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Ray Titus, CEO United Franchise Group

As CEO of United Franchise Group, RayTitus has built a $500 million dollar franchising company in 30 years, growing to 1,400franchise locations in more than 60 countries.

UnitedFranchise Group brands include SIGNARAMA, EmbroidMe, SuperGreen Solutions,Transworld Business Advisors and Plan Ahead Events. The UFG Brands havereceived numerous prestigious awards, including the U.S. Department ofCommerce’s Presidential “E” Award for Export Excellence, the first franchise toever receive this recognition. Ray was also named Ernst & Young’s FloridaEntrepreneur of the Year and the 2007 CounselorInternational Person of the Year, among many other honors.  Ray is committed to givingback to both the franchising community and world community with knowledge andresources.

Please answer the following questions:

1.      Tell us aboutthe United Franchise Group concept.

The United Franchise Group is the global leader for Entrepreneurs,consisting of a number of successful business-to-business brands and franchisedevelopment services. The company includes franchise industry giants SIGNARAMA,the world’s largest sign franchise; EmbroidMe, the world’s largest embroidery& promotional products franchise; Plan Ahead Events, the world’s largestfull-service event management company; Transworld Business Advisors, a businessbrokerage and franchise development services firm; and the latest retailfranchise, SuperGreen Solutions, a premium one-stop shop forall your energy efficient needs.   UFG also offers a unique range of developmentservices that assist other franchise companies from conception to internationalexpansion.

The talented team behind United Franchise Group, led by PresidentRay Titus, has over thirty years of franchising experience. Their expertise isproven time and time again in the success of the brands they have worked tocreate. All of the UFG franchise brands have been awarded by EntrepreneurMagazine as the leaders in their industries. SIGNARAMA was honored by theformer President of the United States, George W. Bush, with the U.S. Departmentof Commerce’s

Presidential “E” Award for Export Excellence, the first franchisorto ever receive this recognition. Through our service companies, WorldFranchisors and Franchise

Greenhouse, we have helped countless franchise systems expand bothin the U.S. and around the world. All of this helps to solidify UFG’s positionas the world’s leading franchise authority.

Ray has led United Franchise Group’s affiliated companies tophenomenal growth with nearly 1400 units in more than 60 countries. The UnitedFranchise

Group corporate headquarters is in West Palm Beach Florida.  We also have a corporate office in Australia andoffer exceptional support to the remaining countries around the world. Thisextraordinary global growth has been recognized by the U.S. Department ofCommerce, as well as various franchise and trade organizations. Signarama wasranked #28 in Franchise Direct’s Top 100 Global award and EmbroidMe was ranked#39.

2.      How and when didyou become involved with United Franchise Group?

We’ve come a long way sincethe small sign shop I started in Farmingdale, NY in 1986 after I left thefamily printing business to strike out on my own. Today, it’s the loyalty andhard work of our people that has led to the success of United Franchise Group(UFG). With 150 employees and approximately 1,400 franchises, UFG generaterevenues approaching one billion dollars.

I credit my father, the lateRoy Titus and founder of Minuteman Press International, for my foray intofranchising. Through his influence, we grew from a single print store into theUnited Franchise Group, a successful system of B2B franchise brands and developmentservices.

Thankfully our vision forgrowth has led all of these brands to tremendous success and provided smallbusiness ownership and job creation across the world.    

3.      What are some ofthe advantages in being a United Franchise Group franchisee?

Our extraordinary success comes as theresult of a solid foundation in franchising with a team that excels and has apassion for what they do. Being a part of the UFG business model offersextensive benefits that simply can’t be found anyplace else. It starts with aturnkey solution for those who want to build a solid business and future whilemaintaining a balanced quality of life. Achieving that balance is possiblebecause of the system’s established track record and proven procedures foroperation. As a franchisee, you receive assistance with site selection andassistance with the financing process to determine which of the UFG partnershiplending programs is right for you. 

If you want the best training, look nofurther than the opportunity provided by United Franchise Group. You’ll travelto the Global Headquarters in West Palm Beach, Florida to attend acomprehensive, hands-on school, geared toward individuals with no priorexperience or industry knowledge. This extensive education includes everything youneed to know to run a business and the industry knowledge you will need tosucceed. 

But it doesn’t end there. Youreducation continues back in your location with on-site technical and marketingtraining to make sure you’re ready to apply what you learned in the classroomto real-life situations right in your town. One of our local field representativeswill provide one-on-one assistance on how to promote and develop your business.That same person, along with others, will always be able to support you withanswers to any questions you may encounter as your business grows. UFG alsoprovides ongoing educational opportunities for franchisees and their staffmembers through regional meetings and the World Expo. Our proprietary onlineeducational program ensures that you will always be able to benefit fromindustry updates and technological advancements without having to return forin-person training. 

The United Franchise Group brands areknown throughout the world for providing outstanding products and servicesalong with exemplary customer service. Living up to this reputation meansbuilding on a powerful brand awareness that every franchisee uses as afoundation for their business on a local level. Each franchisee learns the keysto success, which have been fine-tuned over 25 years, and each is given all themarketing tools they need to share those messages.

A full in-house marketing team isdedicated to providing all the print and digital materials needed to build eachfranchisee’s local business, generate new customers and increase repeatbusiness.  The team works closely withadvertising fund representatives to ensure the greatest synergies amongmarketing opportunities. The marketing experts are highly skilled in creatinglocal marketing opportunities as well as online exposure to drive traffic toeach location’s website.  Online marketingspecialists work directly with the largest search engines to capitalize onUFG’s strength in numbers so each franchisee gets the greatest online exposurepossible. 

Staying ahead of the technology curveis critically important in today’s world, and no one does it better than UnitedFranchise Group. Technological advancements extend beyond marketing and tovarious brand-specific applications including cloud-based Point of Sale systemsfor multiple brands and proprietary systems to manage and produce inventory.Signarama is the first sign franchise to offer online ordering, allowingcustomers to fully design and order signs from the website, anytime. The onlinetechnology team works with the R&D department to ensure that both arecapitalizing on all advancements that could benefit franchisees.

4.      Who is yourideal franchisee

Ourfranchisees come from all walks of life and a wide variety of businesses.  But the ideal candidate has one simple trait:A passion to succeed.  Our brands are allturn-key solutions for the person who wants to realize the entrepreneur dreamof business ownership, wants to work for themselves and have a balanced qualityof life.  Our training and support is soextensive, we can teach the right person anything they need to know to run aUFG business. 

5.Tell us a little about the United Franchise Group Market?

United Franchise Grouphelps entrepreneurs into business with one of its award winning franchisebrands, but also knows that the franchisee must build the business right intheir own communities, helping other nearby business owners in the process.

Allof the UFG brands are focused on making a positive business impact in theirlocal hometowns. The tagline for the oldest brand, Signarama, recently changedto “The way to grow your business” to reflect its focus on advertising,marketing and branding solutions that can benefit local entrepreneurs.EmbroidMe is known as a “Promotional Marketing Partner” that helps itscustomers to expand their business base. From event planning to energysolutions to business brokerage, United Franchise Group’s brands helpindividuals attain their dreams of owning their own business.

The market for franchise growthis certainly strong.  What industry stillcreates 1 out of 8 jobs? What industry creates nearly 18 million jobs? Whatindustry is directly and indirectly responsible for $2.8 trillion in economicimpact? It’s franchising. 

As a franchisor, I understandthat we are building local businesses, one opportunity at a time. Not only dowe make an extraordinary impact on our franchisees lives, but also on the livesof their employees, their customers and their communities. That is the thingwith franchising; the business touches so many people beyond who signs thefranchise agreement and that is a responsibility that United Franchise Groupand I have never taken lightly.

I am extremely proud of the factthat we have brought small business ownership and the micro-economic impactthat it makes at the local level to franchisees in nearly 1,400 units acrossmore than 60 countries, and the market is ripe for continued growth.

6.      What are some ofthe greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

I’ve established amission statement and set of core values to guide the direction of our companyto keep us on track and ensure that we continue to benefit from lessonslearned.  All of our employees know thoseguiding principles, and that’s one lesson I’ve learned… to make sure your teamknows the direction you are going in and supports that direction at alltimes.  We proudly display the missionstatement’s words in our lobby:  We haveone customer: The franchisee.  When theyare successful, we are successful.”  Thisis a daily reminder of where our focus needs to be.

During the economicdownturn in 2008 we had to create a stronger business moving forward, withdetailed strategic planning that focused on improving profitability and boostingsales.  We worked on getting betterpricing for our products, being as efficient as possible with our resources,evaluating our talent.  That strategyworked.  We have emerged stronger thanbefore with tremendous growth. 

7.      Do you have amentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?

My first mentor wasmy dad.  My eighth-grade school paper wasabout how to start a franchise company because of his influence.  I know I would not be anywhere near where Iam today if it hadn’t been for him.  So, hewas the first one, and he introduced me to my second one, which was GaryRockwell, who worked for my dad for 40 years.From my standpoint, the next one would be J.J. Prendamano.  He is my father-in-law and has worked herefor 25 years.  For me to have him as amentor, as a helper and as an employee has just been incredible.

8.      What advice doyou have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

Do your homework andmake a serious evaluation of the lifestyle you want.  If you don’t want to work nights andweekends, then you should aim for a B2B franchise that offers a higher qualityof life.  When someone is considering oneof our franchises, we make sure they get the chance to speak to many existingfranchisees and visit local stores. This way you get firsthand knowledge of thedetails of the business.  We also inviteprospects to attend a Discovery Day tour of our global headquarters in WestPalm Beach, Fl so you can meet personally with our executives and have all ofyour questions answered.  This is a vitalpart of the process and you shouldn’t settle for anything less.

9.      In your opinion, why do you thinkthat United Franchise Group would be a great opportunity for someone?

United FranchiseGroup a proven track record for success, a vision for growth, outstandingtraining and exemplary support.  Theseare things that set our brands apart from the rest.  We are recognized as industry leaders becausewe know what it takes to provide world class support and leadership.  I hope you will stop by any one of our boothshere at the Expo and let us show you why you consider one of our opportunities.You can also read more about our brandsby visiting: www.unitedfranchisegroup.com.