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Bringing All-American Brands to International Markets

As a franchise reporter for two years now, I’m continually amazed by the amount of research, brainpower, cultural/regulatory awareness and personal time spent traveling to bring U.S.-based brands to overseas markets.

Rising Employee Costs? Don’t Cut Your Way Out

With more cities adopting higher minimum wages across the country, and talk of a nationwide wage increase, franchisors and franchisees of restaurant brands have some real decisions to make. Primarily, where does the money come from to pay employees wages that are much higher in some municipalities?

What Can Independents Learn From Chain Restaurants?

The session was titled “Revenge of the Independents: How Multi-unit Independents and Chefs Are Shaking Up Legacy Chains.” But as the discussion progressed on the last day of the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas, it became clear independents actually look to emulate chains in some ways.

Why CKE's Andy Puzder Thinks the Government Doesn't Understand Job Creation

By the time CKE’s CEO Andy Puzder was introduced on the second day of the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas, no introduction was needed.

Restaurant Founders Share Success Strategies at RFDC

Launching Freshii, the Toronto-based fast casual restaurant concept focused on health and wellness, was “scrappy and at times quite painful,” founder Matthew Corrin told those gathered for the founders panel at RFDC. “But now we maximize every dollar we spend."

One Small Step at a Time for Astronaut Kelly, Speaking at RFDC

“It’s great to be here,” said astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain Scott Kelly, to open his keynote address at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference today. “After being in space for a year it’s great to be anywhere with gravity.”

RFDC Speaker Tells How to Survive 'Sugar Water Revolution'

Goodbye, Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry Vanilla. Hello, probiotic-infused drinking vinegars. That’s the gist of the beverage forecast from George Hiller, Hiller & Associates, who presented on “The Sugar Water Revolution” at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference today.

Hewitt, Williams Agree on This: No One Saw Trump Coming

“Anyone who tells you they saw it coming is lying—the data was not there to support the outcome,” said Hugh Hewitt, a radio commentator and a conservative political analyst on NBC, speaking, of course, about Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, along with Juan Williams, a Democrat who opines for Fox News.

Fast & Serious Execs Share Mottos That Drive Growth

C-level officers of the smartest-growing franchises are sharing their wisdom with our reporters, as we prepare our exclusive Fast & Serious ranking for the January issue. Here are a few of my favorites so far, with many more to come.

Franchising in the Age of Trump

A changing U.S. administration will likely represent a major course change at the International Franchise Association now that several of its most pressing issues are teed up for a more favorable outcome under the future President Trump.

Arby's Attracts Parikh Brothers With 50-Store Deal

The Parikh brothers added a new brand to their restaurant portfolio, inking a development agreement this week to open 50 new Arby’s restaurants over the next eight years, and purchasing 18 corporate-owned Arby’s restaurants in Baltimore, Maryland, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

It’s No Fantasy: There Is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch

I wasn’t really complaining when I wrote last month’s Franchise Times column about our fruitless quest to have a medium Pizza Hut box delivered at work so our FT Fantasy Football league could play the chain’s flick football game.

Crunch Time at Franchise Times

As we prepare for our annual Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas next week, it’s the busiest time of the year here at Franchise Times. With more interviews on my plate than any other month thus far in 2016, here’s a look at what we’re working on as our nation collectively bites its nails on Election Day.

Cubs Historic Win Opens Floodgate for Freshii Offer

“It was just electric!” exclaimed David Grossman, the diehard Cubs fan and master franchisee in Chicago for Freshii, who was in Cleveland for Game 7 of the World Series when the Cubs reversed the curse and won it all. By this morning, applications were still flooding in for Freshii’s offer to waive the $30,000 franchise fee for a rabid Cubs fan—if the Cubs went all the way.

Dinnertime Was Source of Innovation for Chicken Salad Chick

Stacy Brown’s entrepreneurial roots go back to family conversations around the dinner table, said the CEO and founder of Chicken Salad Chick, an Auburn, Alabama-based franchise. She was on a recent conference call to prepare for a Restaurant Finance & Development Conference panel in Las Vegas on November 15.

Checking in on Captain D’s

From countless interviews every year, I write about a lot of brands. Some of these stick with me—for a variety of reasons—while others fade to background knowledge. One restaurant brand I’m still itching to try and that I enjoy following is Captain D’s, a 50-year-old seafood brand based in Tennessee.

A Pre-Election Economic Update

A cold shadow has fallen over America as we enter a new moon phase this Halloween weekend. Election jitters have people drawing the shades and staying close to home. This autumn is more foreboding than most, but rosy economic numbers offer a sharp contrast to our current period of angst and uncertainty.

Dog Haus Deal Started With Dream Email

Usually huge development deals never actually get completed, especially when an emerging brand with just 21 units is the franchisor, but a massive contract to build 300 Dog Haus locations in 12 states over the next seven years just may be the exception, if co-founder Andre Vener’s math holds up.

Hilton Breaking the (Prototype) Rules

As a frequent traveler, I’ve become a hotel snob. When it’s time to pick out a room for my next trip, I look for something unique rather than a cookie-cutter hotel that could be in any city or under any flag.

Freshii Jumps on 'Huge' Cubs Story With Promo

A big win by the Chicago Cubs last night puts Freshii’s promotional campaign one step closer to reality. If the Cubs win the World Series, the healthy fast-casual chain says it will give away a free franchise to an applicant who also expresses undying Cubs love.

Why Your Franchise Needs Delivery

Currently, only about a third of the population orders delivery food that’s not pizza; demand for a wider variety of take-out food is consistent in cities, suburbs and rural areas; and, the delivery category as a whole is only scratching the surface of its massive potential as third-party services literally bring more meals, goods and services to more people.

Can Domino’s Be Stopped?

It’s that time of year again: leaves falling, temperatures chilling and, once again, Domino’s is the star of the quarterly earnings show. On the eve of my trip to the pizza giant’s headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I’m writing questions and wondering if this high-tech pizza brand can be stopped in light of its 22 consecutive quarters of positive sales growth.

Minimum Wage Is 'Existential' Issue for Restaurant Owners

“I’m going to start at the city halls because that’s where the action is,” said Dan McElroy, president and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota. He was referring specifically to Minneapolis and St. Paul, where city councils are considering proposals to raise the minimum wage or mandate paid sick and safe leave. But he also noted cities and counties across the United States are increasingly at the center of workforce regulation while the U.S. House and Senate dither.

Massage Heights 'Zee Thinks Workplace Culture Is on Her

Jennifer Burlington, a three-unit Massage Heights franchisee in San Antonio, has a simple yet often overlooked way of finding out what her massage therapists want in the workplace: She asks them. Her approach is instructive for anyone facing a shortage of good employees (which means everyone).

Phil Keiser, CEO of Culver’s, Dies at 60

Phil Keiser, named CEO and president of Culver’s restaurants last year, has died, the company said on Monday.

Franchise Times Launches Food On Demand

It’s a new era in food, with companies like Domino’s designing their own cars and drone technology that’s ready and waiting once regulatory hurdles are cleared. This will impact everything from independent restaurants to the largest players in industry, and we’ve started a brand-new media project called Food On Demand to cover it all.

What I Found in Denver

As previously mentioned here, I flew out to Denver last week to check out Franchise Expo West in its new, mile-high home. Foot traffic at the show was slow, but I enjoyed exploring the city’s excellent downtown while catching up with industry contacts and meeting some new franchise friends.

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Promotion: Genius or Flop?

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Ann Arbor thought it had a great deal on the docket for University of Michigan football fans. For every point the Michigan football team scored, guests were able to get 1 percent off their check. It was a fun, creative idea until the Wolverines actually took the field and dominated the Scarlett Knights 78-0 last Saturday.

Design Is Secret Weapon for Growth-Minded Franchises

For a story about how architecture can help franchise brands expand, we peeked at the drawing board of Greg Terry, design director at Studio Four Design in Knoxville, Tennessee. He offers these design tips, with more to come in next month’s issue.

Grandson of Founder Criticizes CKE With Poison Pen

The poison pen of Jason LeVecke is rattling management’s cage at CKE Restaurants, the California-based franchisor of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants.

Going Where My Feet Can Take Me

With this week’s upcoming Franchise Expo West in Denver, I’m packing my bags and building an itinerary to see the best sights in the Mile High City. The one requirement? I’m only going where my feet and public transit can take me. Surprisingly, in such a transit-friendly town, this gives me a lot of options.

Best Performers in This Year’s Franchise Times Top 200+

In a year with stunning sales drops at some of franchising’s largest brands, it’s equally notable how many brands posted excellent sales growth numbers. Take RE/MAX, for example, which increased its year-over-year sales by 13 percent and moved from No. 11 to No. 8 on our exclusive annual ranking of the largest U.S.-based franchise companies.

Belski Picks Best Debate Stocks on Economics & Politics Panel

As we enter presidential debate season, there are four stocks everyone should own, believes Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets, who spoke on an “Economics & Politics” panel in Minneapolis last week.

Robots Handle Fed Cash, but a Real Person's at the Top

Business reporters are often told to follow the money, so our edit team decided to do just that when we visited the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis last week. Turns out, you would have to be a robot to actually get your hands on any of that dough, but new President Neel Kashkari has a human touch.

Restaurant Finance Gathering to Draw Strategists, Dealmakers

A fountain out front and a font of capital inside, the Restaurant Finance and Development Conference is almost here, presented by our sister publication, the Restaurant Finance Monitor. It runs from November 14-16 at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

Watching a Potential Hotel Slowdown

Times are good in the hotel business, but for an industry that often pegs its future success on America’s GDP, anecdotal evidence suggests these roaring times in the hospitality business could be slowing down.

Americans Playing With Less Fun Money

Although I’ve tended toward a generally bullish attitude on our economic future in recent months, a pronounced slowdown in the restaurant category along with reports like this from the SBE Council suggest the American economic recovery is slowing, if not stalling nine years after the technical end of the Great Recession.

Cottman Man Draws on Celebrity Status for His Own Book

Cottman Transmission is shifting the adult coloring book trend back to children with the release of its new coloring and activities book starring none other than the Cottman Man.

Harvard Case Study Attracts BBX Capital to MOD

It’s not often a franchisor attracts a prospect by being the subject of a Harvard Business School case study, but that’s what happened for Seattle-based MOD Pizza. BBX Capital just signed on as a franchisee, with plans to develop 50 or more of the fast-casual pizza chain’s restaurants across central and southern Florida over the next seven years.

TOMS Shoes CEO Reflects on MOD Pizza's Mission

How do you sustain a mission-driven company as it grows in units and geography? I put this question to Jim Alling in an interview this week, for an upcoming story I’m doing about Seattle-based MOD Pizza, where Alling is an early investor and serves on the board.

Marriott-Starwood Merger a Go; More to Come?

With this week's news that Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood received antitrust approval in China, the two hotel giants are slated to become a combined entity on September 23. As the hotel business remains hot with sales growth across the board and a raft of hip, new flags, there’s an obvious question: Are more hotel weddings on the horizon?

International Adaptations in Franchising

There’s no topping the amazing adaptations cooked up by Mother Nature, but as an ever-growing flock of U.S.-based franchised brands expand overseas, I’m planning a deep-dive into international brand evolution at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in November.

A First-Timer at the IFA’s DC Fly-In

As a political junkie, I loved the chance to wander the halls of power surrounding the U.S. Capitol at this week’s IFA DC Fly-In. Aside from the fun of wandering around Capitol Hill, it was a clear demonstration that the International Franchise Association has learned how to appeal to its members in a less caustic manner.

Nunn to Lead Franchise Team at Chase

JPMorgan Chase recently announced that Clarence Nunn will join the firm to lead the continued middle market expansion strategy in the Southeast.

Healthcare Tops All Others in FT's Top 200+ Ranking

Here are a few things I learned about franchising while preparing the Franchise Times Top 200+ package: Healthcare franchising is booming, with systemwide sales for the industry segment up 14 percent, better than all 11 other segments.

IMC Bets On Healthcare With Right at Home Stake

RiseMark Brands, the parent company of Right at Home and IKOR, has a fresh infusion of capital now that Investors Management Corp. has invested in the Omaha-based senior care franchisor.

Mooyah Franchisee Assists Flood-Ravaged Louisiana Coast

After severe Louisiana flooding soaked or destroyed an estimated 40,000 homes, people and communities are struggling to recover from its devastating effects. The Baton Rouge Mooyah location, along with franchisee Chuck Kerr, has been stepping in to lend a hand in the wake of the disaster.

Burger 21’s Better Burgers Catching On

Do you stop and think about how good we have it in terms of food here in the 21st century? It’s somewhat crazy how much better the average new-concept restaurant is these days compared with 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Rather than a new take on Sysco’s greatest hits, so many of today’s are both excellent and creative. Even so, the world’s a cruel place and even well-intentioned, high-quality concepts will fail.

Tutor Doctor Settles Dispute With Attorney Kestenbaum

Tutor Doctor has settled its lawsuit that sought $20 million in damages from East Meadow, New York, attorney Harold Kestenbaum for $3 million, putting to rest allegations Kestenbaum failed to properly register the franchise in nine states.

Nature’s Table Expands as Americans Eat Healthier

It must be refreshing to be Rich Wagner these days. He’s the co-founder and senior vice president of Nature’s Table, a 68-unit healthier-eating fast-casual concept that started in Florida back in 1977. Now, after 39 years, the concept is finally growing quickly as Americans are generally starting to favor healthier and more transparent restaurants.