Scottish Franchise Week Franchising in Scotland Interview

Wednesday 19th April 2017

Franchising in Scotland Facts

Celebrating 25 years of franchising, Signs Express has 65 centres throughout the UK and Ireland and offers an opportunity to become part of a network in the lucrative B2B sector.

Scottish franchise week, 2017 that takes place w/c 24th April offers an insight in to franchising, with a host of educational and networking events taking place. The week is designed to highlight and promote successes and possibilities that franchising has to offer.

The franchise industry in Scotland:

  • Employs more than 32,000 people
  • Saw an increase in turnover of 14% in 2016
  • Worth £800 million-pounds

Signs Express has prime locations currently available in Scotland, such as Edinburgh and Perth, with territories boasting a minimum of 10,000 businesses – perfect for establishing and growing a new centre.

With several successful centres established in Scotland and in honour of Scottish Franchise Week, we caught up with Steve McMurray, franchisee of Signs Express (Falkirk) to hear about his experiences.

Interview With Steve McMurray – Signs Express (Falkirk)

What attracted you to Signs Express?

After starting a family I was keen to run my own business and focused on opportunities that could offer me accelerated growth. Signs Express were and continue to be, market leaders within the sector, hence their appeal.

How did you fund the franchise?

Banks view franchisees more favourably than start-up businesses as there’s less risk involved, so obtaining funding was relatively straight forward. We had some existing capital and worked with Signs Express to produce a business plan to borrow the remainder via a bank loan.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

Initially I attended a 4-week training programme and have continually received ongoing support from Head Office. One of the key benefits I have found with being a part of a franchise is when I’ve gone on holiday with my family.

The ability to switch off as a business owner is invaluable and something I can do knowing that my staff can pick up the phone and access the wealth of experience and knowledge from the dedicated UK support centre.

Since I took on my franchise 12 years ago, the training from head office, now known as the Franchise Support Centre, has been under review and is now even more robust, enabling new franchisees to get themselves established more easily.

Can you describe a typical day?

I like to get in the office early so I can catch up on anything outstanding from previous days and look at what we have coming up. Once the centre opens, I have a production meeting with my team and we go through work that needs to be scheduled that day. I’m really just checking in with my team to be honest as they usually have everything already in order.

My focus is then on engaging with customer, quoting jobs and attending client meetings. I will usually check in with production later in the day to ensure everything is running smoothly. Finishing around 5.30/6pm most nights, I’m usually home in time to eat dinner with my family.

As with any business, I do occasionally work a bit later or do some work at home but I’m happy to put in the extra effort when it’s needed. Thankfully for me, now that the business is well established, this only happens on rare occasions.

What challenges have you faced within the business?

Taking over an under-performing territory was very much like having a new start-up greenfield site. With hard work and building the right team around me, we are now firmly established and successful. I think we’ve certainly dispelled the myth that a poor performing territory is due to a bad territory selection.

Of course, not all territories will perform at the same level as there will always be areas that perform particularly well, however all territories should be able to provide the Franchisee the minimum agreed level of business as stated by the Franchisor.

How has being a franchisee changed your life?

Being a franchisee has given my family a good lifestyle both in terms of financial benefits and time. As I now have a larger team working for me, I can reap the lifestyle benefits of this business.

What advice would you give to those considering a franchise?

Whatever sector you may be considering, be sure to do your research. Check out their competitors and learn what makes them different. Even if it’s costing more money you should always try and pick the market leaders as this will set you up for the greatest chance of success.
Why is Scotland a great place to open a franchise?

Whether looking at Scotland, or anywhere in the UK and Ireland, the key is to carefully select your territory. Make sure you do a bit of your own research to assess whether you could potentially be the best business in the area, considering competitor franchises and independent businesses. The franchisor can also help advise you on this, but be sure to also consider lifestyle implications on the location you choose.

What makes someone a good franchisee?

People who are driven, have a passion for working hard and are able to learn quickly. Opening a brand-new centre is always going to be tough in the first few years, but with the right attitude and determination, along with the support of the franchise support centre you have a much better chance of succeeding then if you were to go it alone.

Signs Express have an impressive track record of successfully opening new franchises, as well as with those taking on existing businesses. Just remember that the franchisor won’t do all the hard work for you. You need to learn and follow their model for success.

What are your future plans?

There will ultimately come a time when I would like to retire and this is another factor as to why I was interested in franchising. A resale franchised business is more attractive for potential buyers of business rather than a freehold business.

Would you do it again?


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