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April 2018

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In this issue

FAT Brands’ boss fights for redemption, in our Deal of the Year

FAT Brands, the parent company of Fatburger and Buffalo’s Cafe, raised $24 million last October in a new type of initial public offering called a mini-IPO or Regulation A+, then used the money to buy three more brands—Ponderosa, Bonanza Steakhouse and Hurricane Grill & Wings. CEO Andy Wiederhorn plans more acquisitions to add to his growing portfolio, and he views his return to the public markets a vindication of his troubled past. The transaction, the first of its kind in the franchise space, plus the follow-up deals, garnered FAT Brands the Franchise Times Deal of the Year.

Plus 9 more scrappy dealmakers

In no-man’s land no longer, CKA Management has infrastructureto keep growing Three partners who put the C, K and A in CKA Management found themselves in a common dilemma—they didn’t have enough stores to support the systems and people needed to grow beyond 20 or so restaurants.

Soap opera over at River Street Sweets

Building an authentic brand that’s true to their family story is of the utmost importance to Jennifer and Tim Strickland, even if it means sharing personal—and sometimes painful—details of what led to the formation of their candy franchise.

Robots with sea changes in tow

With Lyfts on demand, tweeting food trucks and restaurants offering discounts when you’re within a given distance, you wouldn’t be crazy to think the future is already here, but cities are about to undergo the biggest sea change since the Model T started rolling off the line 110 years ago.

The best and brightest legal minds appear on our annual ranking

Let’s hear it for the 2018 class of Franchise Times Legal Eagles. These attorneys live and breathe franchising. And that’s important—ask any of them. They will tell you experience in the franchise sector is of the utmost importance.

Fired founder at Liberty not going quietly

When Liberty Tax’s John Hewitt got booted last September as CEO from the company he founded, the tax prep franchise’s general counsel put on her game face: “I don’t believe it poses a problem for the company,” said Vice President Vanessa Szajnoga, even though Hewitt remained chairman, holds all of the Class B shares and can appoint a majority of directors to the board.

It’s the needles, stupid, in FT Undercover

It’s the needles, stupid. That’s the phrase that comes to mind when asked why more people don’t try acupuncture. But at Modern Acupuncture, everything is designed to soothe anxieties. Erica, a certified acupuncturist, unwraps a pack of three-inch needles (OK, that part didn’t really reduce my panic, except maybe for the antiseptic packaging.)

Power to the ‘zees, says new Liberty Tax CEO

Nicole Ossenfort had been CEO and president of Liberty Tax for just two-and-a-half weeks when reached in early March, but she was already putting her focus squarely on franchisees.

Pet Wants defies slow-to-100 rule

Very few franchises make it to 100 units in a year or two, as so many young franchises claim they will—zero in a recent Franchise Grade study—but the president of Pet Wants Franchise System, Scott Hoots, called the numbers “sobering” and added his brand “had the opposite problem.”

Yogurtland gets piece of red carpet

How does a franchise brand land as a hot commodity for the red carpet stars, and all the press that might go with it? Ask PR maven Barbara Caruso, founder of C-Squared PR, who got her client, Yogurtland, in the thick of things during the Critics’ Choice Awards in January.

Many lessons for Tutor Doctor operator

The fact that everyone shares info in a franchise is a key benefit of the business model for a Toronto-area Tutor Doctor operator.

These four brands are at your service

Fueled by economy-wide spending on personal services, growth in this franchise segment translates not only into jobs and new business units but also emerging brands that see opportunity.

How to make the franchising wheel go ‘round

A panel on franchisor-franchisee relationships was a highlight at Franchise Expo South in Dallas, as was a discussion about how to do resales right. On the show floor, manly grooming concepts and The Baked Bear were among the hits

Rising interest rates fuel sale-leasebacks

Operators considering doing a sale-leaseback of property to raise capital may want to act quickly in order to capitalize on what could be peak pricing.

Politics aside, two brands see promise in Mexico

‘The American brand sells’ in Mexico, declares Abrakadoodle’s president, and two operators in Mexico City are opening their first bricks-and-mortar store. The Melting Pot, meanwhile, gains GINgroup as a partner with plans to develop 17 stores in Mexico.

In Mexico, well-defined laws ease growth

The green, white and red vertical bands signify (in order) hope, joy and love; peace and honesty; and hardiness, bravery, strength and valor. Mexico’s coat of arms is derived from a legend that the wandering Aztec people were to settle where they would see an eagle on a cactus eating a snake; the city they founded, Tenochtitlan, is now Mexico City.

Emerging brands aim to keep out of courtroom

Being mindful of the company you keep and focusing on communication are how DMK Burger Bar and Huey Magoo’s hope to avoid legal issues in their franchise systems. At Digital Doc, an acquisition is changing the game.

Beyond the headlines, many details to consider

I wonder how many readers who skim over the periodic collections of “ opens first franchise in ” pay attention to them. Not many, I think, recognizing them not as news, but as company press releases.

How to make the magic happen

Captivated by a great magician’s death-defying tricks and impossible illusions, it’s easy to lose yourself in the performance. And, that’s exactly what the magician wants to happen.

A Perkins buy in bankruptcy court

Bill Kane wasn’t afraid to warn bidders in an Erie, Pennsylvania, bankruptcy court in January that he was taking home the prize. Like Kane, they wanted the franchise rights for 28 Perkins restaurants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. “I turned around and said, ‘You might as well leave now because you’re not going to outbid me.’ I am a very substantial person. I stand 6-foot-10 and weigh 420 pounds, and I’m missing a leg. When I set my mind to doing something, I do it!”

Scoreboard

Shakespeare, the immortal bard, once pondered, “What’s in a name?” For Dine Brands Global, formerly DineEquity, the answer is about $28 per share of value. That was the surge in share prices, to $76, seen after the company announced its grand new strategy and a brand new name.

Executive Ladder

Fresh off stints with Long John Silver’s and Papa John’s, Toni Bianco has been hired as the new chief operating officer and brand president of Fatburger, a 71-year-old burger chain based in Beverly Hills, California. After being connected to the brand through a recruiter, a one-hour interview ended up stretching for nearly six hours and ended with Bianco’s offer to join the company.

Dippin’ Dots CEO on complex deals, hot yoga and why he took on Spicer

What was your upbringing like? I grew up in Oklahoma City, and I was a pretty quiet kid.My mother was a schoolteacher. My dad was in oil and gas, a wildcatter, and I had one younger sibling. My dad’s degree was as an astronaut, but there was more money in the oil and gas business back then. I grew up around oil and gas wells, and coming out of college that was one of my first jobs as a petroleum land man. I got into business around my freshman year in undergrad and developed a love for dissecting numbers and looking at businesses and putting together the pieces of the puzzle.
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From the Magazine

Publisher's Column

Exiting the jagged road to perdition, and other tales

Second-chance stories are usually about athletes. The guy who tore his Achilles and fought his way back to score the winning touchdown in the championship game. Or the drug test gone bad, where the home-run slugger has to come to terms with his suspension, all in the public eye. Will he be back next season or selling insurance?
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