FASTSIGNS president and CEO Catherine Monson dives into how she’s helped propel the brand forward, her top advice for franchise leaders, and the importance of building a fulfilling career
FASTSIGNS International Inc. is North America’s leading sign and visual communications franchisor. Its impact is clear, with more than 762 franchise locations in eight countries worldwide including Canada, the U.S., Australia, the U.K., Grand Cayman, and more.
President and CEO Catherine Monson is one of the many friendly faces that leads the brand, operating from her cozy home in Texas. As a self-described driven, fun, and visionary leader, Monson has helped propel the FASTSIGNS brand to new heights at a rapid pace (speed seems to be an ongoing theme for this brand).
“Propelled Brands is the franchisor platform company that includes FASTSIGNS, NerdsToGo, My SALON Suite, and Salon Plaza,” says Monson, noting that FASTSIGNS created Propelled Brands, which then acquired the latter three brands. “We’re a world class franchisor focused on franchisee profitability and franchisee satisfaction and look forward to adding more quality brands to our portfolio.”
Here, Monson shares one of her most enjoyable things to do as a franchise leader, her two favourite drinks to sip on, based on the time of day, her dreams and goals for the brand, and her inspiring motto to live by.
A. The most interesting thing I’ve done recently is… Cooked dinner for 13 franchise friends who flew in from around the country … I needed extra recycling space for the empty wine bottles!
B. In its best form, work is… Inspiring, fun, and fulfilling.
C. A good franchisee… Loves the brand and is driven to increase their sales and profits.
D. A good franchisor… Focuses on franchisee profitability, excellent franchisee/franchisor relationships, and franchisee engagement.
E. My top advice for prospective franchisees is… Conduct thorough diligence; speak with at least 30 existing franchisees; ask about unit-level economics, support, and their satisfaction; and also ask, if they were up for renewal now, would they renew?
F. My top advice for new franchisors is… Focus on increasing franchisee profitability: measure it and report on it. Also, be willing to walk away from franchise sales that don’t make sense.
G. The most important thing in life is… Our relationships with the people we love.
H. One of the most enjoyable things to do is… Make a difference in our franchisees’ lives: helping them create jobs, produce economic output, and build wealth for their families.
I. The hardest thing for me to do is… Slow down.
J. My favourite drink is… Milky tea (in the a.m.) and an excellent pinot noir or cabernet (in the evening when with others).
K. If I could change one thing… I’d have more than 24 hours in a day.
L. If I could meet anyone… It would be Condoleezza Rice.
M. The person who has had the most positive influence on me as a businessperson is… Don Lowe, CEO of Franchise Services, Inc. He was my prior boss and the best mentor a franchise executive could have.
N. Canadian franchising is… Vibrant! Canada is a great market to do business in.
O. My franchise system began because… The founder Gary Salomon had an excellent business based on new technology and saw franchising as an outstanding method of expansion.
P. The most positive influence on my life as a person is… My dad.
Q. The key to success is… Learning to develop and refine the life skills of a positive mental attitude, goal directed behavior, self motivation, a sense of urgency, to never stop learning, and of course, working hard!
R. I’d like my friends to describe me as… Loving, caring, and fun.
S. The accomplishment I look forward to the most is… Expanding Propelled Brands to 10 great franchise brands!
T. My personal motto is… Make a difference in other people’s lives, everyday!
U. One necessary item on my life’s “to do” list is… On the business side, continue to build an outstanding, respected platform company that people—franchisors, franchisees, and great team members—want to become and remain a part of.