New owners in front of their Image360The timing couldn’t be worse, but the outcome couldn’t be better

Married for 25 years and with career experience in various corporate positions, Dan Kolody and Emma Southwood found themselves in mid-2019 thinking of acquiring and operating their own business.

But which way to turn? A franchise broker quizzed them on their goals and suggested several ownership opportunities. These businesses included car stereos, flooring, promotional products and signage.

“We had three criteria for selecting a business,” said Southwood. “Our choice had to offer a good return on investment. It would enable a good work-life balance. Finally, we wanted a business we could get excited about and somehow delight our customers. It had to be fun so that our children would eventually come on board.”

Several of the franchise broker’s recommendations did not meet the couple’s criteria, but two signage operations did—and one stood out.

“Image360 blew us away at their discovery day,” said Kolody. “We also had a chance to speak with 10 franchise members. Their ownership experience ranged from two years to two decades. All had a consistent message: The home office support is fantastic.”


Getting started

At the beginning of the year, the couple decided to open an Image360 Centre and set about finding a good location in their hometown of Calgary, Alberta.

“We came across a three-year-old sign company that had recently gone bankrupt,” said Southwood. “It had a great location. It was also well equipped and came with a large inventory of materials.”

But what was a good price, wondered the future sign franchisees? Chad Salewski stepped up to assist. He’s a Regional Director for the Sign and Graphics Division of Alliance Franchise Brands (AFB)—the franchisor of Image360 Centres.

“At that time, a bank owned the assets of the previous sign company and we couldn’t gain access to it,” said Kolody. “We could only view a list of its contents. This meant little to us as newcomers to the industry. Chad led a home office team that helped us understand what we were buying and negotiate a favourable price—for the equipment and inventory as well as the building lease.”


Opening up

Dan and Emma were originally scheduled to open their new Image360 Centre in May, but the advent of the COVID-19 Crisis in March affected their plans in multiple ways.

“The shutdown of cross-border traffic between Canada and the U.S. made training at the home office in Maryland impossible,” said Southwood. “Provincial initiative as a result of the COVID Crisis delayed the acquisition of the assets. Meanwhile, we had already begun pursuing outside sales per the Image360 franchise model.”

At one point, the couple was selling signage, fabricating it, building out their new business space and undergoing training (virtually) all at once! Finally, Image360 Calgary South opened its doors on July 2.


Gaining support

“The assistance we received from the home office was invaluable,” said Kolody. “Also, Chad was brilliant. A previous franchise owner, he offered a lot of practical advice.”

In getting started, the couple also singled out for praise the marketing support received from AFB. This assistance included a website, social media posts, email blasts and more. Much of it—including reopening checklists and product sell sheets—was produced under a READY, GET SET, GO! banner to help franchisees gain sales as businesses reopened.

Their new business also received support from an expected source—KKP Calgary. A provider of print, design and sign services, they are another franchise brand operating under the AFB umbrella.

“There’s no other Image360 Centre within a thousand miles,” said Southwood. “So, having a nearby resource was a great help. Tim and Bruce from KKP Calgary assisted with printing projects, advised on pricing and costs, recommended local vendors and helped a pair of newcomers solve many challenges.”


Looking ahead

Dan and Emma report that despite the challenges associated with opening a new business during the pandemic, Image360 Calgary South is well on track to hit its sales goals going forward!


Like to learn more about the advantages of franchising with Image360?

An Image360 business is a sales-driven, solutions provider in the area of visual communications. Part of Alliance Franchise Brands, the franchise network is uniquely equipped to provide our franchise members with an unmatched level of support in the industry.

Drawing from more than 25 years of leadership and innovation in the industry, Image360 is now one of the top business-to-business (B2B) franchises, serving the multi-billion-dollar market for graphic communication services.

Image360 franchise members offer professional graphic communications services to national, regional and local businesses and organizations, including environmental graphics, mobile graphics, way-finding solutions and promotional displays.

Those who are interested in owning and operating an Image360 Centre have several options. You can purchase a franchise to achieve your dream of business ownership. The cost of entry is relatively low and there are many available territories.

If you already own a sign business, you can convert it to an Image360 Centre. You’ll benefit from the services, support and other advantages of our established franchise network.

A third choice allows you to add on an Image360 Centre to your print operation or any other business. In one step, you’ll expand your offerings—and profit potential—to include graphics, signage and displays.

To learn more about the Image360 franchise opportunity, contact us today.