What the crowd said about our Zor Awards brands
With 2,000 votes cast over 30 days, franchisees, ambassadors and enthusiasts clicked to show their love for the 40 brands nominated in this year’s Franchise Times Zor Awards. The tallies comprise one of three key pillars, along with editorial research and financial returns to the operators, to name our final winners.
By category, Un-hoarding garnered the most votes by a sizable margin. College Hunks Hauling Junk received more votes than any other brand, and our editorial team agreed that these College Hunks had the fundamentals to back up the enthusiasm.
Chicken Coop was second, fueled by boundless enthusiasm for chicken concepts of all stripes. It was a tight race between Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits and Zaxby’s—separated by fewer than 50 votes. Bojangles’ came out on top of the online voting, but Zaxby’s received the final nod as the winner from our editors.
Healthy Lunch was our third most popular category—and site of the biggest upset in this year’s Zor Awards project. Tropical Smoothie Cafe won the voting by a, ahem, healthy margin, followed by Saladworks, Pita Pit and Nekter Juice Bar, respectively. Nekter received the fewest votes, but overcame that deficit with an on-trend product offering, happy customers and a great back story bolstered by solid business fundamentals.
Cheat-Day Lunch was next, led by Taco Bell, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Cicis Pizza and Hardee’s. Diving into each brand’s numbers and FDDs, we agreed with Taco Bell’s fans giving the innovative Mexican chain the nod over its contemporaries.
Smart Kids—concepts based on brain health and expanding the minds of kiddos—was the closest race, with Abrakadoodle leading the pack, followed closely by Mad Science, LearningRx and Engineering for Kids. LearningRx was third place in online votes, but nudged its way to the top with detailed financial disclosures outlining a range of typical franchisee expenses and solid unit-level profitability.
As it works to keep the legacy concept fresh, Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom received the most votes among the Booze Crew players matching its recent string of positive sales growth. In order, the next highest candidates were Bar Louie, Tap House Grill and The Brass Tap.
For brands with a notable celebrity pitchman, owner or franchisee, voting in Celebrity Brands was led by Wingstop, known for its enthusiastic support by franchisee and superstar Rick Ross, but second-place Walk-On’s won the category with its excellent offering, rabid fan base, savvy social marketing and thorough financial data for prospective franchisees.
Drew Brees owning a portion of the brand is just the chaser on the side. Other celeb-backed brands UFC Gym and Rock & Brews finished out the category.
Our research team agreed with fans who nudged Another Broken Egg to the top of the breakfast-themed category, Wakey, Wakey. Denny’s was next, followed by regional brands Huddle House and Village Inn.
Courtside Seats, brands that carry a notably high price tag, was led by Ruth’s Chris Steak House that received the most clicks, but was ultimately bested by the responsible traits like transparent financial disclosures and solid year-over-year returns at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which won the category.
Our final category, Express Yourself, received a thousand votes, led by Plato’s Closet, then Uptown Cheapskate, Kid to Kid and Clothes Mentor, which received the fewest votes of any candidate in this year’s Zor Awards. Enthusiasm helped Plato’s case, but Uptown Cheapskate took the trophy with its excellent social presence, financial data, big-time grand opening assistance and proprietary software thelping owners price their wares.
'Zor Awards 10 Categories
Finalists: Abrakadoodle, Engineering for Kids, LearningRx, Mad Science
Finalists: Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits, Church’s Chicken, Pollo Campero, Zaxby's
Finalists: 1-800-GOT-JUNK, Caring Transitions, College Hunks Hauling Junk, Junk King
Finalists: Kid to Kid, Clothes Mentor, Plato’s Closet, Uptown Cheapskate
Finalists: Another Broken Egg Cafe, Denny’s, Huddle House, Village Inn
Finalists: Nekter Juice Bar, Pita Pit, Saladworks, Tropical Smoothie Café
Finalists: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Golden Corral, Hilton, Ruth’s Chris
Finalists: Rock & Brews, Walk-On's, Wingstop, UFC Gym
Finalists: Cicis Pizza, Dickey's BBQ, Hardees, Taco Bell
Finalists: Bar Louie, Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, The Brass Tap, Bar Louie
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