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After a year of vitriol, a dose of inspiration


The year 2016 was a stressful and vitriolic one—at least if you watched the news. From every which way, it seemed all the loudest voices were intent on tearing down other people. As the old (really old) Simon & Garfunkel song laments, “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?”

So it was with grateful eyes that I turned to this month’s cover story about MOD Pizza, a perfect narrative to start 2017. Where do I begin?

I could commence where Franchise Times Editor-in-Chief Beth Ewen did when she opened the story: with the “MOD Squad.” The trio of Kory Harp, Sam Mendez and Tony D’Alioa, pictured on the cover, work at headquarters and at MOD’s stores in Seattle, and are the keepers of the company culture.

Each one comes to the table with their own story of diversity and metamorphoses, which I won’t reveal here. Better you hear it from them, within Beth’s article. But suffice it to say, they are believers in lifting up other folks, which has been key to the company’s success and profitability.

Said Mendez, general manager at MOD’s first store in Seattle, crossing his beefy arms and sporting a lip ring, “If you do the job right and care about the guests, we will teach you every single thing. That’s the best thing I’ve done here, is totally build people up.”

But, the MOD Squad says it’s not just them, it comes from the top down. Franchise founders and husband-and-wife team Scott and Ally Svenson put people first, and the rest follows. It’s creating “wide boulevards and high curbs,” said Scott Svenson, meaning you give people a lot of latitude in making decisions, but at the same time, they know the lines they shouldn’t cross. There’s so much great advice within this article, I guarantee you’ll want to take a page out of their playbook.

Speaking of advice, you’ll find our annual feature the Fast & Serious, the ranking of the fastest- and smartest-growing franchisors, fascinating. The senior executives of these brands reveal some of their strategies to grow quickly but at the same time, not at a pace that dooms them to failure—quite the opposite, in fact.

For some, they highlighted a consistent focus on their end customers. “We remain true to our core differentiation point and focus on how we can provide our members with more value while not increasing membership prices,” said Chris Rondeau, CEO of Planet Fitness, No. 3 on the list.

Mary Jo Larson

Mary Jo Larson

Reach Mary Jo at 612-767-3208
or mlarson@franchisetimes.com

Or, part of the equation could be anticipating and planning ahead. Jersey Mike’s President Hoyt Jones credits founder Peter Cancro with doing just that. “He’s always investment-spending for the company, and it’s paid off in spades,” said Hoyt. “It’s nice to be in a position of strength, where you’re not making reactionary decisions—you’re making proactive decisions.” The sandwich chain logged into the No. 1 spot this year.

For No. 4 on the list, Marco’s Pizza President and Chief Development Officer Byron Stephens, “Accountability equals results.” They have a core vision, and build measurable metrics around it, mapping individual performance. Sounds easy, but as we all know, the best and most elegant solutions aren’t. They’re hard work.

We like to say we’re the people magazine of franchising, because we bring you the stories from the characters of the stories themselves. From a 23-year-old sub sandwich franchisee who was playing the stock market in high school, to a franchisor who once survived an escape from Vietnam (in a fishing boat, mind you)—it’s these stories that have us captivated and you will be, too. We’re leaving the vitriol behind. Let the inspiration begin.

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