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Signs Express Signs and Graphics Franchise Case Study
Over the past twelve months Signs Express have been operating their hub and spoke expansion model which allows their centres to operate from their central ‘hub’ and expand into neighbouring territories via a ‘spoke’, enabling them to widen their reach and profit potential.
Signs Express Signs and Graphics Franchise Case Study
Franchise Information
  • BFA Membership StatusFull
  • UK Years Established29 years
  • Current UK Coverage60%
  • Franchisee Support Staff24
  • Personal Investment Req.£65,000
  • Total Startup Cost£215,000
  • Territory-based business locationYes
  • Business to business servicesYes
  • Franchisee employs staffYes
Next Steps

Over the past twelve months Signs Express have been operating their hub and spoke expansion model

As an established and mature brand within both the signage industry and franchising sector, we feel it’s essential to ensure our business model is evolving, creating aspirational opportunities for business growth and expansion for our network at Signs Express.

With this in mind, over the past twelve months we have been operating our hub and spoke expansion model which allows our centres to operate from their central ‘hub’ and expand into neighbouring territories via a ‘spoke’, enabling them to widen their reach and profit potential.

Creating exciting opportunities for our entrepreneurial franchisees with the desire to grow their businesses via a cost-effective model, we’re thrilled to see some early success stories and follow a number of our franchisees on their growth journey.

We caught up with one of our newest franchisees Kris Bell, owner of Signs Express (Aylesbury) who after just twelve months of ownership, expanded into his neighbouring territory of High Wycombe, operating under the hub and spoke model.

Signs Express Franchise | Sign Graphics Franchise

You expanded your business after just twelve months ownership, in hindsight, was this the right time for you?

“I’d like to think that I am a driven individual who has always liked to set challenging targets. Having come into the industry completely ‘cold’ and from a standing start in August 2022, the Franchise Support Centre (FSC) team rightfully advised me to take things slow!

Whilst that might sound strange from the franchisor, they understand the journey of business growth through expansion and they want their franchisees to succeed. Whilst I would have probably expanded sooner, waiting for that first twelve months in order to build a better understanding about the business and industry, was absolutely the right thing to do.

A key variable in my decision to expand after twelve months was the fact that the expansion was into a neighbouring territory, which very much felt like a natural fit. I think if the expansion was into a completely new territory or required more resources, realistically it would have been too soon and I’d have set myself up to potential issues.”

What did you do to understand the area both geographically and economically before expanding?

“As a neighbouring vacant territory, we’d already received enquiries from the area and were working with several clients already. This allowed us insight into the core industries and business opportunities. Whilst we had worked in and around the territory previously, we knew we were only working with a fraction of the clients, so to fully utilise the area’s potential it was really important to do our research and understand the demographics of the area and what viable opportunities are out there.
Over the past six months, I’ve worked hard to learn about the new area and the FSC have assisted by providing useful data such as heat maps and industry statistics which has allowed me to create a strategy and plan.

There is certainly a lot of work ahead of us to realise the full potential of the area, so over the coming months we’ll be doing more competitor research and direct marketing amongst other things, to ensure we can carve out a section of the market and be competitive with current incumbents.”

What changes if any, have you made within your team to support the expansion?

“Having moved into business ownership in August 2022, the team and I have been on a learning curve together. We’ve taken the time to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and as a business owner it’s been my job to identify any skills or knowledge gaps or requirements we may have, where we need to develop and recruit to align with my growth plans.

With this in mind, we have promoted within to create some oversight and supervision in the production team. As well as adding two members to the existing team including our fantastic apprentice, Aiden. Aiden has been showing bags of potential and as he’s developed and taken on more solo work, we’ve seen an increase in our overall production capabilities which is a really positive step. To increase our installation resource further we’ve also got a part-time individual who focuses solely on fitting which enables others to spend more time in-house on production.

In addition to building structure and adding to the production team, our new Sales and Project Lead, Sarah joined the team at the beginning of the year to focus on ‘knitting’ things together between sales and production along with focusing on the new area. This has freed up some of my time, allowing me to do what I do best, which is focus on sales.

Overall, I’m delighted with how the team and structure is progressing and can see the positive impact it has had on turnover and profitability, allowing us to deliver a higher volume of work, whilst maintaining the highest levels of quality and service for our customers.”

Has this opened up business growth and expansion as much as you’d hoped?

“From an overall business growth perspective and still being at the early stages of ownership, I’m very happy with the progress so far. The efforts we’ve all put in over the past twelve to eighteen months have now come to fruition and we’re forecasting some very healthy growth as a result. My biggest concern with any business growth is ensuring our quality and service levels remain at the highest standards, something which we constantly monitor and measure.

In terms of spoke expansion, High Wycombe is definitely taking off and contributing to the overall business growth. However, in terms of its full potential, it’s still very much in its infancy. With Sarah in her new position, in January alone we were able to put out many more additional quotes, so we’re confident that as the year goes on, High Wycombe will continue to create a healthy income stream which we’re thrilled to see progress.”

What are your challenges for the year ahead?

“Apart from the well-known economical obstacles that we’re all familiar with, I believe our challenges will be to maintain consistency and quality as the volume of work grows. I now feel much more confident considering the development of the team and my increased understanding of the business however as you reach that next turnover milestone, new challenges arise which I will try to be ready for. I will also have plenty of support from the Signs Express Business Coaches and FSC if needed which adds reassurance.”

What are your future plans for business growth?

“I would like to keep growing, whether that means developing revenue and profitability in the two current territories or taking on more territories.”

What support have you received from Signs Express as a franchisor in relation to your growth plans?

“The support from the Franchise Support Centre has been valuable the whole way through my journey so far. Jonathan Bean, Signs Express Managing Director and Aaron Davis, Network Development Director are always on the other end of the phone should I need help or advice and both Stuart Coomber and David Watson have been fantastic support in terms of sales and business planning; as a data driven person, I find their support very useful. From an operations standpoint, Jeff Bufton and David Allen have also been a great support system because this has been the steepest learning curve of all, as I’ve learnt to understand the materials, production methods and solutions etc.”

What advice would you give to someone looking to expand using the hub and spoke model?

“Do your research, create your plan, set your goals and targets and be ready to get back to basics; more phone calls and emails, more meetings, equating to more orders!
This will hopefully build some strong relationships and our reputation in the area, which in turn will deliver some recurring revenue and referrals!”

If you’re looking for a career change and want to follow in Kris’ footsteps as an energetic, entrepreneurial business owner, get in touch today to find out more about franchising opportunities with Signs Express.

We offer a number of ways to join our established network and have developed our business model to suit you. For those already in the signage industry looking for business growth, we can look at the option to rebrand your existing signage business and benefit from the support of an experienced franchisor and recognised brand.

Alternatively find a location that suits you and start-up your own Signs Express centre, or take a look at our resale opportunities with established businesses in Exeter, Liverpool & Wirral and Huddersfield.

Find out more about running your own Graphic Sign Franchise with Signs Express.
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