Howard James Jr. and his wife Dana opened a FastSigns franchise in their hometown of Washington, DC in 2007. Howard, a former DC arts teacher of 17 years at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, came across the idea when he had to drive 45 minutes outside of the capital to a suburb in order to purchase materials for a project. He realized the lack of local signage providers offered him the perfect opportunity to enter the market in his area. As a result, he and his wife now dominate in their area, with a flourishing business that has provided them around $2.5 million in sales within the past two years.
FastSigns provides signs, graphics, all types of printing, including 3-D and promotional items, as well as other marketing related services. They are among the hundreds of franchisors who offer incentives to veterans, women and minorities in hopes to provide otherwise inaccessible opportunities to these under serviced groups. These incentives include reduced franchise fees [ 50%off $36,000] and royalty payments.
The James’ total investment in their franchise came out to $175,000; the average investment is around $160,000. Their clients include the city’s transit system, local and federal government agencies, large corporations and small businesses. Strong customer retention and budding new accounts provide them with a strong revenue stream.
Howard attributes a large part of his success to the top-notch training he received from FastSigns corporate offices. That included a week at a FastSigns center to learn the operations firsthand, two weeks at corporate headquarters in Dallas, TX and one week onsite at their own FastSigns center. There is also a pre-opening marketing campaign to help grow awareness of the new location. This all amounted to him being fully prepared to thrive in an industry of which he formerly knew little to nothing about.