Big Signs Lead to Big Business for Minuteman Press Franchise in Tennessee

Owner Paul Mikos shares how he doubled his monthly sales.

Franklin TN Minuteman Press Paul Mikos under front sign
Minuteman Press Franchise Owner Paul Mikos outside his shop location in Franklin, Tennessee.

Paul Mikos has been the owner of Minuteman Press in Franklin, Tennesee, since February 2021. As he celebrates over three years in business, Mikos achieved a record sales month in February. He attributes the growth of his Minuteman Press franchise to a “booming” signage business that he has built through word of mouth, Internet marketing, and building trust with clients.

On his record sales month, Mikos shared, “February is typically a slower month for us. This year, however, we doubled our February revenue and brought in more than our best month of 2023 – and 2023 was our biggest year ever! A major factor in reaching that number is completing more building signs in a single month than ever before — and this includes big signs we did for clients.”

He continued, “Building signs are different from our everyday business. Most of our print jobs must be turned in one to three days. The big building signs we installed were more than a year in development, but really paid off. It’s all about building trust, following up, and delivering on the finished product!”

Sign projects double monthly YOY sales

In February of 2024, Mikos doubled his monthly sales from February of 2023 and also had his best sales month to date. Below are the sign projects he completed:

The Spectacle Shoppe & Sloane Dental: “Each sign is 16′ X 4′. They are made of cut aluminum and stud-mounted. They are lit with a set of three barn lights over each sign. Each of the letters for Sloane Dental is 18″ tall. The glasses for the Spectacle logo were done in two pieces. Each one is 48″ long. The customers were thrilled and looking forward to moving into their new building. We will also install cut vinyl on the doors and a 3D dimensional letter/logo sign inside The Spectacle Shoppe.”

The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County is one of our best customers. They also have multiple sub-organizations such as the Downtown Franklin Association, The Franklin Theater, History & Culture Center, and The Grove Estate and Gardens. They have an acrylic podium they use for events and had us print logos from time to time to stick to the front of it, depending on which division was using it.

One day, I proposed to the marketing director that we could print the logos of each division on acrylic and mount them to an office wall with standoffs. We could also put a set of standoffs on the front of the podium and they could swap out the logo signs based on who needed the podium. It created a nice display in the office and a much more elegant solution for their podium. They loved it. And, when they decided they wanted some new exterior signage for the History & Culture Center, they knew exactly what I meant when I proposed printed PVC mounted with standoffs.”

“Fika Cafe is a new shop moving into a location formerly known as Amendment 18. There is a very solid box light sign already installed so we only needed to replace the face but they wanted to add some extra dimension to it. You’ll see that we cut their logo out of 16-gauge steel and painted it to match. It is backed with white translucent plastic and on the front, we applied a flowering plant design the customer had cut from acrylic The result is stunning.”

Additional businesses in the Westhaven neighborhood: “Fika Cafe is in a neighborhood where nearly every business is a customer. For example:

  • Our first fabricated metal signs were made for Kokomo (restaurant).
  • We printed, cut, and installed massive wall graphics in Pure Barre.
  • We put up menu boards and window vinyl for Coal Town Pizza.”

He continued, “While not in Westhaven, Lapels was one of our first dimensional-letter signs. We contour-cut their logo in two layers of 6mm PVC, threading holes in the bottom layer to insert studs for mounting to the wall. We also did their window vinyl and are now working on their signage for four locations.”

Signage substrates display
Signage substrates display

3 keys to selling signage

Mikos shared the following three keys to building his signage business:

1. Word of mouth: There is a very wealthy local business developer in the area who asked us to make him a 4′ X 8′ coroplast sign for one of his properties a couple of years ago. We do 90% of our wide-format printing through one of our vendors and I knew a 4′ X 8′ would incur freight costs. I told him that we could design the sign to go up in two pieces and it would save $200. I didn’t know who he was or that $200 was pocket change to him, but I earned his trust. Since then, he has given us or referred us to every major sign job we’ve done.

  1. Minuteman Press SEM+ Program spend: Google is our No. 1 source of new business and we just increased our spending for this year.
  2. Completing smaller jobs first: Every major sign we’ve done has been for a customer we were already serving on other jobs.”

Promoting signage inside the shop

Mikos shared, “In our own Minuteman Press shop, we installed a floor-to-ceiling wall wrap of downtown Franklin that feels like you are stepping out into our Main Street. It has stirred much conversation and many ideas for wall graphics. We also recently completed a display of the different signage substrates we print on, featuring photography of local landmarks. Our customers love to be able to see how the different materials look and feel.”

He continued, “In addition, we currently have an illuminated building sign in review with the city codes department for approval and we are prepping to install a 16′ cut vinyl sign on the side of a mobile coffee shop. The sign business is booming!”

Downtown Franklin wall wrap
Downtown Franklin wall wrap

Background and insights

Mikos’ career background: “First, I worked my way through college in a university department print shop. We had a one-color offset press but my job was finishing – mostly running a collator and spending hours upon hours at the saddle-stitcher. That little shop got its first digital press the same spring I graduated.

Professionally, I spent 25 years in book publishing and came up through the ranks in marketing in the days before social media. I bought print ads, print collateral, and show graphics. I learned to speak the language of print. As I advanced in book publishing, I specialized in packaging so I learned how to communicate with designers and we won many awards for the work we did with special treatments – embossing, debossing, foil, spot gloss, printed end-sheets, deckled edges, stained edges, raised hubs, ribbon markers, etc. I loved engineering the tactile experience a reader would have with a book.

Later in my career, I got involved with technology and developed ebooks, mobile apps, and software. Tech took me out of book publishing where I worked in some startups until 2020. When the writing was on the wall about where things were headed that year, I started to dream about having my own business and found this location was for sale. It was a perfect match for my interests and experience and how I want to finish my career.”

Support from Minuteman Press: “Corporate support has been fantastic. My RVP Keith Cawley walked with me through the franchise buying process and the transition. The training was great. Our store setup was great. In my work in tech, my experience was that most employees loathe homegrown software. People’s attitudes towards FLEX surprised me. Everyone spoke highly of FLEX – and not just corporate but other owners. And they were right. FLEX is an amazing tool. It is the backbone of the entire operation. I love it.

Our field reps have also been a great help with training new employees and helping cover when I had a key employee out on medical leave. Access to the branded boxes and catalogs has also been great. As a highly independent individual, I was concerned about being a franchise owner. As it turns out, I always tell people that I love the support I get from Minuteman and that I never feel like they are interfering or imposing anything on us, but always providing opportunities and support. I really couldn’t be happier.”

Advice for others: “As for advice, never let anyone outwork you, and always look out for your customers’ interests. Try to save them money. It earns trust and nothing sells like trust.”

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Marie Fennema

Marie Fennema is the managing editor of GRAPHICS PRO, including GRAPHICS PRO Today, covering news and guidance in apparel decoration, awards and engraving, and sign and digital printing.

View all articles by Marie Fennema  

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