SIGNWORLD: VP Jack Werner Fires Back at Critics

Our earlier post SIGNWORLD Complaints contained excerpts of comments (from complaint site Ripoff Report)signworld_logo critical of the Signworld business opportunity, its founder and president Ken Kindt and Signworld VP of Sales Jack Werner.

On the same forum, Jack Werner, a former Signworld operator, fired back at his anonymous critics.  Werner defended Signworld’s claims that its business opportunity has an extremely low failure rate, stating:

I joined Signworld as an operator in 1995 after doing a lot of my own careful due diligence… I did honestly break even, cash on cash, my first month in business, and wrote my first paycheck to myself in my sixth month after letting the businesses cash reserves build up. I ran my business for 10 years before successfully selling it for many times what I paid for it and I then joined Signworld’s corporate staff because I strongly believed in the business model.

I do know of others that broke even, cash on cash, in their first month, some that broke even in their second, third, and fourth month, most broke even around their sixth or seventh month, and for some it took longer. Believe it or not, we actually did have an owner who did break even his first week in business. But that was a true testament to the hard work that owner put in securing a large order before his doors were even open. It is an owner driven business. Some people just “get it” sooner than others do.

It is impressive that Jack Werner has experience as an owner operator, and that he was willing to publicly address his critics in a professional manner.  However, his claim that one owner “did break even his first week in business” is especially troublesome.

How could an owner making a $183,000 investment “break even” his first week in business?  Did the owner secure this enormous order, collect the money, receive the materials and complete all of the necessary work in the first week?  Jack Werner must surely know that that’s what would be necessary for the owner to recognize monies received as income.

Does that mean that this owner maintained profitability since the first week, or that he did well his first week?  How many achieve profitability from Day 1?

Perhaps Mr. Werner – or someone else familiar with this claim – can provide the specifics.


logo: SIGNworld

40 thoughts on “SIGNWORLD: VP Jack Werner Fires Back at Critics

  • I’m an advisor to clients wanting to own and operate successful businesses. Not every franchise or business opportunity owner is successful. Nearly always, they’ve not performed their due diligence investigations adequately and choose to invest in businesses for which they are just not suited. There are more than 5,000 franchise models and business opportunities in today’s marketplace and SignWorld is among the very best models I can recommend to clients whose qualifications indicate they’ll be successful in that kind of business.

    I’ve known Jack Werner for many years and have met with or talked with more than a dozen very successful SignWorld operators who will gladly attest to Jack’s integrity and the soundness of the business model. In Jack’s loquacious style, he’s not only broadened my understanding of his business and the franchise industry, but also has helped me improve my abilities to assist my clients. Foremost he believes in his company and the potential for owners to prosper. Beyond that he does everything he can to help other people in the industry, supporting franchise education and sharing sales techniques he’s used successfully for many years.

    The SignWorld opportunity isn’t sign making like one of the ubiquitous sign shop you see in strip malls and on busy streets. It’s a commercial vehicle in which successful owners become heavily involved in their communities which provides a never ending, always changing source of business opportunities.
    While new owners aren’t required to have previous experience, they are required to follow a proven sales and marketing program and be motivated to build their business. People who may not succeed in this business either don’t follow the business guidelines or are just not motivated to succeed.

    Jack and the folks at SignWorld are always complimented and are highly regarded by franchise professionals across the country. I continue to believe their business model is extremely sound and will continue to present the business to any client wanting to build very good equity while obtaining good margins in a business where networking is a key component.

    David Sword

  • David Sword writes: I’m an advisor to clients wanting to own and operate successful businesses.
    David, you’re not an advisor, you’re a franchise broker who only earns a fee when someone invests in one of your represented client companies, like Signworld. Franchise and Biz Opp companies are your clients, not the opportunity seekers. That’s why “There is never a fee or an obligation to work with Axxiom Franchise Adivsors.” The fee is paid by Signworld.

    Jack and the folks at SignWorld are always complimented and are highly regarded by franchise professionals across the country.
    Who are these franchise professionals? Brokers? Ad sales reps? Why would they be highly regarded in the franchise industry when they aren’t a franchise company?

    I don’t know whether these detractors have valid points or not, but there are some red flags here. One is the fact that Signworld is marketed like a franchise, on franchise sites, yet they do not follow the same marketing and sales guidelines franchises do. They freely make financial claims and have some very suspect claims about profitability, ROI and break even threshholds. While it’s great you posted with your real name, it doesn’t help that you are not forthcoming about being a salesman for the company. Copier salesmen advise. Suit salesmen advise. Car salesmen advise. They’re still salesmen.

  • Obviously I’ve misjudged your forum. You aren’t seeking information about worthwhile companies, rather your mission is to promote salacious remarks from disgruntled business owners and promote your own bias. Good luck on continuing your forum regarding sour grapes. There’s no need for you to reply,

    Thanks, David

  • David:
    Yes, you misjudged but not in the way you describe. On this forum you need to be straight, honest and drop all the crap you get away with when talking to Entrepreneur-magazine-reading newbies dreaming of being their own boss and thinking they can dream their way to success.
    Our audience includes people who have been there and learned the hard lessons of business ownership. Call this the no-spin zone.
    In the newbie world, Jack can get away saying that people have recouped their investments in the first week, but you and I know that’s BS.
    In the newbie world, you can rename franchise salesmen as “advisors” but you and I know that’s BS. Copier salesmen advise. Car salesmen advise. They’re still commissioned salesmen, and so are you. Just be honest.
    In the newbie world, you can get away with extolling the benefits of business opportunities over franchises, but here we ask real questions and know real answers from candy floss… and aren’t afraid to say so.
    So here are the real questions:
    Does Signworld & its salespeople, brokers, etc. tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth during the sales process?
    Does Signworld adequately qualify its prospects both financially and personally to make sure they have the requisite finances, knowledge & skills to be successful?
    Is the basic Signworld business model sound and viable in the markets you approve?
    Does Signworld provide a good value in terms of what it provides for the fees it charges? While it claims there are no royalties, how does it generate revenue after the biz is up and running? Is all of that disclosed?
    If Signworld does all that right, then the “un-franchisees” probably have nothing to complain about.
    I won’t defend franchisees who don’t follow a sound, honest system that they chose to join, nor franchisees who didn’t do a shred of due diligence.
    But I also can’t abide franchise brokers who show up with smoke & mirrors & run when confronted with reasonable questions.

  • This is definitly an “opportunity” ha….to stay away from. Lots of money in …very little if any out except for a few. I would estimate their failure rate as VERY VERY HIGH….not as claimed. They need to be sued on their claims. I am speaking as a person who has blown my entire retirementy money over 2 years getting into this business that is very crowded with competitors and ever changing. They don’t realize the expertise this business takes these days. However….they still say you don’t NEED EXPERIENCE!
    Jack and Ken that was probably true 10 to 20 years ago. If it’s so lucrative why are they selling them as opposed to building more sign companies themselves…they know why…
    Trust me you’ll lose money getting in to this business for at least 2 years and be lucky to make it after that. You have a 1 in 15 chance with no experience in the industry. I hope I save another desperate soul.

  • Ken Bernier

    I am at the early stage of investigating the sign business as a potential for me. Regarding the comments about “break-even” in this article… whoever wrote it needs to go to an accounting class. Break-even in any business does not mean getting your whole investment back or sales in excess of the investment.

  • Perhaps Signworld can explain what they mean when they tell prospects that a Signworld owner reached break-even in their first week. What does that mean? That they had a single good week (on a cash, not accrual, basis) or does that mean they maintained profitability ever since they opened?

    How many Signworld owners have achieved and maintained profitability from week 1?

  • Jack Werner

    It is always interesting on sites like this, how easy it is to take a shot at someone or something, and then it becomes the responsibilty of the attacked to defend.
    Regarding consultants, coaches, or brokers that work in this field- the admin is right, there are some out in the field that will “sell anything to anyone” without regard to the individual. That is not true about David Sword who responded earlier. The world is full of good coaches that take the interests and skill of individuals and become a matchmaker. Most people without this coaching, enter business models that just don’t fit them. The same can be true in buying a house or investing in the stock market. There are good individuals in those fields as there are in the business coaching field.
    You cannot take aim at all of them and assume that they are all bad. It’s just not a fair assessment and definitely not accurate.
    We did have a SW owner that “broke-even” “cash on cash” first week in business due to a large order his first week, but then continued to have a good first month, second, third and on and as a result of his hard work. He never had a P& L statement with red ink. We have had others that have broken even in their first few months in business, but please understand that “breaking even” means that the business is supporting it’s bills on a monthly basis, not that the investment has been recovered. That # is called the ROI, not break even. Before you can start paying yourself back and working on your ROI, the monies that it took to open the business, the business first has to support itself. Then the profits of the business can then start to work on ROI. We also explain to prospective owners that this is an owner driven business and that their expected breakeven may be longer, and for them to determine when their’s might be expected, not from what we have told them it might be, but rather to do the due diligence of talking to as many owners as they care to, to determine based on comparing their talents to who they talk to, what their individual timelines might be. It is up to the individual to determine when they have reached their own level of confidence in the program and how it works.
    I am willing to talk one on one with anyone that needs more clarification.
    Jack Werner
    Signworld 949-830-7446

  • guest

    You toss out anecdotal cases of an unnamed owner who broke even from his first week and reference others who “others that have broken even in their first few months” You publish gross sales and profits from selected owners on your website and promise high returns with no substantiation.
    On post like others claim “YOU WILL LOSE MONEY EACH MONTH FOR 2 TO 3 YEARS… it seems about 80% of new owners lose money for 2 or 3 years and they either close up or continue to work without a paycheck. This is true even though you do exactly what SIGNWORLD and Jack Werner said you should do….”
    Of course you and Mr. Sword’s opinions are going to be questioned because you make money selling the opportunity. Your critics are suspect since they are anonymous and could be competitors or ex-wives for all anybody knows.
    So here’s a solution: why not provide the actual facts, just as franchises do? How many actual Signworld businesses opened in each of the last three years? How many left the system? How many closed completely?
    What is the average gross sales of Signworld businesses? How many are profitable? What’s the average length of time it took for them to reach breakeven?
    You state “It is always interesting on sites like this, how easy it is to take a shot at someone or something, and then it becomes the responsibilty of the attacked to defend.” It goes both ways doesn’t it – it’s easy for you to make profitability claims without providing any substantiation other than “one guy broke even the first week.”
    Perhaps you can provide the facts and end the he said-she said debate once and for all.

  • Signworld Owner

    You are right on in your remarks to expose this company. Keep up the good work!

    Ken Bernier- if your interested in getting in the sign business I may be able to point you to a few that would love to get out with part of their investment back and save you some huge money! Let me know what state your in…Signworld has failures in most.

  • Give me a break Jack!!!!!! I have a friend that bought a franchise from you and he was taken for alot of money… He is one of the best sales people I know and if he cant make it work no one can… You should be ashamed of yourself as you have caused him much stress and put a huge financial burden in his life. I am upset as well because we used to play alot of golf and my buddy can’t because you took all his money!!!!! I work in the financial industry and I have watched him struggle with your product and the program you sold him does not work…

    If you really believe in SignWorld than do him a favor and give him 50% of his original investment back!!! Take responsibility and take this nightmare away from my buddy!!!! Come on Jack how about it??????

  • Signworld owner

    According to its website, “Signworld is a national organization with more than 240 independently owned sign companies, which provide commercial custom signage and graphics… The ongoing support and training provided along with state-of-the-art equipment will leave the competition behind.


  • guest

    Signworld owner – you didn’t do your due diligence and won’t own up to it.

    Of course they’re going to say they have state-of-the-art equipment. They’re selling a business opportunity, what do you expect? The question is, how hard would it have been to ask around the industry and find out that it wasn’t? How many industry magazines did you subscribe to before buying in? How many printing trade shows did you attend? Why didn’t you compare the equipment with what the competitors have and research the cost?

    Wow, a salesman didn’t tell you his equipment was outdated and overpriced? Wow! Who would have guessed that could happen?!!

    Now you’re all experts and can criticize, but too bad you didn’t do your homework BEFORE you jumped in to the printing business. Whose fault is that?

  • Signworld Owner that made a mistake of a lifetime

    First of all Mr. KNOW IT ALL….we jumped into the SIGN BUSINESS which is very different than the PRINTING BUSINESS. If we were sold this overpriced equipment for the printing business I would of ran as far away as I could.

    Due dilligence is only as good as the list of SIGNWORLD owners they provided us and the info they give us. Your right, hind sight is 20/20 and I wish I would of checked it out more. I got sucked in on their claimed low failure rates and some other mis-leading statements they made. Anybody getting into the SIGNWORLD business here’s a word of advice…..ask them for thier ENTIRE owner list and call or meet a minimum of 30 TO 40 of them TO GET THE REAL STORY. You’ll find the negatives far out weigh the positives.The problem is they don’t have enough integrity to release it to you untill they have your money.

  • “Due dilligence is only as good as the list of SIGNWORLD owners they provided us and the info they give us.”

    Wrong… due diligence involves doing your own research independent of what the seller gives you.

    And, yes, I wrote printing industry instead of sign industry. Are the questions any less valid?

    “How many sign industry magazines did you subscribe to before buying in? How many sign industry trade shows did you attend? Why didn’t you compare the equipment with what the competitors have and research the cost?

    Wow, a salesman didn’t tell you his equipment was outdated and overpriced? Wow! Who would have guessed that could happen?!!

    Now you’re all experts and can criticize, but too bad you didn’t do your homework BEFORE you jumped in to the sign business. Whose fault is that?”

  • Signworld Owner that made a mistake of a lifetime

    Explain this one to me. Signworld boasts that it offers a business opportunity, not a franchise. Signworld makes bold claims on its website and during your due dillegence period that would be illegal for a franchise,that includes less than 5% failure rate in 20 years (closer to 50%) lots of attractive earnings claims and promises of “high profit margins” and “high resale value upon retirement” for its $185,000 investment.
    If some of these things were posted when I got in I would of ran as fast as I could from these arrogant a-holes.

    Another owner states:
    I bought in 2003 because they said they had no failures…(!) I got a copy of the list of owners from Signworld in January of 2004, and called them up that year. Turns out, the shops that “opened” in 2003 were nearly all existing, established sign shops that Signworld talked into “joining” to improve their numbers! For example, one 2003 “new shop” had actually opened in 1997!! About a THIRD of the shops on the list are now CLOSED. GONE. Yet Signworld says they have no failures. Can you believe that???! You can verify this yourself: I will add the link as an image, to this report, for the txt file of the owners, complete with name, address, phone numbers, etc. It is the attached image, so simply right-click and save, and you can type that address into your browser and see the list anytime.

    Here’s the list of Signworld shops. This is the list of owners in 2004, and you can verify for yourself: 1) were they start-ups, trained by Signworld, or were they existing shops asked to join (so Signworld could show some successful operations)? 2) Are they still in business (a third are gone!!).

  • victim

    Do any members operate under the name “Signworld”?

    It looks like the only reason Signworld doesn’t legally have to follow franchise laws is because they don’t operate under a shared name.

    Interesting article

    “The federal definition of a franchise includes a business relationship that has three elements:

    1. The use of a common trademark (such as “McDonald’s”);
    2. The provision of operational support or assistance, training or the exercise of significant operating control;
    3. The payment of a fee of over $500 in the first six months of operation. This definition includes initial fees, royalties, advertising fees, training fees or fees for equipment. In fact, the lone exception is for goods sold to the franchisee at a bona fide wholesale price for resale to their customers.

    “If a company has those three elements, it’s a franchise. It doesn’t matter what you call it. It doesn’t matter how you try to disguise it. “

  • Signworld Owner that made a mistake of a lifetime

    These SIGNWORLD guys need to be put in their place.

    I am contemplating organizing a class action suit. If anything just to get the real facts on the table so prospective owners can get the real facts and then make a decision off of that. I can confidently say the real failure rates, gross profits etc. were disclosed they would go out of business.

    I have talked to many previous and current owners that would want to be a part of it.

    Any others out there?

  • another unhappy owner of this ripoff

    Signworld is a very bad business for the investment!!!

    If anyone looking at this business and comes across this posting….email me and we can talk. I will give you the real truth backed up by REAL stats! Something they will not do because if they did you would not plop down $175k.

    I am a owner that is shutting the doors. I can certainly tell you what to look for and what to get from them before you sign the dotted line. No charge of course!

    [Editor’s note: personal contact info is not published in comments]

  • Frank Juan

    I am currently in the process of evaluating SignWorld. It is very interesting
    to read these messages. It is nice that the forum is asking for specific details
    and facts from SignWorld to back up their claims. I fully support that. At the same time, people bashing SignWorld appear to be getting away without providing any
    details as well. I haven’t heard any specifics as to why “another unhappy owner of this ripoff” and “Signworld Owner that made a mistake of a lifetime” are making the statements fair.

    I am very interested in contacting both of them to get their perspective, at least in
    private. Have you considered adding a “reply to the author” feature to support private communication?

    Thanks for listening.


    Welcome to I’m glad to see you doing your homework.
    I think that the real value of these discussions isn’t so much to show you whether a given franchise is necessarily good or not, but to help you identify the issues that you should give extra scrutiny.
    Both sides are arguing from their own perspectives. Franchisors (or Licensors, in this case) want to sign up new recruits. Anonymous commenters could be anyone: brokers or salespeople on the positive side or competitors, disgruntled ex-employees or terminated franchisees on the negative side.

    Those who are most specific and factual have the most credibility. But you’ve got to do your own research and make up your mind.

    For instance, Signworld boasts state-of-the-art equipment. Commenters claim it’s nothing special and wildly overpriced. Get the Signworld equipment list and prices and shop around. Look also for used equipment and compare pricing. Ask around on sign industry blogs and forums. You’ll soon be able to tell which side is right…. whether SW passes savings on or uses eqpt purchases as a profit center.

    The detractors say there’s a high failure rate, which SW disputes. Do some research by calling as many Signworld owners as possible. Use the posted 2004 owners list and the Internet to research how many are open and how many are closed.

    Maybe it’s a great opportunity. Maybe not. But this discussion should give you a good starting point.

    In terms of being specific, we urge it of both sides. A list of closed shops is more compelling than just saying a lot have closed. Perhaps both sides can come forward with the actual numbers involved.

  • xswowner

    I would be glad to talk with you. I am an ex-owner that lost a lot of money. If there is a way to set up reply to owner on this site or any other let me know how to do it….I could give you my experience, names and phone #s to many others.

    If you really want to get into the sign business Signworld is NOT the way to go. You will over pay for equipment, Training, the works. You could buy the equipment that they get for you on your own for less than 30k NEW.
    There are also many local supply dealers that could help you with advice etc.

  • xswowner

    Frank and any one else looking at SIGNWORLD-
    Another word of advice.
    Before you commit or sign anything with them get information from them in WRITING;
    Information like:
    Failure rate in the past 10 years
    Average gross profits of existing businesses
    Average resale value
    It’s what you call a pre-disclosure agreement to help you in your due dilligence process. You will find they will not provide it because they either don’t know or don’t want you to know and to try and keep them out of the courts later for mis-representation.

  • xswoowner is RIGHT! If a franchisor discloses almost nothing in writing concerning any existing facts in the FDD and the contract…

    [Editor’s note: As it was general in nature and not related to Signworld, an off-topic exchange between Carol Cross & Guest was moved here:

  • xswowner

    Below are a few copies of the claims I was sent from SIGNWORLD via email by Jack Werner: I kick myself everyday that I didn’t get a pre-disclosure agreement signed and delivered by our postal mail service. ANYONE LOOKING AT THIS BEST BE CAREFULL!!! There ability to let you do your own due dilligent processs is pretty weak and frankly I am embaresses to show it.

    Emails that were sent:

    Backgrounds of some Signworld Owners who make over $250,000 annual personal income:

    College Student – no previous job
    Handyman at $25 per hour rate
    Truck Driver – Major Freight Company
    Convenience Store Owner
    Teacher – Elementary School
    Food Broker
    Wine Salesman
    Corporate IT Manager
    Advertising Agent
    Hotel Manager
    Security Alarm Service Company Owner
    Metal Fabricator – Pipes
    Production Manager – Manufacturing Plant

    All with only 1 location open 5 days per week!

    Why entrepreneurs choose Signworld

    1- They don’t want rules or royalties
    2- They want to deal business to business
    3- They want to be closed nights, weekends, and holidays (Have a life!)
    4- They are interested in light manufacturing
    5- They want a “brick and mortar” business
    6- They want a limited number of employees
    7- They want career employees, so that they are not constantly training new ones due to turnover
    8- They have a desire to make what they sell
    9- They have a desire to have visible results of what they’ve made
    10- They have a sales background and want to utilize it
    11- They have an IT or project management background, but have good people skills
    12- They only want one location to provide a great income
    13- They want a quick breakeven point
    14- They want a high level of income
    15- They want a high return on investment
    16- They want a large resale value for their business (Able to help fund retirement)

    Picture yourself in a sales/relationship driven light manufacturing business that is located within several miles from your home and will always be the only location you will have. It will be clean enough that you have carpeting on the floor and your office is decorated as nice as your last corporate office was. You are open for business Mon-Fri 8:30-5 dealing business to business in an environment where 30 repeat customers generate 75% of your revenue.

    When you are ready to retire from a successful business, these sell for a greater percentage of revenue (70% to 80%)….more than most businesses available today sell for.

    Jack Werner

    Business Opportunity vs. Franchises

    Signworld is a “Business Opportunity” as compared to a “Franchise”. There are just as many “Business Opportunities” existing today as there are franchises (see Business Opportunities Handbook). Both have a start-up package, training and ongoing support. A business opportunity charges a larger fee up front and hopefully invests some of it wisely (the annuity). A franchise charges a monthly royalty and collects their annuity along the way. A business opportunity does not have the huge expenses of attorney’s fees and accounts receivable people to collect royalties. Attorneys and Collection people are the major ongoing expenses to a franchisor. Most importantly, a business opportunity does not have any rules. A franchise has all kinds of rules and reporting requirements. The quality of ongoing support will vary widely. Signworld’s ongoing support is tremendous. Business opportunities are geared more for experienced business people who want to do things their own way but still have an organization to lean on for upgrading and support.
    Ask any Signworld owner and they will tell you they are not a “signmaker”. A Signworld owner hires signmakers.

    They joined Signworld because it is a professional, B2B business with reasonable hours, low investment and minimal staffing requirements. Signworld is one of the fastest growing organizations in a multi billion-dollar industry. Companies of every type and every size use signs, and the vast majority of those are disposable. 99% of all signs are indoors, not outdoors. The average life of a sign is less than 30 days. Retailers change their signs every month.

    Signworld serves 100% of the sign industry requirements – anything from paper signs to vehicle wraps to large outdoor signs. It is a business that thrives on repeat customers and the ability to grow accounts within large corporate clients or retail chains. Signworlds are “commercial sign companies” which service customers such as: Subway, Great Clips, Ford Motor, Hewlett-Packard, and Coca-Cola, all who need large quantities of signs every month.

    Many Signworld owners begin their operation in 1200-1500 square feet of either an industrial or strip center, and migrate to an expanded office park or light industrial location after just a few years. Ultimately, 90% of revenue is generated by a small number of large corporate and commercial clients – usually around 10 to 30 customers.

    Signworld is not a franchise – thus there are No Royalties and No Rules usually associated with such business models. While Signworld owners run their business the way they want to, they benefit from one of the most comprehensive programs of training and ongoing support in the industry. Beyond initial training, each owner has a Signworld business coach who provides weekly guidance and assistance over a 2-year period. Signworld owners also enjoy ongoing peer-to-peer support through communication with their fellow Signworld owners to share ideas on sales, marketing, production and other aspects of the business.

    Backgrounds of some Signworld Owners who make over $250,000 annual personal income — net after ALL expenses — all with only 1 location open 5 days per week:

    College Student – no previous job
    Handyman at $25 per hour rate
    Truck Driver – Freight Company
    Convenience Store Owner
    Teacher – Elementary School
    Food Broker
    Wine Salesman
    Corporate IT Manager
    Advertising Agent
    Hotel Manager
    Security Alarm Company Owner
    Metal Fabricator – Pipes
    Mfg. Production Manager

    A few recent examples of Signworld owner’s performance:

    June 12,2006, Greg Kyler, Modesto, CA runs a million dollar gross sales operation in a town with less than 200,000 population.

    May 22,2006, Don and Brenda O’Toole, Wickliffe, Ohio in their 3rd year in business, have relocated to a 3,000 sq ft. industrial space, have been certified as a woman owned business by WEBANC and plan to due $300,000 business with their top 5 customers this year.

    April 29, 2006, George and Erin Beitner, Escondido, CA. tells us that $100,000 per year of his $650,000 volume comes from the US Marine Corp and is paid by credit card.

    April 17, 2006, Steve and Sandy Burkett, Pittsburgh, PA after only 6 months in business are having $30,000 months and are doing some large projects for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    March 27, 2006, Randy Clemens, Columbia, SC did $180,000 last year with one customer, a local mall. His second largest customer is the largest sign company in town with 35 employees and is still not able to produce some of the things that Randy can.

    March 13, 2006, Tom and Melinda Latendresse, Blufton, SC have 15-20 customers that each give them about $10k-$15K worth of business each year including one construction company that just ordered $15,000 worth of vinyl graphics to go on earth moving equipment.

    February 13, 2006 Jim Metzger, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 14 months in business, had his largest customer introduce him to an ad agency that will do approximately $120,000 with him this year, part of his plan to double his business from last year’s totals.

    February 6, 2006, Sam Haigh, Red Bank, New Jersey, achieved $383,000 gross sales in his first year and is on track for over $500,000 in his second year, at a 20% to 30% profit margin.

  • Next step

    I know what you are saying. It just seems realistic, because you don’t expect them to lie to you. For people that have good credit and do not really understand business lingo this seems like a great deal.

    “February 6, 2006, Sam Haigh, Red Bank, New Jersey, achieved $383,000 gross sales in his first year and is on track for over $500,000 in his second year, at a 20% to 30% profit margin.”

    This sounds great, but the fact is the cost of living there is high with 26 pts above average. So his sales were great, and so is his overhead. I wonder how they figured the 20% to 30% profit margin?

    I would love to know what Sam Haigh, Red Bank, New Jersey has to say about his business. Did he really do that well and is he doing that great. What was his NET income? By the way you could call him up if you search for him at His number is listed. I am not going to post his number, but I do have it saved on my desk just in case I want to ring him.

  • Next step


    I wanted to say that I did not mean you when I said that “do not really understand business lingo this seems like a great deal.”

    I was talking about myself because that is how I really got duped into the idea of my buying my business. I did not have a clue about running a business, and did not really get the difference between gross and net.

    Sorry I should have made that real clear.

  • xswowner

    Thanks for your responses…just spread the word on SIGNWORL on all consumer/franchise sites to prevent someone else giving up a lot of money.
    Always type the word Signworld when you voice a complaint (and spell it properly) no space and google will grab it everytime someone types in there name so it helps in due dilligence.
    Other sites with complaints:


    I Googled the names and cities of the Signworld owners mentioned in the email posted by xswowner above. It’s fairly easy to locate the sign shops and get contact info.

    To Sign World’s credit, Sandy Burkett, President of Vital Signs, is happy enough with Signworld to devote space in a current advertorial in Pittsburgh Magazine:
    “they decided to pursue their dream and started a franchise search. “We knew what we didn’t want to do, so we looked at what was left.” Their franchise consultant suggested a sign company. They liked the idea because it didn’t require franchise or independent fees, and offered a creative element. Vital Signs was established in 2005, becoming part of a national network of 250 that provides a range of sign and Web services… The business has proved to be somewhat recession-proof, increasing revenue and growing to include four employees. ‘When you invest a good part of your retirement, failure isn’t an option,’ she says.

    Steve and Sandy Burkett, Vital Signs, Pittsburgh, PA
    Don and Brenda O’Toole, Signs PDQ Inc. Wickliffe Ohio

    Greg Kyler, City Signs, Modesto, CA

    George and Erin Beitner
    , All Star Signs, Escondido, CA

    Sam Haigh, Capital Signs Llc, Red Bank, NJ (732) 450-8640 Couldn’t find website

    Tom and Melinda Latendresse, Sign D’Sign, Blufton, SC

    Jim Metzger, Sign Expressions, Phillipsburg, New Jersey

    Randy Clemens, Columbia, SC Couldn’t find any reference to him

    Granted, these are the successful owners (according to SW) touted in the mktg materials, but just the same… If you have owners’ names and towns, it’s fairly easy to get the sign shop names and contact info. Prospects should definitely speak to as many as possible to determine for themselves if Sign World is a great opportunity and if it’s right for them.
    If any of these owners would like to verify the earnings claims made, or share their experiences good or bad, feel free to do so here.

  • Look, throw all the above garbage away. I speak from experience, I was an owner for over 7 years. I am sure there are successful owners of this franchise out there. As with any franchise there are failures and successes. With Signworld the true failure rate is way too high. It is a bad business model because they believe one size fits all. Like we are all the same. Same demographics, same potential for sales, same people. This does not work with Sign World. And here is why. They DO NOT help you when you are FAILING their system. Yes they have coaching. Yes they do have a standard Game Plan to follow. But if you are not making it they never step in, in fact they do there best to avoid you. It was apparent to me Ken’s model is based on Greed. Get the money and run. The risk of failure is HIGH. Too high for a franchise. And since that is the true case I would avoid this at all costs. In my long tenure with Signworld for every 1 happy franchisee I met, I found 20 unhappy and failing franchisees.
    I do not say this vindictively just as a warning. Signworld has been the cause of me to go into bankruptcy . Add all the years of anxiety and stress I went through and I received a six vessel bypass after a heart attack. If that isn’t convincing enough for you brother, then you deserve to be in this business.(Oh, by the way I had invested over $300K in the business and my health was excellent as a 50 yr old going in).
    I will stay posted of this site. So if you want to speak to me directly I will be more than happy to share my experience with you offline. Just submit a comment to this post and add an email address.

  • Phil, Would like the opportunity to learn more about your experience with Sighworld. I recently have just starting looking at their offering and listened in on one of their webinars. I too thought it sounded way too easy and too good to be true. [del] Thanks in advance.

  • Justice law

    Signworld corp, located in Hawaii, aka SKUNKWORLD, SUNKWORLD, STINKWORLD, SCHEMEWORLD


    After his career at Ford Motor Co he became fraudulent certified planner with Pollock Financial Group, in the Mid- 80’s, in Menlo Park, presently residing in Portola Valley, CA conning prospective investors into Limited Commercial Real Estate projects being offered by Trammell Crow. Hundred of investors lost millions of dollars, which represented their life-time savings, pension funds, and retirement funds.

    kk is a Liar and a Cheat, basically a FINANCIAL TERRORIST. kk HAS NO MORALS OR ETHICS, when it comes to defrauding his friends, relatives, or acquaintances for money.
    Like SIGN WORLD Corp, AKA SKUNKWORLD, SUNKWORLD, STINKWORLD, SCHEMEWORLD, kk guaranteed positive cash flows and 100% return on your original RE investment.

    kk has the same mentality as BERNIE MADOFF (REMEMBER HIM?): SCREW EVERYBODY.

    kk! you’ve made my financial situation miserable beyond words, I intend to reciprocate the favor.

    kk’s greed for money in the mid 80’s has flourished to this day in new fraudulent schemes.
    Again, you’re a FINANCIAL TERRORIST.

    Jack Werner do you really know Ken Kindt fraudulent background?

  • A Sign WORKER

    WOW! this is pretty heavy stuff. i’ve been working for a successful Signworld company for the last 6 years. i’ve been with the company since the store’s buildout. i am the ONLY employee and communicate with the owner both personally and professionally. i’m the one man production/design person.

    on to my concerns. SIGNWORLD is NOT a franchise. so any support after the purchase is BONUS!

    i worked for 2 years for a SIGN-A-RAMA. i got on board there doing the same things i do here. one designer/production guy, one owner. let me tell you, that 7% off the top every month to BE A FRANCHISE killed the business (and the owner’s lack of sales techniques). when things got tough, SIGN-A-RAMA did NOT help. unfortunately i had to quit after several missing paychecks and locked the doors behind me…

    now, i don’t know all our sales numbers but i’m pretty sure we did not “break even” (not ROI) the first month or couple months. we’re small with minimal equipment. that was the OWNER’S choice, not SIGNWORLD’s. if i had been on board when he ordered equipment, we would have made a few different practical choices. (solvent printer at least 48″ wide instead of Designjet 5500 42″ wide) but i was able to start working the day the last day of setup.

    like any business, you are only as good as your EMPLOYEES! if you have no design skills and no craftsmanship, you better hire someone who does. otherwise, YOU WILL FAIL as a signshop. i have a feeling this is what happened to a lot of owners.

    also, you, YOU, THE OWNER, better be darn good salesman. the owner at my shop is a FANTASTIC salesman. SALES and PRODUCTION are your bread and butter. SIGNWORLD does not provide you with those. ONLY THE TOOLS.

    i do know my boss has reached is ROI. not in the timeframe advertised by SIGNWORLD. HOWEVER, i KNOW Sandy and Steve Burkett. they just upgraded their space to a location near my house. i’m pretty sure they have either gotten their ROI or, instead and smarter, put it back in the business. they’ve upgraded their equipment, added personnel, added company vehicles, and, as i mentioned before, moved to a bigger (and probably cheaper) location.

    so why hasn’t my shop done that? its not the plan the owner has for this shop. i’m very happy with the consistent raises i have received.

    it may not be what’s advertised, but its a very good shop plan!

  • Linda Hamilton

    nice news…………..

  • Phil McNally

    For those of you who have been successful in this business and for those of you who have not. I was an owner for over 6 years unsuccessfully. There are so many factors that need to be considered before owning a business and those that come with running a business day by day. Outside of economic crisis this business is not what it says it is. If it was there would not be a forum as big as this one is. That should speak volumes right there. So it becomes a he said she said scenario. If there is one thing this business has taught me is – how not to run a business. Outside of the success stories – there are too few of them to make a decision such as this. Setting that aside there is the ownership of this business. Unfortunately it has the same theme running thru it as those corporations who made it so big in the 80’s and 90’s. The top gets rich off the hard work of those at the bottom. Then the top says they have done nothing wrong and continue to not pay for their sins. As with all corrupt regimes, take Libya as an example, if you continue to swindle and cut and not do what is expected, fair and right you will eventually be cut down in your tracks.
    I worked very hard to make my business work, asked for help directly from Ken Kindt and those underneath and was continually blown off and shoved to the side. The fact of the matter is this – he just does not care once he has your money. So if you are a successful business, congratulations, but I sympathize for those who were honest but unsuccessful and found out, like me the ownership was never in your corner. No matter how hard you tried.

  • Wow, the vitriol is amazing.

    Look, SignWorld just gets you started. You can choose to be on your own or you can utilize the many forums SW has set up. Even after 8 years I still call up my fellow SW colleagues, OFTEN, for advice.

    The talent and experience out there is amazing. SW is not a franchise. No royalties and rules AND no advertising. They don’t funnel business our way but that’s stated up front. Do Ken and Jack overstate? Yes. I used to work at Hewlett-Packard and we had some pretty good spin masters there too. I don’t think K and J are at all forthright about the turnover but I wonder if SW turnover is any less or more than other small biz TO.

    I actually acquired an existing SW company 8.5 yrs ago and chose to ante up $35K to stay with the org. I visited 6 SW shops and asked them tough questions. I knew what I was getting into. There was no way I was going to do this without a great support network. And it is a great support network. It took me maybe a year to B/E consistently. The keys to success became obvious to me quickly. You need to be strong as the #1 guy/gal AND you need a strong #2 … a spouse or other relative. All my opinion.

    My wife is an awesome biz dev person. We were growing very nicely until the Great Recession. This year we’re up 40% over our million dollar revenue year last year. Like any business you have to know that the hell you’re doing. You have to know how to hire. Have the cajones to fire. Have project management skills. Technical skills. I see a lot of newbies avoid what I call the ‘hard’ sign part of the business (wall signs of all types) and focusing on inkjet printing because of the margins and ease of sale. I also see new entrants by the boatload getting into that business. With the new printers from, for example, HP (latex, UV cure) all you need is a living room and some media and you’re in business.

    Again, like any new business you need working capital to survive and thrive. You need to be crazy resourceful. Take calculated risks. None of this is for the faint of heart. The bantering on this website is silly. If those who failed thought this would be a cakewalk then shame on them for being naive.

    Everyone stretches the truth. EVERY good businessperson knows that. So let’s not get all pollyanna about J and K’s selling style and put on our big girl pants and learn what you need to learn to succeed gang. Don’t call me for advise about getting into the sign business or about what SW is like because I have a business to run. I’m not in business to help you start yours. I don’t get paid for it so I don’t do it. I will help my fellow SWOs because they help me.

    Yes, I’m a hard ass. A successful one. I figured out how to play the game. I don’t design signs, I don’t sell anymore, I don’t fab. I ‘ve hired great people. I fired the crappy ones. I do great things for my customers and we get more than our fair share of leads from Google because we’re *@&#$% brilliant. Now I’m getting ridiculous.

    Look folks, if you want a sure thing then go work for the Federal government. If you think staying with your corporate employer is going to be fun and secure then stay there and waste your life away worrying about the next round of layoffs. When you’re 55 and laid off or 60 or 65 and too poor to really retire or too dumb to realize that real retirement means doing nothing all day everyday and wasting your mind doing Sudoku or playing golf all day you’ll no one to blame but yourself because you didn’t take the risk.

    I can’t believe I wasted this much time writing all this out but someone had to take this POV.

  • Izzie Enwall

    Let’s see, I worked for not one, but two different “Start-Up” Sign World Companies.

    With 20 years of experience in this industry, I believe I can bring some insight to these franchises I was involved with.

    Sign Company #1
    Nice enough guy, downsized from corporate.
    Sign World came in, set it up, spent a lot of time with this owner. They offered a lot of support after the set-up. Phone meetings, individual one on one consultation. Sign World was always a phone call away. We got busy, and after one year we were the #1 new start up on their books.

    Good? nope..The owner needed to attend meetings, not show up around lunch. The owner needed to be involved in his new trade and learn everyday! I sold a job that after all was said and done put 16k in the bank (profit, yes, PROFIT) in the bank. I advised him to bank it, stuff it under his mattress for a rainy day, Imagine my disappointment when they decided to remodel their kitchen instead. With this kind of business savvy, it was not long before the bills got behind, materials could not be ordered, etc. Needless to say, I jumped ship (the cheese was moldy). They still owe me 1% commission on 400k.

    Franchise #2
    Great guy, smart, another downsized corporate person. He did take an interest. He learned the software. He took the active interest, put in the hours. He did well for awhile. In his great efforts, he over-extended himself and the company to look better then we were. (we were still less than a year old) Now the bills don’t get paid, poor decisions led employees to go elsewhere when they would miss paychecks.

    I stayed awhile, as I did not have a family to support. I personally went 4 weeks with no pay. I too jumped ship. I understand image is important, but growing slowly is also very important.

    There are a lot of Sign World Companies out there who do have business savvy and do very well! I speak highly of Sign World as what they offer is there for the taking! My advise? TAKE IT!!!

    Or we could talk about Signarama…but if you google lawsuits, I am sure I don’t need to say a word. I hope this help at least one person. :-)

  • Guest

    Interesting. Izzie Enwall worked with two Sign World companies. Both failed. Yet his advice is to sign up with Sign World, pay them so you too can achieve the same outcome?

    It sounds to me like Sign World encourages people who are not cut out for the sign business to jump into it with both feet. Then they have no mechanism in place to keep them on the right path to keep them from making the same mistakes they KNOW many others have made in the past.

    Good franchises like McDonalds protect franchisees from themselves by forcing them to follow a proven system. It sounds like Sign World tosses you in the deep end then says, hey good luck!

    No thanks.

  • I offer inbound marketing to many Signworld owners (websites, newsletters, blogs, and social media). I disagree that Signworld is anything but an honest company. They provide training and guidance and hold yearly conferences and trade shows in Las Vegas. Any franchise or business will only be as good as the time you put into it. If you think you can own a small business and let someone else run it or skip making connections in your community, you won’t succeed. It’s not fair to blame the franchise and they really aren’t a “franchise” in which they “watch” over your business (unless you need help). It’s a one-time investment and you have sign contacts all over the U.S. that can help you with any job you feel you can’t tackle. Boo to those who are putting down Signworld franchises. Small businesses are what makes America strong!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *