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Craig Tiley, Signs Express (Stoke-on-Trent)

Craig Tiley, Signs Express (Stoke-on-Trent)


19 Aug, 2019

Craig served in the British Army for 15 years as a Logistics Specialist Royal Engineer. Read on to discover how he successfully made the transition from Forces to franchisee …

Choosing a business

As a Sergeant in the Army, Craig gained valuable leadership skills and went from being in charge of 40 soldiers to becoming a director of his very own Signs Express franchise in Stoke-on-Trent.

He already had a knowledge of the signs and graphics industry, and was keen to look at starting a business within an area he has a passion for, saying: ‘I love this industry. It’s incredibly rewarding taking someone’s ideas for signs and graphics and making them a reality. Seeing their faces when their dreams come to life makes my day.’

Becoming a franchisee

‘The opportunity of a resale business attracted me,’ Craig explains. ‘Franchising made sense to me, and the support and training I’ve received from Signs Express has been invaluable. The ongoing support you receive after the initial training period is second to none and covers a vast array of areas, from operations to sales, marketing to finance and procurement.’

Getting things started

On making the decision to buy an existing branch, Craig then set about getting his funding in order. Factoring in the purchase price, working capital and some updating of production kit, the total investment was funded by a combination of personal capital, Forces pension and bank loan. A business plan was then prepared and, working with Craig Tiley, we started talking to the banks and HSBC came back with a proposal that worked for all parties involved.

After that, Craig attended four weeks of training at Signs Express HQ in Norwich. ‘You really don’t need any prior experience in the signs industry. The course covers everything from operations to H&S and HR.’

Forces of nature

Franchising is becoming increasingly popular within the ex-Forces community. ‘It’s an attractive proposition, because you’re running your own business, but with the support, tools and opportunities of a larger organisation,’ says Craig.

Advice for ex-Forces looking at franchising

When we asked Craig for his advice to others from the Forces who are looking at the franchise industry, one thing he clearly wanted to get across was to ‘never undersell yourself’.

At Signs Express, you don’t need any qualifications to join and many ex-Service men and women already have the necessary skill-set to make a successful franchisee. Craig adds: ‘Providing you have a little capital behind you why wouldn’t you invest in your own future and become your own boss?’

Have you got what it takes?

If you are interested in joining the UK’s most successful sign franchise, find out more at