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The turnaround: A&W’s on the road again

Nearly six years after A&W’s disgruntled and demoralized U.S. franchisee association banded together with its largest international franchisee and former President Kevin Bazner to purchase the brand from Yum, now-CEO Bazner is feeling confident as the nearly 100-year-old brand is back to growing sales and adding units.

The up-and-comer: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

What does it take to run a company for Warren Buffett? Ask Gino Blefari, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, one of the few Buffett acquisitions that have been allowed to use the hallowed Berkshire Hathaway name.

Top Kuwait operator, M.H. Alshaya, brings Blaze to Middle East

Already with more than 30 American brands in its portfolio, M.H. Alshaya Co. adds a fast-casual pizza concept it believes has immense potential and ‘will fit well in a market that prizes individuality, quality and convenience.’

No Spandex required at Beeline Bikes

Typical bike shops can be intimidating for casual bikers whose self image is not defined by a car-free lifestyle. The shorts are form-fitting, the proprietary lingo is pervasive, prices for quality equipment and accessories are often high, and booking an appointment during peak riding season can be a challenge.

Head-turning partnership for Snap Fitness and McGraw

You don’t send out photos of Tim McGraw doing handstands and crunches without a shirt and expect to be ignored by the press—and sure enough, Snap Fitness’s new partnership with the country music superstar and the fitness club called Tru Mav is drawing lots of attention.

Outdoor spaces require extra planning

Whether a deal-breaker or the ‘cherry on top’ of a location, many franchises have cracked the code for making outdoor spaces work. Watch for overly expensive build-outs, though, as well as zoning and regulations that can pinch. Then there’s the weather…

Start now to meet new rule from FASB

Big changes are coming to the accounting department, but few companies have done much about new Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) rules. Dubbed revenue from contracts with customers, the handful of new rules will change things for restaurant franchisors especially.

How to crack the tourist trap code

Tourist towns are an entirely different offshoot of the non-traditional real estate game, and choosing the right location is like prospecting for oil—time-consuming during front-end research, costly and disappointing if you make a mistake, but a gusher of cash if you’ve successfully drilled down into a prosperous deposit.

RFDC: Come for the deals, stay for the Flay

When people ask why they should attend the Restaurant Finance and Development Conference, it’s difficult to name just one reason—or even five.

NRD’s Susan Beth and her ‘amazeball’ answers

Susan Beth’s car may not be as clean as it used to be, but she still thinks the best job in franchising just found her. Susan (we should refer to her by her last name, but it would just sound like we’re calling her by her first name, so why bother?), the COO of NRD Capital Management, an un-private equity fund started by Aziz Hashim, is the most bubbly M&A adviser you’ll ever run into. “I’m a Type A when I need to be,” Susan says, reassuringly.

Kono Pizza ditches bricks and mortar

In 2012, the owners of Kono Pizza’s American arm set out to change the way Americans eat pizza—out of a cone-shaped crust. Their game plan centered on smaller footprints than traditional quick-service brands. At the time, it had 18 U.S. locations, with intentions of greatly scaling up through the sale of three-, five- and 10-pack store deals, most of which were to be located in traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

Ego’s in check for Halal Guys operator

‘When you’re filled with ego, you’re focused on yourself, not finding someone to help,’ declares a Halal Guys operator in Southern California. Paul Tran and his four partners came together for their love of the brand.

Philippines ripe for food expansion

Each element has a meaning. Blue stands for peace and justice, red symbolizes courage, and the white equal-sided triangle represents equality. The eight rays of the sun recall the first eight provinces that sought independence from Spain, while the stars represent the three major geographical divisions of the country: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Digital strategy is crucial to reach consumers

Effective marketing is all about getting people’s attention. Videos work wonders for Spray-Net, while traditional mixes with digital marketing at Watermill Express. For Blink Fitness, geo-targeting delivers results.

‘Answers sought, answers denied’ as Tim Hortons/RBI union sours

The honeymoon is over for Restaurant Brands International, the company formed by Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital that bought the iconic Tim Hortons donuts-and-coffee chain in December 2014 for $12.5 billion.

Over South Korea, a cloud, even if not of the mushroom variety

The headlines are filled with the rapid developments in the steadily deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and North Korea. By the time this column has been published the alarm could subside—or it could have accelerated into one of the most perilous and threatening periods in our lifetime.

If General Patton were here to helm the pay-per-click battlefield

You’ll find two types of soldiers on the front lines of battle: those who stand paralyzed by fear and those who are emboldened by pure grit and sound strategy. Likewise, the pay-per-click (PPC) battlefield is peppered with franchise players that are either fighting blind or frozen in place, with only a select few who charge forward with a winning strategy.

A neophyte tackles Bruster’s, while an old pro takes on 64 Sonics

Dan Tarkoff is stepping into his first franchise venture—an ice cream shop called Bruster’s Real Ice Cream. Yaron Goldman is launching his fourth—the iconic Sonic Drive-In. Though their experience level differs dramatically, both franchisees expect to grow their respective brands and reap financial rewards.

We’ve done the hard work so relax, enjoy the show

If you are a regular reader of this column, you may remember last month I opened with an accounting of my first jobs as a teenager, one of which was the unenviable task of “walking beans” on my grandfather’s farm, which means walking down rows of soybeans with a hoe in tow, pulling the weeds. (Soybeans sold with weeds in the mix lowered the price.)


The franchising sector is beating the pants off other industries. According to Hachemi Aliouche, director of the Rosenberg International Franchise Center at the University of New Hampshire, the industry is doing incredibly well, and it has since 2000, when the center started watching.

Executive Ladder

Randon Clayton was hired as technology associate at Assisting Hands Home Care’s home office. Preparing for expansion, Mici Handcrafted Italian hired Elliot Shiffer as partner and CEO.

Why I’m a newfound fan of rereading what I’ve written in the distant past

I came up with the idea for this column after interviewing Dear Abby’s grandson, Dean Phillips, who is operating a coffee shop chain while running for Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District seat (the interview was for our sister publication Foodservice News).

Arby's Named One of Best Workplaces for Women

Arby’s has been named to FORTUNE’s 100 Best Workplaces for Women list. Arby’s is the highest-ranked restaurant brand on the list and is the only quick-service restaurant selected.

Golden Corral announces partnership with Coca-Cola

The Golden Corral Corporation, the nation’s largest grill-buffet chain, recently awarded its beverage agreement to The Coca-Cola Company.

Starting a Juice Concept With 5 Kids in Tow

Two young parents with five young kids stumbled upon an idea that seems crazy from an outside perspective: starting a food-based franchise from scratch as a way of improving their work-life balance. With seemingly no fear, they took the plunge and launched Clean Juice Bar in 2014.

These 4 ‘Super Elements’ Are Key to Hiring the Right People

Last week’s IFA Franchise Action Network event in Washington, D.C., put the politics impacting franchising front and center. But mixed in with the various labor law concerns and worry about the joint employer rule was the general sentiment that it’s never been more difficult to find and hire the right person.

The UPS Store hits 5000 retail locations

The UPS Store, Inc., the nation’s largest franchise system of retail shipping, print and business service centers, is now 5,000+ locations strong, the company announced today.

Ethics Complaint Dismissed in SoR Case, 'Ambiguity' Remains

An ethics complaint against Craig Tractenberg, a prominent franchise attorney for Fox Rothschild in Philadelphia who represented School of Rock, was dismissed September 7 by the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, but the contents of a letter “expressing this office’s concerns regarding his conduct” will not be made public under board rules.

Maaco and Meineke honor 45th birthday with national celebration

This fall, Maaco and Meineke are hosting a very special Happy 45th Birthday event at participating U.S. locations, and consumers have an opportunity to unwrap 45 percent discounts on core services at both brands.

Liberty Tax Situation Not a Problem, General Counsel Says

It may seem awkward if your CEO gets booted by the board of directors but keeps his status as chairman, holds all the Class B shares and so retains the right to name a majority of board members, as happened to founder John Hewitt at Liberty Tax Service last week. But Liberty’s general counsel, Vanessa Szajnoga, doesn’t think so.

Learn, Play & Grow (Really Fast) at The Learning Experience

The franchised education space is morphing from competitive to crowded, mirroring other categories—such as medical franchising—that is undergoing a massive shift away from established systems. The Learning Experience is growing rapidly and focusing on its corporate culture as the education category hits a critical inflection point.

New Pillar to Post Owner Has Sept. 11 Story

This Monday, September 11, was a special day for Matt Robertie of Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He became a new franchisee for home inspection franchise Pillar to Post, 16 years to the day after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Joint Employer ‘Could Be Catastrophic’ for Franchise Model, ‘Zees Say

Hundreds of franchisees and franchisors are meeting with representatives and senators on Capitol Hill today as part of the International Franchise Association’s Franchise Action Network event and to push for support of the Save Local Businesses Act.

Franchisors, ‘Zees Gather in D.C. to Talk Joint Employer Issue

Introduced in July by a U.S. House committee, the Save Local Businesses Act counters the NLRB’s August 2015 ruling in the Browning-Ferris Industries case that adopted a broad joint employer standard based on “indirect” or “potential control” of employees, meaning franchisors can be held liable for a franchisee’s employees.

HealthSource Chiropractic Focuses on Injuries, Rehab

Compared with The Joint, a large chiropractic franchise that focuses on maintenance care, Ohio-based HealthSource Chiropractic is different, geared toward patients with fresh injuries looking for progressive rehabilitation treatment.

On The Border announces new chief financial officer

Just ahead of celebrating its 35th year in business, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina® announced today the addition of Tom Pennison as the company's new Chief Financial Officer.

Hurricane Harvey Relief From ‘Zees and ‘Zors, Part II

Countless other organizations are providing what they can to assist in the recovery efforts, and it’s nearly impossible to list all of them. Here are 10 other national franchise brands and franchisees harnessing their coast-to-coast presence in support.

Hilton’s All Suites Keeps Rocking

Times are good in the hotel biz—really, really good—as a multi-year growth streak continues. As one nugget of continuing good news in the category, Hilton’s All Suites brand just released a midyear update that points to continued growth for the brand, and likely many others in hospitality.

Toppers Pizza’s 'Big, Hairy, Audacious' Goals

With a meaty investment in consumer-facing tech and fast-rising unit growth, Wisconsin-based Toppers Pizza thinks it can challenge the biggest pizza brands after doubling in size over the last three years.

Tropical Smoothie Café Eyes Minnesota Expansion

Tropical Smoothie Café positions itself as a healthier option in the fast-casual segment with flatbreads, sandwiches and wraps to go along with classic and “Superfood” smoothies, which is why company execs believe the concept is a perfect fit for an active, outdoor-focused Twin Cities metro population.

Liberty Tax Founder Gets Boot, but He May Be Hard to Jettison

That bombshell the franchising world felt today was Liberty Tax Service announcing the termination of John Hewitt, who is the founder, chairman and CEO of Liberty Tax as well as the founder of competitor Jackson Hewitt and a giant in the business.

Franchisors and ‘Zees Line Up to Help Hurricane Harvey Victims

As the devastation and damage piles up in Houston and in other Texas areas hit by Hurricane Harvey, plenty of franchisors and franchisees are offering what they can to help. Here are 10 franchisors, both big and small, offering their services and resources:

Dunkin' Donuts appoints new chief marketing officer

Dunkin’ Donuts today announced the appointment of marketing veteran Tony Weisman, 57, to the position of U.S. chief marketing officer (CMO). Weisman, formerly the North American CEO of DigitasLBi, a global digital agency network, will officially join the company in late September.

Labor Day Economic Snapshot

Given the level of political instability throughout this year and the heartbreaking disaster unfolding along the Gulf shore, it’s remarkable that the economy has chugged along as well as it has. Here’s a look at some of the latest key economic indicators for a pre-fall check up on the economy.

Subway Launches Striking New Store Design

As it rolls out a dramatically new store design, complete with a new brand logo, Subway is looking to catch up to the fast-casual competition with a new store concept that includes a bright vegetable display front and center. For Subway’s thousands of franchisees, the mandatory remodel program includes three tiers that allow varying levels of equipment reuse.

Franchise Execs Talk Delivering on a Brand's Promise

Franchise leaders gather at annual Faegre Baker Daniels summit to share how they work to develop and maintain a successful franchise system.

DineEquity’s head of international resigns

DineEquity Inc.’s president for international, Daniel del Olmo, is resigning, reports Nation’s Restaurant News.

Secrets of the Lost Cajun

There’s a reason no one has successfully franchised a gumbo-based chain before—it’s a long, arduous process to make it just so. But the real secret isn’t in the recipe. Meet the founding father of The Lost Cajun, Raymond Griffin, a widower franchising the concept he and his late wife dreamed up that’s grounded in courtesy and respect.

FGB winners go beyond the bottom line

At its third annual Franchising Gives Back celebration on September 11, the International Franchise Association will continue its recognition of franchise companies’ charitable programs and the impact they have on their communities. One winner in each of five categories (Spirit of Franchising, Newcomer, Enduring Impact, Support Our Veterans, Innovation and Impact) will receive the Gold distinction from the stage prior to the IFA’s Franchise Action Network initiative, where members visit their congressional leaders.

Retailers get personal to keep customers loyal

Who wants a plain leather handbag when you can have one with a skull and crossbones, a golden wheel with silver angel wings or a dinosaur keychain instead? Retailers are finding success with customization, to help customers create their personal brand.