The convention, which was based around the theme “working together to make the boat go faster”, followed an interactive format of seminars and thought-provoking case studies.
A highly anticipated black tie awards dinner concluded the formal proceedings with a champagne reception, spectacular five course meal and presentation of seven awards. There were three for signage - Exterior, Vehicle and Project, followed by awards for Productivity, Innovation, Most Collaborative Franchisee and culminating in the Franchisee of the Year award which this year went to Signs Express (North and North East Lincolnshire).
|Chris and Julie Hardy of Signs Express Bedford with finance director Jon Bean|
The sign awards were voted for by four independent judges from Epson, Metamark, Sign Directions and the BSGA.
The carefully chosen theme was interjected into every section of the day, being referred to by all speakers. Will It Make the Boat Go Faster is an inspirational book by Olympic gold medallist Ben Hunt-Davis and talks about how the Men's Rowing Eight came to win their medal, and how these practices and theories can be applied both to every day and business life. The story resonates with the challenges Signs Express and its franchisees face, so was a fantastic choice for the convention.
The day's proceedings were facilitated by Deborah Hall, a journalist and broadcaster who has carved out a unique career in corporate business presentations. In the 12 years Deborah was a presenter and reporter, she fronted: London Plus, Newsroom South East, Business Breakfast, Breakfast Time special weather reports and National News Summaries.
Following the event, Craig Brown commented: “The 2013 Signs Express convention has been fantastic and the format this year really brought everyone together. I’m excited about the company’s future and believe that with the collaborative working we talked about throughout the day, we can continue to build on our success into 2014 and beyond.”
Nine suppliers were delighted to sponsor the day, with four bravely presenting throughout the conference, these were Epson and Metamark, who were headline sponsors of the convention, along with Trade Signs and Amari.
The suppliers were invited to have stands around the conference room, ensuring they were very much a part of the day, and able to network with the franchisees. Other suppliers attending included Western Sign Systems Ltd, Sign Pro Systems, Pinetree Enterprises Ltd, Sign Making Tools and Sign Elite.
|Signs Express Managing Director Craig Brown with Matt Bevis, Claire Lindley and Ken Bevis of Signs Express North and North East Lincolnshire|
Speakers included some of the team from the Norwich based Head Quarters, representatives from industry suppliers, Lee Devenish from Driver Hire, Emerson Welch and Scott Banks from Touch Systems and Anne Hitch from Signs Express (Peterborough).
A new award for this year was to recognise centre productivity. Entrants were asked to demonstrate their ability to get the most from their staff and operation. It looked at constraints and how staff empowerment had contributed to success. The finalists were Signs Express centres in Harlow, Southampton and Falkirk, with Signs Express (Falkirk) taking the award.
Another new award followed which specifically recognised innovation. This asked entrants to demonstrate innovation in their way of working or a product solution. The finalists were centres in Glasgow, Peterborough and Lincoln, with Signs Express (Peterborough) winning for their innovative solution to ‘a map for all project’ on behalf of the RNIB.
The most collaborative franchisee enables other franchisees to vote for their fellow franchisee. It represented the very essence of the conference being based on working together, making this a fantastic achievement for the winner. Chris and Julie Hardy of Signs Express (Bedford) were delighted to receive the award with Stuart Harrison of Milton Keynes and Matt Bevis from North East Lincs the other two finalists.
The most prestigious award, Franchisee of the Year, was presented by Signs Express’ managing director Craig Brown. The proud winners, Signs Express (North East Lincolnshire) took to the stage, accepting the award on the back of their best ever trading year, with Manchester and Warrington named as the two finalists.
Signs Express (North East Lincolnshire), which was established in 1992, is co-directed by father and son team Ken and Matt Bevis alongside director Claire Lindley. Ken has grown the business to include 18 members of staff, working from their specialist sign making unit in Grimsby, extending their premises and investing in a raft of new machinery. The team prides itself their on attention to detail, quality standards and can do attitude.
This year also marked the departure of Frank Eliel and David Corbett, the founding directors of Signs Express who are retiring after starting the company 24 years ago. Frank and David have left a strong legacy of success, paving the way for Craig Brown, managing director, along with Tony Marsh, Peter Sayles and Jonathan Bean, also directors and shareholders in the company. Frank and David received rapturous applause and a standing ovation at the convention as they were surprised with a super car track day as a parting gift.
Signs Express is already planning their 2014 event, where they will be celebrating their 25th anniversary.