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About-face for Juice it Up operator

When U.S. Marines veteran Willie Smith treated his employees at Juice it Up like, well, Marines, he washed out. ‘They all had attitudes,’ he says. So he changed his way of thinking.

Capriotti’s uses big-time connections to grow

Nine years after buying the brand, CEO Ashley Morris networked his way to what he and his new partners believe will be a growth spurt. He wants to guard against putting one on every corner, though, because by doing so ‘you destroy the economic model.’

Ace Actively Fueling Store Growth

Ace Hardware is a sleeper in the franchise world—much bigger than many people would suspect with nearly $15 billion in annual global sales, nearly 4,500 U.S. locations and a No. 6 ranking in the Franchise Times Top 200+ list of the largest franchisors. As it seeks to fuel additional growth, Ace announced a new financing program to help owners scale up.

Lawsuit a drag on Fresh Healthy plan

Fresh Healthy Vending founder Nick Yates has been pushing hard to pivot his young franchise away from selling healthier-snack machines and into robotic frozen yogurt dispensers. But a recent million-dollar judgment against the company complicates plans for the new venture, which he has organized under a new umbrella name, GenerationNext Franchise Brands.

'You’ve got to stand up,’ says Great Harvest boss, after shot at Panera

Can a franchise with under 200 stores, Great Harvest Bread Co., derail the sale of the mighty Panera Bread, at 2,000 stores and counting, to JAB Holding Co., the German conglomerate that offered $7.5 billion or $315 a share in April?

Kuwait’s Gourmania stretches Ruby Tuesday

There’s nothing casual about Gourmania International’s approach to expanding Ruby Tuesday’s presence throughout the Middle East and North Africa, where the Kuwait-based master franchisee says family dining is still ‘a big hit.’

Brides find their own way to prep for ‘I do’

As someone who has witnessed her unfair share of raunchy bachelorette parties traipsing around the Mall of America and other locales (is it really in good taste to ask strangers for money to remove Life Savers stapled to your shirt?), I applaud companies creating fun environments for young women celebrating their upcoming nuptials.

What romance novels, KFC and moms have in common

KFC cooked up something special in May: its first romance novella titled “Tender Wings of Desire” as a thank-you to all the moms.

Blast & Brew wants pour-it-yourselfers

Build-it-yourself Neapolitan pizza and burgers, a wall of pour-it-yourself craft beer with “beer geniuses” recommending ideal pairings, an in-store experience designed to evoke social media posts, a real estate strategy focused on urban locations and brand positioning splitting the difference between casual and fast-casual—California-based Blast & Brew is an upstart pizza-focused franchise hitting more than a few millennial buzzwords.

A&W’s CEO On Growing a 98-year-old Brand

Riding in the car with A&W CEO Kevin Bazner on our way to a third-generation restaurant in Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to ask more questions than any gracious source should be subjected to. We talked about jazzing up the menu, shifting the marketing message and bolstering the profits of a 98-year-old brand.

Which Wich fights ‘sea of sameness’

After 13 years in the sandwich business, founder Jeff Sinelli just couldn’t come up with yet another good name for yet another turkey sandwich. So he turned to a new source of inspiration—music—and ended up holding a jam session in the Casa del Mar hotel in Santa Monica with a couple of hit-makers.

PuroClean boss knows his disasters

Here’s something to think about the next time you’re lying in bed counting sheep: One in 55 homes will experience water damage and one in 250 will be damaged by a fire. If these actuarial stats don’t lull you to sleep, they might get your gears turning about the business opportunities to be had in the disaster mitigation biz.

Signal 88 locking down security biz

Just about every new business claims to be the Uber of whatever or the disruptor of an entire industry.

Four Foods rolls out Little Caesars

The duo behind Utah-based Four Foods Group, Shauna and Andrew Smith, are heading south with a new project after purchasing 48 restaurants from Bravo Food Service. Now they’re aiming for 100 Little Caesars in Alabama with their novel profit- and equity-sharing model they used in the Kneader’s Bakery & Café system.

Dwyer launches Neighborly to fix cross-sales

A sad statistic—only 2 percent of customers had used more than one of the 13 service franchises owned by Dwyer Group—has led to the launch of a new umbrella company, called Neighborly.

From delivery boy to Hungry Howie’s chief exec

Steven Jackson is reinventing a 550-unit pizza chain to take on the biggest players. It’s been a long journey, from shocking family when he gave up a ‘job-for-life’ at Ford, to nicknaming his boss Howard (or ‘Howie’) Hughes.

Jumping into four fitness franchises

Claiming to be America’s only mobile personal training concept of its type, GYMGUYZ finished 2016 with 100 open franchises in 18 states. It had just 20 franchised units in 2015. “We’ve grown quickly because of brand awareness and strong social media interaction with customers,’’ says founder and CEO Josh York. “GYMGUYZ comes where clients are for training.”

Choice, Hilton innovate during expansion cycle

In March, Choice Hotels announced a significant expansion for its Cambria brand, with 14 planned hotel openings in 2017 and 18 groundbreakings. For a brand with only 28 current units, it was a statement of confidence for both Cambria and the booming hotel industry as a whole.

McDonald's Ex-Boss Scoops Up PizzaRev, BWW Is Out

PizzaRev has landed a majority investor, and it’s a big name—Cleveland Avenue based in Chicago, a new venture capital firm founded in January by Don Thompson, McDonald’s former CEO who retired from the Golden Arches in March 2015.

Monroe Moxness Berg Dynamo Randy Evans Loses Battle with Cancer

Randy Evans, a dynamic restaurant and retail lawyer, lost his battle with cancer and died May 23.

Tiered VetFran roster aims to help veterans choose

A new, starred system for members of VetFran is designed to give military veterans more information about each franchise. Size of discount, years in business, number of units and more are part of the mix. Consider it a quick checklist to ease due diligence.

How to slim Uncle Sam’s tax share

We all know by now that saving as much as possible on taxes is “yuuugely” smart. But now that President Trump’s tax plan is slowly coming together, it’s time to ponder how to take advantage of what will likely be a better situation for franchisees.

Tips to do hiring more like the pros

If you were bad at hiring new employees, would you admit it? Conceding this point wouldn’t be easy for anyone repeatedly taking chunks out of their busy weeks to post applications, sift through an unpredictable sea of candidates, pore over generic resumes and line up a series of interviews that, without the proper vetting skills, can be no better than a coin flip at finding long-term, high-quality employees who are worth the effort.

Switches at top for Jackson Hewitt

Jackson Hewitt, with over 6,000 franchised tax preparation centers, is now owned by Bayside Capital. The company operates from individual tax centers and from over 3,000 tax preparation kiosks in Walmart stores. These kiosks, called national account locations, may be operated by franchisees or Jackson Hewitt corporate.

Franchising could be the rescue of malls

It’s hard to keep track of all the countless closures and bankruptcies infecting the commercial retail world these days as venerable brands like Macy’s, Sears, Ruby Tuesday, JCPenney, The Limited, Gander Mountain, Applebee’s, Payless, Outback and others experience high-profile closures, bankruptcies and general turmoil.

Forget the Feds—NYC Makes Counting Calories Mandatory

How long will it take on the treadmill to work off that burger and fries? In New York City, restaurants must begin to disclose now the number of calories in their menu items. That’s so even though the rest of the nation got a reprieve earlier this month when federal disclosure rules were postponed until May 7 next year.

For every query, big data has the answer

Big data, analytics and the Internet of Things are creeping into all aspects of business operations these days from staffing and inventory management to real estate and social media strategy. Many franchisors are finding it is time to jump on the trend or risk getting left behind.

Country Profile displays Vietnam at a glance

The five-pointed star represents the five elements of the populace—peasants, workers, intellectuals, traders and soldiers—that unite to build socialism. Red symbolizes revolution and blood.

No ‘disjointed’ growth for Church’s Chicken

For a brand competing against the likes of McDonald’s and KFC in international expansion, Church’s Chicken knows it can’t contend with their sheer size. Instead, the brand is driven to be both smart and flexible as it’s ramped up its international growth in recent years.

Uncertainty Rules as Restaurant Industry Assesses Trump Admin.

Speaking today during the session, “The First 100 Days of Trump: What it Means for You,” Cicely Simpson, executive vice president of policy and government affairs for the National Restaurant Association, noted a high level of uncertainty remains as Congress continues its focus on the repeal and replacement of Obamacare while “all of those other promises from the campaign, they have not been touched.”

Tactics to shorten the learning curve, in Living Large

Watermill Express says multiple corporate locations means franchisees are never guinea pigs. At Spray-Net, a walk-through for the first few jobs helps new owners. Blink relies on corporate-certified training clubs.

Exhilarating change, 10 years later, as China eyes pragmatic tomorrow

Author’s note: Ten years ago, I went to China on behalf of the International Franchise Association to seek to persuade the government to liberalize its rigid franchise regulations. My colleague Tao Xu and I were fortunate enough to be successful in that mission. Recently there was an event marking that anniversary, and Tao was there to file this report.

Are Three Brands Better Than One? JAB Hopes So

In the heart of Wells Fargo Tower in downtown Minneapolis sits a trend that’s been largely abandoned—the tri-brand restaurant. The Coffee & Bagels operating company, a Caribou and Einstein Bros. Bagels mashup under JAB Holding Company, has teamed up with Argo Tea to develop tri-branded units throughout Minnesota.

Lessons from ‘The Founder’: What all of us can learn from Ray Kroc

If you have a vested interest in franchising, you’ve likely already seen John Lee Hancock’s “The Founder.” What began as a small-town operation in 1948 has since grown to more than 30,000 restaurants worldwide, making McDonald’s the poster child for effective franchise development.

Malls still work for A&W operator, plus Lighthouse and Smoothie King moves

“Holy crap,” exclaims A&W franchisee Linda Mulder in mock surprise, having been asked to recall her family’s long history with A&W. Mulder was just 12 when she began pouring root beer and serving hot dogs. Her dad, a restaurant vendor, had partnered with a local A&W franchisee in Lansing, Michigan, eventually buying him out.

Snap Fitness signs master franchise agreement for Indonesia

Snap Fitness continues its dynamic global expansion with the announcement of a master franchise agreement for Indonesia, where it will begin operating later in 2017.

And Now, From the 'Full Employment for Lawyers' File...

“The franchise world has watched joint employment cases with everything from concern to terror,” declared Heather Perkins, an attorney with Faegre Baker Daniels in Denver at the International Franchise Association’s Legal Symposium May 9, and she proceeded to update the audience about two key cases with conflicting outcomes.

There's No Such Thing as a Free Blog Post—Disclose It

If you provide free clothes or free video games in return for blog posts from customers, do you have to disclose it? The Federal Trade Commission says yes. That’s according to a panel of attorneys who discussed social media strategies at the International Franchise Association’s Legal Symposium in early May.


Statistics for the first third of the year were not great for restaurants, and while there was a slight rebound from 2016, the industry is still under heavy pressure.

Executive Ladder

ApplePie Capital has been steadily growing as an online marketplace for franchise loans since its founding in 2014. Still, the company felt the need to acquire an executive with significant exposure to the franchise industry.

Star power at KISS and FT that also puts in the work

I’ll date myself here: The rock band KISS was well into its stardom when my peers began to put KISS posters on the inside of their school lockers. I have to say, back then I was more of an Eagles girl myself, not really getting into the metallic nature of the group.

The kiss-off column: My last KISS memoir, unless there’s a book in it

The afternoon the Beatles landed in the U.S., I was lying in my parents’ bed with the shades drawn. Both retinas were scratched from leaving my hard contacts in too long and taking them out inadequately. I was listening to the Fab Four’s antics on the radio, blinded by the light (I was not, however, wrapped up like a douche.*)

Talking Millennial Myths at the NRA Show

If we’re to believe the prevailing narrative, millennials are mostly a generation of rather lazy, self-involved, over-parented people struggling to integrate themselves into adulthood and spending most of their time staring at their smartphones. They want information handed to them in neat little boxes—and more pictures, please—and hey, if you want to reward them for their behavior, even better.

Golden Corral rolling out brunch nationwide, starting May 22

Beginning on Monday, May 22, Golden Corral will introduce its new 7-Day Brunch menu, serving brunch from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every day.

From Cigar Box to Acquisition, PostNet Sells to MBE

Back in the day, Steven Greenbaum, then age 21, operated his independent pack-and-ship business “out of a cigar box” and with “bathroom scales,” as he told Franchise Times in 2008. This week Greenbaum sold PostNet, the franchise system he co-founded in 1992 that today has 660 franchise locations in nine countries, to MBE Worldwide.

Good News: ‘Zors Providing Better Financial Info

Like any investment, franchising is a gamble for those considering putting their money on the line. To that end, we encourage all players in the industry to disclose as much financial information as possible. A new report by FRANdata suggests franchisors are getting the hint.

Restaurant Trend Hunting in NYC

Sometimes it’s a dirty job here at Franchise Times, like my current advance work to explore the latest restaurant trends while I’m in New York City next month for the annual International Franchise Expo at the Javits Center.

Mosquito Joe Takes on Malarial Mosquitos in Africa

We all know the annoying buzz of a mosquito stuck in our bedroom. To most Americans, it’s a nuisance, but for families across Africa, it portends one of the deadliest diseases known to man: malaria.

Pet Supplies Plus hits 400 location milestone

Nearly three decades after first setting up shop in suburban Detroit, America’s fastest-growing pet store is set to open up its 400th store this May in Coconut Creek, Fla.

Massage Envy Rolling Out New Services and Remodel

The largest massage concept in the U.S. will be undergoing a major, company-wide facelift. Last week, Massage Envy announced plans to remodel more than 700 of its franchised locations, alongside a plan to increase its product offerings to become a total body care service.