Born into a franchising family, A.J. Titus is certainly no stranger to the industry. Today, as president of sign and digital printing franchise Signarama, Titus spearheads the growth of the brand throughout the United States and around the world, developing ways to help franchisees grow their business.
1851 Franchise spoke with Titus to learn more about his story, his insights into the state of the franchising industry and his advice for other young entrepreneurs.
1851 Franchise: How did you get into franchising?
A.J. Titus: My story is a little different — I was born into franchising, and both my grandparents were in franchising. I’ve never known anything other than franchising. I love the industry and can’t imagine doing anything differently.
1851: What do you love about the industry?
Titus: Franchising is a people business. We may all offer different things in different industries, but if you are in franchising, you are in the people business. I love getting to work with people and franchisees all over the world and learn from their different points of views. It has allowed me to really grow and gain more knowledge. It allows you to experience and learn more than you could running a corporate chain.
1851: What makes someone a good fit for the franchise industry?
Titus: Someone who can think on their feet, who cares about people and who wants to get feedback from other opinions. Also, they need to be process-driven — every franchise has a process or a secret sauce that makes it successful. Franchisees should want to follow the established processes. You don’t want someone all over the place.
1851: How do you feel about the industry’s comeback from the pandemic?
Titus: I don’t think franchising as a whole has been impacted one way or another. We were all impacted, but some brands did better than others depending on the industry. Over the pandemic, Signarama has had some of the best months we’ve ever had, because businesses needed signage, barriers and graphics for pick-up and delivery service.
As long as there are entrepreneurs in the world, franchising isn’t going anywhere. Whether it is a pandemic or a recession, people care about brands, and entrepreneurs want help from franchisors.
1851: Are there challenges or opportunities that the industry still needs to address?
Titus: On a macro-level, the government may not be looking at franchising in the right light. Franchisees are small business owners. In a lot of cases, franchising happens at the local level. Moving forward, that is something Washington needs to keep in mind.
1851: What advice do you have for other young up-and-comers in the space?
Titus: Ask a lot of questions and go meet with franchisees. People are going to judge you because of your age. They’ll say: “Why should I listen to you? I’ve been in this industry longer than you’ve been alive.” So, you need to show them you care and that no one is going to outwork you. You need to show them that you can work hard and provide value. Figure out what that looks like in the brand that you are in.