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‘We’re not a cookie-cutter operation’: Signwave GM

“People have this idea around franchising that’s it’s this tightly controlled, cookie-cutter type of thing but all of our businesses are unique and a reflection of owners connecting to markets according to their individual interests,” says Linda Sultmann, director and GM, Signwave Australia.

griffin theatre company
  Griffin Theatre box-office signage by Signwave Newtown

The Australian arm of US signage and graphics franchise giant Fastsigns now has 17 centres across the country; Signwave Australia recorded a 9% jump in total sales in the first half of the financial year.

Linda Sultmann 150
 Linda Sultmann, GM Signwave

Sultmann, who worked in senior management at Estee Lauder and L’Oreal before buying the Signwave Australia Master License in 2014, has just returned from the Fastsigns global conference in Florida.

“They’re always excellent events, with over 500 people attending this year, and they run their own vendor show which is as big as some of the trade shows we have here like Visual Impact,” Sultmann told WFOL. Dallas-based Fastsigns, last month named the number one signage franchise in the US, has almost 700 centres worldwide.

Signwave last year opened new centres in Adelaide and Perth; this year the focus is on Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

“We’re not looking for 100 franchisees in Australia; the goal is around 30-35 centres and we’re at 17 now,” says Sultmann. “We’re looking for quality people that have a vision to grow a business to a million-and-a-half plus. Our focus for the year is to work on Brisbane because we don’t yet have a presence there. We’re talking to a couple of candidates there and also on the Gold Coast.

“You can’t always predict where your candidates are going to come from. It could be someone completely new to the industry, or someone through retirement or redundancy. A lot of our successful franchisees have come out of corporate positions so it’s not a requirement that anyone needs to have expert knowledge of signage to be successful. There are also great opportunities for complimentary businesses like printers to co-brand with us. The business in Adelaide was a window tinting business.”

Sultmann encourages independent sign and print businesses looking for growth and marketing support to get in touch.

“People have this idea around franchising that’s it’s this tightly controlled, cookie-cutter type of thing but all of our businesses are unique and a reflection of owners connecting to their markets according to their own individual interests. What works for us is giving people entrepreneurial scope and helping them to develop into areas they’re interested in and reflecting something of the flavour of their clients and their community.

“For instance, Signwave Newtown in Sydney has had huge success by carving out a niche in the local market with special emphasis on the arts, cultural and government sectors, as well as developing close ties with major Sydney-based festival organisers.”

“Another of our other centres focuses heavily on aged care, providing wayfinding fit-outs and that sort of thing. Different centres get different flavours based on their territory and clients.

New artwork at the Newtown ArtSeat. Artist artist man.de
  Art installed at the Newtown ArtSeat by Signwave Newtown  @artist_man.de

 “We are less about franchising and all about small business ownership success," Sultmann says. "We really encourage independent sign businesses and print businesses looking for growth to come and talk to us about how we can fire up their businesses.”

Signwave is a signage, graphics and visual communications franchise group that provides floor and vehicle graphics, point of purchase and digital signs, labels and decals, architectural and interior décor signs, printing, and related marketing services.

 

 

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