28/10/2010 - 00:00

Be prepared for signs of growth

28/10/2010 - 00:00

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WHEN Craig Mason bought a Sign A Rama franchise in 1999, there were only two stores in Western Australia and the brand was relatively unrecognised.

WHEN Craig Mason bought a Sign A Rama franchise in 1999, there were only two stores in Western Australia and the brand was relatively unrecognised.

At the time, Joondalup was on the fringes of Perth’s urban sprawl, yet Mr Mason named the newly developed area as his first preference for store locale, with Lakeside Joondalup’s expanding businesses across the road from his store.

He had one partner in the business and one employee and together they went about increasing brand recognition.

As business grew, production manager Shane Craig became a part-owner, with Mr Mason soon after recognising the benefit of having people with a vested interest in the business managing its different elements; among these, he says, are renewed efficiency and accountability across the franchise.

The same efficiency and accountability is encouraged in members of staff, who are offered bonuses for reaching their targets – a strategy Messrs Mason and Craig and their third business partner will utilise when they open their second store in Malaga next year, with one of the sales managers from the Joondalup store to part-own the new franchise.

“We will take an equity share in it, he will go across and run it, he would have done eight months of seeing how we run things here and it will kick off with a few of our big clients,” Mr Mason told WA Business News.

“It is like a hub-and-spoke model, it will evolve into [that] eventually. The customer base is the only thing that changes really.”

As far as developing a client base, Mr Mason and his business partners plan to leverage off the brand recognition and systems they have developed during the past 11 years in Joondalup.

“Our plans are pretty well advanced. We will get people training through here and to our standard and then when that store opens, they will hit the ground running and be able to handle capacity,” he said.

It seems the system they have created is working, with Sign A Rama Joondalup this year included in the franchises worldwide hall of fame for its leadership, management, team players, volume of business and brand compliance.

Mr Mason said sharing the brand with other business owners could be the best and most difficult thing about the franchise model.

“If a particular branch does let someone down then it tends to carry through,” he said.

Combating this is simple, according to Mr Mason.

“We pick up a lot of jobs by being on time and showing up, things that other tradies won’t do,” he said.

“If you are efficient, do a good job, you’re well presented, and if you show up on time to do a quote, people are immediately confident.

“You can’t let people down; Perth is too small, other people will hear about it.”

In that regard, Mr Mason said his business was running its own race.

Doing a good job has had a flow-through effect on winning work for the franchise as well, with about 35 per cent of his work coming through referrals.

Mr Mason said Sign A Rama Joondalup had grown an average 25 per cent each year.

“It has moderated the last couple of years because of capacity but we have always grown, never gone backwards,” he said.

“While we have had moderating growth, we have been preparing for the next growth phase.

“Normally during the winter, people get scared and retract and go into their burrows, but good business owners or even farmers will be preparing for the spring, planning and preparing business systems.”

 

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