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Stories to help readers feel like a million bucks


The stories in Silicon Valley abound: The first employees of a tech company are overnight millionaires as soon as the company owners take the business public. The assistant who took stock in lieu of a raise, she’s now out buying a yacht.

That story can happen in franchising, too. At least if you worked for Jimmy John Liautaud, the founder of Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches. The subject of our cover story this month, Liautaud recently sold a majority stake in his company to private equity firm Roark Capital in a $2 billion-plus transaction.

According to Franchise Times Editor-in-Chief Beth Ewen’s story, once he had the money in hand, he wrote a $5-million check to his long-time assistant, who is now enjoying her retirement in Florida. And he didn’t leave out his management team. Senior members, the people who helped him grow the chain, split almost $180 million in proceeds. It’s part of who he is: Loyalty is rewarded.

But there’s much more to the story than that, with Liautaud recounting the long road it took to get to this point: more than 2,600 restaurants with over $2.6 billion in sales. He admits in the beginning he awarded franchises to those he shouldn’t have, not believing later that others didn’t love to make sandwiches just as much as he did.

He and company President James North slowed things way down, realizing they had to find franchisees with the same passion. It was that kind of reflection, and so much more, that has him flying high today. Other franchisors could take a page from his book.

His story is part of an outstanding feature this month, the Franchise Times Dealmakers awards. Liautaud won the Deal of the Year award because of the spectacular nature of his transaction. But we also cover our other deal winners who are more than worthy of the recognition: from one dealmaker who just added 194 more Burger Kings to his rapidly growing company, to the transaction that resulted in rolling up five Planet Fitness companies under one umbrella—and all it took to get that done. Also don’t miss Beth’s outtakes of the dealmakers coverage in her Continental Franchise Review column in the issue.

Mary Jo Larson

Mary Jo Larson

Reach Mary Jo at 612-767-3208
or mlarson@franchisetimes.com

One of our other big features this month is our Legal Eagles coverage. Each year, franchise clients and peers nominate their choices of the top attorneys in the franchise sector. We have the list, as well as coverage of the big trends, hot topics and a new administration’s effect on small business—as told to reporter and section editor Nick Upton by some of our Legal Eagles themselves.

After you peruse this section, you’ll understand why these attorneys are top in their field. As one client said about his legal counsel: “He’s been one of the key contributors to helping me grow. He genuinely seems to care. A lot of guys I speak to don’t have anywhere near that kind of relationship with their attorneys.” You can’t ask for more than that.

We have more: an ugly home contest; investment banker-turned-bubble-tea-owner (with locations in nine countries, no less); the rise of food halls; and what to do when your international locale is disrupted by turmoil. Then, we seal it with a KISS at the end. (You’ll get it, don’t worry.)

If that doesn’t make you want to turn the page and start reading, I don’t know what will. We may not be able to give you a tangible payout, like Jimmy John did for his top team members, but we can make you feel like a million bucks.

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