Image360 Franchisees Celebrate 1st Anniversary In Business After Opening During Height Of Pandemic
August 10, 2021 // Franchising.com // CALGARY, Alberta - Emma Southwood and Dan Kolody are celebrating their first anniversary in business as Image360 franchisees in an unusual year filled with challenges and triumphs after opening at the height of the pandemic.
Emma had just retired from a nearly three-decade career in the Canadian oil and gas industry while Dan, Emma’s husband of more than 25 years, was working in a Toronto business similar to Image360 that specialized in graphics and window tinting.
As for what it was like opening in July 2020, Emma said she and Dan never considered any other option. “I don't know whether we're stubborn or just tunnel-minded, but we were committed, ‘Let’s keep moving forward’,” she said. “We were on pins and needles there for a while, because every two weeks, we’d hit a point where we had to make a decision as to whether we would open in a month or not.
“We’d look at the latest restriction guidelines, the latest predictions on the economy, and try and guess what was going to happen. It was frustrating.”
But, Dan noted, “It actually worked out better for us because we found an existing sign shop where the previous owner had just walked away… We walked in here and it was full of everything that we needed. We actually got started way cheaper than we should have.”
The silver lining
Those early challenges led to some one time unique ultimate advantages - like getting their shop in southern Calgary and a lot of equipment much cheaper than they would have otherwise - and also helped them forge close relationships with other local business owners. One-time clients have become recurring customers; clients overall were very patient with the couple during the learning curve of their earliest days in operation; even their landlord has become a recurring client.
“The support has been overwhelming,” Emma said.
Meeting - and exceeding - goals
Opening amid a global pandemic was one thing; having a very good first year was quite another. By the latter half of their first year in business, they began exceeding the monthly goals they’d established before anyone knew the term COVID-19. “Our growth trajectory right now is actually better than our business plan for year two,” said Emma.
She handles the front-end operations for their Image360 location, spearheading marketing, sales and overall management of the business. Dan handles production and installation.
“I’m the one who gets the job done,” Dan jokes.
The couple have two children: daughter Abby, a student at Ryerson University in Toronto who’s been handling graphic design for them until her return to classes in the fall; and son Greg, who works in the financial industry and helped out in the shop part-time when they first opened.
For now, Dan and Emma are working with a small staff of three employees and finding themselves grateful at every turn. Would they do it all over again if they had the chance? Absolutely.
“It's fun making customers happy and it's fun driving around the city and seeing stuff that we've done,” Dan said.
Emma added, “It's just like Dan said; we're meeting some pretty cool people and we're feeling like we're part of a community.”
Visit Emma and Dan’s Image360 from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday at 3424 114 Ave. SE.
Experience and innovation
Image360 is a business-to-business (B2B) franchise serving the multi-billion dollar market for graphic communication services. The company was included in the prestigious Entrepreneur Franchise 500 in 2021, marking several consecutive years of inclusion in the annual rankings.
Founded in 1986 and franchising since 1987, Image360 continues to evolve to keep pace with the changing needs of businesses of all sizes. The company’s franchises provide customers with a variety of digital print imaging and sign-making services known as Visual Communications. Each center can create full-color graphics such as architectural signage, special-event signage, real estate signage and vehicle signage.
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