(New) Sign of the Times: When Businesses Want Local, Customized Service, All Signs Point to Signarama

Business is back. More aptly, small business is back in a big way. At the forefront is Signarama, the world’s largest sign franchise and full-service sign business, which is also unveiling a fresh, new look.

“We had not refreshed the brand for about 10 years which recently led us to hire an expert branding company to conduct market research, including focus groups, to help us give our brand a facelift,” said Signarama president “JT” Jim Tatem. “Research showed that we are viewed as a ‘premium’ brand that provides expertise and a customized approach. That’s exactly what we have strived to achieve and want to continue.”

Approaching 900 locations worldwide, Signarama, is more than just a small business for franchisees, it’s a business model that “lends itself to the ideal small-business-owner mindset, but with incredible growth potential,” Tatem said. “Our franchisees want to grow their single location in a large, highly profitable store.

How big is small business as the economy continues to rebound? According to the ADP National Employment Report, companies with fewer than 50 employees created 45 percent – nearly half – of the 188,000 new U.S. jobs in June, with the largest growth, as usual, occurring in the service sector.

For more than 25 years, Signarama has been serving communities with quality products and customer service in a constantly evolving market, offering a full range of comprehensive

sign and graphic services, including impactful solutions from digital signs, vehicle wraps, banners, LED signs, to all traditional sign formats.

Soon, Signarama customers will see a fresh new logo along with a new tagline – “The Way to Grow Your Business” – that replaces “Where the World Goes For Signs.”

“The old tagline no longer conveyed our full capabilities,” Tatem said. “Our global expansion was a selling point in the past, but now customers want personal, local, customized help in building their businesses, and that’s just what each and every local Signarama location provides”

As the market leader in a $49 billion industry, Signarama expects to open 50 more locations through the end of 2013 and have more than 1,200 locations worldwide by the end of 2016.

With brand recognition and local advertising becoming vitally important to small businesses, local entrepreneurs are increasingly relying on Signarama and its trained specialists who understand their unique advertising and marketing needs.

“Our franchisees offer personal attention to the business needs of other owners within their communities,” Tatem said. “We help local businesses to build their brands and grow.”

Digital signs and the use of LEDs instead of neon represent some of the latest innovations in the industry. The commercial viability of LED lighting continues to appreciate because of its lower cost, efficiency and environmental benefits, while the digital sign market is expected to reach $13.8 billion in 2017, according to a study by Global Industry Analysts. The U.S. represents the largest regional market in the study.

Tatem said digital signs and electronic displays offer attractive opportunities for businesses because of the many interactive options the medium represents.

“Today we live in a world of interactive customer advertising so it’s important to grab someone’s attention and make an impact,” Tatem said. “With Signarama digital displays, customers can increase revenue with interactive advertisements and quickly change information as needed, while also giving a splash of color and real-time information.”

As a testament to how fast technology is advancing, another innovation creating considerable buzz is 3D printing, which allows for the creation of a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. NASA even used the technology recently to produce a rocket engine injector, which successfully passed a series of hot-fire trials.

“3D printing allows someone to essentially print anything they want,” Tatem said. “Our R&D department has been investigating its potential use for our business owners.”

Tatem says the vast majority of Signarama franchisees own just one location, so they can enjoy focusing on just one large business instead of managing multiple locations. Signarama also appeals to entrepreneurs who are seeking the opportunity to have more time, determine their own success and grow their own business.

“Our business model attracts entrepreneurs who appreciate the normal business hours and small staffing requirements,” Tatem said. “Our franchisees want the freedom and flexibility of owning a business while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Many of our owners are also building family businesses to be passed down to their children and grandchildren.”

Signarama store owners who employed at least one full-time, non-owner outside sales representative and were in business at least two years prior to 2012 and reported monthly gross sales, averaged $626,256 in annual gross sales.*

“Our franchisee demographic hasn’t changed much over the years, except for the mindset,” Tatem said. “Today’s franchise owner is educated, more tech-savvy and more business-oriented than ever before. They know how to research and uncover the best opportunities and that’s part of the reason we’ve done so well. They are looking for a successful brand with systems and operations in place that will help them thrive, as well, and they find that with Signarama.”

Signarama is the only sign franchise that offers online design and purchase of signs, banners and more. The e-commerce platform not only enhances the customer experience but allows Signarama owners to remain open for online business 24/7.

“Further, we offer an integrated digital point of sale system with more than 50 percent adoption from our owners across the U.S. in the last two years,” Tatem said. “Through our proprietary system, our owners realize shorter production cycles and increased profitability through better decision-making from data analysis. The entire system is also paperless.”

According to industry statistics, sign buyers can make upward of 70 repeat orders per year. With state-of-the-art software, equipment, materials and service, Signarama has maintained its position as the industry leader and where local businesses turn for their messaging needs.

“Technology does advance rapidly and that’s why customers need the help of our experts,” Tatem said. “Our ongoing training and educational opportunities keeps our franchise owners ahead of the curve and allows them to provide the best, most current options for their customers.”