GLOBAL FRANCHISE MEETS CATHERINE MONSON

GLOBAL FRANCHISE MEETS CATHERINE MONSON

The CEO of FASTSIGNS International talks about her objectives and achievements and about the challenges facing the franchise business today


When did you join FASTSIGNS and what positions have you held?

I have been CEO of FASTSIGNS International, Inc. since January 2009, when Roark Capital– the private equity firm that owned the company at that time – recruited me to be CEO.

What does it mean to you to be FASTSIGNS CEO?

I love what I do. I’m passionate about franchising and passionate about FASTSIGNS. When Roark was recruiting me, I realized that I had the opportunity to take a brand that was the leader in the sign, graphics, and visual communications category to the next level.

It was an exciting opportunity. I am blessed with an outstanding, experienced FASTSIGNS International team that is committed to supporting our franchisees and helping them maximize their success. We have fantastic franchisees that are interested in doing an outstanding job for their customers. When you have great groups like that, it’s easy to take the business to the next level.

What have you achieved in this position?

We are most proud of our ability to increase franchisee profitability. When I came to FASTSIGNS in 2009, I established four key strategic objectives, with the first being to increase franchisee profitability. We set a goal that whatever the profitability was at the end of 2009, we would work to increase that by 50 percent. After the close of calendar year 2009, we benchmarked the average profitability of the network, which was at 12.9 percent; our goal – to achieve the 50% increase – is to increase average profitability to 19.4 percent.

We’re currently gathering the system’s 2017 results, but through our 2016 financial benchmark survey, we know that we are at 93 percent of our goal; 2016 average profitability increased to 18.9 percent. Once we achieve 19.4 percent average profitability, we’ll set a goal to further improve profitability from there. We’re also very proud of our franchisee satisfaction. In 2009, we had good satisfaction ratings and we’ve continued to improve upon already strong franchisee satisfaction by providing outstanding leadership, services, and support.

In general, what are the franchising issues you most care about?

I care the most about Unit Level Economics (ULE), so our franchisees can make a good living and have a good return on their investment. High franchisee engagement and satisfaction are also incredibly important. This is why I volunteer my time on the Board of Directors of the International Franchise Association and often speak at franchising events.

I want to help franchisors, particularly emerging franchisors, understand the importance of these critical best practices of franchising and how to implement them to drive success for their franchisees and their franchise brand. From a regulatory perspective, I continue to be concerned about new (since August 2015) expanded definition of Joint Employer.

What are the challenges facing the franchising industry as a whole today?

In the U.S., certainly the expanded definition of Joint Employer poses a significant challenge to the franchise business model. This has caused many franchisors, including FASTSIGNS International, to reduce some of their service and support to franchisees because they want to protect themselves from being deemed a joint employer.

This expanded definition of Joint Employer is becoming an issue in other countries as well. In certain countries outside of the U.S., reasonable access to capital remains a challenge. Whether someone already owns a small business and is looking to grow, or they’re a new franchisee working to open their first unit, access to capital is a key component of success in franchising.

What are the main considerations when building a successful brand?

Specifically, when building a successful franchise brand, you need to have a strong value proposition, strong Unit Level Economics, and a high level of franchisee engagement. You also need a leadership team that understands that customer needs and competitors are going to change, so updating and evolving the brand is key. There was a technological advancement in 1985 that caused dramatic change in the sign business: the ability to contour cut vinyl from images on a computer. Before that, signage was typically hand painted.

This innovation created the quick sign industry that didn’t exist previously. There have been many technological changes in the signage space since then and FASTSIGNS has always been the first to innovate and expand our product and service offering using these new technologies. The FASTSIGNS of today provides digital signage and digital signage content, printing on textiles, interior décor and more.

What advice would you give to those considering master franchising?

Be very selective of the franchise brands you’re considering. You want to make sure you’re joining a strong brand that has a proven track record of success in their home country, strong unit level economics, high franchisee satisfaction, and an experienced leadership team. Conduct validation not only with their direct franchisees but more importantly with their other master franchisees. Supporting and servicing a master franchisee is very different from supporting a direct franchisee.

You need to understand and validate the level of and kinds of support you will receive as a master franchisee. You also need to understand franchising. As a master franchisee, you’re essentially a sub-franchisor and need to understand all the best practices of franchising. It’s also very important that you have the financial resources that you need as well as the required infrastructure and staffing. You need someone who understands and is good at franchise sales and the team that will make sure all those sold units open successfully and continue to grow and prosper. You will need to hire in anticipation of growth. That’s why the financial resources are so important.

What would you consider to be essential considerations when planning an overseas expansion?

First, ensure your brand and your systems are effective and proven. One of the real mistakes a franchisor can make is getting excited or wooed by the idea of expanding overseas before the brand is well established with a large base of successful franchisees—with strong ULE—in its home country. You should have a good understanding of the market, the culture, and economy and be prepared to customize the brand to meet the needs and tastes of the local culture.

Remember that it’s better to delay signing a master franchise agreement in order to find the right master franchisee than to rush too quickly. We recommend that your master franchisee is from the country they will be developing as local knowledge and understanding will always be more thorough that what can be learned by someone from another country. Having the courage to say no to a market if it’s not right for you is incredibly important. You need to be absolutely convinced you’ll be successful there. 

Global Franchise Meets.

An inspirational new web video series where we meet the business leaders and influencers in International Franchising.

you may be interested in

franchise directory

  • TaxAssist Accountants

    Business & Professional Services, Financial Services, <100K, Featured

  • Cafe2U

    Food & Catering, Coffee, Take-away, <100K, Featured

  • 0800 Pizza

    Food & Catering, Fastfood, Pizza, Take-away, Featured

view more
Connect with Linkedin Logo
Global White Logo Click Here
Close button

WHAT DO WE USE YOUR INFORMATION FOR?

Any of the information we collect from you may be used in one of the following ways: To personalize your experience (your information helps us to better respond to your individual needs) To improve our website (we continually strive to improve our website offerings based on the information and feedback we receive from you) To improve customer service (your information helps us to more effectively respond to your customer service requests and support needs) To process transactions your information, whether public or private, will not be sold, exchanged, transferred, or given to any other company for any reason whatsoever, without your consent, other than for the express purpose of delivering the purchased product or service requested. To administer a contest, promotion, survey or other site feature To send periodic emails The email address you provide for order processing, will only be used to send you information and updates pertaining to your order. Note: If at any time you would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email.

HOW DO WE PROTECT YOUR INFORMATION?

We implement a variety of security measures to maintain the safety of your personal information when you place an order or enter, submit, or access your personal information We offer the use of a secure server. All supplied sensitive/credit information is transmitted via Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology and then encrypted into our Payment gateway providers database only to be accessible by those authorized with special access rights to such systems, and are required to keep the information confidential. After a transaction, your private information (credit cards, social security numbers, financials, etc.) will not be stored on our servers.

DO WE USE COOKIES?

Yes (Cookies are small files that a site or its service provider transfers to your computers hard drive through your Web browser (if you allow) that enables the sites or service providers systems to recognize your browser and capture and remember certain information. We use cookies to help us remember and process the items in your shopping cart, understand and save your preferences for future visits, keep track of advertisements and compile aggregate data about site traffic and site interaction so that we can offer better site experiences and tools in the future. We may contract with third-party service providers to assist us in better understanding our site visitors. These service providers are not permitted to use the information collected on our behalf except to help us conduct and improve our business.

DO WE DISCLOSE ANY INFORMATION TO OUTSIDE PARTIES?

We do not sell, trade, or otherwise transfer to outside parties your personally identifiable information. This does not include trusted third parties who assist us in operating our website, conducting our business, or servicing you, so long as those parties agree to keep this information confidential. We may also release your information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law, enforce our site policies, or protect ours or others rights, property, or safety. However, non-personally identifiable visitor information may be provided to other parties for marketing, advertising, or other uses.

THIRD PARTY LINKS

Occasionally, at our discretion, we may include or offer third party products or services on our website. These third party sites have separate and independent privacy policies. We therefore have no responsibility or liability for the content and activities of these linked sites. Nonetheless, we seek to protect the integrity of our site and welcome any feedback about these sites.

CHILDRENS ONLINE PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT COMPLIANCE

We are in compliance with the requirements of COPPA (Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act), we do not collect any information from anyone under 13 years of age. Our website, products and services are all directed to people who are at least 13 years old or older.

ONLINE PRIVACY POLICY ONLY

This online privacy policy applies only to information collected through our website and not to information collected offline.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Please also visit our Terms and Conditions section establishing the use, disclaimers, and limitations of liability governing the use of our website at globalfranchisemagazine.com/terms-conditions

YOUR CONSENT

By using our site, you consent to our online privacy policy.

CHANGES TO OUR PRIVACY POLICY

If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes on this page

CONTACTING US

If there are any questions regarding this privacy policy you may contact us using the information below. All correspondence relating to the Website should be sent to: Global Franchise 21/23 Phoenix Court Hawkins Road Colchester Essex CO2 8JY Email: subscriptions@aceville.co.uk