Signarama, the signage franchise, has been immensely successful since opening its first store in New York in 1986. Having gone from strength to strength over the past three decades, today the company has over 900 outlets in 50 countries around the world. However, while Signarama UK has been successful at times, it hasn’t been as exceptional as it could have been. “Previous master franchisees struggled for various personal reasons, including ill health,” says Aliyyah-Begum Nasser, director at Signarama UK. This meant that while the company had been stable, it hadn’t grown to its full potential. Fortunately, Nasser is confident that she and her father, Salim Giga, can change that. “We can see that it has a good foundation to build on,” she says. Strengthening that foundation has been their main focus since taking over the British operations in 2016.
But Nasser and Giga wouldn’t have had the chance to give it a go if it hadn’t been for a chance encounter in Miami. “Dad was at a conference there selling his wares and happened to bump into Jim Tatem, the president of Signarama,” she says. “That was the moment it really began for us.” As the two men had a chat, it turned out that they could help each other out with a business opportunity: Giga was looking for his next challenge and Tatem was searching for someone to take over the British franchise. Given that Nasser’s father had spent roughly three decades in the printing industry and she had years of experience working as a business consultant, they understandably felt like they had the competences needed to make Signarama UK a success. “We thought that we could probably make it work,” she says. So in 2016 they decided to give it a go and became the global network’s latest master franchisees.
Not resting on their laurels, they quickly sent four members of the leadership team over to Signarama’s global headquarters in Miami to begin their training. “The franchisor did a fantastic job,” says Nasser. “They really tailored the training to suit each person that went there.” For starters the representatives went through the same education most franchisees receive, which includes things like signage, production and the company’s core values. But it didn’t stop there: the franchisor also ensured that everyone could polish up their skills where they needed it the most. And no matter what level they were on, everyone had a chance to meet other members of the network from around the globe, which is also the reason why every franchisee in the network has their training in Palm Beach. “When dad came back he was super excited,” Nasser says. “Because when you go to the global headquarters you get a real sense of the size and impact the brand has. It’s like ‘oh right, we’ve got 900 stores.’ And the excitement and enthusiasm that develops is really quite infectious.”