While there are well-known names in the sign franchise universe, there are also a significant number of smaller and lesser-known franchise systems. In a search of online sources, Wide-Format Imaging has assembled some general data on 16 franchise operations that can be consider part of the sign industry. There are likely a few more, smaller franchise operations out there. The data presented here is from the most reliable sources we could find and our results were sent to the franchises for confirmation. Unfortunately, very few replied. Our search turned up a total of 3,012 individual franchise locations in the US (2,149), Canada (242), and overseas (621). The majority of franchise operations began franchising in the late 1980s, lagging behind the franchise efforts of the quick printing industry by a decade or more.
Four of the top US franchise operations use the traditional franchise model. Two, Sign World and Sign Biz, are more chain affiliations than traditional franchise operations. The top Canadian players are Sign-A-Rama with 46 locations and the home-grown Magnetsigns with 97. Sign-A-Rama also leads in foreign franchise locations with 288, followed by FastSigns with 66.
It is our hope to expand this beginning data base to build a more complete picture of sign franchising industry in the future. In the meantime we would welcome any clarifications, corrections, or updates to this initial listing.