support when needed. The franchisor also assisted by finding the location for the business, and with the recruitment of staff.
What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
There is absolutely no typical day. Each day is different and comes with its own challenges although certain duties must be carried out every day which includes: Status, Sales & Production Meetings; Quotes sent out within 24 hours; Follow up on quotes older than 1 week; Site inspections where needed; payments to creditors; deposits from debtors. Most importantly, sales calls and meeting with existing and prospective clients
What challenges have you faced?
Cash flow is always a challenge especially on big jobs where the client has an account or the business has a policy of only paying after 30 days e.g. government. It is sometimes very difficult to buy in materials, complete the job and only get paid over 30 days later.
The right pricing, in the area you do business is sometimes tough as you have to compete with other companies undercutting your prices. You need to know when to walk away from a deal when the margins become unsustainable. You need to try and compete on quality and service rather than price. This is difficult for a new business but becomes easier after time especially when your work is being referred due to quality and service.Hiring and keeping good staff is a constant challenge.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
It’s definitely changed my life. I feel that I am now in full control of my own destiny rather than having a boss who decides one’s destiny. Failure is not an option.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
- Ensure that the Franchise you are looking at has a good track record. Speak to existing Franchisees before making one of the biggest decisions you will ever make.
Liam Marshall: SIGNARAMA Edenvale
011 609 0410 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Make sure that you are cut out for and have the relative experience in the Franchise industry you are thinking about. Sound management and sales experience in a Sign-A-Rama as far as I’m concerned should be a pre requisite.
- Make sure that you have enough money left over after buying the business for sufficient operating capital and living expenses.
- Be prepared to wear many hats and work long hours. As a new franchisee, you will be multitasking every minute of every day and doing many things which might be out of your comfort zone. You will find that you cannot possibly finish what you need to do during business hours and can only complete them after hours.
What are your plans for the future?
Although we started off with a 250sqm business, we are fast running out of production space. Our location is excellent and we would never move from our existing premises. As the business is growing nicely we will look to grow the business with renting premises in an industrial area to handle our big work.
We do however need to decide when the time is right, which is difficult. Many businesses fail when they grow too quickly without a well thought out plan.
Would you do it again?
For Sure! Absolutely!