Close Up: Meeting Clients Where They Are
The team behind Fully Promoted has its finger on the industry’s pulse—and they’re not letting up anytime soon. The distributor, which is based in West Palm Beach, Florida, offers a host of core services, from screen printing and embroidery to personalized gifts, digital and event marketing, awards and trophies and, of course, branded goods. But one of the defining characteristics that sets Fully Promoted apart from other distributors is its international presence: the company operates as a franchise with worldwide locations.
The franchise structure is led by United Franchise Group (UFG), which has been involved in business-to-business franchising for some 30 years and its network includes more than 1,600 franchises across 80 countries. Fully Promoted is one of its several affiliated companies and brands. On a smaller, albeit international scale, Fully Promoted has more than 300 franchises, including 18 in Canada and more than 50 in Australia, with plans to touch down in Europe and South America in the future.
The global presence of both Fully Promoted and UFG is aimed at serving customers by meeting them where they are. But presence alone is not enough to satisfy customers today, which is why Fully Promoted rebranded in 2017 after operating as EmbroidMe since its inception in 2000. By providing customers with more of what they need, which includes promotional products, printing and marketing services, the company continues to be seen as a one-stop shop. Michael Brugger, president of Fully Promoted, shares more about the Fully Promoted rebrand and UFG’s operations.
What were the goals of Fully Promoted and what, if any, have changed over the years?
People would look at or walk into an EmbroidMe location and see racks of clothes, and the promotional products weren’t front and center. Our customers had no idea we were starting to sell hard goods. Wearables took up 90 percent of the showroom and that had to change, along with our name. As the marketing needs of our customers changed, our business evolved into what it is today. Now, with the transition to Fully Promoted, we provide more products and services, so our franchisees can help their customers get more business. To date, we have more than 75 percent of EmbroidMe locations in the United States that are in the process of converting to Fully Promoted franchises. Overall, we’ve received positive feedback from our franchisees, and this has increased sales at some locations.
Fully Promoted is described on the company website as being “the world’s largest franchise system of its kind.” Can you tell us more about the business model?
There are other franchises out there, but we have worldwide locations with a diverse offering of brick and mortar, office and online capabilities. This industry is great, but a buying group or license does not give you what a franchise like ours does for the international name recognition to the customer, and that is where the business comes from. Production can be an issue for some distributors and we have the resources to compete, being that many locations do it by themselves. Fully Promoted locations are a one-stop shop for businesses. We have the products and expertise to help get a business to the next level.
How does Fully Promoted recognize employees or franchisees who are excelling?
We have yearly awards and performance incentives for our employees. Also, United Franchise Group has a Million Dollar Circle Club, where million-dollar stores meet at a resort to network and share ideas. Next year, it is in Hawaii and we are excited to report that we will have many Fully Promoted franchisees in attendance. It’s been a successful year.
Fully Promoted earned various accolades in 2017, including being named to Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500® list and its Top 200 Global Franchises List. Can you share more about these accomplishments and others?
We pride ourselves on doing franchising right, and although Fully Promoted is only 19 years old, our parent company has been in B2B franchising for 30 years. In addition to this, in 2018 United Franchise Group received the coveted President’s “E” Award for exports. The President’s “E” Award is the highest recognition that any United States entity can receive for its significant contributions to the expansion of U.S. exports. In total, only 43 U.S. companies and organizations nationwide were honored with the President’s “E” Award for their roles in strengthening the U.S. economy by sharing American ingenuity outside of our borders. In 2006, United Franchise Group’s Signarama brand became the first-ever franchise to be recognized with the prestigious “E” Award.
How many companies make up the United Franchise Group?
Today, in addition to Fully Promoted, United Franchise Group includes the following brands: Signarama, with more than 800 locations in over 60 countries; SuperGreen Solutions, local business advisors for lowering energy costs; Transworld Business Advisors, a business brokerage franchise; Experimax, a retail store offering repairs and sales of pre-owned Apple laptops, tablets and phones; Job Smith Subs, a high-quality sandwich dining experience; Venture X, a revolutionarily designed private membership offering office space, workspace and meeting rooms for today’s innovative professionals and entrepreneurs; The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill, a fresh take on Mediterranean classics in a fast, casual environment; and Accurate Franchising, which helps and guides successful businesses as they expand into franchising or look to expand globally.
What is the Titus Center for Franchising?
Established in 2017 through a gift from Ray Titus, the CEO of UFG, the Titus Center for Franchising at Palm Beach Atlantic University is the only academic center of its kind in the United States, focusing on franchise businesses. The Titus Center offers academic coursework, internships, job shadowing and training at area franchises, including the headquarters of United Franchise Group. The center is based in the Marshall E. Rinker Sr. School of Business at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach and is supported by several franchise companies. For more information, visit www.pba.edu/coe/titus-center/index.html.
Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.