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Is your city resilient? The Urbane Franchisor suggests a check

Business owners and operators rightly think of themselves as a resilient bunch, generally ready for anything and unfazed by the unexpected. But sometimes problems are bigger than any individual or company, as we starkly witnessed while two U.S. states buckled from simultaneous natural disasters, and then Puerto Rico was battered by Hurricane Maria.

Most Franchises Struggle to Grow, but Then There’s the 20%

We routinely write about young franchise concepts because everybody likes to know what’s new in franchising, but a study released today by Franchise Grade shows how long the odds are for those so-called emerging brands. Just over 30 percent of brands that started four years ago had one or fewer locations, the study said.

Two tax tips, often overlooked, may be worth the work

Everyone loves tax time, so certainly business owners know their deductions, allocations, recaptures and exclusions inside and out, right? Here are a couple of tax considerations that are easy to overlook.

UK, Malaysia operators freshen up Wingstop

Rick Ross catches the ear of a United Kingdom operator, who forms Lemon Pepper Holdings in homage to the rapper. In Malaysia, meanwhile, a new developer moves away from counter service to appeal to local customers.

Country Profile: Hunting for growth in Argentina

The sky blue and white bands represent the clear skies and snow of the Andes, while the yellow sun symbol with a human face commemorates the appearance of the sun through cloudy skies on May 25, 1810, during the first mass demonstration in favor of independence.

Start early to safeguard intellectual property, advise Living Large subjects

Patents help ensure proprietary technology is secure at Watermill Express and Spray-Net. For Blink Fitness, being aggressive about trademark infringement is important, especially as the brand continues to grow.

In the age of Twitter, consider three cautionary tales with a viral theme

Imagine if two of your Motel 6 hotels in Phoenix were the sites of at least 20 arrests by Immigration & Customs Enforcement or ICE, between February and August this year, as the Phoenix New Times reported in September.

Franchising’s success around world draws attention—and legal proposals

Editor’s note: Philip Zeidman, our regular columnist, is away and his colleague Tao Xu is filing this and the next report. By the time you read this column, I will have traveled to Sydney, Australia, for the International Bar Association’s annual conference.

Battle of the heavyweights: Here’s what happens when SEO fights PPC

When it comes to franchise lead generation, two heavyweights dominate the ring. In one corner looms search engine optimization (SEO)—an opponent who fatigues the competition with stamina and endurance. And in the other, we have pay-per-click advertising (PPC)—the knock-out artist known to deliver power punches in the early rounds.

265 restaurants, 3 brands, 9 states—a peek inside Shawn Eby’s playbook

Shawn Eby, 48, brims with confidence about his baby—Goalz Restaurant Group, a franchise company he formed last February. Eby, a veteran of Dairy Queen, Burger King, Arby’s and Taco Johns, is counting on employees he’s met along the way to help him open 265 fast-food restaurants across three brands and nine states, all within five years.

Adieu to everyone’s fave writer, including my dad’s

When you’re a kid and you just finished your seventh grade band concert, you expect your parents to tell you how great the performance was. Even if the band concert was painful to most within earshot. Sometimes that’s their job, to praise you when you try your best, even though you might come up short performance-wise to the guy next to you. I wouldn’t say that my parents over-complimented me, as is society’s complaint of the baby boomers’ treatment of their millennial offspring. But they were enthusiastic, whether it be that band concert or my marching with my baton in the July Fourth parade.


Activist investors won 131 board seats last year. While 2017 won’t be quite as active as that, public companies have already spent $43 billion on proxy contests.

Executive Ladder

As the new VP of marketing at Pita Pit, Doug Reifschneider finds himself in a familiar place even though he and his wife moved nearly 2,700 miles from Jacksonville, Florida, to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. After spending 11 years in the same role at Firehouse Subs, he’s once again building a marketing team almost from the ground up as Pita Pit accelerates its recent growth streak.

I’m bidding farewell before I become a caricature of myself—hey, wait...

A lifetime ago I was the editor of a newsletter on franchising. On my first day the owner gave me a list of people in the industry to call, saying they would be happy to get me up to speed on franchising. That list included Neal (perhaps Neil, it’s been awhile) Simon, David Kaufmann, Phil Zeidman and Michael Seid. Mort Aronson, who was the general counsel at Holiday Inn at the time, was another early contact, as was Joyce Mazero. All but one were attorneys and so much of my early franchise education was legal and pro-franchisor.

More of the Multi-unit News You Need to Know

Twice a month I’m plucking the key details from dozens of multi-unit development agreements to give you everything you need to know to stay informed and, of course, keep an eye on what the competition is doing.

Hand & Stone Massage CEO Links Skincare to Sales Growth

Though it’s smaller in unit count by nearly 900 than the industry giant that is Massage Envy, Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa leads the segment in sales growth percentage for 2016.

Muscle Maker Jumps On Reg A+ Bandwagon

T-shirts and pop-up ads are among the tools Muscle Maker Grill is using to promote its upcoming initial public offering via a new option known as Reg A+, said Bob Morgan, CEO of the franchised restaurant chain seeking just under $20 million. Regulation A+, passed as part of the JOBS Act in 2016, allows any qualified investor to buy shares in an IPO, in the past something that was effectively reserved for institutions and high-rolling insiders.

Goodbye (Public) Ruby Tuesday

NRD Capital is set to take Ruby Tuesday private in a deal that values the storied casual diner at $335 million.

Culver's Founder Took Long Path to Roark Buy

Craig Culver inked a deal last Friday with Roark Capital, the private equity firm that bought a minority stake in the 640-unit Culver’s chain, but it’s a move Culver had resisted for years.

Employees Just Want to Belong, Dwyer COO Says

Everybody is talking about the labor shortage these days, and one of the most respected names in franchising, Mary Kennedy Thompson of the Dwyer Group, has several astute things to say on the topic as well as research to back it up.

Fitlife Wants Bigger Piece of Prepared Meals Pie

Here’s the latest entry on the prepared meal scene—Tampa-based Fitlife Foods, which operates stores that sell nothing but already cooked meals ready for customers to pick up or to have delivered. Fitlife spent more than six years improving its business model, and is now rolling out a franchise program in Florida.

‘On the Leading Edge,’ Kiddie Academy Climbs Franchise Times Top 200+ Rankings

Millions of parents need child care and increasingly, as our recently released Franchise Times Top 200+ segment numbers show, they want that care to include education. It’s double-digit sales increases all around for this year’s top three early education and care provider concepts, with Kiddie Academy leading the way.

Consistency, not Magic, Propels Jersey Mike’s Up the Franchise Times Top 200+

Jersey Mike's jumps 14 spots to No. 102 on our annual ranking, and while the company’s president says he wishes he could point to one defining move Jersey Mike’s made last year to boost sales, the reason for the notable growth is much more basic.

Conserva Irrigation Expands With New Deals

I interview a lot of business people about countless interesting companies in franchising, but every now and then one really sticks with me and gets my gears turning. The latest such example is Conserva Irrigation, a MN-based brand under the Outdoor Living portfolio that bills itself as the only national outdoor irrigation company founded on the concept of water conservation.

Power Trio Backs DMK Burger Bar

Michael Kornick is not a very good person to talk to when you’re hungry and stuck in the office. He’s a five-time James Beard-nominated chef and one of three partners rolling out a franchising program for DMK Burger Bar, and he described the burger pictured nearby, along with the favorites of his partners’, in mouth-watering and excruciating detail one day this week, at lunchtime.

Research Complete, Rave Tests New Ideas

Scott Crane joined Dallas-based Rave Restaurant Group as CEO in January, after the parent company of Pie Five Pizza and Pizza Inn had turned in some tough quarters and the former CEO was gone. Several months of research have led to some promising tests, especially of delivery at Pie Five.

Planet Fitness Rises in the Franchise Times Top 200+ Ranks

For the big box, value-priced gym concept, it’s a leap President and CFO Dorvin Lively attributes to three factors: brand positioning, franchisees’ growth and attracting members.

Gen Z Dipping Its Toes Into Home Buying

Who’s sick of reading about millennials? I am, and I am one, albeit on the crustier end of the scale. A new report from Zillow shows that Generation Z, those born between 1995 and 2010, are beginning to enter the housing market. It’s time to learn about these little tikes, and start drafting plans with their interests in mind.

Your Guide to 2017's Top 200+

Now in its 19th year, 2017’s Top 200+ is bigger than ever before, with additional coverage and analysis throughout the Franchise Times website and in our October issue.

Subway’s CEO Leads Lineup of Top 200+ Interviews

“It is our strategic plan to improve every consumer touch point,” says Suzanne Greco, the CEO of Subway and sister of its late founder, Fred DeLuca, in an exclusive interview with Franchise Times’ contributor Julie Bennett, available today in print and online. She is one of four CEOs profiled in the Franchise Times Top 200+ package, our annual ranking of the 500 largest franchise brands by global sales.

CEO Dave Long On Orangetheory’s Explosive Growth

Fueled by franchisee development and a high-intensity, group interval training model that’s attracted tens of thousands of members, Orangetheory Fitness rocketed to No. 153 on the Franchise Times Top 200+, our exclusive ranking of the 500 largest franchises.

Monster Tree Service Branching Out

Did you know that almost everything is franchised? It’s true, including tree removal services. From my own experience as a new homeowner, I know how much money can be made in this field. At Pennsylvania-based Monster Tree Service, recent growth has been coming at a breakneck pace—with expectations of growing the system 30 percent by the end of 2017.

Franchising Deserves a Stake in Urban Planning

I’ve passed a milestone I’m quietly celebrating on this fine fall day. My first-ever magazine column, The Urbane Franchisor, is going strong after a year and a half in the pages of Franchise Times. Now more than ever, I’m convinced the franchise industry has much to gain by learning about modern trends in urban planning.

Are Brand Events the Next Big Thing?

After writing a story about Tough Mudder transitioning from (somewhat crazy) endurance races into low-cost exercise gyms, I wondered what other brands might find value in creating an in-person event.

Operator Adds 'No Buy' Push to Complaint Against Dunkin'

A franchisee claiming widespread discrimination against African-American women by Dunkin’ Donuts added a second punch to her lawsuit filed today: a coupon saying “Dunkin’ Discriminates” and urging people not to buy Dunkin’ products, which she plans to circulate on social media. Dunkin' Brands "categorically denies" the allegations of discrimination.

Dunkin’ Donuts coffee now available for Amtrak travelers

With the expanded partnership, Dunkin’ Donuts’ signature hot coffee will be available to nearly 12 million customers who ride Northeast Regional and Acela Express services each year.

Hyatt Selects Mark Vondrasek as its new executive vice president

Hyatt Hotels Corporation (NYSE: H) today announced the selection of Mark Vondrasek as executive vice president, global head of loyalty & new business platforms, reporting to Mark Hoplamazian, president and chief executive officer.

Juice It Up! reports seventh consecutive growth quarter

Juice It Up!, one of the nation’s leading raw juice bar and hand-crafted smoothie franchises, announced that system-wide third quarter sales increased four percent over quarter three of 2016, and year-to-date are up five percent.

Ranking the biggest brands in franchising

The 10 largest franchise brands roared back in 2016 after losing sales the prior year for the first time in the history of the Franchise Times Top 200+.

Exclusive interview with Subway CEO Suzanne Greco

Suzanne Greco was seven years old when her big brother, Fred DeLuca, opened what became the first Subway restaurant in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1965. “I stayed in the background while everyone else was working,” Greco said, “but I aspired to be a worker, too. Fred and our mother gave me little chores, like sweeping the floor and drying dishes.”

The newcomer: BoConcept makes U.S. push

Judging on appearances, everything looks better in Scandinavia—the peaceful lifestyle, colorful cottages, lush fjords, sleek Volvos wagons and, of course, the breathtaking, gorgeous furniture that elevates daily living to an art form. It’s a look that’s becoming more common, showing up everywhere from apparel to automobiles.

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.