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New York Yankees legend Alex Rodriguez talks hot yoga, broke athletes, J-Lo and fear

Buckets of sweat poured off my head at the TruFusion hot yoga class in Las Vegas, where I stood at the back of the room heated like a sauna and “modified” my moves, meaning barely did them at all, whenever the instructor, a former Rockette, looked the other way. Why was I there? Because if it’s good enough for A-Rod and J-Lo, it’s good enough for me.

Left behind, Patel sisters now rocking the Planet

Kalpana, the third youngest of four Patel sisters who are all Planet Fitness franchisees, was super stressed on “expiration date” at her big-box gym in Vancouver, Washington. That’s when you send out mailers with an expiration date, and on that day in particular the gyms have a lot of sign-ups.

‘Silo it’ when married to franchising

The old refrain is never work with family and never borrow from friends. But for those stubborn folks who opt to ignore that advice, it’s quite possible to thrive at work and home—it just takes a little effort.

Meet the new CEO at Ruby Tuesday in FT Online

In December, Kyanna Isaacson, age 26, opened her first Jersey Mike’s store as a majority owner, a shop she was awarded by the chain’s founder in 2016, right after she was named manager of the year at the chain’s annual conference.

Power trio backs DMK Burger Bar

The first franchisee of DMK Burger Bar, Carolyn Michael in Chicago, is a big fan of the food created by Chef Michael Kornick, a five-time James Beard award nominee with a pedigree in fine dining.

Math helped Fitlife Foods add up

Fitlife Foods founder David Osterweil spent six years trying to get his freshly prepared meals retail concept ready to franchise—and the effort included a whole lot of math.

Work until your toes bleed, in The Boss

I grew up in New York City, the daughter of Hungarian immigrants who escaped the communist regime in Hungary in 1956. My mom was 9. I was raised by Holocaust survivors, so our life was work, work, work. My dad was not in the picture. My family left a lot behind. My brother is an actor. We lived in Queens.

Conserva aims to save world, one sprinkler at a time

Newly under the umbrella of Outdoor Living Brands, Conserva Irrigation is a social franchise putting saving money ahead of its conservation ideals. Its goal is to save ‘billions upon billions upon billions’ of gallons of water.

Fleet Clean heals self-made wounds

Kill not the goose that lays the golden egg, warns an old English idiom. Fleet Clean CEO Scott Marr has a new idiom for the franchise industry: Don’t kill it, but you can sell it. That’s exactly what he did to pay off debt and kick-start the franchise arm of his mobile vehicle-washing business.

Please No, Burger King

Burger King launches another mega-burger that begs the question: are we heading into another caloric QSR arms race? This reporter hopes not.

Sampling four young poke concepts

Travels to Hawaii inspired Joann Chung and husband Derek to open Pokeatery, a counter-service restaurant where customers create their own version of poké bowls (pronounced po-kay), the raw fish salad commonly made with ahi tuna. Time-strapped lunch customers are the target, Chung says, and she notes Pokeatery is different from other poké concepts because “we’re seeing a lot of the concepts expanding their menus to more general Japanese, but we’ve chosen to stick to poké. We want to do our one thing really well.”

Wayback Burgers Celebrates Juicy Growth

On the heels of what it called a “monstrous and prosperous” Q4, Wayback Burgers is trumpeting its rapid growth and franchise development throughout 2017, in hopes of continuing the momentum throughout the new year.

Fast food returns to playing offense

Aggressive words such as arsenal, ammunition, entrench often pop up in business discussions, but read through the recent quick-service restaurant earnings calls and it’s clear the segment is again marching to war. Now, however, QSR is on the offensive, taking share back from fast casual and further eroding casual dining traffic.

Follow the system for Smoothie sailing

Craig and Dianne LeMieux are area developers for Tropical Smoothie Cafe, with more than 60 locations under their purview and two cafes of their own. ‘If you follow it, it works,’ declares Craig about the franchisor’s model.

New research shows who’s leading the pack in delivery

It’s tough to make money from delivery, expert panelists say, but they offered advice anyway, at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas in November. Here is a roundup of three of the most popular panels on the topic.

Good, bad or ‘oh my gosh’ franchises

Suppose you join a franchise system as COO and within a handful of weeks the CFO leaves, the CEO leaves, the VP of ops resigns, the training team resigns and the director of IT says goodbye. Meanwhile, your 250-some franchisees feel ignored as you’ve poured time and treasure into building corporate stores, and your cash on the balance sheet has dwindled from $16.8 million to $6.1 million in just six months.

Big storms, little labor drive up costs

Operators planning to build or renovate existing stores in the coming year will likely need to budget for higher costs. The construction industry is feeling the pinch from a shortage of workers, which has been further exacerbated by increased demand from the surge in post-hurricane rebuilding efforts.

First-timer’s guide to the airport biz

Airports are intimidating places, whether you’re a smuggler slinking through the security line, an aviophobe mustering up the courage to walk the jetway or a first-time retailer or restaurateur trying to make it big-time on the global stage.

Corripio Group puts ‘an experience’ first in DR

Franchisees of Title Boxing Club and SweetFrog Frozen Yogurt share their approach to expanding U.S. brands in Latin America. Corripio Group is adding Title to its holdings of Burger King, Papa John’s, Krispy Kreme and more.

Country Profile describes a maturing market in DR

A white cross divides the flag into four rectangles: blue on the left upper and right lower corners and red on the top right and bottom left. A small coat of arms is at the center of the cross and above the shield a blue ribbon displays the motto: Dios, Patria, Libertad (God, Fatherland, Liberty).

Follow the money to sort out brands’ prospects

Investors and ‘strong net worth’ partners support franchise growth at restaurant concepts DMK Burger Bar and Huey Magoo’s, while device repair brand Digital Doc benefits from an established parent company.

Once gung-ho about Hortons, Show Me Hospitality is now ‘stuck in mud’

Over the long holiday weekend this past Thanksgiving, Show Me Hospitality’s President Eric Sigurdson had the sad task of closing two of his six Tim Hortons restaurants in St. Louis, Missouri. By Christmas Eve he had shuttered all stores.

Not over ‘til it’s over, and joint employer issue is far from end game

Tired of reading about the “joint employer” doctrine and how it affects franchising? Well, I’m afraid that’s just too bad, because it’s still with us and may continue for some time to come...and, maybe, all over the world.

If success is a cycle, our take offers new paradigm for franchise sales

The one question I am asked with the greatest frequency is, “How many franchises can I expect to sell?” But what most people do not realize is they are asking the wrong question. Instead, they should be asking, “How many franchises should I sell?”

Jimboy’s, Del Taco fuel growth for two, while dad helped Which Wich operator

Americans have been consuming tacos since at least the 1920s. Yet their popularity in restaurants didn’t explode for another 20 years, with the advent of pre-fried tortillas and a new real estate strategy.

Tough crowd (my family) gives this issue 3 stars

As regular readers of this column may already know, I like sports. I wasn’t really raised watching them, although my dad is an avid sports viewer. I became a sports fan later in life because I was trying to fit in to a family of guys who watched sports—a lot: one of whom I married, the other two I was raising. Be interested and be part of the conversation.

Scoreboard

Overall, the franchise sector outperformed the S&P 500 in 2017. That’s a great thing, but it doesn’t mean everyone in the franchise world had a great year on the market.

Executive Ladder

Buffalo Wild Wings hired Tim Scheiderer as director of protein supply chain. He will be responsible for oversight and day-to-day management of the restaurant’s protein procurement. Cary Fairless is the new president of Rainbow International at Dwyer Franchising.

Pet Wants Is Exception to Slow-to-100 Rule

My recent blog post pointing out how few franchises make it to 100 units in a year or two, as so many young franchises claim they will, drew many responses, including some who thought I was being too negative to point out the statistics from Franchise Grade. But the president of Pet Wants Franchise System, Scott Hoots, called the numbers “sobering” and added his brand “had the opposite problem.”

HomeVestors Names Ugliest House of 2017

We Americans love dramatic renovations, and HomeVestors—the brand behind We Buy Ugly Houses—has named The Ugliest House of the Year after Americans voted on five house makeovers completed by company’s independently owned and operated franchises.

Resales Another Opportunity for New Franchise Owners

Buying an established franchise means everything is in place and you can hit the ground running with a mature business. But the same advantages can also be disadvantages, so due diligence is crucial say panelists at Franchise Expo South.

Dear Subway, You Stink. Love, Freshii

A franchisee revolt at Subway over its $5 footlong promotion and declining sales has prompted Freshii to publish an open letter yesterday in the Chicago Tribune, offering a “sincere proposal,” as the letter said. One can only imagine Subway's response.

Tony Roma's Opening First U.S. Franchise in Six Years

After six years without any new U.S. locations, Tony Roma's is back on the gas with West Palm Beach Opening.

From the Cutting Room Floor, More Fast & Serious

We interviewed 40 C-level execs to put together our Fast & Serious package, which you can read in full in our January issue, but we gleaned a lot more that we weren’t able to include. So, here are three more thoughts on growing a franchise brand, sustainably.

I Heart Mac & Cheese, and Short Ribs, and Crispy Chicken….

We’re suckers for good food photos, so our thanks goes to I Heart Mac & Cheese, a Boca Raton, Florida-based brand that just launched a national franchise program and has many beautiful photos plus a dauntingly long menu that seems destined to shrink—or whose name seems destined to expand.

At Rachel’s Kitchen, a Shaq Sighting

Retired NBA star and Hall of Fame center Shaquille O'Neal stopped in for breakfast at Rachel's Kitchen, a bistro franchise concept in Las Vegas.

Who will win the 2nd Annual Franchise Times Zor Awards?

Show your enthusiasm for the best franchises in the industry with the Franchise Times Zor Awards recognizing the best companies in 10 hot industry segments. This interactive awards program allows our readers to vote for their favorite brands in each of 10 categories

MOD Pizza Raises $33 Million in Equity Capital to Fuel Growth

This latest funding round brings MOD Pizza's total equity capital raised to more than $185 million, financing the company said will help it bolster its presence in existing U.S. markets and in the United Kingdom.

Patrick Doyle Out as Domino’s CEO

After eight years as Domino’s president and CEO, Patrick Doyle announced he is leaving the company on June 30 after several years of massive sales growth that brought the Michigan-based global pizza giant over the $10 billion mark in annual revenue.

Pizza Hut Developing Fully Autonomous Delivery Vehicles With Toyota

Pizza Hut delivered a surprise at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show with the announcement that the pizza giant has partnered with Toyota on the development of fully autonomous delivery vehicles with Toyota.

From the Bomb Cyclone's Eye, a Warm Invitation

As the rest of the country experiences the bomb cyclone, which we here in Minnesota simply call winter (sorry, rest of the country), we’d like to invite you up to the perfect event for a minus-11 day: The Pirtek Snocross National, scheduled for today and tomorrow at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, a Minneapolis suburb.

So You Say You’ll Have 100 Units in a Year or Two?

If I had a dollar for every young franchisor that says they’ll get to 100 units in a couple of years, I’d have a whole lot of dollars. In fact, I edit such predictions out of the stories we publish in Franchise Times because they almost never come true. A new report by FranchiseGrade backs me up.

New Data Shows Troubling Trends for Pizza Hut

Changing consumer trends and increased competition are wreaking havoc in certain restaurant segments, and even though the pizza category remains hot, new consumer research shows Domino’s eating Pizza Hut’s lunch as the great pizza wars rage onward.

Orangetheory ‘Zees: ‘We Don’t Feel Like Anyone Competes With Us’

Orangetheory Fitness tops this year’s Franchise Times Fast & Serious list, its 218 percent unit increase over the past three years evidence of CEO Dave Long’s smart growth strategies, one of which is a commitment to the area representative model.

Code Ninjas Predicting Rapid Growth

Code Ninjas, a new franchise dedicated to teaching kids software coding, announced a major milestone with 100 franchise agreements in development with 53 franchisees in 23 states. Noting that parents are “increasingly willing to pay for their children to learn while having fun,” the Texas-based children education brand is one of several brands seeing an uptick in interest in one of franchising’s hottest categories.

Watching Old Habits Come Back to the Fore

I first became a business reporter in 2005, and it's disconcerting seeing some of the same worrying trends both in the auto realm and also within the greater business community.

Church’s Chicken Sells 70 Restaurants to New Operator

Continuing a national trend of franchisors offloading corporate-run restaurants, Church’s Chicken announced the sale of 70 restaurants to a new franchise operator with a goal of helping the company accelerate its reimaging program and expanding local influence in two of the brand’s most important markets.

Hey! Eating a lot is hard work too, so don’t judge

As I write this, it’s mid-December. For the last week or so, when the UPS driver pulls up to the office, one of us is receiving a gift, most often an edible one from our colleagues and friends from around the country. And let’s just say it’s never a veggie tray.

How Orangetheory and 39 more brands drive smart growth

‘Kinda crazy’ is how CEO Dave Long describes the pace of franchise sales at Orangetheory, the top brand on this year’s Franchise Times Fast & Serious list. With unit sales rocketing 218 percent over the past three years, one recent week brought 11 gym openings. But with a solid foundation learned at Massage Envy and honed when he paused franchise sales in 2012 to beef up training materials, Long is setting up the franchise to last. Learn his growth strategies, plus those of 39 franchise execs who are intent on growing quickly but only in ways that can last.

NEW! FT Undercover gets the skinny on 3 brands

The good news at Orangetheory, the No. 1 brand on our Franchise Times Fast & Serious list this month, is each participant’s heart rate is displayed on screens for all to see, with the goal being to get in the “orange zone,” or 85 percent of maximum heart rate, as quickly as possible and stay there.