Franchisors tackle a number of concerns when establishing their franchise locations. These challenges can include expanding into new markets and helping franchisees to be successful. As a franchisor, franchise signage is one aspect that should be at the forefront of your mind as it’s often the first visual representation of your business that people see when they interact with your franchise locations.
To get some perspective from a franchisor's point of view, we spoke with Teddy Fine, Creative Director for the Philly Pretzel Factory franchise about working at a franchise headquarters and coordinating signage. In this post, we’ll guide you through six important points for franchises to consider with respect to implementing their signage with input from Teddy.
1. Capitalize on your franchise locations with signage that gets you noticed and attracts visitors
Franchisors and franchisees alike know the importance of location, location, location, and together, they have common goals for success. The franchisor wants to expand into the right markets, and the franchisee wants to choose the right location to open up shop so they can be a successful owner.
According to Teddy, the best location obviously drives the ship as much as possible because it entails a lot of foot traffic. Still, as important as location is, having the right location won’t mean much if the signage used isn’t doing its job by making your franchise stand out and attract visitors.
“You want to ensure that the foot traffic that will be driving or walking by has a clear, visible message of who your brand is,” Teddy said.
Signage is an essential visual part of any franchise, and finding the right spot for your signage is as important as finding the right spot for your business. Franchisors need to be concerned with their franchise locations getting noticed by passing cars and foot traffic. In order to achieve this, franchisors should be focused on maintaining brand and aesthetic consistency while ensuring that the signage looks great.
“Knowing your brand and defining it with your signage will ultimately lead to more success,” Teddy said.
2. Choose a signage partner that will help with local permitting and fight for the signs your locations need
Often, when you’re trying to get a business noticed, you want to go for the biggest sign you can for optimized visibility, but there may be size restrictions imposed by local townships or property landlords. These are important restrictions to consider in order to save time on the overall process for business signs as well as costs.
Townships and landlords often have requirements on allotted square footage. Teddy said these specifications sometimes sound great on paper, but when he sees the allotment visually, it’s not big enough for what the franchise location needs. Sometimes LED signs and electronic message centers have special restrictions placed on them as well. No franchisor wants to invest time and cash into a sign project and realize too late that it’s in violation of area sign regulations.
“A big thing for us is fighting so we can have a partner and a vendor that will go to bat for us to get us the biggest and most amount of signage available, especially in a case where a shopping center may be off the main road or it may be recessed and a little harder to see,” Teddy continued.
It is vital is to partner with a signage company that will speak up for your franchise and handle the permitting process from start to finish so that everything is in place and your franchise receives the most amount of signage possible. Your sign provider should ensure your signage complies with local regulations and seek permits and variances on behalf of your franchise.
3. Make sure the signage you use is high quality and looks great
Appearance is everything. As a franchisor, you need franchise signage that looks professional without fading, damages, or burnt out lights. Attractive, branded signs are crucial for attracting the attention of driver and foot traffic.
For a stellar street appearance, it is important to have signage that is created with top-notch manufacturing practices so that it lasts longer and isn’t prone to damage that reflects poorly on your franchise. Also, repairs or replacement signs can be costly in the long run.
Choosing a sign only for its price is not recommended by Teddy because weather related damage can cause significant wear and tear over time. Water can seep into the cracks of a poorly made or installed sign and cause lights to burn out, cracks, or discoloration.
“Sometimes saving a buck may sound good, but a month later when you have to redo the sign, it’s not beneficial,” he said.
If needs for signage repairs arise over time, address them. Ensuring franchise locations update aging signage when necessary keeps your brand looking fresh, clean, and modern for visitors and potential customers.
4. Have clear franchise brand standards in place for your signage
Consistency is key in order to establish the brand of your franchise. The experience customers have should be exactly the same when they visit any of your franchise locations. Franchise signage can help to create a consistent customer experience. Signage also gives customers visual cues about your brand and can be extremely impactful and memorable.
Whether it’s seeing the exterior signs on the side of the road and on your storefront to draw customers in or interior signs inside your location, your franchise branding on signage should create a familiar experience. For instance, if a food service franchise has menu boards that are uniform at all locations, this makes it easy for customers to know exactly where to look and decide what to order quickly.
It’s necessary for any franchisor to have very clearly defined brand standards for their locations. We recommend using your franchise’s brand book that lays out these guidelines as a roadmap. Brand books should be updated periodically and franchisees should be aware if any aspect of the brand changes. Brand standards may include guidelines about store layout, marketing, and advertising materials, and should absolutely include signage guidelines for uniformity.
For the best end result, make sure your signage provider is a partner who understands that everything they create must be in line with your franchise brand standards.
5. Have variations of your signage to make it easy to stay on-brand
While consistency is very important for a franchise, not every location and not every market is exactly the same. Some franchises will give their franchisees more creative freedom in order to adapt and be successful in a different market, but ultimately, the spirit of the brand must be maintained.
Stores may be laid out differently if the space is different, and the standard signage used may need to be adapted. Also, local township or landlord related size restrictions aren’t the only restrictions you may encounter with signage. A franchise that typically uses illuminated signage like channel letters or sign cabinets can run into problems if a city or neighborhood has restrictions on the brightness of the sign or if illuminated signage is banned altogether.
The takeaway is that your brand guidelines regarding signage should be adaptable to different locations. Your vendor may try their best to fight for a permit or variance to get the sign how you want it, but it isn’t always possible. You can develop acceptable variations of your logo and signage such as different shapes, sizes, or illuminated and non-illuminated.
For example, Philly Pretzel has a very round logo, which sometimes needs to be adapted to fit a more rectangular space. As a solution, Philly Pretzel created variations of their logo for their franchise locations.
6. Make the process simple for your franchisees to set them up for success
Remember your mutual goals with the franchisee. It’s in your best interest to make everything as easy as possible for their franchise location with regards to all aspects of the business so that everyone hits revenue goals, and signage should be no different.
When franchisees are initially opening their stores, you want to help them by walking them through the signage process as much as you can. Handing off the brand book and leaving the franchisee entirely on their own without offering support is not ideal for the best end signage results. Remember your new franchisee has a lot on their plate and may not be as well versed in franchise branding best practices.
“Opening or maintaining any business is a lot of work on the franchisee, the tenant, the manager, the owner—pretty much all parties involved, so what Philly Pretzel Factory tries to do from a franchisor perspective is take the work out of the hands of the franchisee,” Teddy said.
If your franchise is growing, your sign provider needs to be able to meet your expanding needs. You need a national sign company that can handle your scope of work including the sign’s consultation, design, fabrication, installation, and permitting phases. A small sign shop that will pass on a lot of the work to other vendors in order to get the sign project done is unlikely to be the right fit for your franchise. Look for a comprehensive sign provider that can do everything and is able to make the process streamlined for both the franchisor and franchisees.
Implement the right franchise sign process for your brand
Without a doubt, it’s important to keep in mind that the goal of your signage is to get noticed and attract customers to your franchise locations. Remember to select a signage partner that will lend a hand with the local permitting process and make certain your franchise receives quality and visually pleasing signage.
It is also helpful to have clear franchise brand standards in place as well as several versions of your signage to stay on-brand. Lastly, as a franchisor, you can make the signage process simple for your busy new franchisees by partnering with a company that offers comprehensive sign services from start to finish. With these considerations in mind, your business will be on a path to success.
Different types of signs are used differently in various locations of a business. Are you unsure what types of signage you need and what those types are called? Explore our interactive infographic.
It’s a virtual world that can help you find the right type of signage for your franchise. Click around the Main Street Signs on the first slide as well as the Shopping Center Signs slide in particular.