As one of the fastest growing segments of digital marketing, social media is fast becoming an integral part of your online marketing strategy. There is a pretty good chance that at this very moment, consumers are searching for your products and services!  You can gain immediate exposure in the search engines in a targeted and cost effective manner using pay-per-click (PPC), and be visible right when your consumers are looking to buy.
Taking the lead on consumer marketing is essential for brand building and growing unit revenues. Real life stories about the individuals who are living their entrepreneurial dream and expert advice on how to get there. I was born in Windsor and have always lived in this area, spending some of my time in nearby Tecumseh and Sarnia, Ont.
Even though I was just stocking shelves on a Friday night, I took a leadership role at the store, as I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps.
Then, a more local opportunity came up with the business now known as Allegra Marketing Print Mail. When I started, the shop was very walk-in-oriented, selling business cards and providing services like photocopying. Then, in 2004, Allegra added marketing to our product mix, which is when the name was modified to Allegra Marketing Print Mail. I also learned a great deal from George and Joe, who always kept on the cutting edge of technology.
As we now help our clients with all aspects of their marketing efforts, graphic design has become an important part of our business.
I had met a lot of successful franchisees over the course of my career, so I was keen for the opportunity to take over the business and continue to develop it further. In 2013, George was named vice-president (VP) and Joe executive vice-president (EVP) of centre operations for Allegra Network’s corporate operations division. We’ve added a latex printer, a plotter and other new equipment to operate our signmaking centre. Allegra acquired Signs Now in 2005 and created Sign & Graphics Operations (SGO) to acquire Signs By Tomorrow in 2012. In addition to the technology used by the sign division centres, many of the Allegra franchises also already housed some signmaking equipment.
I had never built a sign lightbox before, for example, but now we have the resources to create different kinds of signs, whether in-house or outsourced to another of our locations.
Allegra and SGO have long talked about the need to test the Image360 concept before a full rollout.
To help make that expansion happen, we’re reviewing accounts and developing best practices before making recommendations to other franchisees. The addition of Image360 has been a real highlight in my career, as it gives us the solutions to help clients with all aspects of their marketing efforts. Patrick O’Halloran is general manager (GM) of Allegra Marketing Print Mail and Image360 in Windsor, Ont.
To succeed as a franchisor you need to have a marketing plan and business strategy to make your franchise viable and successful.
Attracting prospective franchisees and getting them interested in your business concept is crucial for the growth of a franchise.
John Baladakis, the chairman of the Franchise Association of South Africa has said that franchising in South Africa is making a greater contribution to the country’s GDP than the traditional sectors, including mining and agriculture. It’s of great importance for franchisors to adjust and adapt to the changing market trends. Franchisors are also pursuing growth opportunities in developing areas, such as townships and rural regions, as a result of saturation in the developed areas. A further trend noticeable in the sector is a move to smaller and less expensive express-store formats, eliminating previously wasted trading space. Franchising opportunities in South Africa include expanding within different parts of the country, as well as into Africa – where a growing middle class is acknowledged to be bringing new opportunities across a number of business sectors in many countries.
Each piece of marketing communication has to reflect and reinforce your brand promise—from print ads to email campaigns and direct marketing to referral programs.


Greenbaum Marketing implements targeted, response-driven marketing strategies that impact prospects and build same-store sales.
Unlike most shops in the system, however, it’s not a new buildout or a conversion of an independent print shop.
I’m the oldest of five siblings and was a typical child of the 1980s, outside all day and playing lots of baseball.
My mother was a banker with Canada Trust, then started working at the Casino Windsor when it opened in 1994. Back then, minimum wage was less than $3 an hour, so it was great to have a real job where I was making $10 an hour! I spent six years as a store manager for Taco Bell, overseeing costs, labour and human resources (HR).
After leaving Taco Bell, I interviewed at other restaurants and found a good opportunity with Swiss Chalet, but it meant we would have to move out of town. Two co-franchisees, George Kummer and Joseph Haddad, had opened a Speedy Printing Centre in Windsor in 1987 and they were looking for a store manager. I had been working right next door and sometimes used their photocopying and faxing services, so it seemed to me like that was all they did.
The location I’m still at today was their production hub, while prepress services were handled at a separate location and sales at yet another. We still put ink on paper, but now the nature of the message and the tactics we used to market it were far more important to compete in an expanding marketplace. With the programs, training and my previous business acumen, I made the top 10 in direct sales across the Allegra system and helped our franchise become one of the top locations in the network. We were the first colour-connected printing company in southwestern Ontario, using a raster image processor (RIP) to manage colour copies. Once we started to have kids, we both decided she would stay home with them as much as possible.
So, when George and Joe eventually looked to move on from their centre after more than 27 years, we talked about the opportunity for me to become the franchisee. That’s the other key to not worrying about the competition; you have to evolve to make sure you can meet your customers’ changing needs, not just their old ones. Traditional printing remains in our sales mix, but we’ve also added promotional products to our offerings, like customized apparel, pens and Universal Serial Bus (USB) keys. That was a great recognition of their experience and success as franchisees in the ever-changing print and visual communications industry.
Today, Alliance Franchise Brands, the parent company of both Allegra and SGO, links nearly 600 marketing and visual communications offices across North America and the U.K.
The concept was to escape the fast-turnaround and sign-centric perception created by their longstanding brands in favour of a broader roster of products and services and a more consultative approach to customer service.
We purchased a Roland eco-solvent inkjet printer years ago, for instance, to help make signs and banners now and then for our customers. I was in Columbia for two weeks and learned everything from how to cut vinyl for a window sign to installing a digital light-emitting diode (LED) sign and everything in between.
One of our tasks, for example, has been to find and source signmaking consumables from Canadian vendors, so franchisees here don’t have to order from the U.S. And that really gives me something to talk about with customers, as I can knock on their door and say, “I’ve got something new to help your business grow.” The hope is that our old clients will now start buying their signs from us.
You can then attract future franchisee prospects as your business model matures after having been tried, tested and perfected over time. By buying into a proven business concept, new business owners have reduced business risk and are able to focus on following the business model and being successful business owners. He is on record as saying that, given South Africa’s current unemployment rate of around 25%, the franchise sector is important to driving future economic growth and creating employment opportunities. Some aesthetics are removed in the new store setups to ensure increased profitability and effective utilisation of trading space.
Before branching further northwards into the continent, it is advisable to be sufficiently established in South Africa.


It is also important to connect with people who have local knowledge and who understand the cultural nuances and the economic and legal intricacies of doing business in the country you are exploring. For the franchisee, a key benefit is the backup of a franchisor who has established a successful business.
It only takes 8 seconds for someone to decide if they are going to stay on your site or leave, so ensure you are making a lasting impression on your visitors.
We leverage our 20 years of experience as marketing strategists and creative professionals to transform your brand and communications. We specialize in facilitating these communications by hosting webinars that explain the value and provide the initiative to grow their business. Instead, I’ve expanded my successful Allegra Marketing Print Mail franchise in Windsor, Ont., into signage, displays and graphics, creating a one-stop marketing shop for my clients. He had grown up in Essex, Ont., and worked at an independent grocery store, where he’d learned a lot about what it took to be a business owner. The company went through some major corporate shifts during that time, with the local offices changing from international to domestic in scope, followed by the franchising of previously corporate-run stores.
We lived close to my in-laws, who did a lot of babysitting for us, so I didn’t want to have to relocate.
That is to say, how you get your message out and to whom is far more important than just the printing of that message.
More than that, though, we weren’t just printers; we also developed and implemented marketing plans for our clients, across a wide range of industries, from retailers to non-profit organizations, from banks to hospitals. Our son Carom was born in 1992, followed by our daughters Desiree in 1993, Jasmine in 1995 and Arianna in 2004. George and Joe were Allegra’s first international franchisees, starting in Windsor and eventually opening three locations, all of which have consistently ranked as some of the system’s top sales performers. We have access to a big flatbed printer at our sister corporate store just 30 minutes away in Plymouth, Mich., and we have access to paint booths, accessibility signage capabilities and many other offerings at our other sister store in Columbia, Md.
We also learned about how to acquire permits and comply with zoning, bylaws and wind loads. Depending on the franchisee’s comfort level, they can do everything for you or you can tackle the marketing on your own. Technically, my location is both a franchise and a corporate store, as I’m an Image360 general manager (GM) and sales manager; Joe and George are my leadership team in this regard. In the meantime, we have the advantage in Windsor of being right on the border, with relatively easy access to Plymouth and Detroit, Mich. Furthermore, international and home-grown franchises often attract franchisees from customers who have experienced the brand positively.
Each of our franchisee programs is easy to implement and maintain with a core focus on revenue growth. When you’re well-entrenched with your customers, it doesn’t really matter what your competition is doing. Today, we have a Summa plotter, a new HP latex printer and a lot of other innovative equipment to operate our signmaking centre.
A franchisor can then develop a franchise opportunity advertising and marketing plan once the first few franchises are off the ground.
The rewards for a targeted, well-thought-out marketing campaign include solid franchisees, who will be an asset to the franchisor in growing the brand,’ concludes Pienaar. That’s not to say you don’t need to know who your competition is, but the key is to be valued by your clients for what you do. In the future, new franchises will have the opportunity to open with just the Image360 brand or a dual brand as in our case.



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