SIGNARAMA Franchise Complaints

SIGNARAMA franchise opportunity:  Are you familiar with it?

If so, please share your experience, opinions or insights with a comment below.

The SIGNARAMA franchise brand is part of the United Franchise Group (UFG).

SignaramaAccording to the United Franchise Group website: “The experts at UFG have used their over 25 years of franchising experience to grow the franchising giant into a $500 million dollar success story with approx. 1400 franchise locations in 50 countries.

“The company includes franchise industry giants SIGNARAMA, the world’s largest sign franchise; EmbroidMe, the world’s largest embroidery franchise; Billboard Connection, an incredibly successful out-of-home advertising franchise; Transworld Business Advisors, for people to research business opportunities before investing and Plan Ahead Events, a home-based corporate event planning franchise.”

According to the SIGNARAMA website: “Your Success is Our Business – When you invest in SIGNARAMA, you gain access to one of the largest support staff in franchising, in addition to our resources and knowledge base… With nearly 1,000 stores in more than 50 countries, you can become part of an international brand that puts you ahead of the competition.”

However, data released by the Small Business Administration (SBA) indicates that SIGNARAMA franchise owners who qualified for SBA-backed franchise loans have an disturbingly high loan failure rate of 26%.

That qualifies SIGNARAMA for inclusion in’s list of WORST FRANCHISES IN AMERICA (by SBA loan defaults)

SIGNARAMA franchise owners have an alarming 26% SBA default rate.

The apparent drop in SIGNARAMA franchises in recent years is also a franchise red flag.

SIGNARAMA U.S. franchises in 2008: 597
SIGNARAMA U.S. franchises in 2011: 485
Growth in franchise units 2008 – 2011 (#) -112
Growth in franchise units 2008 – 2011 (%): -19%
SBA loans granted since 2001: 107
SBA loan failure rate: 26%
Sources: Entrepreneur (growth), Coleman report (SBA)

The inability to repay an SBA-backed loan (or any franchise loan, for that matter) indicates a serious situation for the franchisee.

It’s likely that SIGNARAMA franchise owners who received SBA loans may have collateralized their franchise loan with their homes or other personal assets, and many were unable to repay those franchise loans… despite the serious incentive to do so.

Are you familiar with the SIGNARAMA franchise opportunity?

What do you think accounts for the SBA loan failure rate of SIGNARAMA franchise owners?

What steps should SIGNARAMA be taking to stop further franchise failures?

Has SIGNARAMA taken serious action to address the problems that led to these loan failures?

Please share a comment (anonymous is fine) or Contact

If you are a SIGNARAMA franchise representative or employee, please feel free to leave a comment or email us at UnhappyFranchisee[at]



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36 thoughts on “SIGNARAMA Franchise Complaints

  • October 19, 2012 at 11:04 am

    I own a Sign A Rama and I can honestly say they have never done a thing for me.Everyone I’ve ever dealt with from there was like a second rate used car salesman.A couple of years ago they sold another franchise seven miles away from me and didn’t even bother to tell me.That store was out of business within a year.As a matter of fact,all the Sign A Rama’s around me have gone out of business within the last five years. It’s not even like a real franchise in my opinion as none of my customers realize it’s even a franchise.Don’t get sold on the fact that you can go back to Florida for two weeks and come back home and know how to make signs,it just isn’t that easy.So before you pour out your life savings or empty out your 401K,think long and hard about it.Call twenty Sign A Rama’s from around the country and see what they have to say.Hope this was of to some help to someone.GOOD LUCK!!!!!

  • April 28, 2013 at 2:04 am

    Sign making is a viable business. I believe we can grow our Signarama sales and we have many happy customers. Thomas feels like many other franchisees and I question the value in the franchise fees I pay. Their goal is to sell new and resale stores, the training we got was very limited and focused on sales and not sign making. That said there is a good market for sign making, digital printing is profitable.

  • April 29, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    How is digital printing effected by the post office getting more involved in the direct mail business? Does every door direct mail lower your prices? Is the cost of equipment going up or down? Thanks! Asking because all local the sign a rama’s have closed. Franchise problem or owner problems.

  • October 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm





  • October 22, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    I owned a Sign A Rama Franchise from 1999-2004. Fortunately I was able to sell the business for a fraction of my original investment. In hind site I was under capitalized and should never have bought the franchise. That said Sign A Rama did everything possible to get me in a location. Once open I was out of operating capital with in the year and struggled for 5 years. I was lucky, I did not default on my SBA loan. I agree with the above comments. The people selling the franchises were all smiles and pats on the back until the deal closed. They negotiated a horrid lease for me. The lease was the number 1 reason for my business failure. The year I opened my franchise they opened 4 other locations in Columbus. All have been resold and 2 no longer exist. The unit I sold is no longer open. I certainly could have done a better job and hung on for a few more years but the location was poor and the rent was too high to make anywhere close to the money I was lead to believe I’d make. The equipment package was adequate but outdated with in months. I would not reccommend Sign A Rama. I will always regret my decision to buy a Sign A Rama franchise.

  • November 6, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Outside the US, this IS NOT A VIABLE BUSINESS. I should know, I lost my entire life savings and my entire investment into a Sign A Rama franchise in Spain. The company refused to invest in a national accounts salesperson despite the huge startup costs paid to the company. Therefore, no national accounts and since nobody here ever heard of Signarama, the franchise concept didnt work. No referrals from the head office or from store to store. When the economic crisis hit Spain, the head office refused to negotiate royalty payments despite a huge fall in sales figures accross all stores. The end result is that all franchisees in Spain lost their investments and had to close their stores while being hugely in dept to Sign A Rama for unpain royalties. A real nasty situation.

  • April 2, 2014 at 10:58 am

    As a former Sign-A-Rama employee (I worked in 2 different locations), I can attest to the gross failure rate of the business. The owner is basically forced to hire someone to do all of the signmaking, which means they basically have no control over their own business. I can’t believe SAR continues to sell franchises! You can start a sign shop for less than $1,000 – I’ve done it! And since I have no overhead, I’m incredibly profitable. I feel sorry for all the franchisees out there. It’s an uphill battle. If you’re reading this and you haven’t bought a franchise yet, DON’T!!! Put an ad on Craigslist… team up with someone who knows the business – you can get a lot further without all the overhead.

  • April 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Can a person get out of a Signarama contract. If so please advise. I’ve been in it for a year haven’t made any money. Have lost my life savings.

  • April 7, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Hello, Joe,

    My firm, Bridge Management Consulting, helps small business owners them who are struggling with overwhelming debt resulting from a failing or closed business.

    We’ve handled several franchisees who need to get out of their particular franchise hell, and we’ve successfully fought back on behalf of our clients. Don’t give into them!

    We’ve helped with unearned franchise fees, terminating franchise agreements, and non-compete clauses. We know how to work with collection agencies, prepare client’s PFS, and negotiate settlements that are acceptable to our clients.

    Feel free to contact:

    Ryan Lineham, Director of Client Services

    We offer free consultations to all franchisees. We’d love to talk with you. Thanks!

  • April 27, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Do not know who will see this but I would be interested in talking with any one
    who would like to be involved in a sign business. It is the most rewarding business
    ever and the most recorded business not to fail. Weather you are an existing sign
    company or want to start you own I am sure we can work together been in
    business for over 20 years and my fees are very reasonable and no ongoing
    expenses before sales are made email me and we can chat. Looking for
    interested people in Richmond Va Greenville SC and etc Thanks look forward to talking with you.

  • May 12, 2014 at 5:41 am

    I can honestly say the worst thing I ever did was buy a Signarama franchise. The sales process was all smoke and mirrors. The second they had your cheque and signature their availability dropped to almost zero. Prior to that they were like bees around honey.

    They have gone from well over 40 stores in the UK 8 years ago to low teens and have even sold the master licence to an ex franchisee who’s only claim to business ability seems to be that he lost circa £50K per year in each of the 3 years he ran his store in Slough.

    He has reduced the services which Signarama had stripped to a low level in the recession to 1 admin person whose speciality seems to be debt collection and threats. We also found they were stealing from us by marking up all national accounts work by an additional 15% unbeknown to us and the customer. No wonder we never got much National Accounts work we were always out on price!

    Do yourselves the biggest favour of your life if thinking of buying a Signarama and run a mile !!

  • July 15, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Iv owned my own store for 8 years now with the last 5 years being profitable
    People will buy signs off you because they won’t to deal with you
    Not because it’s a sign a rama store
    Head office only see you to make sure your royalty payments are in order otherwise your on your own!
    They only wish to set up more sites thus increasing their royalty and wealth
    Whilst you foot the bill if it goes sour
    I should of smelled a rat when whilst at their training school in Florida (which was a joke btw) one of the new store owners needed an oxygen bottle to breath
    When asked what role he would play in his store – his reply was run the store and do door to door sales !!! He couldn’t even walk a 100m without stopping for a rest
    I heard he died a few months after opening with his step son taking over

    But they took his money anyway

    This franchise is all about buns on seats
    Royalty payments
    And selling the dream of owning your own business when you could do this yourself for a fraction of the cost

    I have to admit the last 3 years have been very good financially and a lot of business’s fail in their first year so I guess things could be worse

    I would be nice though for united franchise group to come clean about their goals and franchise fail rates, prioritys of the company
    , and stop promising one thing then Never deliverering

    Would I buy this franchise again? Probably not

    I now have an aversion to seppos – especially ones promising the world but delivering a half baked business model that has the potential to be great but falls very short

    Do your homework and learn how to negotiate hard _seppo style !!

  • July 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    At least this franchise takes a percentage of the sales. There are some franchises like Discovery Point that takes fixed Royalty, irrespective of your sales. It can be higher than 25% of your sales and when you cannot pay anymore, they used to buy your business from the bankruptcy. Now they are scared to do that due to public awareness from publications in this unhappyfranchisee and Bluemaumau websites.

    The other issue is what loan is franchise related and who marks them. Discovery Point teamed up with a bank official named Jackie Hart and made sure that the franchise name did not get in the loan papers. Therefore, the failed businesses and related loans did not bear their names and they looked good even if several multi-million Dollar loans went bad. Each time a new loan was processed, all bad loans were overlooked because none were reported to be for the franchise business. If this is not a crime, what is? They (franchise and bank) got rich at the expense of franchisees’ personal savings and from SBA.

    Fidelity bank of GA (stock ticker LION) was nearly bankrupt and was distressed before they issued many many multi-million dollar loans for this franchise in other business names. Hope they get caught as this is stealing from tax-payers.

  • August 3, 2014 at 5:06 am

    This is such a bad “franchise”. I had a panic attack at the training in Florida when I realised what I had signed up for and it isn’t pretty. There is NO support. And when you turn to other franchisees for support, the sad reality is that they have become selfish, because everything they have done, they had to do on their own…so why should they share with you? It is the Signarama culture and why they aren’t as big as they could be.

    You need far more capital than in previous times. A small printer isn’t going to cut it these days, you most likely need a flat bed printer to be competitive. Signarama will flatly tell you that price does not matter….hahah.

    Good luck if you have a problem with your setup. Signarama does not guarantee that the setup will be functional and operational. Oh, no. That responsibility lies with the supplier of the equipment…while the supplier points fingers at Signarama…and you are stuck without the capabilities to make signs.
    Be careful of the printer you get in the package…you will want a flat bed. You can afford one…instead of buying a Signarama franchise buy on of those instead.

    It is the biggest mistake I’ve made in my life, and unfortunately, they are very good sales people, and you will be duped.

    You need only look at the website to see how unprofessional it is. Small sign shops manage to do a much better job.

    You will be duped.

  • August 3, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    I worked for seven years at an independent sign shop and then was in a different line of work for a few years and then got back into the sign business. I don’t own a signarama but I work for one. What I find shocking is that the owner went to signarama “school” for several weeks and even after about 3 years owning the business knows next to nothing about making signs. The fact that anyone thinks they can go to school for a few weeks and be able to design, manufacture, install signage is just laughable.
    The above poster that says that a printer that prints on media that has to be applied is not cost effective is totally correct. Unless all you are doing is vehicle wraps you will never be able to compete making signage on substrates without a flatbed printer. How can you? No media cost, only substrate cost….fraction of the labor because no time applying prints….no laminate cost.
    The clown that owns our shop has not made a profit in the entire almost 3 years he has owned the business. He bought the business for something to do in retirement. I perform all the work at the shop from design to manufacture to installation of most signs and I am the only employee and I have nothing to do most of the time.
    Buyer beware.

  • November 19, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Wow Connie are you being paid by this clown, your lucky to be in a job! but thanks anyway I was considering investing in one of these franchises and all the above comments have made me make my mind up of going no further. I myself have no knowledge of sign making but if you employed the right guys whilst you get about trying to make business your staff might be happy for you.

  • December 25, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I’m glad you are doing this to showing the comment from a real people who experience and expose they history about signarama franchise I was about to make my move to go for this franchise, after reading all comments make me change my mind to invest my money in this corporation and once again I want thanks to all who did sharing they comment

  • January 4, 2015 at 11:52 am

    I have owned my Sign A Rama since 2000. It has been a very good and highly profitble experiene. You have to grow the business. It is was helpfull to me that I evolved the basic business. I have now have two buckett trucks and an 8,000 square foot facility. Yes the reession was tough and many sign shops both independent and franchises went out of business. The recession is over and business is very strong. Your sucess does depend on you. No one can make you a winner but you. They can only help you start the jorney. Most of these sites are full of the failures. People like to complain. It is easier than doing somthing to solve your problems.

  • February 9, 2015 at 6:34 am

    I amongst several others decided to leave this horrendous signarama Franchise at the end of our contract. Their response was to attempt to try and sue the pants of myself and several others who made the same decision. As is always the case with Signarama, they decided to do the whole thing on the cheap, employing cheap, inferior lawyers and trying for personal bankruptcy against us rather than risk a more expensive commercial court.

    We all clubbed together and employed a quality law firm and subsequently won the case and all our (substantial) costs against Signarama. So any Signarama franchisees who are threatened by Mr Titus or his sidekick Jim Tatem, dont worry they cant even get that bit right which cost them over 100 k, so even their threats are all huff and puff due to their desire to do everything on the cheap

  • February 16, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Meant does NOt sound true

    – Original comment corrected – ADMIN

  • March 8, 2015 at 1:48 am

    Signarama franchise is a garbage idea and the worst decision you can do to yourself and your family. I have bought one in Canada to find the Master Franchise holder, Mr Barazi of National Franchise Group, careless, and knows nothing about the sign business or franchising. Pretending to be sweet in the beginning until you buy, but once you sign, you see no availability and they are not capable to help in any way. Furthermore, they keep losing stores as owners just walk away once they find how miserable business it is and corporate tried to buy them in bankruptcy to keep them open but could not keep them all. They do not seem to be consistent, honest or professional. Do yourself a big favor and stay away from this junk..!!!!

  • April 26, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Don’t be scared of the Rats at Scamarama. I’ve cussed them all out and copied several departments of the sessions with Jim Tatum. Even Cussed his ass on the phone and dared him and Bill Luce to come see me and get there royalty. They never showed COWARDS. Ray Titus is a pussy he hides behind his COWARDS go ahead and test them I’m still standing.

  • July 7, 2015 at 6:55 am

    Also fell victim to the ufg scam
    I’m in australia and also purchased a franchise
    They offer no suport no buying power and basicly nothing

    My worst life choose was signing there contract

    Offer nothing

    I feel bad and even gilt when I see a new franchisee as I can’t belive they still manage to scam more and more people

    Be ware !!

    SIGNARAMA australia sar Ufg

  • August 20, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    I have also gone the route of loosing my life’s savings to Signarama’s Duly appointed Sharks in UK.

    Greedy Sharks who don’t have no care in the world for their clients (franchises).I am surprised Signarama is still Legal .

    They are down to 15 stores from 35 stores at a time.

    Wish The karma hits them soon.

  • August 28, 2015 at 8:49 am

    I own a Signarama Franchise and have very mixed feelings about this business. This I can pass on to you.

    I successfully owned a manufacturing business for 28 years in NY. I learned early on that in business there are a few important aspects to success. Those being quality, price, and customer service. All three are equally important.

    To break in to any market you will need to be the lowest price guy, no matter what Signarama trainers tell you, believe me you will have to be the low price guy! You will build sales and not make the money you are told you should make. BUT, and it is a big but, if you provide these initial signs on time and of high quality and you show your customer you care about their needs, word of mouth will build your business, and with a higher demand for your product, you will be able to adjust your prices upward over time.

    Second bit of advice….LEARN TO MAKE SIGNS AND INSTALL THEM ASAP. No one will build a quality sign like you. And if you want quality you better keep your eye on what your people are doing, how they install, how they interact with your customers, etc. Signarama will tell you that you need to be out there everyday selling, well I admit you need to make sure your customers know you are always available to them, but when you have a backload of work and your sign guy quits, you need to keep your promises to your customers and that will happen only if you can jump in and produce signs!

    Lastly, don’t expect anything from Signarama in the way of meaningful help. I have owned my store for about 4 years and have seen my regional advisor maybe 6 times. I was begging for help a couple years back and was told he had too many other commitments to get there. That should never be the answer.

    That all being said, I did get some value for my money. I consider myself “business savvy” so I bought a failing franchise that was still operating for $40,000.00, so I needed only a small loan to begin. I also understand “capitalization” and if you don’t you are screwed. Do not expect to make money for two years, in fact, expect to put $30k into business during that time. If you can’t do this there is likely no business you can get into that is not home-based and be successful.

    Good luck to all. It has taken me almost 4 years to start getting a check, BUT, I am 60+ and not looking to build an empire either, I made my money in the die casting business and just like operating a business, so I could have done better. Just remember one fact, people will do business with people they trust. Only YOU can make that happen!

  • December 11, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    I have been a loyal customer with this company for nearly 20 years. However recently the owner is just plain rude .If it was not for Marilyn or Carol no one would buy anything there.

    He complained because I placed an order with a logo used for 20 years from Marilyn.
    He complained because the vehicle needed to be done while it was warm out. He had a week plus notice.
    He complained because of wax done by the dealer.
    He complained because he had to much work to do and had someone else there who cancelled that day.
    He complained where I parked the vehicle but asked prior to parking it there.

    You lost a business account today over a person whose head would not fit in a Stetson 10 gallon hat.

    I have sent many people there and well like your saying it works in reverse as well

    “Most of our customers discover us by word-of-mouth, which means they like our products & services enough to tell their friends. And that’s the best compliment anyone could ever give us.
    We care about what you have to say. If you have a comment or suggestion, you’ve come to the right place. We’d love to hear what you think about us and the experiences that you’ve had. We truly value your input.”

  • April 12, 2016 at 11:25 pm

    Signarama (UFG) are just bullies if you are considering buying do your home work

  • October 25, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Does anyone have any experience for their Experimac brand?

  • September 15, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Don’t open new Signarama UFG without confidentiality agreements, 30 day training at your new store and in the market with your onboarding mentor doing everything hands-on to include processing multiple (as many as 20–all scenarios) mock orders from PR to final payment, Owner, Sales, Info, Designer, Mentor, all 5 making 20 PR calls per day each for total of 100 PR calls per day, for 30 days before opening, introducing your new Signarama as owned and operated locally, high quality signs, guaranteed low cost which means we’ll match or beat pricing, opening in 30 days, survey what types of do they typically buy, etc, who would we follow up with as soon as we open? Then direct mail 10% Off Grand Opening coupon with invitation to stop by our new showroom for a free 2-sided custom yard sign to all 2,000 new potential customers
    that you just called on, all paid for by Signarama UFG, with a 90 day guarantee to meet or exceed 3 month sales goal of $50,000 @ 50% margin. If franchisee/owner not happy with the results, Signarama UFG will convert franchise location to corporate and market to local prospective owners with the Start-Up Mentor working onsite glove to glove during the first 30 days. Don’t Worry–90 Day Guarantee–Be Happy!

  • September 17, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Do not open new Signarama UFG without confidentiality agreements, 30 day training at your new store and in the market with your onboarding “START-UP MENTOR” doing everything hands-on to include processing multiple (as many as 20–all scenarios) mock orders from PR to final payment, Owner, Sales, Info, Designer, Start-Up Mentor, all 5 making 20 PR calls per day each for total of 100 PR calls per day for 4 weeks before opening, introducing your new Signarama as locally owned and operated, high quality signs, guaranteed low cost which means match or beat pricing, opening in 30 days, survey what types of signs do they typically buy, last bought from who, etc, who would we follow up with as soon as we open? Then direct mail 10% Off Grand Opening coupon valid for 90-days with invitation to stop by new showroom for a free 2-sided custom yard sign to all 2,000 new potential customers that you just called on, all paid for by Signarama UFG, with a 90-day guarantee to meet or exceed 3-month sales goal of $50,000 @ 50% margin. If franchisee/owner not happy with the results, Signarama UFG will convert franchise location to corporate and re-market to other local prospective owners with the Start-Up Mentor working onsite glove to glove during the first 30 days. Don’t Worry–90 Day Guarantee–Be Happy!

  • April 14, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    K have personally know five different SAR owners. None have been happy with the franchise. Three are gone, two are unprofitable after 10 years, plus.

    I have a little sign shop. We are always profitable. But then we don’t have SAR’s hand in our pocket, not are we working out of a store they leased on unfavorable terms for us.

  • November 8, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    The large format sector is not a bad business to be in. It’s has its ups an downs but can be very profitable. Cost are low and there are plenty of products to sell. I looked At sign a rama but ended up buying a going independent company.

    Signarama has removed their field support and has not been able to grow. They can’t hold onto employees and have huge turn over rates with corporate staff, especially in the support and sales are. Their only goal is to sell locations. They’ve lost close to 250 locations since Jim Tatem took over. I recently saw there’s been a change in leadership. I’m surprised that they held on to him for so long.

  • May 14, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    Thank God I was able to get out out of my signarama contract. Best thing that ever happened to me. They had some second rate attorney send me what basically amounted to a form letter full of threats. After my attorney fired back,they went away and it was over just like that. If you don’t want to be a signarama any more then it’s pretty much as simple as changing your name and putting a new sign on your building, You can keep your phone number,email address and all that good stuff.

    It’s a sinking ship. Look at how many franchises they had ten years ago compared to today.

    Good job Cindy Novak!

  • March 11, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    If nothing has changed since I did it, this is what you get for your franchise fees when you sign on with Sign A Rama:
    – Two weeks of training. You can’t earn how to make signs in two weeks even if that’s the sole focus thereof, and it’s not. In those same two weeks, rudimentary estimating is taught, very basic bookkeeping is taught, and a lot of time is given over to preferred vendors to make a sales pitch to you for their services. Special emphasis is placed throughout on making sure you always make your royalty payments accurately and on time.

    – Help finding and leasing a shop. In my case, this was actually helpful… once I got them past their obsession with having me go into a retail center.

    – A package of supplies and equipment via a lease UFG arranges through a third party vendor. Two problems there: First, you’ll use up the supplies that are in that lease in 90 days to six months, but will be paying interest on them for five years. Second, my banker told me he could have easily saved me $400 a month had I gone through him… and my bank was not known for being the cheapest lender on the market.

    – Advisers who will visit your shop on a semi-regular basis, supposedly to offer you assistance in growing your business. The first thing they do upon arrival is check your books, to make sure your royalty payments have been made properly. Them they surf the web, book tee times, or text friends, after which they go to a two hour lunch. Upon return, they talk to you a bit about sports or the weather, then present you with their advice on how to grow your business: “Increase sales”.

    – Access to their preferred vendor list, with special products at special pricing. One example of how this works: LED “OPEN” signs. Every business that is open to the public needs one, right? Should be a slam dunk sale. And that’s how it seemed, until we found we couldn’t sell them, even for what we paid for them. Why? Because Costco had the exact same signs for less than the preferred vendor’s “special pricing for Sign A Rama franchisees”.

    – Having to pay a royalty that is a higher percentage of your gross than the percentage most businesses get to keep in a successful year.

    There’s more, but you get the point… and btw, from what I’ve heard, UFG does not have an exclusive on this type of franchise experience. True, some have done well as a UFG franchisee… but after you’re on board you learn that those are the exceptions. The question is, is that a gamble you want to take?

    If I had it to do over again, I’d do it differently. If you are seriously thinking of opening a sign shop – and the business itself can be fun and rewarding – I have a suggestion. Instead of paying a large franchise fee, try looking outside your immediate area for a friendly sign shop owner. Tell he or she that you’ll work for free for 90 days or six months, in exchange for them training you on how to sell signs, market signs, design signs, build signs, install signs, and how to do the books… plus advice on what equipment to buy and what you can skip. Or, you can offer to pay them a reasonable fee for the same stuff, or a combination thereof. You’ll learn more, understand more, and be better prepared to start your business and ultimately succeed. Starting a business is hard, and building one to success is harder. Why make it harder still by going the franchise route, and enabling someone else to make more money off of your efforts and investment than you do? Franchising isn’t my cup of tea, but could it work for you? That’s a call only you can make…. but please go into it with your eyes wide open.

  • September 10, 2020 at 9:53 am

    I bought a signarama franchise in late 2017, sold at the start of 2020 for the same price that I paid for it, but, I had invested way too much money, never pulled an income, so overall, I lost a lot of $$ but gained a lot of wisdom. I didn’t do bad, in fact, overall I think I did well, taking a bad business from an 8k a month turnover to nearly 40k a month in less than 2 years. I have made a lot of mistakes, I don’t blame anyone but me for my lack of wisdom. I have written some thoughts, some positive but, sadly mostly negative.
    -one of the reasons you buy a franchise, is for the on going support and advice. I realised as time went on, that you won’t get much advice from head office unless it’s about marketing. I came to the conclusion that signarama/UFG is not a sign company, but a marketing company, they are good at marketing business’s to sell. They know very little about sign making . Secondly, they would be very reluctant to give any real advice, why? if you act on any direct advice and it turns out to be bad advice, you can then sue UFG. They don’t like this, so, they advise their support people to give general advice only, and nothing direct.
    – I knew the business I was buying was in bad shape and was given a 25% discount from a new price. but, when I got in, I found out that most of the equipment was 10 years old and needed replacing. I essentially had to replace 90% of the equipment. I had been lied to about the state of the equipment.
    – I was advised the previous owner had it for about 2 years and hadn’t done much, so I would be starting with a blank canvas. I found out that the business had been in existence for 20 years and had at least 5 previous owners, all of which had done a bad job and given my particular store a really bad name. I managed to turn this around, but it cost me a lot of $$. Again, I had been lied to.
    -As I was new to business I advised head office that I would need extra training to get me up to speed, but I knew once I was trained that I would have the work ethic to do well. Well, the training, is 2 weeks in Florida. Nice, well, unless you have to travel half way around the world to get there. So, due to bad flights and bad scheduling, I had less then 24 hours rest after 36 hours of travel time. I spent the first week trying to get over the travel, so missed out on a lot. 2nd week, was American supplier trying to sell their products, as opposed to actually learning stuff. This was pointless to a non American. On return to home country, I was expecting 5 days with a mentor, well, the mentor was super busy and gave me about 2 hours of his time. Then comes the fun part, the setup. Well, that got delayed a few times, so 3 weeks after the expected initial start date, I finally get access to the business. The place was super filthy, we ended up filling two large dump bins of rubbish and then spent 2 days of cleaning just so we could be in the place. I then found out I was only getting 5 days of training due to the delayed start. The trainer I had, wasn’t really interested, just went through the motions. I found out later that the week before, he had been advised to look for a job, but to stay on to train myself and the next 4 owners. We all had the same complaints about the lack of training, but head office never cared. So, for the promised 25 days of training, I reckon I had less then 10 days of actual training.
    -Follow up support. hahahaha. Once the trainer left me, I never saw any support for 5 months, oh wait, there was this one time that a support person came and visited me because my royalty report hadn’t gone through. He was with me for an hour. The reason I saw a support person at 5 months, well, that’s because i had become tired of calling and not getting help so put in a formal complaint. I was sat down with a manager and the support person, where I was initially told that I’m not suited. When I explained the problems that I had faced and the lack of support I received, the manager realised that there was a problem. The next week, the support person had left and I had direct access to the manager until a new support person came along. They got one, a really good guy, but sadly, he was too good and once many owners realised this, his time was spread thin across too many owners. I have maintained friendship with this support guy after I left the cult of signarama.
    -Software – Corebridge. This is the POS software that is used by Signarama now. There is nothing positive I can say about it. it’s slow, clunky, hard to setup and very expensive. No owner wants to use it, but head office have forced owner to go onto it, no matter what.
    -One of the biggest issues I found was that Signarama has been around for a while now, over twenty years in my city. The problem is that as the owners are not vetted, nor trained, signarama has actually got a bad name, particularly with sign writers. pretty much most sign writers that are worth their wage will not work for a signarama due to the bad reputation. so, as a franchise owner, you will always struggle to get good people. The number one complaint in every owners meeting, is the lack of good sign writers that will work for signarama. As staff is your biggest asset, the fact you can’t get good staff, is, in my humble opinion the main reason why most signarama’s will struggle. Don’t believe me? If you are interested in buying a signarama, go ask ten store owners what their three biggest problems are. I guarantee you, getting quality staff will be one of them.
    -other owners. in general, I found that one of the biggest strengths was the fellow owners, particularly the guys who had been around for a long time. Their advice was awesome and much appreciated. I will say, that there are some owners who only look out for themselves and will take advantage of you at any chance, so be careful, not all owners are good.
    -Another major problem was that there were too many store for a given area. I had 5 stores within 20 minutes drive. There just wasn’t enough work to cover the five store, and, customers were often calling 3 or 4 stores and getting quotes and making us fight against each other, knowing we were all screaming for work. None of the store were profitable, one store went through 2 owners in less than 18 months, both owners closing the doors, losing everything. Head office still made lots of money from selling the same store twice.

    From what I have learnt, the business model has some merit, but overall, not worth the money. There are some stores that do well, maybe 20% of stores, some stores that break even, maybe 20%, the rest, are struggling.
    I will have another business, but I will never have another franchise, UFG has burnt me.

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