Increased penetration and adoption of smartphones and tablets, allowing personalized marketing and customer engagement, are already having a significant impact on business. At FASTSIGNS, we have created over a dozen iPad and tablet sales presentations that our franchise partners and their outside salespeople utilize to display our capabilities and facilitate interaction with prospects and customers. In the future, the use of mobile devices as a primary computing and communication tool will revolutionize business. Placing orders and paying by smartphone are innovations taking place today. Integrating business processes using tablets and smart phones, giving employees instant mobile access to a company’s systems, will bring increased efficiency. Each of us, as players in the large-format market, need to keep up with these game changing technologies or we will be left behind.
Access to Capital
The credit crisis that began during the economic downturn continues. While there has been some improvement, the vast majority of small businesses continue to struggle to get access to capital, limiting their ability to expand, add equipment, new employees, etc. While the administration and Congress have given this issue some attention, at the same time, regulators continue to require banks to increase reserve requirements and tighten credit criteria. This lack of access to capital affects many in our industry, as well as small businesses in every industry, further restricting small businesses’ job creation and economic growth capabilities.
Our industry will not return to its full potential until our economy strengthens. The International Sign Association’s 2011 State of the Industry Survey reports “economic uncertainty” as the most significant issue affecting our industry. The lack of access to capital is one of several key factors limiting our economic recovery. Developing and nurturing the relationship with your banker is key. Alternative sources of funding, from factoring to private individuals looking for a better return on their capital or small business loan exchanges, will become more common in our industry.
Those large-format businesses with access to capital will have a competitive advantage over their competition. This access to capital allows you to acquire needed technology and invest in the hiring, training and development of the innovative staff to help you grow your business.
The companies that pay close attention to these “tectonic” changes will maximize their competitive advantage. I encourage you to set time aside to address these two areas of challenge because doing so will allow you to turn the challenge into opportunity.
At FASTSIGNS, the team is focused on increasing our franchise partners’ profitability and their profitable sales volume. We have developed a robust outside sales and sales management support program as well as sophisticated multi-channel, multi-touch integrated marketing campaigns with measurability. We are about to launch an integrated point-of-sale, e-commerce, and management information system that we believe will revolutionize our centers.
Our franchise partners benefit from our technical team, which provides end-to-end tech support on hardware, software, workflow, and color management as well as unbiased, detailed equipment, ink, and substrate testing and evaluations. We have created an extensive library of custom actions and scripts—to increase efficiency and speed up workflow—and answers to frequently asked questions to reduce the time spent on troubleshooting, problem solving, and training staff.
We are working hard to bring even more savings to our franchise partners; negotiating with vendors on equipment, substrates, supplies, and services using our buying power as leverage. We are providing tools and training to help our franchisees select, train, and motivate empowered team members.