The advantages of belonging to a global franchise

De voordelen van een wereldwijde franchise

Created in the United States in 1986, Signarama soon expanded into a master franchise. In France, the signage and visual communications specialist has around fifty franchisees who enjoy the benefits of belonging to a global group without the constraints. Sales Manager Sami Fossat explains.

Signarama is all about family. First, Roy and Ray Titus, father and son. They launched the business in 1986 in New York. The idea: to bring together signage specialties to make life easier for professionals looking for visual communication tools. The market is highly fragmented, with sign suppliers on one side, panel manufacturers and vehicle decorators on the other.

In ten years, 300 franchise stores have been opened in the United States. It’s time to export the concept. In every country, companies need to show off, and the observation is often the same: multi-support offers are almost non-existent among competitors. Signarama becomes a master franchise, like many major American brands.

“Rather than sending Americans to open stores abroad, we find a local entrepreneur who knows the language, commercial habits, business practices and culture of the country,” explains Sami Fossat, Sales Director of Signarama France. A super franchisee who will adapt the concept to the local market and then duplicate it by becoming a franchisor. “This is the basic principle of a master franchise. In France, they found my parents, Olivier and Rouba Fossat. They weren’t in the business, nor were they entrepreneurs, but they wanted to change careers.

Seduced by the group’s family values, they launched their own business in 2006. On both sides of the Atlantic, history has been made of growth. While remaining a family affair. Grandson Titus is now President of the brand. Son Fossat became Sales Director of Signarama France, after having worked in the United States, developing and opening new stores, then in England, developing the brand in new countries.

His ambition: “to grow Signarama” by strengthening the “American touch”. The American touch? “The most important thing is the customer, understanding who he is, taking an interest in him, knowing what his needs are, advising him,” sums up Sami Fossat. This approach is already “at the heart of what we do in France, since we’re not looking for franchisees who are technicians, but people who have a good sense of contact and salesmanship.

Franchisees often attracted by the network’s international dimension. They can have the benefits without the constraints. You don’t have to be bilingual in English, speak several languages, travel constantly, live between planes or live abroad. “90% of our franchisees don’t speak a word of English,” assures Sami Fossat.

On the other hand, some went to the Signarama world convention in Las Vegas. “They were able to meet American franchisees, visit their stores, understand their management methods, their sales and technical operations.” Them, who do everything bigger. “They have bigger machines and more space. It allows us to project ourselves. To imagine how far we could grow, what we could look like, with a French touch of course. We gain a lot through exchange.

Stimulating exchanges. “In January, the master franchisee from South Africa will come and tell us how they succeed. How they keep their optimism despite power cuts, currency devaluation, corruption.” Sami Fossat sees it as “a lesson in humility and encouragement.” A personal and professional enrichment. Accessible to everyone.

At international meetings, “we translate for them, helping them to understand and interact”. But on a day-to-day basis, many of our employees talk to their counterparts in other countries on a completely independent basis. “These days, communicating doesn’t necessarily mean speaking English very well,” stresses the sales manager. You just have to be curious and know how to use technology.

Intellectually interesting, these discussions also help to optimize everyone’s practices. Success stories can serve as models. Signarama France, for example, has drawn inspiration from other master franchises to improve customer feedback and make strategic meetings more effective. The showroom design comes from Australia. The business software was developed by franchisors in France, South Africa and New Zealand. As for the French, they share their methods for recycling products, working in short circuits, and communicating on professional social networks. Areas in which they are more advanced.

Valuable for franchisees. Working for a global franchise has at least one other benefit for them. The brand’s presence in 35 countries can give access to international customers and offer unhoped-for market opportunities. This happened with Thermo Fisher, a supplier of laboratory equipment with a worldwide presence, for example. When they needed to change all their signs in every country at the same time, the American group called on another global American group: Signarama.

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