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.
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.
The 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:
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.
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 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!”:
OTHER FRANCHISE DECEPTION-FOR-DOLLARS POSTS:
Dr. John Hayes Named Dickey’s Barbecue Pit one of the 12 Amazing Franchises for 2015. Here’s how things turned out:
ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH FASTSIGNS, CATHERINE MONSON, MARK JAMESON, DR. JOHN HAYES, SCOTT WHITE, & BIZCOM PUBLISHING?
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