Signs By Tomorrow - 10/17/2006
Life in the Fast Lane
(Columbia, MD)---Signs By Tomorrow President and CEO Joe McGuinness is not exaggerating when he says
the sign industry franchisor is built around technology. Two new programs illustrate that commitment.
Early this fall, Signs By Tomorrow will launch SBTDirect, a customized, user-friendly online ordering system that
gives customers the ability to order template-based, pre-designed signs specific to their business from a dedicated
web site on a 24/7 basis.
The program, almost two years in development, is meant to address the needs of existing Signs By Tomorrow
clients that routinely order large quantities of signs that are largely similar in nature, except for a few select
An example of such a client is a real estate sales company with hundreds of offices and agents throughout the
country. A basic design for the realtor’s yard signs and open house banners is posted on a secure web site in
template format. Certain components of the sign such as the corporate logo and brand colors are fixed, but
variables such as the name of the agent, telephone number and e-mail address can be changed.
Clients can order anytime, day or night, from their own customized online catalog. The client maintains control
of the sign’s integrity its design and colors - but is able to customize it to their individual needs.
"SBTDirect is a program that was built from the ground up," said Heather Chapman, marketing manager for Signs
By Tomorrow, which gets 98 percent of its customers from the business-to-business market. "There is nothing
cookie-cutter about it. The entire program was customized specifically for Signs By Tomorrow."
One of the franchised pioneers in the one-day sign industry with 180 locations in 34 states, Signs By Tomorrow
is equally committed to serving the needs of its franchisees and their employees. That commitment will be
underscored later this year with the introduction of eSBT, a new online training program to be utilized throughout
the Signs By Tomorrow network.
Participants will have continual access to an online library of between 50 and 70 training modules that address
almost every aspect of owning or working in a Signs By Tomorrow business such as software instruction,
business strategies, marketing and sales, workplace harassment issues and much more.
Franchisees, managers, employees and corporate personnel will be able to utilize eSBT for both initial and
ongoing training. Future franchisees will be able to build skills in pertinent software programs before they even
begin their formal three-week training program.
"It takes our program to a different level since the training can be accessed anytime and almost anywhere,"
said McGuinness of the Signs By Tomorrow training curriculum, already recognized as one of the most
comprehensive in the industry. "Functionally, we are a training and consulting company. Training is something
we continually strive to improve."
eSBT will also give franchisees the capability to administer aptitude tests on various software programs to
prospective employees as a screening tool.
"If prospective employees say they are proficient in several software programs, they can be tested and scored
using eSBT," McGuinness said. "If there are several candidates for a position, it can help our franchisee determine
who is the most highly-skilled."
Customized learning modules will be continually added to the curriculum based on input from the within the Signs
By Tomorrow network a well as from Signs By Tomorrow’s various materials or equipment vendors.
"We are not only dedicated to external training, but internal as well," Chapman said. "Our corporate staff will
also utilize eSBT to supplement our knowledge so we can offer the best support possible to our franchisees."
Because of the endless possibilities and customized marketing solutions that it offers clients, Signs By Tomorrow
locations are considered quasi-advertising agencies staffed by professional design consultants servicing
customers from small-business owners to corporate clientele.
The SBTDirect program whose name was selected by a systemwide contest among franchisees was created
specifically in response to customer needs. The web site is accessible only to clients who receive a username
and password. The page can also be branded to their business. For example, if the client is a professional
sports team, the web page can incorporate the team’s colors and logos.
Signs By Tomorrow franchisees determine other parameters such as whether pricing is displayed, minimum
order amounts and payment options. With 24/7 ordering capability for standardized signage from one supplier,
Signs By Tomorrow clients avoid the problems that result from obtaining signage from multiple sources, often
with multiple differentiations.
"It is all about making ordering easier for our clients while offering brand control through approved designs for
a multitude of offices," said Columbia, S.C., franchisee Dottie Moretz. "At the end of the day, we must find a
way to make our customers’ lives easier."
Added Chapman: "There will never be a discrepancy in a client’s logo or color. To stand out from the crowd,
companies need to be consistent in their message."
Because SBTDirect simplifies ordering for large-volume clients, Signs By Tomorrow franchisees are able to
focus on what they do best: working with customers to provide a wide variety of customized sign products and
services that provide creative and affordable solutions to businesses of all sizes.
"SBTDirect allows our franchisees and clients more time to discuss future strategies," Chapman said. "They
will have the opportunity to discuss such things as how to expand their marketing and advertising capabilities
with Signs By Tomorrow signage."