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Signs Express

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Start a Signs Express Franchise

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Are you looking for the next step in your career? Is now the time to work for yourself rather than contributing to someone else’s bottom line? Are you looking for a positive work-life balance whilst running your own business?

Signs Express is the UK’s largest signs and graphics business with over 35 years’ industry experience and 60+ locations throughout the UK and Ireland. At Signs Express we offer you the opportunity to run your own business in a creative, innovative industry with options to join our award-winning network via our established resales, rebranding your existing signage company and benefit from our brand exposure, or choose a location that suits you and start-up your own centre from scratch with full support and training throughout.

Our current resales include:

Being your own boss isn’t a career choice, it’s a lifestyle choice… So, turn your career into a lifestyle today with Signs Express:

  1. Become part of the UK’s largest signs and graphics network
  2. Creative, high profit industry with 20% EBITDA potential
  3. Be your own boss and operate in your own territory
  4. Opportunity to achieve £750,000 turnover and beyond
  5. Monday – Friday working hours
  6. Full training and support provided
  7. Established, respected brand with over 35 years of experience
  8. Expansion potential
  9. UK wide network support and UK based Franchise Support Centre
  10. Innovative industry where no two days are the same

Why Choose Signs Express?

Offering bespoke signage and graphics solutions to customers large and small we offer room for creativity and innovation working with a consultative approach, offering anything from exterior building graphics, illuminated signage, digital signage, vehicle graphics, exhibition and displays, window graphics, bespoke wallpaper, health and safety signage, eco-products and much more.

Established for 35 years, Signs Express is dedicated to delivering our customers' innovative signs and graphics solutions. We interpret our customers visions and advise on the best visual solutions to bring their brands to life. In an ever-growing industry, our forward-thinking strategy combined with our national coverage and local approach allows us to offer our clients the most effective solutions.

Each and every business needs signage or graphics whether it's to attract customers, engage or inspire employees, health and safety notices or to simply inform, we’re here to support our clients bring their brands to life. Due to the variety of industries we service and the huge range we offer, the signage industry can be viewed as recession proof as every situation presents opportunities.

Extensive Training Programme: Setting you up for Success

With a commitment to help you grow your business and achieve your goals, we offer extensive training and support to our franchisees to ensure you are set up for success. Throughout your Signs Express career, we offer:
  • Comprehensive onboarding programme for all new franchisees including classroom learning and hands-on training
  • Business Coaching and Mentoring
  • Ongoing training for existing franchisees and their teams via our custom-built Learning Management Platform
  • Live training sessions from our company owned flagship centre in Twickenham
  • Business Health Checks ensuring best practice
  • Dedicated Franchise Support Centre and centre visits, offering support and training to our network across all disciplines including finance, IT, local and national marketing, operational, recruitment, business planning and sales
  • Social media training
  • Exit planning and realising your resale value
  • Sharing of best practice from fellow franchisees and from our supplier partners

Hear from our Franchisees:

Kris Bell, Signs Express (Aylesbury): Catching up with Kris after 12 months of ownership:

“The last year has been a whirlwind. Being quite a risk averse individual, I usually spend a lot of time weighing things up, however after the busiest 12 months of my career, I’ve definitely had to adapt the way I work, along with my overall business approach and I’ve learnt a lot about myself for sure, along with help and support from the Franchise Support Centre offering guidance and support each step of the way.

I’ve loved every minute of it (despite the challenges) and I’ve met some fantastic individuals in local businesses and built some great relationships with our customers along the way. I’m really pleased with where the business has been heading and the progress we’ve made as a team, so I felt ready for the next step in my Signs Express journey by venturing into the new hub and spoke model.”

Matt Rutlidge, Signs Express (Central Lancashire): Speaking with Matt as he moves into ownership:

“After 14 years with Signs Express and working as Centre Manager for the past four years, I am thrilled to announce that I am now the proud owner of Signs Express (Central Lancashire), serving the local areas of Preston, Blackpool and Blackburn. I’m fortunate enough to have fantastic relationships with the majority of our customers and suppliers already, however I’m excited to spend the coming weeks and months reaching out and speaking with many more local businesses to see how we can work together.

I’m extremely passionate about what I do and with a dedicated, experienced team around me, we’re excited to see where we can take the business and continue to explore and push the boundaries of what we can create for our local communities and beyond.”

Roy Heeley and John McEntee, Signs Express (Liverpool & Wirral): Discuss what they enjoy most about working in the signage industry:

“Having started the business from scratch many years ago, we are still learning 20 years later! We thrive when working in a creative environment offering a varied and diverse approach to our customers means every day is different. We’re both sociable individuals and enjoy getting out and about meeting new customers. Building relationships is key to the success of the business, leading to repeat business, a solid reputation and word of mouth recommendations. Many of our good friends started off as customers and it’s great that they’ve been on the journey with us.

Work life balance is also essential, our Monday-Friday working days have allowed us to spend time with our friends and family whilst enjoying the benefits of running our own business. Undoubtedly the support from our fellow franchisees along with support from the franchise support centre has been integral to our success.”

Who are we looking for?

Full support and training is provided throughout your Signs Express career, therefore no industry experience is required.

We are looking for two types of franchisees:
  1. Business savvy, hands-on managers with no industry experience but have the desire, drive and ambition to take a business to the next level.
  2. Career driven sign makers and production managers that are experienced in the industry with ambitions to own and grow their own business with our support.

Our ideal franchisee will be extremely personable with the ability to build relationships, act consultatively to help build solutions, they will be driven, ambitious, a good all-rounder, creative and not afraid of hard work.

‘A Day in the Life of a Franchisee’

As a centre owner no two days will be the same, you’ll be the key relationship manager for your customers, you’ll be the face of the business, the driving force for innovation, you’ll work in a consultative manner and be the voice of authority in your field, offering bespoke solutions to your customers, all delivered with outstanding customer care.

Investment and Funding:

  • Franchise Fee of £8,500 for a resale purchase or £25,000 for a start-up opportunity
  • Investment levels vary for our resale opportunities depending on the size of the business. Current opportunities range from £99,950 to £250,000.
  • A total investment of £215,000 is required for a start-up opportunity.
  • At Signs Express we can support you with funding via our 3rd party financial partners such as HSBC.
  • Typically, 30% of the asking price is required in liquid capital, however we will work with you to look at different funding approaches if required.

Please get in touch today to find out more!

Signs Express Financial Data
The following financial information was provided by Signs Express to give you more information about the costs associated with a Signs Express opportunity
Start-Up Investment Costs
  • Franchise Fee: £25,000
  • Minimum Investment: £215,000
  • Minimum Liquid Capital: £65,000
Signs Express News

Hub & Spoke Progress with Signs Express

March 13, 2024| Franchise News
As an established and mature brand within both the signage industry and franchising sector, we feel it’s essential to ensure our business model is evolving, creating aspirational opportunities for business growth and expansion for our network at Signs Express.

Tackling Tomorrow Together: Convention Award Winners!

Taking the time to celebrate the talent and amazing work that goes on within our incredible network, our Sign and Franchise Awards held at our recent Convention allow us the perfect opportunity to do just that!

Tackling Tomorrow Together: 2024 Convention Round-Up

Friday 19 January 2024 saw us come together as a network for our annual Signs Express Convention, held this year at the Coventry Building Society Arena.

Another Phenomenal Year at Signs Express

We can’t quite believe it’s that time of year again, but as we close out 2023, we find ourselves reflecting on the last twelve months and another phenomenal year.

Newly Listed Established Business for Sale: Signs Express (Exeter)

Newly for sale and successfully operating for 28 years under the current ownership of Nick and Marion Baxter-Sibley, Signs Express (Exeter) presents a solid business opportunity for a new business owner with EBITDA and turnover in an upward trajectory.

Business Transformation, Outstanding Award Accolades and Territory Expansion!

After a transformational few years of business, we’re excited to see Paul Glover, experienced owner of Signs Express (Nottingham), extend his reach within the Signs Express network and take on his neighbouring territory of Derby.

New Signs Express Franchisee Expands After Just 12 Months Ownership!

Taking over ownership in August last year, we were delighted to welcome new owner of Signs Express (Aylesbury), Kris Bell, to our Signs Express network.

Signs Express (Central Lancashire) take silver at the UK Graphic Awards!

What an evening! We’re thrilled to announce that Signs Express (Central Lancashire) proudly took home silver in the Leisure & Hospitality category at last night's UK Graphic Awards!

Signs Express Franchisee Expands into Fifth Territory!

We’re thrilled to see yet another Signs Express franchisee, Daniel Pickersgill expand his portfolio within our award-winning network and officially become the new owner of our Signs Express (Scarborough) centre, alongside his other territories spanning Gateshead, Wearside, South Durham and Teesside!

From Centre Manager to Franchisee!

We’re thrilled to announce the completion of another internal sale, which sees Centre Manager, Matt Rutlidge take ownership of the Signs Express (Central Lancashire) franchise, completing the acquisition on Tuesday 3 October 2023.

From Signmaker to Franchisee, to Network Champion!

Learn more about Richard Howes, our 2023 Network Champion and owner of Signs Express (Lincoln)

Signs Express Image

I had the pleasure of speaking with Richard Howes, our 2023 Network Champion and owner of Signs Express (Lincoln), as he talked me through his inspiring journey from joining Signs Express to becoming the successful business owner he is today. Whilst I knew Richard was an avid supporter of the brand, regularly contributed to the network and a long-standing franchisee, after an hour chatting away, I fully appreciated exactly why he’s our Network Champion and felt completely in awe of his positive outlook and passion for what he does.

Q1. What inspired you to join Signs Express?

“I started my career in sales, (something I still love doing to this day), and worked every weekend and bank holiday. Whilst I enjoyed the challenge, the buzz and the people aspect of what I did, upon meeting my lovely wife, I realised work wasn’t everything and I needed to adjust my work life balance.

After heading back to college as an adult and widening my set of skills I was looking for a change. I know I love working with people, I love sales, being creative and I’d been entrepreneurial, but I wasn’t set on a particular career path.

After randomly helping on reception whilst at college, when someone didn’t turn up to work one day, I found myself taking calls as Grant, the franchisee from Signs Express (Grantham), was busy with an installation in the background. Grant complimented me on my phone skills, so I asked him for a job. After an interview over a few hours that evening, I was handed the keys to the centre! I then taught myself design in the evenings and started a fortnight later, back in June 1999.

Over the coming months I worked extremely hard to learn all areas of the business, going out on installations, learning to become a signmaker, how to use all of the equipment, designing and selling to customers. Allowing me to do such a varied and interesting job on a daily basis, I hugely enjoyed it and fell in love with the business.

In 2000 Grant expanded and took over the Signs Express (Lincoln) centre, so when the opportunity arose to become part of the business, I jumped at the chance to become a 10% shareholder. I signed our franchise agreement on 1st August 2000, which turned out to be a truly amazing day as it was also the date my first son was born.

After just a year in the business I moved over to Signs Express (Lincoln) where I became Centre Manager and two years later in 2003 when Grant announced he was selling both businesses to emigrate, I took full ownership of Lincoln at the same time as my Grantham colleague and good friend Ian Charles took ownership of Signs Express (Grantham).

By this point, I was fully immersed in the business, I had three full years of experience in the industry, I felt confident in what I was doing and therefore could have made the decision to go it alone and take my newfound skills and business experience elsewhere and set up independently.

However, with three years of working under the Signs Express brand and the credibility and support that came with it, I thought it was worth every penny to invest in Signs Express and I am still thrilled that I made the right decision. The support from the Franchise Support Centre, the reputation of the brand, the marketing, the website, the financial and business coaching, the support from the wider network etc. just wasn’t something I’d have if I went it alone.

Q2. Talk me through your role as a franchisee and what ‘a day in the life of Signs Express’ looks like for you?

“Whilst I’m not as hands-on in terms of sign making, each day remains wonderfully varied. My day starts off with opening up the centre, getting everything turned on and ready for the day, a quick team meeting to discuss the priorities and jobs for the day ahead, after this it can be anything from emails, quoting, supporting large jobs with access requirements, mentoring the team, going out to see customers for surveys to specify and sell to them, weeding (not the green fingered kind), budgeting and plenty of graphic design work, which I really enjoy.

Nearly 25 years in, and I still love the industry and business. For a creative person who loves building relationships and meeting new people, being able to combine the two is ideal for me. Understanding our customers visions and bringing them to life gives me a huge buzz and seeing the work our team has produced in and around the city, gives me an enormous sense of pride.

In terms of my work life balance these days, I work Monday to Friday and I get to spend time with my wife and eldest son who both now work in the business. I’m home by 8pm which may sound late to some, but I only stay because I love what I do and not because I have to. It also means I have plenty of quality time with my wife and children at the weekends.”

Q3. In your opinion, what are the main benefits of franchising?

“The wide knowledge and quality of support from the Franchise Support Centre (FSC) alongside the wider network are the biggest benefits for me.

Whilst I had the opportunity to learn about the industry on the job, anyone else coming in is going to have a steep learning curve as they begin to understand the different materials, equipment, production methods, supplier relationships and much more, which is where the FSC come in. With expert support across marketing, finance, operations, sales, IT, business coaching and more, the FSC are there to be utilised as much as you need and that is a huge benefit.

Even when you reach a point of feeling confident in your abilities, knowing that support is there is invaluable, and the quality of the staff at the FSC now and the support available, I feel is the best it has ever been.

Owning a business doesn’t always go smoothly and after ten years of ownership I hit a rocky point with the centre and couldn’t figure out where I was going wrong. However, with the support I received from the FSC along with a network of 60+ franchisees going through the same daily challenges I was facing, I was given the guidance, solutions and support I needed and we were soon back on our feet. Ever since then our centre has gone from strength to strength.

Looking back now I can see things I’d have changed or done differently; however, you learn as you go along, and I’m now delighted I can offer the same support and guidance to the network that others kindly did for me.

Q4. You’ve recently been recognised as the Signs Express Network Champion for 2023, what would you say are the main contributors to you receiving the award?

“I’m a very open and honest individual and pride myself in having a positive outlook on life, and I’ve always had a desire to help others.

I understand that part of my success is from the support of others within the network and after a number of years in the business, I’m very much here to support my colleagues and share my experience and offer guidance. I’m confident and comfortable with my opinions and they don’t always conform to the majority opinion, however I believe in giving constructive feedback and put my points across in a positive manner. I think it’s important to collaborate and respect one another.

I’m very much a people person and I genuinely want to help and support others where I can. The award came as a big surprise, but I was absolutely thrilled to receive it!”

Q5. What are your aspirations for the year ahead?

“After ending 2023 with our record turnover up 17% on the prior year, I’d be very happy to see this trend continue!

With a business I thrive in, a supportive family, a comfortable lifestyle and healthy work life balance, I’d be very happy with more of the same. My main aim is to improve the quality of life for everyone that works with me and to ensure I’ve got a happy and healthy team of people here to continue to drive the business forward.”

Q6. What do you see as the biggest challenges for the year ahead?

“You’re fine when you’re flying but there inevitably will be challenges. As a business owner, one of the biggest ongoing challenges is the increase in costs and this year, that will be mainly due to salary increases.

Our overheads are at a record high, and whilst customers are accepting of this fact as we increase our prices, it doesn’t stop with materials, there’s business rate increases, fuel prices, utility bills, the list goes on.

As the business has grown, inevitably so has our team. Comparing today’s salary budget vs two years ago, an individual salary now costs nearly £5,000 more per annum including wage increases, employer’s NI and pension contributions. It’s important we maintain the financial gap above minimum wage for our employees’ as we want to pay our team fairly and for them to feel valued, but the impact on the bottom-line is noticeable. That being said, these are challenges we’re all facing at the moment and we’ll continue to progress with the support we’ve received and through the knowledge we’ve learnt over the years.

Q7. What advice would you give to someone looking to join Signs Express?

“Be like a sponge and try to absorb all the information everyone is telling you. It’s important to be a free thinker, but there is a wealth of knowledge and experience around you, both at the FSC and within the network. Every single person is trying to help you improve your business and make a better life for you, so please be open to it.

Create opportunities for yourself, put yourself out there and be ambitious, know your worth and be confident in your abilities, as you have a huge network there to support you.

When I started as a signmaker I never realised quite how much I would enjoy my journey with Signs Express to this point. It’s been a truly wonderful experience, where I’ve been able to support my family, with my wife joining the business in 2007 and my eldest son joining in 2021. I’ve made many wonderful friendships and I wake up feeling energised every day. With my wife and I signing another 10 year franchise agreement last year, I very much look forward to the business taking me from my twenties through to my sixties.

Network Champion 2023

Richard is an integral part of the Signs Express network and a genuine individual who wants to help people and sincerely loves what he does. Whilst we’ve got a fantastic network of individuals, this year it felt right to acknowledge Richard’s outstanding contribution and commitment by awarding him with our Network Champion Award.

Speaking to Managing Director Jonathan Bean about Richard’s award he said, “Richard does his upmost to foster our business and support fellow franchisees. He has played an active role in several working groups over the years assisting franchisees with his honest, balanced, and constructive input and feedback. He is always thinking about how to help the wider network by sharing experiences and knowledge gained from running his own successful Signs Express franchise. We are very fortunate to have Richard as part of our network and thank him for all his support and help.”

Aaron Davis, Network Development Director also commented, “It’s rare that you meet someone with such an infectious positivity, oozing with passion for the industry and a genuine desire to share, collaborate and support others. Richard lives and breathes the core values of Signs Express, is a true ambassador of the brand and goes out of his way to help move the business forward. He’s an avid contributor on internal forums, shares advice and opinions to support others and has sat on a number of working groups to input into strategic decisions. We are extremely fortunate to have him as part of our Signs Express family and he thoroughly deserves this recognition.”

A huge thank you to Richard for taking the time out of his day to talk through his Signs Express journey with us, he’s an inspirational individual with such pride in all he does, it was an absolute pleasure to speak with him and listen to his stories!

Opportunities with Signs Express

If Richard’s story has inspired you, there’s more than one way to join Signs Express and plenty of opportunities to suit your career aspirations.

We’re always on the lookout for talented, driven individuals to join our award-winning network.

Whether you’re about to embark on a new apprenticeship, looking for a new creative opportunity in production, thinking about taking that step-up to become a production or sales manager, or even looking to own your own business in an innovative industry where no two days are the same, we have a range of recruitment opportunities across our 60+ locations.

Signs Express Testimonials
I would definitely recommend franchising to those who wish to own a business with large potential. It’s been a fantastic way to grow my opportunities whilst knowing I have all the support, guidance and reassurance just a phone call away.
Janiv Patel, Signs Express,
Signs Express
Signs Express’ dedicated support team ensure I look at the facts and figures giving me advice on the next steps to take. It’s important to keep looking at the bigger picture in order to keep on track with the growth I want for the business. I have a very exciting future ahead of me.
Craig Tiley, Signs Express (Stoke-on-Trent),
Signs Express
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