FASTSIGNS, Fast Growth?


When traveling, it’s best to have a guide: someone who knows the best places to eat, the best sites to see, and, perhaps most importantly, the safest areas in town. When expanding your business, it’s best to have more than just a business plan. Catherine Monson speaks with experience when she says, “having a local [business] partner is important.”

Catherine Monson has served as chief executive officer of signs franchise FASTSIGNS for three years. When she was recruited to assume the role, the original founder was uninterested in expanding the concept internationally. Well, Monson was.


The fact of the matter is, as Catherine aptly points out, that “Businesses need signage.”


FASTSIGNS fills an obvious global need: businesses need signs to alert potential consumers that they exist. With the global economy expanding, especially in the Middle East, Asia, and South America, there’s a lot of opportunity for FASTSIGNS to grow quickly– except Catherine Monson isn’t really interested in rapid expansion.


“It’s very important to modify your business model to embrace the culture of where you’re expanding,” explains Monson. That’s why FASTSIGNS has a specific three-pronged expansion strategy.


First, when expanding, the signs franchise looks for international partners with a knowledge of the culture and business climate of the proposed expansion location. The partner can be the owner of an existing signage business or wishing to start from scratch. Either way, his or her knowledge is integral to FASTSIGNS’ steady and successful expansion plan.


Second, FASTSIGNS likes to convert existing independent sign stores into FASTSIGNS franchises, if they’re interested, of course. “We’re willing to expand anywhere we can help,” adds Catherine. For example, FASTSIGNS recently expanded in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico thanks to three Puerto Rican business leaders who owned a sign store. Instead of coming in and siphoning business from existing independent business by establishing a new FASTSIGNS franchise, FASTSIGNS chose to approach existing businesses and business owners.This way, the business owners receive marketing support and brand recognition from FASTSIGNS (along with new technologies and materials) and FASTSIGNS goes into business with an established customer base and a knowledge of the local community.


Finally, occasionally FASTSIGNS expands the old fashioned franchise way: by selling a new location or territory. Just like every other option, there’s a lot of research that goes into building a new location.


When asked what she felt was the most important thing for franchises to consider when expanding internationally, Catherine Monson answered, “Spend a good amount of time really studying the culture, the labor market, and as a result, what might need to be different about your model.” By that she means, what works in the U.S. might not work elsewhere, like in Saudi Arabia. “I don’t think we’d be as successful [in Saudi Arabia] without having a Saudi partner.”


“If you fail,” she says, “you have a bad mark against you.” As a well-known brand in a hoping to expand in relatively unknown lands, that’s not a good sign. Fortunately for FASTSIGNS, with Catherine Monson at the helm I doubt there will be anything but all signs pointing to ‘go.’

The Ease of Vending Franchises

When you think of vending franchises, you naturally think of snacks and sodas, right? Well, although those are great money-makers, there are also vending franchises that don’t require merchandise. Franchises like the Boozelator, IntoxBox and The Back Massager simply require maintenance. Since the Boozelator and IntoxBox are breathalyzer machines and the latter is a massage chair, none require anything but maintenance. It’s the perfect solution for those potential franchisees that want to make a little extra income without having to devote massive amounts of time to a business.

Healthier 4U Vending Machine

More than meets the eye...

Though they require more upkeep, merchandise vending machines are a huge market right now. One in particular that is seeing a ton of growth is DVD Now Rental Kiosks. The ease and convenience of a video store on practically every corner (not to mention super-affordable prices) has America in a frenzy over these little machines. Similarly, did you know that ATMs are often franchises? This is also a great growth opportunity. Of course, there is always the classic vending franchise opportunity with a twist. Healthier 4 U Vending and Naturals 2 Go both offer healthier alternatives to sugary sodas and fattening snacks. They can go anywhere, too, from schools to parks to office buildings. Even Mayor Bloomberg of New York City has enacted new rules about what schools can offer kids as food options.

Have I convinced you yet? Check out more information about vending franchises on Franchise Clique.

New Guidelines on School Vending Machines

The Obama administration is working to enact new policies that will set better nutritional standards for kids in schools. According to the New York Times, kids eat 19-50% of their food at school during the day. Therefore, regulations must be placed on the availability on unhealthy options. Schools as well as food and beverage industries have mixed feelings. Candy/unhealthy food promotions can often lead to big dollars in fundraising for schools, and corporations say that most of their products do have nutritional value.

However, if you’ve been following the campaign of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move, you know that one in five kids are now considered obese. That is simply unacceptable to the administration; whatever measures need to be taken to aid our kids in getting healthy must be taken.

So why does all this matter to you? It is clear that a new business opportunity rests with healthy vending franchises. Vending machines that offer healthy options like coconut water as opposed to Coke are going to soar after these regulations are set. Looks like it’s time to get started on your franchise research!

Interview with DwellGreen’s President, Jim Majirsky

Jim Majirsky wants to save you some green. As the President and CEO of business and home services franchise DwellGreen he just might be able to.

In 2005 John Lamby, who Jim refers to as “an environmental guru” started the process of creating what DwellGreen is today: a resource, a business and a fine-tuned approach for helping homeowners make decisions about the performance of their homes. This covers everything from energy efficiency to retrofitting to identifying government rebates homeowners are able to qualify for.


Majirsky joined DwellGreen a little over a year ago. It took the better part of 2011 for Jim to take DwellGreen, which had become quite a successful business in Florida, and translate it into a growing, national franchise. Now, the company has four franchising territories and plans to begin franchising in Canada within two years. After 17 years of executive franchising experience, Jim is happy to be involved in a company that he really cares about. He loves being around environmental initiatives and believes strongly in their importance. “It is the future,” Majirsky says, “It’s not just greening, its learning what that means.”


DwellGreen, as a business, seeks to do three things: to advise, to consult, and to educate its customers.  The business works a little something like this: homeowners call DwellGreen about making their home a bit greener (in one way or another). A representative from DwellGreen drives (in a Prius, of course) to see the client’s home. The DwellGreen representative assesses the home and advises the homeowner on improvements that should be made. From there, the DwellGreen representative facilitates the greening process. Some homeowners will jump into greening feet first, others will pick specific projects until the entire home is, well, green.


“There’s a cost savings to this that’s good for everyone,” explains Majirsky. “It helps the environment, helps with health issues, and it does have large implications like reducing carbon footprint,” he elaborates. “It improves the quality of our air and our water.”


Of course, it takes someone who’s passionate about the environment and making a difference at the micro and macro levels to be successful as a DwellGreen franchisee. In addition, it takes a skilled communicator with experience in business development, sales, and marketing to pursue potential customers. Environmental and building sciences backgrounds are pluses, too. In fact, a number of current DwellGreen franchisees have environmental science or construction backgrounds.


After the initial interest inquiry is made, the next step, according to Jim, is to familiarize potential franchisees with the business model. From there, serious franchisees receive a full week of training and certification (which includes RESNET and EPI training) as energy auditors, remediation programs for radon, mold, lead, and air quality. “If we’re about anything we’re about servicing our franchisees and supporting them,” says Jim. The DwellGreen business model also includes a full marketing program and support system, so franchisees can focus on bringing in customers and maintaining positive client relationships.

Interested in more information about this franchise? Go to Franchise to find out more about this green franchise!

The Birds, The Bees, and Adam & Eve

Let’s talk about sex, baby.


No, really, let’s talk about it. It is Valentine’s Day after all! Sex is an important part of our lives. After all, none of us would be here if it weren’t. As a matter of fact, it’s such an important part of our world that physicians, like Dr. Ruth Westheimer, have made it their business to tell every one how best to ‘get down to business.’


Sure, it’s a little uncomfortable to talk openly about sex, but the fact of the matter is that sexual health is an important part of your overall well-being. It’s nothing to be ashamed of– it’s something to be celebrated. That’s why, this Valentine’s Day, we’re talking with adult retailer Adam & Eve.


As David Keegan, Adam & Eve’s General Manager of Franchising puts it, “The concept of sex and wellness is at the forefront of many health conversations,” and the award-winning adult retailer is right in the middle of it all.


For over 40 years, Adam & Eve has not only been making Valentine’s Day special for couples, it

has been combating the stereotypical notion of adult-oriented stores with modern, open, and inviting stores.


“Adam & Eve store inventory is 75 percent soft goods,” explains Keegan. Soft goods are items like  lingerie, hosiery, loungewear and bachelorette party gifts. You know, the types of things you could find at  Victoria’s Secret stores nationwide, though Adam & Eve prides itself with their stores large selection and a greater variety of items. “ Less than 25 percent are adult goods,” he adds.


The two time industry Retailer of the Year award winner, carefully designs its stores in such a way that customers, especially for females and couples feel welcomed. Adam & Eve stores have a reputation for being very clean, and well-lighted too. Let’s be honest, if a woman feels comfortable at Adam & Eve, her husband is probably guaranteed a trip back sometime in the future. Happy Valentine’s Day indeed.


A big part of Adam & Eve’s business strategy hinges on who it puts at the helm of each store. “It’s a business that an individual, investors, or family partners can grow.. We really want to see our franchisees and employees succeed,” says Keegan, “ therefore, we are selective about who we recruit.” This selectivity is absolutely shown in Adam & Eve’s stellar customer service record. When it comes to franchisees, Adam & Eve has experienced success with women and couple entrepreneurs, though David adds, “we’re always looking for people with a vast business or entrepreneurial background. Retail sales, communications and strong customer service experience is a big plus, too.”


Clearly, Adam & Eve’s growth strategy and dedication to customer service is paying off. Like unit sales grew by an average of 4 percent in 2011 and 8 percent in 2010. Overall sales for the adult-oriented retailer continue to grow at a double-digit rate. “I wouldn’t say the recession was necessarily good for business,” jokes Keegan, “but you do the math, – for the price of dinner for two and a movie, you can have a lot of fun at home and enhance your romance too.”


Adam & Eve is currently pressing forward with plans to expand in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco and St. Louis.


Q&A With Mimi Zeller of LivHOME Senior Care Franchises

We sat down with Senior Vice President of Franchising Mimi Zeller to discuss LivHOME franchisees and what makes this senior care franchise so special.

How did you become involved with LivHOME? What does your job entail? I became involved with LivHOME because I believe in the LivHOME business model and at-home senior care is something I strongly believe in. As Senior Vice President of Franchising, it’s my job to oversee franchise development and the franchise operations for the entire company. It’s a unique and rewarding opportunity to offer a franchisee.


What makes it a unique at-home senior care franchise? What about the business model attracted you? LivHOME’s home care model gives clients a better quality of life in their own homes. The model also provides franchisees the opportunity to compete on quality, not prices, and deliver a differentiated, higher quality home care service to their community. I’m delighted to be part of a team that can do this for families and business owners.


Have you ever been a franchisee? What’s your business background? I’ve never been a franchisee, but I have worked with more than 5,000 franchise operators in my 25 years in the franchising industry. I began my career in franchising while working with Domino’s Pizza, Inc. in their world headquarters. While at their west coast regional office, I oversaw 725 franchise locations in 8 western states as the Franchise Operations Director. Later, I was the Senior Vice President of Operations for Mail Boxes, Etc., now The UPS Store, for 3,400 domestic franchises. To round it all out, I was also the CEO of a regional fast-casual food franchise.


Wow, that’s quite a bit of franchise industry experience. What’s been the most rewarding part of being a part of a franchise? The most rewarding part of working in a franchise is seeing individuals realize their dreams of owning their own business. LivHOME also offers the opportunity to do something good on a daily basis and help seniors in need.


Could you quickly describe for me the franchisee selection process to me? What do you look for in a potential franchisee? Do you have a profile in mind? We look for franchisees who are passionate, driven, can follow LivHOME’s process and standards, and are interested in working full-time in the business.


How extensive is the training for your new franchisees? Do you try and develop personal relationships with them? LivHOME has five training stages: pre-training, training in Los Angeles, post-training, on-site opening training and ongoing training.


Tell me more about the ongoing training and support you provide. Ongoing support is one of the key components of our overall franchise support process. We believe in effective communication with our franchisees and offer face-to-face support as well as extensive online programs a franchise intranet, and sharing of best practices.


What do your franchisees cite as the most rewarding part of their jobs? LivHOME franchisees experience a rewarding and personally fulfilling life by providing much needed services on a daily basis to those in need. And making a great living doing it.


What can we expect from LivHOME in the years to come? You can expect national expansion of a professionally led home care franchise.


How’s business? Is LivHOME growing? Yes! Our model has a very reasonable initial investment as compared to other franchises.

Mathnasium Children’s Franchise Interview


For some, math is really as easy as 1-2-3. For others, it’s about as painful as a trip to the dentist. Mathnasium, the rapidly growing children’s education franchise, aims to change that.


Mathnasium has been franchising since 2004, but long before the concept was growing above 2% a year educator Larry Martinek was making a difference in the lives of his math students. Larry noticed that his students were developing mathematical shortcuts: ways of solving problems not taught in his or other teachers’ classrooms. Other teachers saw these shortcuts as cheating. Larry saw it as a confirmation that children don’t learn the same way that educators necessarily teach them. With the help of his son, Nick, Larry created Mathnasium’s teaching curriculum in the same verbiage as his students. Directions are written in the vocabulary of a fourth grader as opposed to a fourth grade teacher’s.


The curriculum is focused on developing what Joe describes as “number sense”– the building blocks of math– to build confidence in Mathnasium’s students. As it turns out, that’s a big part of why kids don’t like math in the first place.


Today, Mathnasium has over 270 centers in operation, with plans for more. It’s no wonder, considering the amount of support and success of Mathnasium’s curriculum.


When it comes to its franchisees, Joe Novak, Senior VP of Franchise Marketing and Development, is dedicated to figuring out who’s best for Mathnasium. “I’ve spent many hours thinking about this,” he says, “I’ve looked at over 70 variables.” Though he’s yet to narrow down a tried-and-true franchisee profile, he’s identified several indicators of a franchisee’s future success.


“Mathnasium is a very good opportunity for those who to be involved in their communities and who love kids,” Joe says. Joe mentions that Mathnasium looks for people who are go-getters. It’s vital for a Mathnasium franchisee to become part of the local community by going to PTA meetings, sponsoring little league teams and do everything within his or her grasp to take advantage of local opportunities.


Another great thing about this children’s franchise is that, “you don’t have to be a millionaire to start this concept,” says Joe.


In the past, Mathnasium franchisees have been lawyers, accountants, those with an IT background and, yes, former educators. “Don’t get me wrong,” says Joe, “you have to love math.”

“**Due to the date this article was published, store count and financials may be inaccurate. Please refer to Mathnasium Learning Centers page for the most current information.”