As a young boy in Montreal, David Newman opened his very first savings account at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) branch in the Van Horne Shopping Centre. By standing on his tiptoes and stretching his arm as high as he could, Newman was just able to hand the teller his first dollar.
It was the start of a long and productive relationship with RBC that would end up with Newman achieving phenomenal success, in his 50s, as a franchise owner.
“The truth is that RBC has, in many ways, played a big part in helping me pursue and achieve many of my personal and professional goals,” Newman says, reflecting on the past four decades, during which he married, relocated to Richmond, British Columbia, and raised two children.
“When I bought my first home I had my mortgage with RBC; then, when I made the decision to move clear across the country in 1992, RBC helped me do it seamlessly,” says the 57-year-old. “And, when it came time for me to open my own business – or, at least, start considering the possibility of venturing out on my own, turning to RBC for advice was natural.”
An entrepreneur at heart, Newman got his first taste of self-employment after obtaining his Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University. With his parents, he ran a sewing and fabric shop. Later he shifted to the corporate world, managing a chain of Quebec-based department stores. Then Newman joined Rogers Video in Richmond as vice-president of Sales and Operations. Throughout, he found a natural instinct persisting: “to think independently and do things the way I thought they should be done, rather than what head office told me to do.”
In 2006, at the “ripe old age of 52,” Newman came to a fork in his career road. “I felt I’d worked too much and too long for other people, when what I really wanted was to do my own thing.”
Newman weighed his options. “I had three choices. I could buy an existing business with all of its alligators in the closet, and then try to deal with them. I could open my own business from scratch, which comes with its share of risks. Or, I could get into a franchise, where someone else has done the research and analysis to determine if there’s a market for whatever product or service you’re selling.
“I went with number three.”
He could have chosen the food-industry-franchise route, as many entrepreneurs do. But Newman was more interested in a business-to-business operation that would let him put his sales and marketing experience to good use. So, in 2007, he became the proud owner of a new Signarama franchise on Richmond’s No. 6 Road. In franchises worldwide, Signarama provides an array of indoor and outdoor signage options, including custom-made banners and posters, digital graphics and logos, vehicle graphics, building wraps, hand-crafted storefront signs, and more.
He’d found out about Signarama at a franchise show at the Vancouver Convention Centre. After looking at the company’s business model, and visiting its headquarters in West Palm Beach, Florida, he had a good feeling about Signarama – the feeling of a right fit. “They have a good support system in place, and a family atmosphere, which is the type of environment I like. Plus, I knew I’d be able to work in Richmond, close to my home.”
To make the deal happen, however, Newman needed money. At the time, Signarama required an all-in working capital of about $220,000 for start-up. While Newman had the marketing and sales experience, and Signarama the smoothly working system, he knew he would need a robust team of advisors to help him with the financial roadmap. And RBC – with its integrated approach to small-business advice – was able to supply just that.
“At RBC we have a dedicated small-business team that helps entrepreneurs succeed,” says Sonya Reginato, sales manager, Small Business, South Vancouver/Richmond region.
“We know that starting and growing a business is an extremely complex endeavour. Our goal is to provide the resources – and be the financial advice team – on behalf of our small-business clients,” says Reginato, who leads a team of senior account managers for business and personal banking.
“We believe in an integrated approach to supporting small business. We assign a dedicated relationship manager to each small-business client. And these relationship managers have the entire RBC suite of solutions and experts at their fingertips to help their clients. At RBC, our senior account managers ensure that the integration of clients’ business and personal banking is maximized.”
Signarama, which had contacts at RBC, connected Newman with experts there to secure a federal-government-guaranteed loan of $140,000.
“I needed the loan to purchase the franchise,” Newman says. “I couldn’t afford all of the financing on my own.”
He explains that, although this type of loan can sometimes “cost a little bit more, you’re not on the hook for the whole thing, and that’s something that made sense to me.”
RBC Senior Account Manager, Business/Personal, Margaret Berkyto says the government-guaranteed loan Newman obtained is ideal for small businesses in the start-up phase. “The government guarantees it for a certain percentage. For clients like David who are just getting started, and don’t have a business financial track record, it’s a very attractive option.”
The Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP) requires only a maximum 25-percent personal guarantee from the borrower. The government of Canada guarantees the remainder. That’s significantly less than a personal guarantee on a standard loan.
“We’ve found that many small business owners are not aware of this excellent government program available to support small business in Canada,” Berkyto says. “RBC has the capabilities and resources to help clients navigate the sometimes-daunting aspects of administering the loan. In the end, it helps start-up businesses because, under the program, the government of Canada makes it easier for small businesses to get loans from financial institutions by sharing the risk with lenders.”