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What were we thinking? To try harder each issue


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It’s January, so it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. No, I’m not going to bore you with mine, but I will tell you that in addition to looking ahead, January also gives me pause to reflect.

For instance, I can page through the older issues of Franchise Times, especially those first issues 20 years ago. When we launched the publication, I had never produced a magazine before. What made me think I could do it, pull both editorial and advertising together, was either sheer ignorance or blind confidence. Probably a little of both.

When I read them today, sometimes I’m proud, and sometimes I have a “what was I thinking??” moment. Like when we had our first technology-focused issue, and one of my photos featured someone sitting at a computer. I remember even rolling my eyes at myself after it came out, vowing to do better. And I did. It is cliché to say that the best lessons are the hardest learned, but I’m saying it anyway.  

So I can identify with our group of franchises and the individuals who lead them in this month’s outstanding annual feature, the Franchise Times Fast & Serious. For those unfamiliar, the Fast & Serious ranks the fastest growing franchises with sustainable growth. Each of these founders and senior executives has a story about expansion.

They started small, learned from their mistakes, and moved on.

They’ve revealed how they are doing things differently now. Rick and Elise Wetzel founded Wetzel’s Pretzels, grew the chain and sold it. A few years later, they founded Blaze Pizza, a fast-casual chain now No. 1 on the Fast & Serious list. As FT Restaurants Editor Nick Upton writes, they knew they needed to invest in infrastructure right away, even bringing in a seasoned CEO when they only had two locations to lead the organization and its growth. Three hundred-plus units later, they tell how they stay transparent with franchisees, and how going public may be in their future.

Mary Jo Larson

Mary Jo Larson

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

Other brands on the list are making investments, too: Planet Fitness recently made a $10 million investment in technology, Hand & Stone Massage provides tuition reimbursement for their employees in an ever-challenging employment market and Freddy’s Frozen Custard put 22 new business coaches on the road to consult with franchisees.

At Kiddie Academy, whose franchisees struggle with real estate woes, they’ve hired a civil engineer, a former zoning board official and other professionals, bringing the number of people working in construction and real estate there from eight to 15. For President Greg Helwig, he’s removing the “inhibitors to building your business” for franchisees.

After perusing those 40 businesses, you’ll also want to read other features, including a Q&A with a 24-unit Sonic operator who started out in the business as a car hop, and a story on the Zappos founder who is making franchising his new business model for his start-ups. You’ll see Cal Ripken and cheese naps both make an appearance in this issue, as well. As always, we’ve got it all.

I’d like to say that January is our time to resolve to bring you an even better year of Franchise Times than the previous one. But I’d be lying. We do that every month.

Happy New Year.

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