November-December 2013

Special Features

Aaron’s back seat driver prefers a low profile

Aaron’s back seat driver prefers a low profile

Todd Evans was brought in to develop a franchise program. But before he added franchisees to the mix, he took a look at what the customers needed and in the process implemented a strategy to make rentals a kinder, gentler proposition. Todd Evans, vice president of franchising for...

Category Buster

Category Buster

How Aaron’s figured out its challenge: attracting wealthy investors to a business they’ve never heard of that serves credit-challenged customers

Rent-to-own stores aren’t something credit-worthy individuals routinely visit. But about half the population does rely on these types of businesses for essentials. Here’s the story of how one company reimaged itself into a buy-buy situation for everyone. The first time we...

Publisher's Column

Trading in on international travel

Trading in on international travel

Ididn’t think I would, but I’m enjoying the “empty nester” stage at my house. Now that both of my boys are out on their own, my time is mine, and I’ve been taking advantage of it. My husband and I recently downsized to a smaller home—love it—and...

UpFront

Family Business

Family Business

It’s father-daughters, sister-sister for first Burger 21 franchisees

Running a restaurant isn’t easy for anyone, but when your business partners are family members, like Dennis Saller and his daughters, having a strong foundation and developing a thick skin are key. There’s a saying that goes father knows best. Well, that wasn’t the case...

Here’s the skinny on newest Burger King fries

Burger King’s latest product innovation, lower-calorie french fries, was so secret that not even many franchisees knew about it.  “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” one franchisee said when asked about the fries, dubbed “Satisfries,” on the...

Restaurant operator detours to Sears stores

Restaurant operator detours to Sears stores

Tony Lutfi is one of the most successful restaurant franchisees in the country. He started as a crew member at Jack in the Box and worked his way up to owning his own restaurants. Now his company, Marlu Investments, owns more than 150 restaurants among several different brands. So...

Chicken’s in good taste, but not in ads

Chicken’s in good taste, but not in ads

Nando’s not chicken when it comes to advertising. When the South African-based grilled-chicken chain started in 1987, it didn’t have the budget to buy widespread media, so instead, they made sure their commercials were memorable—and controversial....

Dogs' Grassy Knoll

Was there ever any doubt that once medical marijuana was legal in some states, pet owners would want to pass the pipe to their pets? An animal behaviorist volunteered to discuss the pros and cons of marijuana and pets with us, but we preferred asking our own experts what to expect should...

Hertz gets grip on movie biz

Hertz gets grip on movie biz

Hertz doesn’t just rent cars to be driven. Some are extras on movie sets—the cars parked on streets that rarely steal the scene from the live actors—others are rollovers or burned within a hair of their chassis. It all depends on what the movie script calls for....

Finance, Real Estate, Law

Finance Fix

Finance Fix

Got real estate? A sale-leaseback can free up capital for growth

Here’s a way to liberate equity and convert it to uses more directly aligned with a company’s core mission. Our guest columnist explains the ins and outs of the popular tool. The sale-leaseback of real estate in its most basic form is a financing tool; however, the implications...

Lifting the Ban

New SEC rule allows public at large to consider your offering

Raising capital as a private company is not easy. It takes time, money and a passion for the business you’re growing. But a new rule lifting the decades-long ban on general solicitation eases the path. Long-standing securities laws have created constraints on the ability of...

Customer income may be culprit for weak sales

The gap between rich and poor continues to widen, and the economic outlook varies greatly depending on income level. The latest evidence comes from Goldman Sachs analyst Michael Kelter, who wrote about the firm’s consumer optimism survey. Optimism was far more prevalent among...

Fighting Words

Fighting Words

Attorneys on opposite sides show why bridging divide is hard

Can’t we all just get along? For franchisors and franchisees, the goal is elusive. At a forum for corporate counsel, attorneys for each side showed why, when they debated the leading issues of the day. The franchisor’s interest is to protect the brand. The franchisee’s...

Hot List

Hot List

Eight trends top the year’s list of big stories in real estate

Oddball locations, anyone? That’s one tactic real estate pros are trying, like the Subway store on the German riverboat, shown above. Read on to learn veteran real estate reporter Beth Mattson-Teig’s picks. 1. Top Towns No surprise here: Cities landing on the short list...

Franchise Focus

Senior-Itis

Senior-Itis

These fitness clubs hope chances of success improve with age

Few believe they’re seniors when they hit 50. But for a handful of fitness operators, that’s the magic age. Welcyon’s the newcomer; Nifty after Fifty the old-timer. Can they find the fountain of youth? Suzy and Tom Boerboom are both baby boomers. They come from healthcare...

Before & After

Before & After

Young franchisors try to make over the medical-spa niche

BodyBrite and Structura are two rising players in the med-spa sector, targeting baby boomers who want to turn back the clock—or fix their bum knees—but not go under the knife. The niche itself needs a facelift. Halfway through an oxygen facial courtesy of BodyBrite, the...

Zaxby's Booms

Zaxby's Booms

Drumming up mega-business

Even KFC is paying attention to the fast-casual powerhouses in the chicken business, for good reason. Zaxby’s sales grew more than 16 percent last year. Not bad for a chain that started with an $8,000 cash stash. Zach McLeroy, a drummer in the late 1980s, always...

Kale Invasion

Kale Invasion

Fast-tracking healthy food

Great-tasting food is the key for LYFE Kitchen, “and we have it,” Mike Donahue says. LYFE Kitchen’s mission is to bring vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options to the masses through franchising. But are the masses ready for kale smoothies and quinoa wraps?...

Growth Mode

Growth Mode

With Panera far in the lead, Corner Bakery makes its move

An aggressive growth plan. Major new investment. A top-notch CEO. Corner Bakery has a long way to go to take the lead—but it’s beginning to gain on competitors. Here’s the strategy. Marking its biggest expansion to date, Corner Bakery Café intends to double the...

International

Rocketing into Nigeria

Rocketing into Nigeria

U.S. lawyer returns to boyhood home to more promising future

Johnny Rockets franchisee, Christopher Nahman, is bullish on business in Lagos, Nigeria, even though supply chain challenges keep him up at night. “Once the food arrives in the restaurant, the easy part starts,” he says. Which is the opposite of the U.S. ...

Banking on his Investment

Banking on his Investment

Despite all the obstacles, Naked Pizza ‘zee growing in Kenya

Wall space customers never see in his Naked Pizza restaurant is a source of wonderment and frustration to Ritesh Doshi, a Kenyan-American who wants to be part of Africa’s growth story. The narrow expanse of wall behind the service door is papered with a litany of permits the federal,...

Triple B, Double E

Triple B, Double E

South African entrepreneur solves social issue with hot dogs

Things were not going well at the Hot Dog Cafe chain in Johannesburg in 2002. Derek Smith had just been hired to fix problems that ranged from disenfranchised kitchen workers neglecting the safety of food items—not to mention, neglecting to smile at customers—to “cash-flow...

A Mission to Trade

A Mission to Trade

Despite scary times, ‘zors boldly go where opportunity exists

The Franchise Times and International Franchise Association co-sponsored trade mission landed in Sub-Saharan Africa for a 10-day, three-country tour hosted by the U.S. Commercial Service. Here is just a brief overview. For more insights, check out our international blog at...

Biz Advice

The Pipline

The Pipline

Crème de la crème: Franchisors lust for these select franchisees

It’s nice to be in demand as a franchisee. Franchisors throw themselves at you, lenders return your calls, and talented managers want to work for you. Just ask David Schmille. “Everyone’s trying to get you to do something,” chuckles the...

People's Republic

People's Republic

In China, growing population numbers boggle the mind

Years ago I found myself on a boat making its way down China’s famed Yangtze River, the longest in Asia. This was years before the Three Gorges Dam project, the largest water conservancy effort in the world, had raised the level of the Yangtze by several...

Feeding Frenzy

Feeding Frenzy

Angry over an inch, Subway plaintiffs gird for court date

People howling about Subway’s not-quite-a-footlong sandwiches are, um, inching toward their day in court—which likely has attorneys for both sides whipping out their measuring tapes. Seven class-action lawsuits against Subway Sandwich Shops will be...

Up & Out

Burger King turns over at top, as ‘bunch of young guys’ rises

Steve Wiborg was promoted to chairman of Burger King’s North American operations this summer, after the Miami-based chain promoted CFO Daniel Schwartz to the CEO job following the departure of Bernardo Hees. The new job came with an unusual out clause. That clause, according to...

Wounded warrior lends passion to franchising

Wounded warrior lends passion to franchising

Kevin Blanchard sees colors brighter now and enjoys every moment of life. He’s studied cooking and photography in South America, where he ate a lot of empanadas and learned to communicate through his photos.  He’s learned smiling often can make your body feel better....

Competing

Competing

Alone no longer, pioneers must adapt to beat the imitation

James Markham is founder of Project Pie, his third go-around in the better pizza biz. No one likes a copycat, but these four pioneers faced plenty of me-too competitors once they got rolling. How they fight back to keep a toehold or gain ground provides a road map for any franchise...

Executive Ladder

Executive Ladder

Six people join the leadership and corporate support staff at Tin Drum Asiacafe, which also moves headquarters from Atlanta to Roswell, Georgia. Joe Ippolito, former vice president of operations at Arby’s, is VP of operations. Jen Forbes, formerly with Arby’s, is new director of...

Exit Interview

Rocking the cradle of civilization

Rocking the cradle of civilization

It’s not every day you meet a U.S. ambassador and pet a baby lion. Sometimes it takes two days. Saturday I pulled a two-minute shift in the lion nursery at a wild animal park outside Johannesburg; and the following Monday I met American Ambassador Robert Godec at a reception to honor the...

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