As one of the first members of the Signs Express network Ken has successfully owned and operated Signs Express in North and North East Lincolnshire for the last 20 years, currently employing 20 staff with a turnover of £1million.
Ken's business provides a complete design, manufacture and installation service for all forms of signage, including interior and exterior signs, vehicle graphics, exhibition and display products, window graphics and health and safety signage. Ken has an enviable client list including two large oil refineries, a large agricultural company and a national holiday company.
In 2010, Ken was one of just two franchisees to be elected to the Board of the British Franchise Association (BFA). This was a huge achievement as in its 35 year history the BFA had never before appointed franchisees to its Board. Over the years his achievements have been recognised through numerous award wins; a highlight being named Franchisee of the Year at the 2009 Signs Express convention.
We invited Ken Bevis to share his experience and insight to inspire those who may be considering developing their own career by buying a franchise.
Before 1992 I operated a road haulage business, primarily involved in UK exports, which was successful for a number of years. Many people will remember the worldwide ban on British cattle and meat exports due to CJD back in the early nineties. I knew this had the potential to damage my business so before the downturn could take hold I decided to move on. Signs Express was advertising at the time and the opportunity of setting up a franchise interested me. After visiting Signs Express in Ipswich, which was then their only franchise sign production centre, I was convinced that this was the right avenue for me. I could see the potential and diversity in this line of work, which would challenge me and hold my attention. It also had a practical focus – something that I could be hands-on with – which appealed to me.
The two co-founders of Signs Express convinced me at the time that their format and ethical approach to franchising would provide a good model. 20 years down the road that’s been proven, with a network of over 70 franchisees surviving the recession. Statistically the failure rate of UK small and medium sized start ups in the UK is 7 in 10. In franchising it is just 2 in 10. A well-managed and well-thought through franchise can be far more effective than a stand-alone business start up.
Technology has always driven us forward in every area of the business, particularly production and communication, which is what we’re all about. As a network we are always evolving, continuing to look inwardly and externally, moving with the requirements of the world, plus maintaining our position in the market place. We are never standing still.
From starting up with just one member of staff to now operating a 7000 sq ft centre that I own, with 20 staff and a £1million turnover; because of solid foundations and a strong family commitment I know that my centre has the ability to continue for many years after I’ve gone.
Always review how you operate. Continue to invest in staff. Never forget where you came from.
Martin Geddes-Smith is the new owner of the existing Signs Express business in Telford.
At 29 Janiv Patel is one of the youngest franchisees in the award winning Signs Express Network.
Ray Allenby and Jane Wiles have recently taken over the long established Signs Express business in Cosham, Portsmouth.
Mark Kendall took over Signs Express Southampton for a career change. In two years he has almost doubled the turnover of the centre. We caught up with Mark to find out what inspired him and unearth his tips for running a successful business.
We spoke to Anne Hitch about her career path and what qualities she believes makes her successful in her Signs Express business
Originally opened in 1995 husband and wife team Nick and Marion Baxter-Sibley now employ ten staff at their 2000 sq ft unit based on Waterbridge Court on Matford Park Road.
Originally opened in 1998, Malcolm has been Signs Express centre owner since 2005 and now employs six staff
Originally opened in 2004, John has been centre owner since 2007 and now employs seven staff from his 2200 sq ft unit based on Avonbank Industrial Estate.
Joe Smith opened the doors of his custom designed sign making centre back in June 2006 at the age of 29.
Signs Express (Twickenham) Franchisee Jayesh Patel Originally opened in 2003, Jayesh employs four staff at his 3000 sq ft unit based on Vector Park in Feltham
Signs Express (Leeds) husband and wife team Dave and Kim Nurse now employ six staff at their 1981 sq ft unit in Leeds.
As one of the first franchises to open Nick has been centre owner since 1992 and now employs six staff