Catherine Monson of FASTSIGNS
Catherine became CEO of FASTSIGNS International, Inc. in 2009, bringing over 30 years of franchising experience. In 2009, she received the IFA Bonny LeVine Award for her contributions to franchising’s growth. In 2012, Catherine appeared on TV series Undercover Boss.
Did you know? Catherine Monson is one of Franchise Business Review's Top Franchise Leaders of 2017!
Learn more about the FASTSIGNS franchise opportunity at www.fsfastsigns.com or call 214-346-5679.
What does FASTSIGNS do?
FASTSIGNS International, Inc. locations provide comprehensive sign and visual graphic solutions to help companies of all sizes and across all industries attract more attention, communicate their message, sell more products, help visitors find their way and extend their branding across all of their customer touch points including décor, events, wearables and marketing materials.
What is the current marketplace for your franchise sector?
FASTSIGNS International, Inc. is the largest sign and visual communications franchisor in North America, and is the worldwide franchisor of 660 independently owned and operated FASTSIGNS centers in nine countries including the US, Canada, England, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Grand Cayman, Mexico and Australia (where centers operate as SIGNWAVE®). Due to the ongoing worldwide need for visual communications and digital signage technology, and an extremely successful 2016 with sales surpassing $446 million, the company expects to open a projected 45 locations in 2017.
What makes FASTSIGNS stand out from others in your marketplace?
While FASTSIGNS is known among businesses as a quick and reliable signage and graphics provider, we are known in the franchise industry for equipping our franchisees with the tools for success. We have more than 120 support staff serving our more than 600 franchisees. That’s a support ratio of 1:6, the largest of any sign franchise anywhere. FASTSIGNS has also won numerous industry awards for franchisee satisfaction and the unique resources we provide.
What are some of the things that you hear your franchisees say they most enjoy about their business?
Part of what makes the FASTSIGNS network so remarkable is the level of care and commitment towards a positive environment and inspiring company culture. As a pillar of our corporate culture, we pride ourselves on the company’s core values of Being Open and Positive, Acting with Passion, Doing the Right Thing, Doing What You Say and Making It Great! As a visual reinforcement of the company’s culture, our Corporate Office is anchored by “Inspiration Hall,” a long hallway in the center of the building filled with over 100 quotes about positive mental attitude, goal directed behavior, self motivation, perseverance and continual learning. In an effort to further enhance the lives and well being of the team, I have strived to put an emphasis on health and wellness, implementing a comprehensive wellness program, healthier snack options, and rewarding exercise, as well as standing desks and workstations.
What kind of support do you provide to new franchisees to ensure their business launches successfully and grows quickly?
For new franchisees, FASTSIGNS offers pre-opening support which includes site selection and build-out, four weeks of training (1 week in a FASTSIGNS center, two weeks at our Dallas headquarters and one week onsite in the new center), a pre-opening marketing blitz, grand opening support and guidance, and an ongoing Franchisee Mentor Program. We have designed ongoing initiatives to help all franchisees continue to grow and stay up-to-date with the latest business and industry trends. These programs consist of a Foundations Training Class, 24/7 online education at FASTSIGNS University, sales training, and more.
What kind of support do franchisees receive from each other?
Even before making the decision to open a FASTSIGNS franchise, our discovery process connects the potential franchisee with a couple of our FASTSIGNS franchisees. Right from the start, they have the opportunity to connect and have real conversations with individuals in our network to discuss any concerns or questions with those who were once in their shoes. This introduces the new franchisee to the supportive franchise system within FASTSIGNS that allows business owners from around the world to share experiences and ideas with each other. In addition to the network of fellow franchisees that they build from within, we encourage all our franchisees to attend our annual convention. The international event gathers exceptional keynote speakers each year for franchisees to learn from and benefit their businesses. The conference offers networking opportunities, insight on the latest industry news and shares best practices for the upcoming year. In addition to the annual convention, FASTSIGNS hosts regional meetings, vendor shows, message boards, and a Franchise Advisory Committee to help franchisees engage with individuals within the FASTSIGNS community. It’s not rare for franchisees within our system to communicate daily with other franchisees in other locations — we have a strong network in which our franchisees utilize.
How does FASTSIGNS give back?
Last year, we launched our FASTSIGNS Cares initiative, raising more than $25,000 for the American Red Cross. In addition to the internal cultural values, we pride ourselves on the importance of giving back to the community and many of our franchisees have become involved with their local communities on a variety of levels.
Do you offer franchise discounts to veterans?
For veterans, FASTSIGNS offers a 50% reduced franchise fee of $23,750 (usually $47,500), along with reduced royalties for the first 12 months.
What is your vision for FASTSIGNS?
Although we’re already the world’s leading sign, graphics and visual communications firm, I want to get to 2,500 locations in 25 countries. More importantly, and in line with the overarching desire to increase sales and influence the success of the franchise network’s business owners, we aim to increase the Average Unit Volume from the $785,000 per year it is today, to over $1 million per location in the next four years. We plan to achieve these business projections by continuing to add expanded products and services, digital signage, incorporating augmented realty into static signage, developing a marketing orientation and adding 3D printing to the wide array of products and services that FASTSIGNS offers today.