It pays to advertise, so they say, and the most common form of advertising in the world is the sign. Meeting the need for signage has seen Speedy Signs open 25 locations in New Zealand, making it the largest and most prominent signage network.
Owners of Speedy Signs franchises are far from traditional signwriters – they are business owners who assist others to grow their business faster. Take Bruce Hopkins, for example. He came from a career in marketing and GM within a large company. He opened a start-up and got to break-even within three months!
‘I had spent a lot of my working life helping other people’s businesses and reached the point where I wanted to put my working philosophies into practice for myself,’ Bruce remembers. ‘I looked at several options but franchising offers so many advantages to anyone making their first foray into business.’
Bruce’s research took him to Speedy Signs. ‘Having assessed the size of the signage and display market in NZ, I came to the conclusion it was worth over $1 billion,’ says Bruce. Every business and event needs signs, no matter what the economy is doing. It is a high need product. 17 years later Bruce sold his business for a handsome profit, but enjoyed the industry and comradery of the group so much, he joined the Franchisor in an advisory role to the group.
Speedy Signs outlets are enjoying booming business, say their owners.
While Bruce and Lynette Hopkins were new to the world of signs and graphics, Dunedin man Adam Cullen has been a signwriter since he was 18. ‘I guess I’m the exception among Speedy Signs owners as I knew exactly what I was getting into,’ he says. In fact, Adam and his wife Kathryn had founded their own business just months before Grant Archibald, the NZ franchisor, opened the first Speedy Signs outlet in New Zealand. ‘Grant and I quickly realised that it would be mutually beneficial to rebrand as Speedy Signs Dunedin. The timing was perfect, and it was the right decision for both of us – my business has quadrupled since joining the franchise and we’re not looking back.
‘A system as big as Speedy Signs obviously allows for rapid expansion,’ says Adam. ‘I reached my five year target within three years, and I’ve gone from one to eight staff in the same time. The store is very high volume, and with our two large machines wedo a lot of wide-format digital printing here. Nearly half my staff are devoted to the sales and service side, which leaves the production team free to manufacture signs.’ And although Adam knew the technical side well, he found the initial training invaluable. ‘It was superb – I was able to focus on the sales and systems, and it’s those aspects that have made us so successful as a business.’
Bruce Hopkins came from the opposite direction. ‘I knew nothing about signs and graphics before buying the franchise but with Speedy Signs, you provide your own business skills and buy in your technical skills. This has allowed me to concentrate on building great customer relationships, providing the best solutions, and focusing on the excellent customer service – which I think is key to most successful businesses.’
Satisfied Customers Keep Coming Back
One thing that stands out about thesetwo Speedy Signs locations in very differentparts of the country is the high level ofrepeat business. You might expect thatpeople only buy a sign once, but becausethe franchise offers every kind of sign frombanners and posters to vehicle graphics,interior graphics, illuminated signs,safety signs and floor graphics,satisfied customers keep coming back.
‘It’s the old 80/20 rule,’ says Adam Cullen. ‘Provide good service, quality and price, and then put extra effort into those 20% of your customers who bring you 80% of your work.’ Bruce agrees. ‘I say to my staff “never despise the $50 sale – next week they might come back with $50,000.” As a result, I have been astonished at how consistently 70% of my turnover has been repeat business,’ he adds. ‘It provides a very solid base for continuing growth.’
For those looking to join Bruce, Adam and a great network of other owners in Speedy Signs, franchisor Grant Archibald advises there are limited opportunities left around the country. He is also interested in hearing from established signs and graphics companies in the provincial centres seeking to add value, systems and purchasing advantages to their business. ‘After all, people like Bruce and Adam have shown just what good returns Speedy Signs owners can achieve,’ he says.
First published in Franchise NZ Magazine. (Revised 2020)