CEO Goes Goth to Improve Her Business

May 4, 2012

Photo courtesy of FASTSIGNS International/CBS

When FASTSIGNS International CEO Catherine Monson was approached by the producers of CBS’s “Undercover Boss,” she knew exactly how she wanted to be disguised.

“I wanted to be a Goth rocker chick,” Monson told the Dallas Business Journal.

Carrollton, Texas-based FASTSIGNS is one of this year’s U.S. Chamber Blue Ribbon Winners and will be among the 75 companies honored at the DREAM BIG: America’s Small Business Summit in Washington DC May 21-23, 2012.

But first, she dons a dark wig, black nails and fake tattoos to learn more about the inner workings of her company on the Friday, May 4 episode.

Each week, “Undercover Boss” follows a different executive as they leave the comfort of their corner office for an undercover mission to learn more about their companies and their employees. While working alongside their employees, they see the effects their decisions have on others, where the problems lie within their organizations and get an up-close look at both the good and the bad while discovering and rewarding the unsung heroes who make their companies run.

Monson explains why she jumped at the chance to participate in the show and expose her limited sign-making skills in front of 19 million viewers:

 “Going undercover allowed me to step into the shoes of our FASTSIGNS Center employees and franchise partners to better learn the ins and outs of what makes our company successful, as well as where there is room for improvement…..I specifically went undercover to learn what additional training and tools our employees need to fulfill our brand promise.”

So what did Monson learn? Well, we don’t want to give too much away, but she did tell the Dallas Business Journal that after her visit to a Phoenix, Arizona franchise, she realized she needed more training for franchisees and their employees, and better communication of the programs the franchise does offer.

“As a result of that [visit], we are in the midst right now of building a very comprehensive curriculum for franchisees on everything involved from the project management to the installation.”

The Phoenix visit also inspired a new award that Monson plans to give out annually to FASTSIGNS workers that espouse a positive attitude despite hardship, like franchise-owner and cancer survivor Scott Koehler. Monson told the Arizona Republic:

"I know too many people in life that don't have the challenges he has and they complain. Scott is positive and full of gratitude."

Finally, in life, you have to have balance:

Monson, who considers herself a workaholic, realized through filming that she lost the passion for one of her hobbies. “My passion, which is horsebackriding, I completely put on hold when I came to Dallas three years and three months ago to run FASTSIGNS. I need to bring a little bit more balance and that will make me a better leader.”

Don’t forget to watch ”Undercover Boss,” Friday, May 4 (8 pm Eastern, 7 pm Central) on CBS.

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