I had never built a sign lightbox before, for example, but now we have the resources to create different kinds of signs, whether in-house or outsourced to another of our locations. It all depends on the type and size of the project. We have access to a big flatbed printer at our sister corporate store just 30 minutes away in Plymouth, Mich., and we have access to paint booths, accessibility signage capabilities and many other offerings at our other sister store in Columbia, Md.
The Image360 training program has been phenomenal. I was in Columbia for two weeks and learned everything from how to cut vinyl for a window sign to installing a digital light-emitting diode (LED) sign and everything in between. We also learned about how to acquire permits and comply with zoning, bylaws and wind loads. The franchise system’s software for signs is very robust and user-friendly. The franchisor has been amazing, offering an unsurpassed level of support.
Additionally, the marketing support has truly been what I’ve needed it to be. The team had guided me through the entire process. Depending on the franchisee’s comfort level, they can do everything for you or you can tackle the marketing on your own. I employ a combination of the two.
Allegra and SGO have long talked about the need to test the Image360 concept before a full rollout. We’re their test bed for the Canadian market. Technically, my location is both a franchise and a corporate store, as I’m an Image360 general manager (GM) and sales manager; Joe and George are my leadership team in this regard. There’s still a lot of value in the Allegra brand for my business. In the future, new franchises will have the opportunity to open with just the Image360 brand or a dual brand as in our case.
To help make that expansion happen, we’re reviewing accounts and developing best practices before making recommendations to other franchisees. One of our tasks, for example, has been to find and source signmaking consumables from Canadian vendors, so franchisees here don’t have to order from the U.S. In the meantime, we have the advantage in Windsor of being right on the border, with relatively easy access to Plymouth and Detroit, Mich.
The addition of Image360 has been a real highlight in my career, as it gives us the solutions to help clients with all aspects of their marketing efforts. And that really gives me something to talk about with customers, as I can knock on their door and say, “I’ve got something new to help your business grow.” The hope is that our old clients will now start buying their signs from us. It’ll take some time to build up the brand, but we’re already exceeding our goals.
Patrick O’Halloran is general manager (GM) of Allegra Marketing Print Mail and Image360 in Windsor, Ont. For more information, contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date of first franchise: 2014
Franchise/corporate units: 29
Investment range: $139,819 – $268,459
Initial franchise fee: $35,000