The Royal Navy was the route Chris naturally took after leaving school at the sprightly age of 17. Within the Royal Navy, Chris worked as a Submariner which involved various engineering and mechanical pursuits. When in 1997, on reaching 40, he took his service retirement and thought about what he was going to do with his life. While not wanting to leave Plymouth, which is a great city and a fantastic place to live. Becoming his own boss was something he was certain of but changing his career path at this age left him a little bit lost.
Investing in a franchise is often thought a more secure route for business owners and Signs Express soon became the ideal option for Chris. Well organised, reputable, professional with a slight link to the engineering side of his late career in the Royal Navy, it was all lining up perfectly for Chris. Moving into Wolseley Business Park and securing his first client, Vospers, the business grew significantly over the years which led him to hire more enthusiastic team members, all motivated to learn the craft.
Simon is the longest working team member after Chris, of 15 years which naturally means that when Chris retires, Simon will take over his role and look after the business. Due to the positive working environment and friendly people, the average time a team member stays at Signs Express Plymouth is at least 10 years, this is double the UK average!
Due to the changes in the team, everyone is moving up a job role which leaves room for a few new starters to join the team. In June 2021, Signs Express entered into the ‘Kickstart Scheme’ – a new government-funded scheme to assist young people claiming Universal credit, aged 18-25, into employment.
Under this scheme, businesses are funded to take on a young person in a job role for a 6-month placement. During this time, the young person is trained and given the opportunity to showcase their skills and practicality within the work environment. After the 6-month period ends, there is a prospect for the young person to be offered a permanent position within the company.
The most recent Signs Express Plymouth’s success story with Kickstart begins in June 2021 when they opened themselves up to taking on Georgia under the role of Sales and Marketing Administrative Assistant. Georgia grew in confidence and excelled at any task given to her, she also displayed outstanding communication skills as well as producing engaging content for their social media. 13 months later and Georgia is a valued member of the Signs Express Plymouth team.
Their second success story came in January 2022, 7 months after taking on their first trainee Georgia. With the end of Chris’ full-time career in sight, they decided it was time to expand the team again, this time, they were on the lookout for a ‘Trainee Sign Maker’.
In this role, Jake was able to display his knowledge and functionality of manufacturing various products using a range of materials and equipment. During Jake’s time
as a trainee, he gelled with the other team members and proved his ability to carry out work to a high standard whilst displaying enjoyment of working to the pace of their ever-expanding clientele. As of August 2022, Jake will become an official member of the team, therefore another great success as a result of the Kickstart Scheme.
Unfortunately, the Kickstart Scheme is no longer available to young people however, Georgia found the ‘Movement to Work’ course exceptionally helpful in leading her in the direction of the Kickstart Scheme.
With the arrival of the new team members, they currently have 8, including Chris’ wife Vida who helped in the early days of the business and covers the accounts. We also must not forget Steve and Sam being important and highly valued members of the team in production and installation. Steve and Sam are both highly skilled, with lots of experience within our industry. Chris likes to focus on their main products and do them to the best standard which requires a skilled team. The team and the training are where Chris has focused on which has proven to be successful due to their long-standing colleagues and client satisfaction.
Among the most popular products requested by clients is vehicle graphics and wraps. Vehicle graphics are constantly visible to the public which means it’s the most efficient way to get your business noticed. Signs Express can not only apply printed logos and graphics onto vehicles, but they can also wrap them, if you fancy a change of colour. The ‘Colour Change’ wrap lasts for up to 10 years. This ‘Wrap’ adds as protective layer of vinyl material to the vehicle whilst protecting the paint underneath.
There are many colours and finishes to choose from, for example Carbon Fibre, Chrome, Gloss, and Metallic Matt, only the highest quality materials are used here which means they have great product longevity and customer satisfaction.
You may be asking, ‘Why don’t you just get it sprayed?’ On average, spraying may be more expensive than having your vehicle wrapped by Signs Express, but there is the advantage of being able to ‘Unwrap’ the vehicle at a later date to reveal pristine paintwork underneath. Chris has recently had his VW transporter half-wrapped in Metallic Matt Iridescent Blue which looks amazing.
Your first point of contact when calling or emailing Signs Express Plymouth is Georgia who then works closely alongside Ian, who undertakes a sales liaison /surveyor role. Ian will take the clients to the next step of the process and will often take the time to meet clients face-to-face. This is often highly appreciated and goes a long way to ensure the job is done correctly and efficiently.
Communication is a big part of their success, they like to be realistic with the client, informing them every step of the way whilst ensuring they are happy with the final product.
Efficiency begins with the initial call or email where they will produce a quote for your business within less than 24 hours. Once that’s completed, they will proceed to the next steps within a matter of days, working alongside the client at all times.
With Chris’ leaving date set for the end of September 2022, he can rest assured knowing that the business that he put 25 years of hard work into will be in safe hands. He tells us that he will miss the wonderful team and customers that he had the honour of working with and alongside for many years.
Chris also tells us, ‘Simon together with his wife Tracy will make a success of it I am certain’.
With plans to naturally expand their business clientele, they will assess a further team expansion. However, they are currently ready to take on new work with their current strong and capable team.
It won’t be goodbye for Chris as he will always be available should they need any help but it is clear to us that the team are confident in doing Chris proud and maintaining the success of Signs Express Plymouth.