In this exclusive Q&A, we get to learn more about FASTSIGNS from its franchise owner in Oxnard, California, Jill Bonilla.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Tell us about your professional background.
Jill Bonilla (JB): I have a bachelors in fine art from UCLA and received an MFA from Claremont Graduate School. For a while after college, I worked in marketing and PR for restaurants – from there I went into manufacturing and worked for a variety of large corporations in marketing and graphic design.
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FC: What led you to pursue franchise entrepreneurship, rather than starting an independent business?
JB: I was looking at all different types of concepts. As a franchise owner, FASTSIGNS offered me the support and resources that I wouldn’t have doing it on my own, giving me a better chance at success. I was looking at other business opportunities, but I ended up focusing my research mainly on franchises.
Even with a familiarity with the sign industry, I knew I was going to need help with some of the operations and FASTSIGNS offered the support to help fill in my experience gaps.
FC: What drove you to FASTSIGNS over other visual communications franchises?
JB: As a female business owner, joining a franchise that was led by a woman was something that resonated highly with me, so I was intrigued when I learned about FASTSIGNS International, Inc. CEO, Catherine Monson.
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As part of my due diligence, I spoke with franchisees from a few different concepts, and most often contacted female business owners. I’m a one-woman show with two women working for me, so it was important to get that perspective. I was incredibly impressed by how supportive FASTSIGNS franchisees were and the success they’ve had with their centers.
FC: What key criteria did you look for when evaluating potential business opportunities?
JB: I mainly looked into financial viability and the relationship between franchisees and the franchisor.
FC: What sets your FASTSIGNS apart from other visual communications providers in your community?
JB: Our depth of products and the level of service we are able to offer clients, sets us apart from others. FASTSIGNS preaches the importance of customer service, and we make it a top priority at my location.
We have a lot of experience dealing with corporate America and the way FASTSIGNS operates and looks is very professional and appealing to that level of client.
FC: Tell us about the level of training and support your franchisor provides.
JB: The great thing about FASTSIGNS is that they don’t just give you a little bit of training and then kick you to the curb. FASTSIGNS provides continuous training, in-person and through webinars.
I mentored at another franchise location for a week, spent two weeks training at the FASTSIGNS International corporate office, and learned via webinars and reps coming to our center. Someone is always available to answer questions.
FC: What advice do you have for individuals who want to open their own franchise?
JB: Make sure you’re looking for a reputable company.
FC: What is your favorite part about being a FASTSIGNS franchisee?
JB: That I know I can stand behind our products and solutions – I just love my job and that this is what I do for a living.
FC: How do you plan to further grow your business?
JB: I’m following a lot of the advice and steps to grow my business that FASTSIGNS has provided. I’m also becoming more involved in the community and encouraging locals to meet us and see for themselves the quality of work that we provide.