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Training New Drivers When Schools Won't

Things have changed since most of us received our driver education training during our teenage years. What used to be within the purview of brave school teachers has now been passed off to the private sector as many school systems have cut funding for in-school driver’s ed courses. As this trend spread throughout the United States, Washington-based 911 Driving School has profited and expanded to fill the void.

Franchise Exec Takes Unexpected Medical Detour While On the Road

One of the best decisions Marc Mushkin made in his lengthy career in international franchising is not putting the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on his hotel door in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).

Domino’s Introduces Pizza Wedding Registry

Just weeks after my Franchise Times cover story on Domino's, the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based pizza giant has outdone itself with a pizza wedding registry. Seriously.

Following big gains, Captain D’s expects strong 2017

It was another terrific year for seafood franchising giant Captain D’s, as the company obtained a record-high systemwide AUV in 2016. It saw fourth quarter system wide sales increase 1.3 percent, along with a 2.3 percent systemwide same-store sales increase over the year. This marks six consecutive years of sales growth for the Nashville-based company.

Diversity on Display at IFA

Two days into my third trip to the IFA annual convention in Las Vegas, I’ve once again seen the remarkable diversity representative of the amazing, global shifts underway in franchising. And I’m not just saying that because it was part of my presentation on the first day.

At the Movies: 'The Founder' Is Made for Followers of Franchising

Restaurants are said to be a pennies business, so it was only fitting that when the Ray Kroc character in the film, 'The Founder,' meets his future wife, Joan, playing the organ at a fine-dining restaurant in St. Paul, he joins the attractive blonde at the keyboard to lustfully sing 'Pennies From Heaven.'

Forget Overtime; Undertime Is Real Villain, Anytime Fitness Says

Franchise operators spend a lot of time worrying about overtime, but the real villain in their businesses is undertime—the amount of money employers pay for disengaged workers who are present only physically. That’s advice from the kilt-wearing Dave Mortensen and Chuck Runyon, co-founders of Anytime Fitness, who gave a lively keynote address today at the IFA's annual convention.

There's Work to Do, IFA Chair Urges Convention Attendees

“It took 50 years to create this misperception about franchising. It will not be undone in 50 weeks,” declared Aziz Hashim, chair of the International Franchise Association board of directors, in the opening general session of its annual convention in Las Vegas yesterday.

Tim Hortons expanding its North American footprint to Mexico

Last week, Restaurant Brands International (NYSE: QSR) announced its brand, Tim Hortons, would expand into Mexico. The company says it will form a master franchise joint venture with an unidentified group of investors.

Advice Abounds for Would-Be Owners in Zor Awards Package

How do top-performing operators select the franchise brands that are right for them? We’re getting an earful on the topic, from multiple franchisees we’re featuring in our upcoming Franchise Times Zor Awards package, which will identify the best franchises to buy in each of 10 categories, to be published in March.

Coffee Pro Pivots to Building Dog Utopias

Neil Gill is the president and CEO of Phoenix-based Dogtopia, and is very enthusiastic about the business, but comes from Praise International, a subsidiary of Gloria Jeans Coffees where he helped turnaround and reenergize the brand in North America. He’s hoping to pull the same old tricks in the franchised dog space.

10 Win Prestigious FT Dealmakers Awards

Franchise Times today announces winners of the 2017 Franchise Times Dealmakers awards, the fifth annual project recognizing the boldest players driving mergers and acquisitions in franchising.

‘Simple’ Wingstop opens 1,000th location

Dallas-based Wingstop has opened location No. 1,000, a major milestone for a brand defined by its simplicity.

Arby's CEO on Record Sales, Maintaining Growth in QSR

Arby’s CEO Paul Brown announced record systemwide sales of more than $3.6 billion, a 25% increase in AUVs and 3.8% same-store sales growth—more than double the growth rate of the QSR category. Those numbers represent 25 consecutive quarters of of same-store sales growth and 11 consecutive quarters of transaction growth for the Atlanta-based brand.

CoreLife Lands Experienced Michigan Operator as First 'Zee

A long-standing relationship with Larry Wilson, founder of CoreLife Eatery, convinced Stevensville, Michigan-based operator Joyce Lunsford to sign on as the healthy restaurant brand’s first franchisee—that and a taste of beet lemonade, something Lunsford thought she’d hate.

Amazing Lash Operators Don't Hesitate to Enlist Family

If you think your holiday gatherings with family can be fraught, consider John and Janet Mok, Amazing Lash Studio franchisees in New Jersey who have convinced all four of John’s siblings to buy into the franchise, as well. “We’re either heroes or goats, right?” says John with a laugh.

Capriotti’s Founder Lois Margolet Passes

Lois Margolet, founder of Las Vegas-based Capriotti’s Hand Crafted Sandwiches, passed away on Thursday following a battle with lung cancer. She was 68.

Former NFL Linebacker, Mooyah ‘Zee Shares Franchise Experience

“Just like in football, coaches move, so you can’t pick a franchise just for the people, the leadership; you pick it for the model,” said Bradie James, speaking during Franchise Expo South in Dallas. James, a multi-unit franchisee of Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes, is also the company’s director of brand engagement.

Can Taco Bell Actually Win Market Share in China?

Yesterday Yum China announced the grand opening of a new Taco Bell in Shanghai, the chain’s first location in China after a decade-long absence. With a potential customer base of 1.3 billion, Yum Brands and Taco Bell seem excited about the likelihood of a big expansion in China.

Famous Toastery says ‘happy holidays’ with artful pancakes

Famous Toastery opted not to put too many guardrails on a holiday social media campaign, instead having a little fun with a hypnotizing pancake artist.

'Idea Guy' Founder Sells Pizza Patron, Pivots to What's Next

Antonio Swad, founder of Dallas-based Pizza Patron and Wingstop, is on to a new venture after selling this week Pizza Patron to the brand's largest franchisee, Charles Loflin of San Antonio.

Dueling Surveys Blast, Praise Labor Nominee Puzder

The headlines this week were negative for Andy Puzder, Trump’s choice for secretary of labor and CEO of CKE Restaurants—so much so that the International Franchise Association commissioned a survey of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s employees to counteract a damning one released Tuesday by Puzder foes.

Drew Brees Aims to Score With Dunkin’ Donuts

As speculation mounts about how long Drew Brees will continue as quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, it’s becoming clearer that one of the most famous and talented players in the NFL has teed himself up to be a major player in the franchise world for many seasons to come. Adding to his growing empire of Jimmy John’s and Walk-On’s restaurants, he is set to build 69 new Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in Louisiana.

How the Housing Market in India Differs From U.S.

Real estate in India is like football in the U.S., says Ramnik Chopra, managing director and lead investor in Coldwell Banker India. He’s not saying it’s a game, only that homeowners are fanatical scorekeepers. “Everyone wants to know the price of their property” and every weekend they’re checking the newspapers for the stats, he says.

Retail, Labor Indicators Looking Good

As the numbers begin trickling in after the cash registers cool down from the holidays, initial reports suggest it was a good Christmas for U.S. retailers in general, with First Data reporting a 4.7 percent year-over-year increase in retail sales during the season as part of its SpendTrend Holiday Season numbers.

Alexius Aims to Upend Traditional Legal Billing

Kevin Hein spent 20 years in traditional law firms, most recently at Faegre Baker Daniels in Denver specializing in franchise law, but he’s now joined with an upstart firm called Alexius that provides defined legal services for a fixed fee rather than all-encompassing work for the almighty billable hour.

Heavyweights Tell How to Avoid 'Unforced Errors'

Amit Pamecha and Joe Bourdow have seen it all in franchising, mistakes and triumphs alike, and have now joined with two other partners to form Premier Franchise Advisors. Their goal is to help franchises and private equity firms avoid the former and achieve the latter. FT asked them to share lessons learned.

Wendy’s Sassy Twitter Clash

That sassy red-head Wendy has been showing her frosty side on social media, as the legacy hamburger chain’s Twitter account has become the subject of mass media articles in recent days.

Cashing in On Backyard Dirty Work

Bryan Weinstein is the founder and CEO of Bar-B-Clean, a California-based grill cleaning business whose franchisees encounter more gross stuff than I could find in the darkest recesses of the Franchise Times company refrigerator.

Franchise Times Top 10 Stories of 2016

As we move into 2017, it’s time for a little year in review. It’s been another strong year at Franchise Times, and the editorial content here was booming with features, special projects, and franchise news items.

Inside the Wide-Sweeping Chalak Mitra Group

Chalak Mita Group Managing Director Pushpak Patel gives a glimpse inside the well-diversified company built on the trust between best friends at the 2016 Restaurant Finance & Development Conference. The group is growing every which way from QSR to hotels and even a Jamaican cricket team.

M&A Update: The Market Bears What the Market Bears

Partner and attorney Derek Ladgenski of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP discusses the “active” M&A market at the 2016 and his outlook for 2017 at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference. And what’s going to happen when interest rates ticket up? Ladgensky says nobody really knows, “all you can do is get ready.”

Area Director and Multi-Unit Owner Bill Mapes Talks Jersey Mike’s

Area director and multi-unit franchisee Bill Mapes discusses what kind of franchisee Jersey Mike’s is looking for, and how the company looks for people who fit the company values before they’re in the system.

Right-Sized Rent Metrics the 'Single Most Important Factor' for Restaurants

What can a restaurant do in this landlord’s market? Jim Haslem of CS Advisors has more than three decades of experience negotiating leases and seeing what works at restaurants. He explains how to get to the right rent metric at the 2016 Restaurant Finance & Development Conference.

BoeFly Webinar Tackles Issues Around New SBA Rule

All the gnashing of teeth over the SBA Registry rule change may be for naught, since the four points the SBA has pulled out into an addendum are best practices most franchisors are already doing. Or so said a panel of franchisors and lenders that discussed the rule change on a webinar today presented by BoeFly.

GPS Hospitality acquires 194 Burger King locations in Southeast

When a franchise operator announces 200% growth through a single deal, it’s generally a second location. At GPS Hospitality, it means nearly 200 additional restaurants.

GNC revamp looks to replace “old broken model”

Vitamin and supplements brand GNC Holdings announced last week that it will launch a bold new company revamp, closing all U.S. corporate stores on December 28. After adding a new pricing structure and tech enhancements, the company will reopen December 29 with the launch of One New GNC.

‘Authentic Feel’ Drives Concept Creation at The Briar Group

What started with a few Irish pubs in Boston has grown to become The Briar Group, a collection of 14 restaurant concepts ranging from casual bar to upscale dining. And as CEO Austin O’Connor tells Franchise Times’ Laura Michaels, location and authenticity are what drive growth.

Culinary Innovation, Franchisee Partners Key to Popeyes’ Growth

Ranked No. 46 on Franchise Times’ Top 200+, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen continues its expansion. And with about 90 percent of the growth coming from existing franchisees, “that speaks volumes about the strength of the company, the strength of the brand,” Director of Franchising Renee Lewis tells Franchise Times’ Laura Michaels.

When Selecting Tenants, the Management Team Matters, Says Spirit Realty Capital SVP

It’s a $10 billion real estate investment trust, but Spirit Realty Capital also sees itself as a capital provider to help franchisors and ‘zees grow their business, says April Ronchetti Little, senior vice president of acquisitions. That makes selecting tenants with strong management teams a priority.

Freddy's CEO Bill Simon Remembered for 'Steady Vision'

Bill Simon, co-founder, president and CEO of Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, age 61, died December 17 after a battle with cancer, the Wichita, Kansas-based company announced today. “He led the company through unparalleled growth with a steady vision, and encouraged everyone he encountered to maximize their potential,” the company said.

BurgerFi CEO Commits to Food Transparency

All-natural burgers, fries, sides and buns have become the new normal at North Palm Beach, Florida-based BurgerFi. Winograd talks supply chain challenges in sourcing better ingredients across its growing network.

Tony Roma’s Steakhouse COO Talks Casual-Dining Competition

With increase competition from grocery stores and fast-casual restaurants, Tony Roma’s Steakhouse COO Brad Smith on the concept’s recent rebranding aimed at luring millennial diners.

Large-Scale ‘Zee Bullish on Restaurant Market

Tom Kaiser talks with Roland Spongberg, president and CEO of WKS Restaurant Group is bullish on the restaurant market going forward, and expounds on his plans for adding 12 new restaurants in 2017.

Checking In on Famous Dave’s

Famous Dave’s, the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based barbecue chain, has struggled mightily in recent years as the casual dining segment has slowed and the company has cycled through a succession of CEOs and other top-level management.

Delivery's Changing the Game. Is Your Brand Ready?

Some brands are setting themselves up to be left out in the cold as more companies spring up to bring meals, groceries, clothes and other daily items right to the consumers, with no need to hop in the car to visit an actual storefront.

Tips From a Franchise Road Warrior On How to Be Grounded When You're in the Air

International travel always sounds glamorous, but it’s hard on the body and the mind (not to mention the spouse left with all the domestic work). Here are some tips from Raja Joshi of Golden Chick on how he survives trade missions and other trips abroad.

Dusting Off Another Franchise Trade Mission Adventure, This Time in Three Airports

Remember the old 'How many (fill in the blank) does it take to screw in a light bulb?' joke? I don’t know the answer to that one, but at the Mumbai airport it takes five workers to dust a light fixture. More on the franchise trade mission to India/Sri Lanka.

Marcato, Mick McGuire Again Urge Big Change at Buffalo Wild Wings

Earlier this week, Marcato Capital CEO Mick McGuire, sent another inflammatory statement to franchisees of Buffalo Wild Wings that, among other things, urged a radical increase from the company’s current 49 percent franchise standing.

Captain D’s Threads Needle Between New, Old Customers

Captain D’s has a new look, which will be complete by the end of 2017, and a new-ish line of grilled products, and Chief Development Officer Michael Arrowsmith describes the tricky business of appealing to new customers while keeping the old, with Franchise Times’ Beth Ewen.