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Last Update: Tuesday July 27, 2021

Key Idea: Put Systems In Place

Founder Gary Salomon opened one location and ran it himself to establish all of the systems and procedures needed to insure that a franchise owner could achieve success.

Key Question:


Systems are what any franchise offers a franchisee. However, even if you don't want to franchise, you still need systems if you plan to hire even one employee.

Q: What keeps business owners from installing systems?

A: First of all, this is not exciting work. It is grunt work. Second, there are many small businesses that exist because there are no systems. For example, a cabinet builder who advertises that his work is all custom and that each project is unique may not think he can put systems in place. If there are no repeatable steps then systems can't be installed. And third, we prefer to fly by the seat of our pants because it seems to be more fun. We might think that no system could replace the force of our fabulous personality. Therefore, we suggest that if you are leading your business with your personality, it may be time to put tiny steps in place and manage the accomplishment of those tiny steps. This is the only way for you to grow.

Where does one even begin?

A: We suggest this mantra: If it repeats, teach. And to teach you must put a step-by-step process in writing. Pretend you are going to hire a sales person to take over your sales efforts. While there are dozens of book on how to sell, our favorite being, Integrity Selling, by Ron Willingham, you must write a job manual for how you want sales done in your company. Describe the ideal prospect drawn from a profile of your most profitable customers. Create a place, preferably online, where any sales person would enter the name and all contact information of any prospect they discover. Write a script for the sales person to use when he or she calls the prospect for the first time. Write a follow-up script. Write a script to be used on in-person calls. Write product and service descriptions and the benefits your current customers derive from doing business with you. Put an order proccess in place. Are you getting the picture here?

As we said, it is grunt work. Not long after you start this work, you will be tempted to throw up your hands and say to yourself, "I'll never be able to teach another person to do what I do." We know about a company that does $15 million in annual sales that has almost no processes in place of any kind. The problem is that people are hired and paid well but the owner is constantly dealing with turnover because employee frustrations are so high.

Think about it

What does it take for you to land a customer, deliver to that customer and get that customer to buy from you again? Have you written down all the steps? Why not?

Clip from: FastSigns: A study of Franchisor & Franchisee

Carrollton, Texas: This business began on the back of a paper napkin around a discussion over breakfast. That was 1985 .  Gary Salomon saw how a computer could make high-quality signs in hours instead of days. He jumped at the opportunity to build a business offering this service internationally. Today his company, FastSigns, is America’s leading sign company with over 500 locations worldwide.

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Gary Salomon, Founder, CEO

2550 Midway Road
Carrollton, TX 75006

Visit our web site:

Office: 9724470777

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1985

Put Systems In Place

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Today there are nearly 500 franchise locations worldwide. The typical FASTSIGNS is located in a strip shopping center much like this one in Arlington, Texas, owned by Myra and Dan Phillips.

What has surprised you about owning a business?

MYRA PHILLIPS (Owner, FASTSIGNS Franchise): How much work there is. How dedicated you have to be and how much fun it is, actually. You get to know a lot of people, you get to be creative, you just get to do a lot of things.

HATTIE: Do you have a lot of repeat customers?

MYRA: Yes, we do. We do have a good mix of a lot of repeat, and at the same time we always have the percentage that we should have of new customers all the time, which is understandable. This area has a lot of growth. So I think we're going to have a lot of new customers.

HATTIE: Tell me how you find people.

MYRA: Well, I had a banner up there, and he walked in. And I think I hired him the same day, didn't I, Will?

WILL (Employee): Yes.

HATTIE: Was it a good idea? You glad?

WILL: I think it was a good idea, because I enjoy working here.

MYRA: All right.

HATTIE: So you put the banner up--`Now Hiring'--that you have up now.

MYRA: Yes. It has...

HATTIE: And that's how you got Will.

MYRA: It has worked pretty good, better sometimes than spending a lot of money in newspaper ads, which I have done before. And it has not worked out well, as the banner. It just...

HATTIE: So what you're saying is, you sell signs and you use signs to build your business.

MYRA: To build my business. Exactly. And that's what I tell my customers, too.

MIKE MACKEY (Consultant): They're a part of the community. They establish relationships with their customers and thank them, and they keep coming back.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Mike Mackey works for FASTSIGNS as a consultant to a small group of franchisees.

MIKE: Face it: To some degree, signs can be something of a commodity, but the people here in Arlington, Texas, enjoy doing business with Myra Phillips.

HATTIE: So you ran for school board, huh?

DAN PHILLIPS (Owner, FASTSIGNS Franchise): Mm-hmm.

HATTIE: And you won?

DAN: Yeah.

HATTIE: Have you had a meeting yet?

DAN: Oh, yeah. That was last May. I've been on it almost a year now.

HATTIE: Oh, OK. All right. How important were these signs to your election?

DAN: They were important because a lot of people knew my name, but a lot of people didn't know who I was. In other words, a lot of people already knew me by seeing me and a lot of people probably knew my name, but they didn't put the two together. By putting this up, people knew who I was, and put my name in with my face.

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