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Survey Answers Some Key Third-party Delivery Questions

How the various third-party delivery providers stack up is a big question in the restaurant space. According to a new cache of data from mystery shopping and survey firm SeeLevel HX, things are fairly even in an ever-changing segment of the industry.

Strategic Buyers, Legacy Brands Looking Abroad

Sales are mediocre, traffic is down but some internationally minded restaurant groups are not worried. That’s because while there are challenges in the U.S. market, there is an incredible amount of opportunity abroad.

Tony Roma’s CEO Talks Expansion at RFDC

Since its April 13 deal with GEM Hospitality to bring Tony Roma’s to West Palm Beach, Florida, the brand has added new franchisees in Tennessee, Colorado and Idaho, growth CEO Bradley Scher says is a direct result of the brand transformation undertaken in 2016 with a complete overhaul of the restaurant atmosphere, service platform and menu following extensive consumer research.

CFO Role Is Not Like Yesterday’s, RFDC Panelists Say

Chief financial officers do much more today than pay the bills and make sure payroll goes out on time, said a panel of CFOs who opened the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference Monday in Las Vegas. “The role has become much more strategic over the last 10 years,” said Tony Laday, CFO of Fogo de Chao.

Third-Party Delivery No Longer Optional

Forget whatever you’re hearing about the tax bill, smaller-format locations or hot trends in M&A. There is one dominant trend in the restaurant world that everybody is paying attention to and it’s third-party delivery. This subject is everywhere on the agenda and in soda break conversations at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference. It’s almost as inescapable of blue suits, which are clearly in the running for second place.

What the Heck Is Securitization?

Securitization has been a hot topic for other industries in the past. But now, some of the biggest franchised brands are turning to securitization to finance their companies.

Bobby Flay Announces Franchise Plans for ‘Burger Palace’ Concept

“I’m really just a burger guy, that’s what I want to eat,” says Bobby Flay, speaking this morning at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas. Cheeseburgers are what he craves after a long night in the kitchen and are at the core of Bobby’s Burger Palace, which is poised for rapid expansion following Flay’s announcement today that he’s going to start franchising and licensing the fast-casual concept.

Founders Cite Highs, Lows of 3 Restaurant Brands

The founders of Walk-On's, Culver's and Toppers revealed some alternative names for their brands, on a panel today at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference.

Are Malls the New Four-Letter Word?

During the second day of RFDC in Las Vegas, Stephen Polanski from Buxton spoke all about the changing world of shopping malls and what that means for the restaurant and retail brands that are heavily invested in malls or curious about which centers are worth expanding into in this era of changing consumer tastes.

The Kids Are All Right, Toppers Founder Says

For any boomers or Gen X-ers who love to hate on the “kids today,” the founder of Toppers Pizza has a few words for you: knock it off. “I meet so many 20-year-olds in my business, and these people can do anything. They are special people,” Scott Gittrich told me in an interview today at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference.

Chicago Next as Wingstop Expands Delivery Test

Wingstop will continue its exclusive partnership with third-party delivery service DoorDash, said Charlie Morrison, CEO of the Dallas, Texas-based chicken wing franchise.

House Passes Bill to Roll Back Joint-employer Ruling

The Save Local Business Act, sponsored by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), passed by a vote of 242-181. No Republicans opposed the bill, and they were joined by eight Democrats: Reps. Ami Bera, Lou Correa, Jim Costa, Henry Cuellar, Stephanie Murphy, Scott Peters, Colin Peterson, and Kurt Schrader.

Regis Partners with Buxton on Consumer Analytics

Regis Corporation, the franchisor behind Supercuts, Cost Cutters, Pro Cuts, Roosters and many others in the haircare industry, announced an industry-exclusive agreement with LSMx, a Buxton local store marketing application, to beef up its marketing for company and franchise salons.

Shelly Sun Honored by Alma Mater

BrightStar Care CEO and Co-Founder Shelly Sun—arguably one of the nicest people in all of franchising—was recently named 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year by her alma mater, Haslam College of Business.

Person in Mirror May Be Emerging Franchisor's Worst Enemy

Most speakers urge their audiences to turn off their phones and focus on the presentation, but not Philip Schram. “Take out your smartphone. Go on the photo app. Put it in selfie mode. Point the camera toward you,” he urged attendees at the IFA’s Emerging Franchisor Conference in Phoenix Tuesday morning.

Harrowing Start for The Joint's CEO Led to Cultural Do-Over

Suppose you join a franchise system as COO and within a handful of weeks everyone resigns, cash dwindles and franchisees complain. If you're Peter Holt of The Joint Corp., you view it as an opportunity to re-build the culture from the ground up, he told the crowd at the IFA's Emerging Franchisor Conference today in Phoenix.

Key Restaurant Credits at Risk in Tax Plan

Tax reform is grinding along in D.C., and some key tax credits are at risk in a new plan.

Huey Magoo’s Starts Spreading Its Wings

The chicken tender-focused restaurant chain was bought by former Wingstop execs last year and has opened three locations since April.

Super 8 Partners with Human Hug Project for Veterans

Super 8 has partnered with Human Hug Project, an organization founded by combat veterans to bring awareness to PTSD and dole out hugs to at-risk veterans. With this partnership, the company is committing to help the founders, Ian Michael, Gino Greganti and his wife, to accomplish their goal of hugging veterans at every VA Medical Center in the United States.

Don’t Be Like Papa John

I’ve never met Papa John’s founder John Schnatter, but his recent decisions as CEO have exposed the company and its shareholders to needless ire. There are a lot of valid external reasons that could be blamed for lowering future sales projections, but pointing to something as divisive as NFL players taking a knee is absurd.

Some Hail Return of Directory to SBA Loan Process

The U.S. Small Business Administration is creating a directory of franchise systems eligible for government-backed loans, and at least some lenders are hailing the move as good for the process of speeding loans to franchisees.

3 National-Alamo ‘Zees Get Termination Notices; Attorneys Cry Foul

Alaska Sales & Service has built a $12-million business as a National-Alamo car rental franchisee since 1967. Corpat has been in the game since 1986 and posts $47 million in annual sales. And Midwest Car boasts $90 million a year from a franchise started in 1968. All three received termination notices effective January 14, 2018, from their franchisor, known as NACRS or National-Alamo Car Rental System, which their attorneys say are without cause and so constitute an unlawful breach of contract.

Pro Image Sports Giving Franchise to Fan of World Series Winner

One diehard Houston Astros or Los Angeles Dodgers fan will win a free Pro Image Sports franchise to bring the largest sports fan gift shop to their town. The company will waive its $30,000 franchise fee to a dedicated fan of the winning World Series team.

Arby’s Goes Big in Chicago, Including Downtown

Arby’s has signed development agreements to build 25 new restaurants in the Chicagoland area over the next five years, including the downtown area, creating nearly 700 jobs in the process. The company has made the Windy City a priority growth market for the brand, seeking to triple its footprint in the metro.

Order Food Without Leaving Facebook

Several franchise brands and Facebook are coming together to capitalize on consumers’ desire for convenience by offering food ordering directly on the social media site or app.

Office Pride Giving Away a Franchise to Honor Veterans

Many franchises offer significant discounts and deals to U.S. military veterans looking to break into franchising. Completely waiving the franchise fee in a Veterans Day contest, however, is certainly a new angle.

United PF Continues March to Buy Planet Fitness ‘Zees

United PF Partners, winner of a Franchise Times Dealmakers award in 2016 for its complicated and ambitious formation, has added two more acquisitions of Planet Fitness franchisees, in Phoenix and New Orleans, to increase its operating club count by 11 clubs to 78 across 10 states.

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.

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.

Arby's Named One of Best Workplaces for Women

Arby’s has been named to FORTUNE’s 100 Best Workplaces for Women list. Arby’s is the highest-ranked restaurant brand on the list and is the only quick-service restaurant selected.