FASTSIGNS Franchise Deception Seems, Well, Amazing. Comments?

FASTSIGNS and FASTSIGNS CEO Catherine Monson are invited to address our suspicions of deceptive, misleading, unethical, and potentially illegal franchise marketing practices.  We detail and document those suspicians below.  Your opinion is invited as well.

(UnhappyFranchisee.Com)

Books… sell franchises because books are considered next to sacred.

They add credibility to your sales story.

If it’s in a book, it must be true!

                       -BizCom Press website

Previous Post:  Dr. John Hayes’ Book Reviews Given an “F” for Fraudulent

Sign shop franchisor FASTSIGNS claims that it is humbled and honored to have been selected – out of 3,000 competing franchise investment offerings – as one of only 12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities by the revered franchise guru Dr. John Hayes.

A press release posted on the FASTSIGNS website and distributed to the media and across the Internet, states:

We’re humbled to once again be selected as an amazing franchise opportunity by such an industry authority as Dr. Hayes,” said Mark Jameson, EVP of Franchise Support and Development, FASTSIGNS International, Inc.

“This recognition reflects the dedication and passion of everyone in the FASTSIGNS family, especially our franchisees, who consistently give us high marks for franchisee satisfaction. ’12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities – Second Edition’ is a must-read guide for potential franchisees.

Mark Jameson FastsignsThe press release also proudly states that FASTSIGNS “has been ranked by Franchise Business Review as one of the “Best of the Best” for franchisee satisfaction for the last 10 years. Additionally, FASTSIGNS also was named to Franchise Business Review’s “Innovative Franchises” list in 2017 and a “Best-in-Category” franchise by Franchise Business Review in 2018.”

About Dr. John Hayes, the press release states:

“Dr. John Hayes is one of the world’s most published authors and speakers on the topic of franchising. Within days of publication, his franchise books such as ‘Take the Fear Out of Franchising,’ ‘12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities for 2015,’ ‘Buy Hot Franchises Without Getting Burned”’and ‘101 Questions to Ask Before You Invest in a Franchise’ climbed to #1 best sellers in their categories on Amazon.com.

FASTSIGNS CEO Catherine Monson:  “We’re honored to be included in the book, named as an amazing franchise opportunity by @drjohnhayes!”

February 22, 2018, FASTSIGNS Facebook Account expressed that FASTSIGNS is once again “honored” at being selected by Dr. John Hayes as and hawked the free download on Amazon:

“FASTSIGNS is honored to make a return appearance in the “12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities” second edition book from Dr. John P. Hayes! Read and review it free on Kindle at http://amzn.to/2oqwyVZ .#FASTSIGNS #franchising

FASTSIGNS and its executives took to Twitter to announce the great honor bestowed upon them by the reknowned Dr. John Hayes, and to promote free downloads of the book.

On March 7, 2018, FASTSIGNS International, Inc. CEO and Secretary of the International Franchise Association (IFE) Catherine Monson tweeted:

 Catherine Monson@catherinemonson

Have you checked out the #1 ranked book on @amazon’s hot new releases list for small business #franchise?

We’re honored to be included in the book, named as an amazing franchise opportunity by @drjohnhayes!

Check it out here: http://bit.ly/12AmazingFASTSIGNS … #FASTSIGNS

Did FASTSIGNS Pay to be Named One of “12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities”?

Although CEO Catherine Monson, and VP Mark Jameson express their pride and humility at FASTSIGNS being “selected” by Dr. Hayes, the promotional website AmazingFranchises.Com of the publisher, BizCom Press, indicates that Dr. John Hayes’ “12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities” is a paid advertising vehicle, akin to a book length advertorial.

Posted on the AmazingFranchises.Com website is a promotional flyer with a headline reads:  “Promote your Amazing Franchise opportunity in the next book by Dr. John P. Hayes.”

Under the subhead “Delivering value far beyond the cost,” BizCom offers franchisors the opportunity to be named an “Amazing” franchise for $5000:

The cost to include a chapter about your franchise opportunity in Amazing  Franchise Opportunities (2018) is only $5,000.

The book will be published in both e-Book (automatically downloadable) and paperback formats.

For the $5,000 fee, franchisors were also promised exposure in the book’-based PR campaign, a custom cover and downloadable ebook they can post on their website and use as a marketing tool, and five paperback copies with more available at a discounted price reserved for Amazing franchisors.

Dr. John Hayes

Not only did the franchisors pay to be included in the book supposedly authored by Dr. John Hayes, they were required, it seems, to provide the copy for their own chapters.

According to the flyer:

Here’s how it works

If your story meets our criteria as an Amazing Franchise Opportunity, you will provide  us with a 2,000 – 2,500 word article about your business along with up to three high-quality photographs and your company logo.

We’ll give you guidelines for  preparing the article, or for an additional fee we can write the chapter for you.

Once we receive your chapter, Dr. Hayes will edit the text and offer suggestions to  help improve the sales potential, but you will have the final approval of your story…

To view the flyer, click here: 12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities Sales Flyer (PDF)

Dr. John Hayes Video Reveals The Pay-for-Praise Nature of “12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities”

What does it take to be honored by selection as an “amazing” franchise?  Dr. John P. Hayes explains:

Dr. John Hayes Alleges Catherine Monson Manipulated Amazon Sales & Satisfaction Rankings With Prohibited Tactics

UnhappyFranchisee.Com has obtained internal instructional materials related to the 2015 “edition of the book in which Dr. Hayes praised FASTSIGNS and its CEO Catherine Monson for manipulating Amazon sales and customer satisfaction ratings with a flood of bogus sales, downloads and positive reviews.  Amazon prohibits reviews from those associated with the book including employees, friends, associates, etc.  Read how Monson and FASTSIGNS seemingly violated Amazon policies to create an illusion of success:

FASTSIGNS CEO Catherine Monson named Valedictorian, Franchise Fraud School

FASTSIGNS & CEO Monson Invited to Address, Deny or Defend These Suspected Deceptions

It is the policy of UnhappyFranchisee.Com to invite discussion and debate in an open forum where all sides of a dispute (as well as the general public) have the opportunity to present their views and evidence.  We invite author Dr. John Hayes, publisher Scott White, FASTSIGNS CEO Catherine Monson, FASTSIGNS VP Mark Jameson, and other interested parties to join the discussion and share clarifications, corrections, rebuttals, alternative viewpoints, or other points.

Companies and individuals may post comments on any relevant page, or submit commentary or statements by email to UnhappyFranchisee[at]Gmail.Com.  We will try our best to publish these statements with the same prominence as the allegations, and will correct factual inaccuracies as appropriate.

Questions we think are especially important include:

1)  Did FASTSIGNS pay to be included in one or both versions of the “12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities” books?  Did FASTSIGNS pay to have its own branded version of the 2015 edition with only its franchise featured?

2)  If so, does FASTSIGNS notify the public, readers or prospective franchisees by including a disclosure statement its marketing, public relations or sales materials that Dr. John Hayes & BizCom are providing a paid endorsement?  Is there a disclosure statement within Dr. Hayes’ books or your customized book that Hayes was compensated for his endorsement?  If not, do you believe this is an ethical sales practice?  Do you feel you’ve violated FTC guidelines regarding disclosure of paid endorsements?

3) Did FASTSIGNS write and provide the text for its own book chapters that appear in Dr. Hayes’ books?  If so, does FastSigns, BizCom or Dr. Hayes make clear to the public, book readers or prospective franchisees that the FASTSIGNS content was provided by the company, rather than an objective 3rd party?  If not disclosed, do you believe this is an ethical sales practice?  Do you feel you’ve violated FTC guidelines regarding honesty in advertising, especially franchise advertising?

4)  Is FASTSIGNS & Catherine Monson aware that AMAZON prohibits reviews by people connected to books in its marketplace, including employees, friends, and family?  Did FASTSIGNS and Catherine Monson violate these rules in promotion of either or both of the “12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities” books or the FASTSIGNS-branded eBook?  Did Catherine Monson leave a 5-Star review the FASTSIGNS book without mentioning it was her company?

5)  Does FASTSIGNS pay fees to the Franchise Business Review for rankings and awards and, if so, are these payments disclosed as constituting paid endorsements

6)  Has Catherine Monson or FASTSIGNS violated any Code of Conduct or ethical guidelines required of Officers by the International Franchise Association (IFA) in her participation and representation in the “12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities” promotional program?

7)  Will CEO Catherine Monson or FASTSIGNS continue to promote its participation in the “12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities” exactly as it has been since 2015?  If not, what changes will they make?

8)  Does CEO Catherine Monson, VP Mark Jameson and FASTSIGNS stand by its use the BizCom Books and Franchise Business Review (FBR) awards as fully transparent and 100% ethical?  Why or why not?

I would like to thank, in advance, all companies, executives, franchisees, and interested parties for participating in an open and honest dialogue about what may be a difficult subject, but is also a very important one.  Despite my penchant for sarcasm, dissenting opinions expressed here will be treated with respect.  –  Sean Kelly

READ The Series “Dr. John Hayes’ Franchise Fraud School & Pay-For-Praise Emporium!”:

Part 1:  Dr. John Hayes & His 12 Amazingly Deceptive Franchises

Part 2: 6 AMAZING Franchise Deceptions of Dr. John Hayes

Part 3:  FASTSIGNS CEO Catherine Monson named Valedictorian, Franchise Fraud School

Part 4:  Dr. John Hayes’ Book Reviews Given an “F” for Fraudulent

Part 5:  FASTSIGNS Franchise Deception Seems, Well, Amazing. Comments?

FRANCHISE DISCUSSIONS by Company

OTHER FRANCHISE DECEPTION-FOR-DOLLARS POSTS:

FRANCHISE BUSINESS REVIEW Pay-For-Praise

FBR Franchise Business Review Promoting Illegal Earnings Claims?

Are Franchise Business Review Winners Violating the FTC Act?

FRANCHISE BUSINESS REVIEW: Justify or Retract Your Bogus Franchise Award

Dr. John Hayes Named Dickey’s Barbecue Pit one of the 12 Amazing Franchises for 2015.  Here’s how things turned out:

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit: The Musical

ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH FASTSIGNS, CATHERINE MONSON, MARK JAMESON, DR. JOHN HAYES, SCOTT WHITE, & BIZCOM PUBLISHING? 

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Contact UnhappyFranchisee.com

TAGS: FASTSIGNS, FASTSIGNS franchise, Dr. John Hayes, Dr. John Hayes franchise expert, Catherine Monson, Catherine Monson Fastsigns, Mark Jameson FASTSIGNS, Mark Jameson, Scott White, Bizcom Press, 12 Amazing Franchises, franchise books, FASTSIGNS franchise fraud, franchise marketing, bad franchises, FASTSIGNS franchise, franchise scams, fake news, Amazon fraud, Amazon scam, unhappy franchisee

4 thoughts on “FASTSIGNS Franchise Deception Seems, Well, Amazing. Comments?

  • March 28, 2018 at 7:20 am
    Permalink

    I think you are being too hard on Fast Signs and their CEO Cathy Monson. It is an amazing franchise. In fact, amazing is precisely the right word.

    It’s amazing Fast Signs CEO took part in the Hayes Franchise Fraud School.

    It’s amazing that a CEO would accept and use his advice on how to game and scam Amazon’s ranking system to make this look like a legitimate, non-paid endorsement in order to fool prospective investors.

    It’s amazing that the CEO of a major franchise company would go online and endorse a fake endorsement that her own company paid to be written or published.

    It’s amazing that the CEO of Fast Signs would have no compassion for the hard-working men and women this book seeks to defraud and instead pays to be a part of it and then plays along in this cycle of deception.

    It’s amazing that this industry can get away with this crap when other industries that solicit investors are closely monitored and closed down when CEOs pull this kind of thing scam on the public.

    It’s amazing that Fast Sign’s own attorneys aren’t more informed and prevent this kind of deception from taking place.

    It’s amazing that people who hold themselves up to be experts on franchising don’t know or flaunt federal law with regard to selling franchises or not disclosing paid endorsements or making earnings claims in the books they “author” or compile or whatever these fraudsters say they do.

    It’s amazing that a franchise PR firm such as Bizcon doesn’t know or disregards the ethics standards they are supposed to adhere to as members of the Public Relations Society of America.6

    It’s amazing that a public relations firm would open it’s own clients to reputation impairment for being part of this scam.

    It’s amazing that this kind of fraud is so rampant in franchising that all these people–John Hayes, Scott White, Cathy Monson and Monica Fiend–would subject themselves, their clients, their careers, their franchisee to the significant risk associated with such behavior and then make it all public online and congratulate themselves over the scheme they wrongfully believe they pulled off.

    That’s what is amazing. Even more amazing is that Sean Kelly would have the guts and persistence to kick over this rock and expose bottom feeders to the light of day.

  • March 28, 2018 at 9:47 am
    Permalink

    Excellent points, Dewey. I have reached out to Ms. Monson and Fastsigns VP Mark Jameson and asked for any corrections, clarifications, or rebuttals they would like to share. I have offered to publish their side of the story.

    And I agree with your high praise for Sean Kelly. He is the top-ranked blogger on the planet and his walls are filled with awards that he made with construction paper, glitter pens, Elmer’s glue and foil emblems and stars from Hobby Lobby. He’s honored to have been featured in UnhappyFranchisee.Com Press’ upcoming “1 Amazing Blogger,” with an introduction written posthumously by Subway’s Fred DeLuca.

    You did miss 1 more factor that makes Catherine Monson’s alleged actions even more amazing: She’s Secretary of the International Franchise Association.

    This will probably get her promoted to President. Or Chairwoman. Or Dear Leader.

  • March 28, 2018 at 10:37 am
    Permalink

    Yes, there are many books out there which sell franchises. Some of them sell specific ones, others (which is actually worse) sell a phony idea that franchises offer better and safer business opportunities than tradition businesses.

    However, there are also many franchise ‘matches, so-called experts, who advertise themselves as:

    “HELPING ENTREPRENEURS FIND THE BEST FRANCHISE OPPORTUNITIES “… we partner with aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals interested in taking advantage of a franchise opportunity and becoming business owners.” “,
    but in fact are getting paid by franchisors to sell franchises.

    Why this books and these businesses still exist? Why unlike with other frauds, nobody is hold accountable for their unethical and often illegal activities? The answer to this questions is simple: non-disclosure and non-interference agreements which franchisees are forced to sign in order to get out and which for some reasons still are honored by courts. Nothing will change unless victims of fraudulent franchises would be able to expose the truth to the public without a fear of being financially destroyed by franchisors. Currently, the law which supposedly protects trade secrets and intellectual property, protects crime. It must change.

  • March 28, 2018 at 11:29 am
    Permalink

    Anna you are so correct.

    Dickey’s Barbecue Pit – one Amazing franchise according to Dr. John Hayes – has a clause in the franchise agreement that says if a franchisee closes, that franchisee immediately owes liquidated damages calculated on what royalties and fees they would have paid for the remainder the 20 year term had they not bought such an amazing franchise that they had to close. For the 58 year old man with no restaurant experience and a recent bankruptcy, that like $600,00 – $800,000 when he closed after six weeks. Dickey’s sued him for nearly a million dollars and left him further in the hole than he had ever been, forced to defend himself in court because he couldn’t afford a lawyer.

    Yes, Dr. Hayes. Dickey’s is an amazing franchise all right.

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