A Notebook Full of Stories from the IFE
Marty Welch was exhibiting for Cinnaholic at the International Franchise Expo in New York City May 31-June 2.
When the founders of Cinnaholic got an offer on Shark Tank four years ago, they took the money on the TV show itself but didn’t sign the contract afterward. Why? “Different visions. They didn’t want to franchise,” said Marty Welch about the Shark Tank judges. Welch was one of many engaging individuals exhibiting at the International Franchise Expo in New York City last week.
Now, Cinnaholic is opening up two stores a month, Welch said, with people standing in a long line at the Edmonton, Alberta, store a couple of weeks ago, for instance, to try its gourmet cinnamon rolls. They have 22 stores open with 136 in development. “So Marty beat out Shark Tank,” said Jamie Izaks of All Points PR, who was taking yours truly around the show.
All products are 100 percent vegan, Welch says, and that fact is displayed on its materials but not prominently. “That’s our strategy” to downplay vegan, he said. “They just want a nice treat. I can’t believe people would wait two hours for a cinnamon roll.” The calorie count is 30 to 40 percent lower than the competition, Welch said, meaning but not mentioning Cinnabon, the behemoth in the space.
Meanwhile, Doug Jerum was talking real estate, which he said is “kind of broken in the franchise space.” Jerum is the outsourced site selection expert for Tough Mudder Bootcamp and one of many sharing his advice at the IFE, presented by the International Franchise Association, May 31-June 2 at the Javits Center.
Anyone who’s tried to find sites in the brutally competitive real estate market today would likely agree. “Where more and more people are hitting the wall is with real estate,” he said, also taking the opportunity to tout his company, Hanna CRE, which handles all real estate matters for franchise clients, including a new Tough Mudder Bootcamp gym in the Boston area scheduled to open the week after the expo.
The Warrior Factory, based in Jerum’s home of Rochester, New York, and also exhibiting at the show is another client.
His company’s approach is to start with franchisees on discovery day. “As soon as they sign with the franchisor, instead of handing off to a local broker, we keep control of that process” all the way through.
“There are a group of franchisors that get it,” he said, citing Orangetheory Fitness as one fast-growing brand with robust real estate support for franchisees. But for many emerging franchises, “it’s not on their radar,”with his company (and many more service providers, of course) offering to help.
I talked with many, many interesting and gracious folks at the show and outside of it, with stories in the future planned about Spencer Rubin of Meltshop, Kim Hanson of Learning Rx, Gina Butler of Gigi’s Cupcakes and more. Attorney Lee Plave of PlaveKoch stopped by for a conversation and attorney David Kaufmann of Kaufmann Gildin Robbins treated me to a delightful lunch. Thanks to all who took the time to say hello.
And finally, David Boatright, director of franchise development for Bojangles, made a very kind offer after chatting about his brand, their famous sweet tea and biscuits and articles in Franchise Times. “Safe travels,” he e-mailed after our chat, displaying the Southern charm that makes Bojangles famous, “and if you ever make it to Charlotte, please reach out. I would enjoy treating you to lunch… I know a great chicken and biscuit place!”