The Supreme Champion of the 2019 Global Franchise Awards is FASTSIGNS International. Mark Jameson, Executive Vice President of Franchise Support & Development, outlines the reasons for Fastsigns’ success
How would you describe FASTSIGNS International?
FASTSIGNS® 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 are the qualities that have, in your opinion, earned it the title of 2019 Supreme Champion in the Global franchise awards?
FASTSIGNS has always remained on the cutting-edge of our industry, which has allowed us to develop into a highly adaptable company that provides visual marketing solutions that meet the ever-evolving needs of our franchisees and clients.
But beyond our success in our segment, we are on the cutting-edge of franchising. We’re constantly evaluating how we can better support our franchisees through technology, training, marketing, and more, and we’re repeatedly recognized for our high level of franchisee satisfaction.
How international is FASTSIGNS international?
FASTSIGNS International, Inc. is the largest sign and visual communications franchisor in North America, and is the worldwide franchisor of over 700 independently owned and operated FASTSIGNS centers in nine countries including the U.S., Canada, England, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Grand Cayman, Mexico, Chile, and Australia (where centers operate as SIGNWAVE®).
What are the services that a FASTSIGNS outlet offers its customers?
FASTSIGNS offers custom visual communications solutions for businesses. Our highly-skilled team of marketing and graphics experts create, manage, and implement endless solutions, from interactive and digital signage to wall and floor graphics, menu boards, wayfinding and directional signage, regulatory signs, and custom displays.
What makes a FASTSIGNS outlet an attractive business proposition for a potential franchisee?
As a growing $29 billion industry, signage and graphics will be in demand as long as businesses need to be seen. FASTSIGNS will be there to create captivating, high-performing visuals for businesses around the world – and our franchisees are a part of it. FASTSIGNS offers entrepreneurs and current business owners an opportunity to meet a growing demand for eye-catching graphics and marketing through franchising.
How did the company begin?
In 1985, our founder, Gary Salomon, visited a computer shop in Austin and was impressed with how quickly they could produce vinyl signs. He and his business partner, Robert Schanbaum, convinced the shop owner to train them on the new tech and signmaking techniques. He agreed — and the rest is history!
When did you begin franchising and how successful has this been?
Gary and Robert opened their first store in Dallas in 1985, began franchising in 1986, and by 2000 had 400 stores. For many years, FASTSIGNS was an anomaly, a brand managed by businessmen, not artists, and using computer-aided technology borrowed from the textile industry.
But that allowed FASTSIGNS to do what its competitors couldn’t – fill orders within a day. As the brand grew, we created a conversion and co-brand program to help entrepreneurs with an established business diversify their product lines and services to meet the growing demand for state-of-the-art signage and visual communications solutions. Internationally, we’ve achieved great success through our master franchising opportunities.
What, in your experience, is the secret of successful international franchising?
Many franchisors attempt international expansion without understanding the varying cultures, laws, and regulations from country to country, so they waste a lot of time and money trying to, many times unsuccessfully, navigate the business environment abroad. They also don’t take the time to find the right partner.
What’s the next step for FASTSIGNS International?
FASTSIGNS is continuing to grow worldwide with a focus on the Northeastern United States and Southern California, as well as finding master franchisees for Québec, New Zealand, Brazil, North Africa, Southeast Asia, India, Europe, and Latin America.
What qualities do you look for in an ideal franchisee or master franchisee?
We are looking for passionate entrepreneurs who are driven to help businesses in their community solve their visual communications and marketing challenges. For master franchisees, we’re seeking savvy entrepreneurs that also have a deep understanding of what it takes to grow a brand in a new country.
What does FASTSIGNS International offer franchisees in terms of support?
FASTSIGNS has over 120 support staff serving more than 650 franchisees — that’s a support ratio of 1:6, the largest of any sign franchise anywhere. Training for new franchisees is very extensive and starts with them attending a two-week training in Dallas, Texas. During the first two weeks of any new, co-brand, or conversion center opening its doors, corporate team members are with franchisees, in their business, supporting them.
They also have a franchise mentor to help guide them through the obstacles they face as they build their business. Our franchisees also have access to an ad fund that is 2.5 times greater than our next largest competitor, continuing training like FASTSIGNS University and sales training, help from a nationwide network of franchisees, annual conventions and regional meetings, and, of course, our brand recognition.
Who should potential partners contact to find out more about partnering with FASTSIGNS International?
Mark Jameson, EVP of Franchise Support and Development – firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 (888) 285-5935.
What does winning the Supreme Champion accolade mean to you?
“We are honored to be recognized by Global Franchise for our excellence in international franchising and the success we have achieved in the sign, graphics, and visual communications segment,” says FASTSIGNS CEO Catherine Monson (pictured). “I am a fervent advocate of franchising and constantly work toward raising the bar for what FASTSIGNS can achieve and the impact the franchising industry can have worldwide. Thank you for this prestigious recognition.”