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With Ambitions Galore, NextGen Finalists Pitch Concepts

They came from countries including Kenya, Hungary, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and of course the United States to impress the NextGen competition judges and hopefully snag cash prizes and investors during the International Franchise Association’s annual convention Monday.

Diversity Food Brands Trades Royalty for Development

Diversity Food Brands is a unique franchisor with a singular focus on non-traditional spaces. Also notable is its sliding-scale royalty designed to boost development.

Another Acquisition Adds New Group to Authority Brands

With its third buy since being acquired by Apax Partners in September 2018, Authority Brands will fold Clockwork, Inc. and its three home service providers into its Maryland-based company.

Attorney Gives a Few Tips on Tip-Pooling

As the tipping issue at restaurants rages on between front of the house employees and back, Joel O’Malley of Nilan Johnson Lewis in Minneapolis offers a quick refresher course on a complicated topic that’s been tripping up the likes of Starbucks, Outback Steakhouse and Pinstripes in Minnesota with lawsuits of late.

Exits 'Bittersweet' for Auspex Capital Dealmakers

We’re reporting many interesting stories this month about our Franchise Times Dealmakers winners, including Auspex Capital/RGT Management’s longtime relationship as investment banker and restaurant operator. Which do they like better, the ride up or the ride down?

Huddle House Shaves Costs With Smaller Footprint

As part of a wider plan to refresh and expand Huddle House, the Atlanta-based diner announced a buffet of news that’s designed to elevate its presence across the country, and also to attract franchisees who will be interested in a smaller-format restaurant with an easier-to-swallow pricetag.

Restaurant Comps Steady for First Time in Years

The restaurant industry has been in a sorry state since traffic and same-store sales peaked in the first quarter of 2015. But January data from TDn2K shows two consecutive months of two percent or higher sales growth.

Curious List: Best Cities to Start a Restaurant

Looking at per capita income and restaurants, size of the workforce and median incomes, a restaurant equipment reseller has published its list of the 50 best U.S. cities in which to start a restaurant. Using U.S. Census Bureau and American Community Survey data, it’s a data-based ranking that’s worth a look.

New First Franchise Capital Program Supports Nonprofits

With the introduction of its Pay It Forward Program, First Franchise Capital aims to increase its community support by giving back to the communities of its clients.

With Fresh Strategy, Cousins Subs Returns to Chicago

Cousins Subs is heading back to Chicago in a renewed franchise push to bring the refreshed brand back to major metros at the Cousins' periphery.

11 Capture Franchise Times Dealmakers Awards

Franchise Times today announces winners of the 2019 Franchise Times Dealmakers awards, the seventh annual project recognizing the boldest players driving mergers and acquisitions in franchising.

A Big New Number to Describe Joint Employer Pain

Everybody knows the National Labor Relations Board caused franchising’s biggest headache when it expanded the definition of who is a joint employer back in 2014. Now, new International Franchise Association research has put a number to the pain—$33.3 billion in lost economic output annually.

With Third-party Drivers, Mountain Mike’s Changes Delivery Model

Even though Mountain Mike’s 200-plus pizza restaurants each have their own delivery team, the Newport Beach-based brand is working with DoorDash, UberEats and Grubhub to reach customers it believes wouldn’t otherwise order its food.

LGBT Chamber of Commerce and IFA Form Partnership

The franchise industry is known for its outreach to specific parts of the human herd, most notably with veterans and young entrepreneurs through the VetFran and NextGen in Franchising programs. LGBT folks like myself are cheering the latest International Franchise Association partnership with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. On a personal level, this is wonderful to see from the franchising industry’s association of record.

Supply Chain, Frozen Ground Challenges for First Sonic in Alaska

Sonic has inked a new development deal in Alaska and it's balancing big opportunity with some major challenges.

Franchise Sector Gains Jobs in January, ADP Report Says

After job growth in franchising slowed overall last year, the sector started out strong in 2019, gaining 33,000 jobs in January according to the ADP National Franchise Report.

‘Global Domination’ Still on the Menu at Smoke’s

There’s no forgetting a conversation with the CEO and founder of Smoke’s Poutinerie, the exceedingly colorful Ryan Smolkin. It’s been a few years since checking in with the Canadian-based poutine brand and my first mission was getting an update on the so-called global domination that’s been his stated mission since starting the company more than a decade ago.

Papa John’s, Starboard ‘Focused’ as Circus Quiets

It’s been eight months since Papa John’s founder John Schnatter resigned from his position as chairman. And the company is ready to move forward.

People Really Are Buying Plant-Based Proteins

The move toward plant-based or meat-free eating can sometimes get over hyped. But some new data shows that plant-based proteins are at least nearing an inflection point.

Slim Chickens Adapts to Expand Brand Overseas

Slim Chickens’ second Kuwait restaurant recently opened in the Jazeera airport terminal and the brand is also in the midst of expanding in the United Kingdom through another international franchise agreement. It’s a lot of action for a brand that wasn’t actively looking to grow outside the United States and there’s been some useful learning along the way.

Game Day Operations: Don’t Wing It

The NFL Super Bowl is a feeding frenzy not just for the football fan sitting in front of a pile of wings, but for the wing, barbecue, pizza and other brands providing that game-day grub.

Domino’s Includes Competition in Temporary Loyalty Push

Has Domino’s lost its mind? The pizza company is launching a temporary loyalty program that includes all pizzas, including those from its prime competitors and pizzas made and cooked at home. The company says this new, temporary effort is a celebration of “all that pizza love.”

Labor a Top Topic at 2019 ICR Conference

The tight labor market was a big topic at the 2019 ICR Conference. Almost every presenting company touched on the challenge directly or indirectly.

FT Explores Franchise Expo South

The dog is most certainly having its day in franchising, with pet-focused concepts drawing interest at the Franchise Expo South, running through Saturday in Ft. Lauderdale. Plus, drive-thru convenience stores.

Gender Reveal Lasagna? Villa Italian Kitchen Goes Pink or Blue

You’ve heard about parties where baby’s gender is revealed with a pink or blue cake hidden underneath the frosting. Villa Italian Kitchen has gone one better—or weirder, depending on your point of view.

‘You Can’t Fake Loving Dogs,’ Says Camp Bow Wow Exec

An intense focus on signing franchisees with a genuine appreciation for and love of pets has translated into steady growth for Camp Bow Wow, the doggy daycare and boarding franchise that last year opened 20 locations, more than double the previous year.

Business Finance Depot Partners With Francorp; Provides SBA and Leasing Combo to Franchisees

Business Finance Depot has teamed up with Francorp, a franchising development business.

President of MPLS Fed Calls Labor Shortage 'Overblown'

With no macro data points suggesting this labor logjam is set to break, the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Neel Kashkari, shared his blunt assessment that labor shortages in his district are “overblown” during an interview in the Business Journal.

Ascentium Capital To Fund Massage Envy Franchisees

Ascentium Capital LLC recently announced the development of a national finance program with Massage Envy.

Xponential Expands Fitness Portfolio With Stride Concept

The former owner of LA Boxing who took grew the brand to 200 locations before selling it to UFC Gyms continues to amass boutique concepts as Xponential Fitness makes its first acquisition of 2019.

Six Metrics to Measure Gen Z Brand Affinity

During the annual ICR Conference in Orlando, keynoter Jeff Fromm had a lot of marketing advice for brands looking to resonate with the younger generations, especially Gen Z.

New Massage Envy Campaign Touts Benefits of Wellness Regimen

Like others in the health and wellness industry, Massage Envy is emphasizing self-care and aiming to normalize behavior previously deemed indulgent as it seeks to make a personal connection with consumers through its new ad campaign, “Keep Your Body Working.”

From $198K to $1M in Sales for Fitness Together Operator

Ten years ago, Stacy Adams sat with Fitness Together CEO Jeff Jervik and said, “I’ve done the math, and there’s no reason your studios can’t be doing $1 million, if not $2-" in annual sales. He just laughed, she said, and replied with something like, “You go, Stacy.”

Round One to Happy Tax in Suit Against H&R Block

Happy Tax, the upstart tax preparation franchise, filed a false advertising lawsuit against H&R Block on Monday, claiming the tax prep giant makes false and misleading representations in its advertisements.

Investor Exit Triggered Mosquito Squad Sale

After selling Mosquito Squad to Authority Brands, the backyard bug control franchise’s former parent Outdoor Living Brands is now a management-owned enterprise and is refocusing its attention on growing its four remaining backyard-focused brands.

On-site Cooking in Electric Vehicles at Wayback Burgers

Viddl-It, Wayback Burgers' new electric vehicle initiative, combines the on-site cooking of food trucks with on-demand delivery technology to, the company says, ultimately bring consumers a better product.

Duck Donuts Enters Chilean Market With Opening in Santiago

With its made-to-order donuts and array of toppings, franchisee Marcial Dieguez-Acuna says the “superior donut” offering of Duck Donuts will stand out to Chilean consumers and the experience of watching each donut get dipped and topped is unique to the market.

Tech, Labor, Tariffs and More on IFA Board's Minds

The “robust” job market will be a challenge in 2019 for people charged with selling franchises, says Jania Bailey, CEO of FranNet, in a new survey of International Franchise Association board members sharing their outlooks for 2019.

Franchise governance: The best plan is to have one

Some of the challenges franchisors have to deal with are ones that receive plenty of scrutiny—such as how to select franchisees, how to structure a franchise, ways to manage the relationship, branding issues, or finance.

‘What Happened to Cash’ Is Question From Gigi’s ‘Zees Attorney

Two items are noteworthy in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing last week by Mr. Gatti’s Pizza, Sovrano and Gigi’s Cupcakes: a $20.2 million term loan from Equity Bank to Mr. Gatti’s and Sovrano, its parent company, and a $9.2-million term loan from Equity Bank to Gigi’s Cupcakes, both made last June. Jeffrey Cohen of Cohen Law, the attorney representing 18 Gigi’s Cupcakes franchisees in ongoing litigation, wants to know, "What happened to the cash?"

Shutdown Likely Benign for Economy, Brutal for Operators

Historically, shutdowns don’t affect the economy drastically. But there are plenty of headaches for business owners.

The Lost Cajun Celebrates Big Growth

A year and a half after hanging with Raymond Griffin, founder of The Lost Cajun, the Cajun restaurant brand is celebrating the fruits of an impressive growth streak during the past 12 months. The brand opened 13 new restaurants during 2018.

FT Dealmakers Entries Paint Intriguing M&A Picture

Nominations closed this week for the annual Franchise Times Dealmakers project, so we’re knee-deep poring through the deals to select finalists to present to our judges in January. As usual, we’ve got a complex, ambitious and fascinating group of deals.

United PF First to Cross 100-Club Line for Planet Fitness

“Somebody was going to get there, and it was a real privilege to be the first one to hit that milestone,” says Trey Owen, speaking about United PF Partners surpassing the 100-club mark this past fall and becoming the first Planet Fitness franchisee to break that barrier.

Ron Shaich’s Franchising Ideals

The franchising model can take many forms, but the leader behind Panera says there are some key factors that enabled the brand’s incredible franchise growth over the last 26 years.

CoreLife, Tim Tebow Push ‘Pure’ New Year’s Challenge

Consumers have been trained to be wary of health challenges, as there always seems to be some fine print or a big price tag. But CoreLife Eatery is doing everything it can to keep the brand’s healthy lifestyle challenge “pure.”

Hilton All Suites Hits 1,000 Properties

With the U.S. stock market tumbling, along with softening auto sales, home building and consumer confidence, you’d be forgiven for assuming times are tightening in the hospitality market, but so far that isn’t the case. As the hotel industry continues an unprecedented growth streak, Hilton’s All Suites brands—Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, Home2 Suites—hit the milestone of 1,000 open properties.

Fast & Serious Newcomer Workout Anytime Shares Growth Tactics

Workout Anytime hit $53 million in sales in 2017, and its expansion to 143 locations to finish the year came thanks largely to positive franchisee validation, notes CEO Steve Strickland.

Thoughtful Safety Can Mean an Insurance Discount for Restaurants

Restaurant businesses can be dangerous, with their slippery floors, repetitive tasks and the endless peril of delivering food. And all those dangers can be costly, as outlined in a new report from insurer AmTrust.

More Digital Investment for Pizza Hut With QuikOrder Deal

Pizza Hut made a big move to bolster its online ordering capabilities, acquiring QuikOrder earlier this month. Though it didn’t disclose terms of the agreement, Pizza Hut noted this marks one of its largest acquisitions to date.
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