David Field, managing director of Melbourne’s Major Media, has responded to industry concerns over the new Jim’s Signs & Print franchise business in an editorial for Wide Format Online.
|Major Media's Tullamarine, Melbourne headquarters - a major force in Australia's Sign industry and behind Jim's Signs & Print.|
- By David Field, managing director, Major Media
* Owned by independent sign industry people, not Jim’s Group
* Working closely with ASGA, all franchisees will be members
* Aiming for quality & service, not ‘cheap and nasty’
* Suppliers indemnified against franchisee payment default
Major Media has been supplying signage to national retailers and corporates for over 20 years. We always make an effort to only provide quality products and service. To the best of my knowledge we do a great job and have a great reputation as a result. We always do our best to do right by the industry and will continue to do so.
While Jim’s Signs & Print is a completely separate entity, it is overseen by the same management team and industry experts. It shares the same knowledge base and the same resources.
Major Media has the highest rate of client, staff and contractor retention in the industry. A primary reason for our success is our fantastic group of skilled contractors and partners. Major Media will continue to work closely with these businesses regardless of what happens with Jim’s. That said many of these businesses stand to benefit a great deal from this venture. Major Media has always gone to great lengths to ensure that all its contractors are experienced and professional, and we are applying the same methodology to signing up Jim’s franchisees. Major Media will not risk its reputation or relationships. To join up as either a Franchisee or supplier one will have to show these attributes or will need to already be an existing approved supplier to Major Media.
Leveraging the Jim’s brand
Jim’s Signs & Print is not owned by Jim’s Group. It is independently owned by people who have been in the signage industry for a long time. Jim’s provides many great resources, knowledge, experience and processes but we decide what the group represents and who is signed up. While our franchisees can use any supplier/product they wish, we will decide on which suppliers and products are endorsed by the group as well as which suppliers we negotiate with.
Unfortunately for all of us, signage is a variable and very few of our potential clients understand what the variance is or how to recognise it. In the absence of qualifications or sufficient industry standards and regulations the strongest point of differentiation for an independent sign shop is price. So, guess who gets a lot of the work? The unqualified and unregulated selling cheap product. Some legitimate operators have been forced to lower their standards just to survive and this too is not good for the industry. We want to introduce an alternative point of differentiation. Being ‘cheap and nasty’ is against the Jim’s policy. Jim's Signs & Print franchises are primarily targeted to existing, experienced small sign businesses looking for a competitive advantage.
For the customer, service and satisfaction has always been a primary focus for Major Media. Our system has been automatically sending out online feedback forms after every job for 14 years. For anyone following Jim on the news recently, you’d know that it happens to be Jim’s passion also. If any of our franchisees do the wrong thing by a client then I will personally get involved. And if I don’t Jim will call me and ask me why.
Supplier indemnity over defaults
Over the years we have seen trade suppliers and installers lose millions of dollars as a result of dodgy operators devaluing the industry then going bust. All trade between our franchisees and our selected/approved suppliers will be guaranteed; i.e. if our franchisees don’t pay the bill, we will. This is another reason why we are not willing to sign up the wrong people to be franchisees. We have been inundated with enquiries from industry suppliers all realising the benefit that we pose to the industry.
So, will it be bad for the industry? That depends who you are and where your values lie. Will it be bad for some existing sign shops? Sure, anyone doing wrong by the industry is on notice. Yes, back-yarders peddling sub-standard product will find it much harder and may decide to exit or change. Will those left behind as Jim’s franchisees or their worthy competitors make more money? Well, that’s the plan. As an added bonus our franchisees will be building a much stronger asset for themselves and their nest-egg than they could on their own by becoming a Jim’s Sign & Print.
We are not being close-minded though. We welcome feedback and guidance from the industry. We have been working closely with groups like the ASGA who have given us great feedback. Membership with ASGA will be part of being a franchisee. If you want to influence how we impact the industry then feel free to work with us. We value the opinion of the readers of Wide Format Online. Many of you who are genuinely concerned would be a great asset to our group.
Jim’s is a strong name with the general public and therefore the consumer. This will no doubt give the Jim’s Signs & Print division an unmistakable edge. No one can avoid this. Those who choose to join can however gain benefit from it and help us shape it to be a benefit to the industry as a whole.