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What makes a good ‘zor? Let’s ask the franchisees


My Franchise Times colleagues and I had to brave a Minnesota snowstorm and long airline delays to get there, but as I write this, I have just returned from the International Franchise Association’s annual convention. It was a great event, and I enjoyed talking with the other attendees and learning about their businesses—as well as seeing the much-anticipated sunshine we sometimes lack at home.

I’m dating myself, but I remember the days when the IFA was a franchisor-only organization. The topics at conventions were all for franchisors, of course. But years ago, they opened up membership to include franchisees, as well. It was controversial at the time, but it was voted through.

I mention it because our cover story this month is our annual Zor Awards. These are the top franchisors in their category. As our editorial reads, the “annual project helps franchisees explore 10 top brands.” (Our methodology is outlined on page 25.)

Our editorial team covers this a little differently than you would first guess: We don’t ask the franchisors how they did it; we go to the franchisees of those winning brands to find out why they chose that concept, and how they like operating within it. Hearing from franchisees tells the story of how a franchise is really doing.

This played out for me when I met with a potential franchisor the other day, as he was seeking advice from some of us in franchising about what makes a good franchisor. He wanted to start out on the right foot. It sounds simple, but I always feel that franchisee profitability is No. 1. And to get there, franchisors should seek input from those operators out in the field. That advice plays out in our coverage.

“They’ve put a premium priority on listening to franchise owners,” says Jim Gillenwater, a McAlister’s franchisee with 11 locations in the Louisville, Kentucky, area. McAlister’s garnered the top spot in the Zor Awards’ Fresh Baked category this year.

As FT Editor Laura Michaels writes: “…he’s been vocal about the need for more investment in technology to ensure that infrastructure is ready ahead of expected development. It’s an ongoing process, but ‘the point is, they listen to everybody,’” Gillenwater told her.

Mary Jo Larson

Mary Jo Larson

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

Other franchisees give advice in this coverage. FT Reporter Callie Evergreen wrote about franchisees from Paul Davis Restoration, which landed the top spot for the After the Storm category. Franchisee Ofelia Lucas “also suggested looking at the kind of support franchisors provide for their franchisees, and even with that support, expect ups and downs,” Callie writes.

“It’s not always pink roses and rainbows and butterflies; it’s hard work,” Lucas told her. “You have to be willing to do the hard work, but as long as you’re moving forward and learning, that’s succeeding.”

I think the point is, you’re only a good franchisor if your franchisees think you are. And if they work hard, and then they’re profitable, you’ll get high marks.

We have other great topics covered this month, including expanded finance and real estate focuses. Which funding source is blazing a new trail? How do you decode the real estate riddle? How do you access cheap capital?

Also within these pages, don’t miss our coverage of restaurant operations still trying to solve the delivery puzzle, a woman named Franny selling CBD products, and an exec who once ate, wait for it, a raw goldfish.

Like the franchisees in this issue, we have a lot of opinions, advice and information to give you. It’s just up to you to dig in.

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