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We’re On the Cusp of … Something

I’m old enough to remember the Dow Jones Industrial Average first cracking 10K on March 29, 1999. I was a junior in high school, and it felt like the whole country—and me, especially— was on the cusp of greatness. Eighteen years and 11,392 points later, it once again feels like change is afoot.

For U.S. Diners, Experience Is the Influencer

Sixty-three percent of diners agree that visiting restaurants is a form of entertainment for them. For franchise restaurants looking to stand out, particularly as dining dollars are being spread across more off-premise channels such as delivery and carryout, this means focusing on differentiating elements such as convenience, atmosphere and social sharing.

IFA’s Cresanti on D.C. Chaos, Mega ‘Zees & More

Sitting down with IFA Chairman Robert Cresanti for a conversation about working through the current chaos in Washington, the impacts of ever-larger multi-unit franchise groups and where he sees the biggest growth opportunities in the industry’s future.

Putting Culture First, Funky Sausage Concept Dat Dog Expands

COO Bill DiPaola sees franchising as a way for Dat Dog to be viewed as a local restaurant, one where owners have the “touch and relationship with the community.” Restaurants serve a menu of unconventional sausages including those made from alligator and crawfish, plus dozens of toppings.

An Insider's Look at Drug Testing, by Fastest Labs Boss

When it comes to drug testing, David Claflin has seen and heard it all. “I could write a book on it,” says the CEO of Fastest Labs. “We have people that try to trick us every single day. And the funniest thing is when they get caught they just say, ‘OK, you got me.’”

Pickup USA Appeals to Aging Hoopsters, Like Me

After five-plus years at Franchise Times I have finally found the franchise for me: Pickup USA, which offers basketball-based boot camps for fitness and most notably organized, officiated pick-up basketball games for a monthly fee under 59 bucks. Are you kidding me?

Tim Hortons Suit 'Need Not Have Happened,' Attorney Says

A $500-million lawsuit filed this week by Tim Hortons franchisees in Canada didn’t have to happen, says John Sotos, the attorney at Sotos LLP in Toronto who is pressing the case against Restaurant Brands International, the owner of the coffee-and-donuts chain since December 2014.

Jani-King's Win 'A Blow' to DOL, Gardere Lawyer Says

A win for Jani-King of Oklahoma in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Labor is “a blow to the government’s overall goal to classify franchisees as employees of their franchisors,” declares Carrie Hoffman, one of the attorneys at Gardere law firm who argued for Jani-King.

Walking the Streets of NYC at IFE '17

Those of us on the “show circuit” know the various expos can blend together, with a lot of the same usual suspects. This year’s International Franchise Expo in New York City last week was an exception, with many new concepts, cool new startup companies and a diversity that highlights all that’s great in franchising.

KFC Zinger Heads Into Space

For all the Jetsons episodes that glamorized life in the space age, they never mentioned where George, Jane and company would get access to delicious fried chicken. Here on planet Earth, that problem has allegedly been solved as KFC and space flight experts World View announced they are partnering to launch the Zinger chicken sandwich to the edge of space—really.

Boosting Confidence Is Job One for FranSelect Hire

Barbara Marshall, a newly hired coach at FranSelect, had inspiring words when I reached her last week, to buck up anyone who has ever struggled in school or any aspiring business owner who could use a confidence boost—in other words, quite a lot of people.

Sharp Advice on Franchisee Self Promotion

Ryan McEnaney knows how to pitch a good story, and as the PR director for his family’s fifth-generation business and as a franchisee and communications manager for Frenchies Modern Nail Salon, his skills at weaving a personal narrative pay off in real-world benefits for both of his brands.

DOL Rolls Back Joint Employer Standard a Bit

A short statement by the Department of Labor last week—that Obama-era guidance on joint employer is being rolled back—has franchisors and their attorneys resting more easily. Workers’ advocates, of course, would not be pleased.

Subway's 'Green Room' Aims to Attract Music Festival Crowd

As an attendee of a major camping music festival last summer, there were three big pain points: lack of showers, adequate food and overwhelming heat during the daytime hours. Subway is attempting to tackle at least two of these issues with a summer festival roadshow, offering free mini sandwiches in its air conditioned “Green Room.”

Franchise Chefs Deserve More Credit

Stealing a phrase from Special Agent Dale Cooper, there’s some “damn fine” food in franchising. I would know, because in my three years as a reporter at Franchise Times, I have been on a competitive eating marathon that has exposed me to some extremely tasty food -- and not just for a franchise.

NPC In, DavCo Out as Wendy's Puts to Rest 3-Year Dispute

Wendy’s has resolved its three-year battle with DavCo Restaurants, formerly one of its top franchisees that started with the brand in 1976, by buying 140 restaurants from DavCo and selling them to NPC International of Overland Park, Kansas, according to a Securities & Exchange Commission filing June 1.

Pet Obsession, Franchising Boosts Pet Supplies Plus

As Pet Supplies Plus CEO Chris Rowland tells it—and as I’ve seen through the increasing number of cats and dogs in family Christmas photos—it’s become an increasing trend for pets to be seen as “members of the family.” He’s has seen the evolution firsthand, through his parents—and his fast-growing retail brand.

Facebook Diving Into Food Delivery

We use it to announce the best and worst news of our lives, to stalk exes and find new love, to read the news of the world and complain about current events—so why shouldn’t Facebook just feed us already? Fear not, socialites, as California-based Facebook has announced plans to add meal delivery to its all-encompassing function set.

Marcato Wins Buffalo Wild Wings Board Battle, Smith to Retire

The contentious proxy battle for the Buffalo Wild Wings board is over, and Marcato is the clear winner. The activist hedge fund of Mick McGuire took three board seats and Sally Smith is set to retire.

Thoughts on Law and Life From Award-Winning Zeidman

Philip Zeidman, longtime Franchise Times columnist and DLA Piper partner, showed off his way with words when accepting the Who’s Who Legal Lifetime Achievement Award last month, including musing about his early days in the profession as a litigator.

Aslam Khan’s Plan for TGI Fridays: Transparency, Accountability

Aslam Khan is known to many as the successful leader of Falcon Holdings, but now he's joining a new wave of successful franchisees turned franchisor leaders at the top of TGI Fridays.

One Day to Go, BWW 'Zees Stand Behind Management

Franchisees of Buffalo Wild Wings are still backing corporate in the fight against activist investor Marcato Capital Management, saying in a statement Tuesday that Marcato’s plan to sell off most of the 634 company-owned restaurants to franchisees is “heavily flawed.” The company’s annual meeting is tomorrow.

McDonald’s Accelerates Delivery Rollout with UberEats

Underscoring the seismic shift to delivery in all corners of the restaurant world, McDonald’s is ramping up its trial of third-party delivery with UberEats, doubling the number of U.S. locations delivering Big Macs, Egg McMuffins, and McNuggets.

Most important ‘National Days’ for franchises this summer

Major franchises have taken advantage of more conventional national days to promote their products or offer exclusive deals. Others have had the foresight to actually create their own national holidays.

Two Men and a Truck Goes Long Distance With Value Flex Program

Long distance moving can be a terrifying prospect. To add to the uncertainty of moving to a completely new area, families and individuals ditch their belongings for days at a time, hoping they arrive safely to their new address. Having a verified company they can trust makes that process a little bit easier.

Ace Actively Fueling Store Growth

Ace Hardware is a sleeper in the franchise world—much bigger than many people would suspect with nearly $15 billion in annual global sales, nearly 4,500 U.S. locations and a No. 6 ranking in the Franchise Times Top 200+ list of the largest franchisors. As it seeks to fuel additional growth, Ace announced a new financing program to help owners scale up.

A&W’s CEO On Growing a 98-year-old Brand

Riding in the car with A&W CEO Kevin Bazner on our way to a third-generation restaurant in Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to ask more questions than any gracious source should be subjected to. We talked about jazzing up the menu, shifting the marketing message and bolstering the profits of a 98-year-old brand.

McDonald's Ex-Boss Scoops Up PizzaRev, BWW Is Out

PizzaRev has landed a majority investor, and it’s a big name—Cleveland Avenue based in Chicago, a new venture capital firm founded in January by Don Thompson, McDonald’s former CEO who retired from the Golden Arches in March 2015.

Monroe Moxness Berg Dynamo Randy Evans Loses Battle with Cancer

Randy Evans, a dynamic restaurant and retail lawyer, lost his battle with cancer and died May 23.

Forget the Feds—NYC Makes Counting Calories Mandatory

How long will it take on the treadmill to work off that burger and fries? In New York City, restaurants must begin to disclose now the number of calories in their menu items. That’s so even though the rest of the nation got a reprieve earlier this month when federal disclosure rules were postponed until May 7 next year.

Uncertainty Rules as Restaurant Industry Assesses Trump Admin.

Speaking today during the session, “The First 100 Days of Trump: What it Means for You,” Cicely Simpson, executive vice president of policy and government affairs for the National Restaurant Association, noted a high level of uncertainty remains as Congress continues its focus on the repeal and replacement of Obamacare while “all of those other promises from the campaign, they have not been touched.”

Are Three Brands Better Than One? JAB Hopes So

In the heart of Wells Fargo Tower in downtown Minneapolis sits a trend that’s been largely abandoned—the tri-brand restaurant. The Coffee & Bagels operating company, a Caribou and Einstein Bros. Bagels mashup under JAB Holding Company, has teamed up with Argo Tea to develop tri-branded units throughout Minnesota.

And Now, From the 'Full Employment for Lawyers' File...

“The franchise world has watched joint employment cases with everything from concern to terror,” declared Heather Perkins, an attorney with Faegre Baker Daniels in Denver at the International Franchise Association’s Legal Symposium May 9, and she proceeded to update the audience about two key cases with conflicting outcomes.

There's No Such Thing as a Free Blog Post—Disclose It

If you provide free clothes or free video games in return for blog posts from customers, do you have to disclose it? The Federal Trade Commission says yes. That’s according to a panel of attorneys who discussed social media strategies at the International Franchise Association’s Legal Symposium in early May.

Talking Millennial Myths at the NRA Show

If we’re to believe the prevailing narrative, millennials are mostly a generation of rather lazy, self-involved, over-parented people struggling to integrate themselves into adulthood and spending most of their time staring at their smartphones. They want information handed to them in neat little boxes—and more pictures, please—and hey, if you want to reward them for their behavior, even better.

From Cigar Box to Acquisition, PostNet Sells to MBE

Back in the day, Steven Greenbaum, then age 21, operated his independent pack-and-ship business “out of a cigar box” and with “bathroom scales,” as he told Franchise Times in 2008. This week Greenbaum sold PostNet, the franchise system he co-founded in 1992 that today has 660 franchise locations in nine countries, to MBE Worldwide.

Good News: ‘Zors Providing Better Financial Info

Like any investment, franchising is a gamble for those considering putting their money on the line. To that end, we encourage all players in the industry to disclose as much financial information as possible. A new report by FRANdata suggests franchisors are getting the hint.

Restaurant Trend Hunting in NYC

Sometimes it’s a dirty job here at Franchise Times, like my current advance work to explore the latest restaurant trends while I’m in New York City next month for the annual International Franchise Expo at the Javits Center.

Mosquito Joe Takes on Malarial Mosquitos in Africa

We all know the annoying buzz of a mosquito stuck in our bedroom. To most Americans, it’s a nuisance, but for families across Africa, it portends one of the deadliest diseases known to man: malaria.

Massage Envy Rolling Out New Services and Remodel

The largest massage concept in the U.S. will be undergoing a major, company-wide facelift. Last week, Massage Envy announced plans to remodel more than 700 of its franchised locations, alongside a plan to increase its product offerings to become a total body care service.

The Friendly Acquisition of Mooyah Burgers

A pair of friendly capital partners are taking the reins from another pair of close friends, preparing Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes for its next phase.

Yum Announces Big Pizza Hut Investment

There’s no question that Domino’s has stolen the bulk of the recent mojo in the ongoing pizza wars sweeping across the globe. The latest salvo promises to ratchet up the intensity, as Yum Brands announced a dramatic $130 million investment for its Pizza Hut brand.

Hertz Hits the Skids on Weak Numbers

After announcing a $223 million loss and missed first-quarter expectations, Hertz shares fell sharply this week, accelerating what’s been a startling decline of the car rental giant’s share price over the last eight months.

Penalties Can Be Steep for Franchise Law Violations

Franchise attorney Beata Krakus has a sure-fire way to make certain her clients stay awake when she conducts training on compliance with a myriad of franchise laws. “One of my first slides is a picture of a guy behind bars. That tends to get everyone’s attention real quick,” she said at a presentation yesterday. Krakus, with Greensfelder Hemker & Gale, spoke Monday at the International Franchise Association’s Legal Symposium in Washington, D.C.

What Can Your FPR Say? New Rules Ahead

New rules are just around the corner for what franchisors can and cannot say in their financial performance representations, also known as FPRs or Item 19, and two attorneys laid out some details yesterday at the IFA Legal Symposium in Washington, D.C.

Famous Dave’s Selling Company Stores to Its ‘Zees

Accelerating its previously announced plans to focus solely on its franchisees, Famous Dave’s announced it is refranchising its remaining 33 company-owned restaurants during the next two years.

KFC Pens 'Tender Wings of Desire' Romance Novella for Moms

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, KFC has cooked up something special: its first romance novella titled “Tender Wings of Desire” as a thank-you to all the moms. Paired with its $20 Fill Up deal or as a free e-book download on Amazon, this is a legitimately unique marketing ploy that I fully support.

Take Care Before Posting That Photo, Attorney Advises

“When it comes to copyright law there is a profound amount of ignorance,” declared Mark Anfinson, a media law attorney in the Twin Cities in a talk last week before magazine editors and writers. Anyone who posts or publishes content—in other words, just about everyone—should pay attention to his advice.

Rushing to Disclose Calories? Never Mind for Now

Restaurants and other food sellers had until this Friday, May 5, to disclose calories on their menus, but heavy last-minute lobbying by grocery stores, convenience stores and pizza chains caused the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to delay enforcement—until next year, May 7, 2018, says a Gray Plant Mooty alert.

Great Harvest's Shot at Panera Goes to FTC

Well, you can’t say Eric Keshin lacks chutzpah, as the president of Great Harvest Bread Co. sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission this week requesting it and the Justice Department look into the purchase of Panera Bread by JAB Holding Co. and examine it on anti-competitive grounds.
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