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Jimmy John's Leads List of Franchise Times Dealmakers Winners

Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches today received the Franchise Times Deal of the Year award, for attracting Roark Capital as a majority investor and cashing out Weston Presidio, its original private equity partner, for a handsome return in a more than $2-billion transaction.

Batteries+Bulbs Highlights the Value of Investing in Retail at FFGC

In an agenda dominated by food brands, Russ Reynolds, CEO of Batteries +Bulbs, shed some light on why his retail brand is a good financing fit for the lenders attending the Franchise Finance & Growth Conference at the Encore in Las Vegas, March 13-15, 2017.

Moe's Digital Drive-thrus Pushed by Off-premise Growth

Historically, QSR has gotten the bulk of off-premise dollars via the drive-thru. But fast casual is catching up with new technology.

Amid Slump, Ruby Tuesday Explores All Options

Times are tough in the casual dining segment, as evidenced by slumping same-store sales by many restaurants, changing consumer habits and a massive onslaught of fast-casual competitors. The latest player in this category to struggle is Ruby Tuesday, which announced it is “exploring strategic alternatives in order to maximize shareholder value,” including a potential sale or merger.

Marco’s Pizza Sets Sight on 200 More Stores Over 2 Years

Speaking Monday, March 13, during the first day of the Franchise Times Finance and Growth Conference in Las Vegas, President Bryon Stephens noted Marco’s Pizza has more than doubled its store count since 2012, to 815 locations in dozens of states. And more growth is in sight.

Franchisors Highlight Capital Needs at FT Conference

Dunkin Brands has significant capital needs in 2017: $2.5 million for Baskin Robbins remodels; $6 million for Baskin Robbins new builds; $99 million for Dunkin’ Donuts remodels; and $263 million for Dunkin’ Donuts new builds. As told by Dunkin’s Jason Maceda, vice president of finance, it was the most obvious reason explaining lender interest at the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference that opened yesterday in Las Vegas.

Timing Is Everything When Seeking Growth Capital

“Rather than the ‘when,’ it’s far more important to focus on ‘who’ you are partnering with and how the deal is structured,” says NRD Capital Managing Partner Aziz Hashim, about getting funding for franchise expansion. He was speaking to Living Large columnist Poornima Apte, who details in an upcoming print edition how and when three emerging franchise brands should seek capital to foster growth,

Greene Turtle Thinks Casino-Based Model Is Good Bet

The Greene Turtle has opened its first casino-based restaurant at the Hollywood Casino in Perryville, Maryland, along with a new, 24-hour fast-casual eatery called Greene Turtle Express. Tom Finn believes the firsts for the company hold promise for more such expansion.

A Bermuda Short Story

Bermuda is an odd choice for a franchise writer to be visiting, since there is more public art than franchises. The government prohibits foreign franchises, with the exception of franchised hotels, our cab driver gleefully told us.

Boston Markets Phasing Out Antibiotics

The latest franchisor to jump on the train is Boston Market, which will serve antibiotic-free rotisserie chickens by the end of Q1 2018. According to the Colorado-based chicken chain, its goal is serving 100 percent antibiotic-free rotisserie chicken as soon as possible—with currently more than 75 percent of its chickens being raised without the use of antibiotics.

Arby’s Opens NYC Restaurant, Serves Up Venison Sandwiches

Last year Arby’s made headlines when it began testing venison sandwiches in select locations around the country. States like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota were able to get in on the deer meat craze for a limited time, and the sandwiches sold out almost immediately.

McDonald's Previews 'Experience of the Future' With Delivery, Curbside Pickup

McDonald’s included a pack of surprisingly bold McNuggets with its Investor Day in downtown Chicago earlier this week as the fast-food giant unveiled plans for meal delivery, app-based mobile ordering, curbside pickup and a “more modern, more exciting restaurant environment” as part of its new Experience of the Future restaurant concept that’s already delivering sales gains in markets outside of the United States.

Four Foods Adds Soda Shop to Growing Stable

Four Foods Group has scooped up another company, The Soda Shop, from founders Chase Wardrop and Dylan Roeder, who will both retain equity in the company and serve as division presidents.

Accounting Change Is More Dramatic Than Most

A new accounting rule will change when franchisors can recognize revenue from initial franchise fees—stretching it out for the life of a development agreement rather than when the first location opens—and could mean a big hit to income statements. So warns Kevin Hein, a franchise attorney at Alexius in Denver.

Domino’s Hits Another Homer With Q4 Results

As reported in its Q4 2016 financial results, Domino’s Pizza grew domestic same-store sales 12.2% during the quarter, while international sales shot up 4.3%. It also opened a record 1,281 stores during the year, which includes 171 net new domestic locations.

All the Advice That Fits in a Four-Hour Workweek

Would you take advice from the man who wrote the book, “The 4-Hour Workweek”? If so, then Tim Ferriss’ keynote talk at the International Franchise Association annual convention was for you. (The conference was Jan. 31-Feb. 2, and if I hadn’t cut my work week to four hours since then, I might have posted this blog earlier.*)

Dealmakers Winners Prove Quotable in Interviews

“When we find an opportunity, we sort of jump all over it, and it demonstrates to folks how serious we are to grow.” So says Barry Dubin, chief development officer at KBP Foods, one of the Franchise Times Dealmakers award winners I’ve been interviewing over the last week. Here are a few more:

Trend Transformations Rides HGTV Wave

It’s somewhat crazy that 'Fixer Upper,' 'Flip or Flop' and 'Property Brothers' are so popular their stars’ lives have become tabloid fodder. For Trend Transformations, an international flooring and home hard surface restoration franchise tied up with Tarek and Christina El Moussa, the drama surrounding their divorce has been outweighed by the visibility gains for their company.

Food Halls: The Big Retail Trend of ‘17

With as many as 150 new food halls predicted to open in the next few years, these modern day food courts with higher-end food offerings are the bright spots offsetting tough times in the retail scene as many big-name brands are facing what may be their darkest year in business.

SBA Tweaks Lending Rule, Relieving Some Franchisors

The Small Business Administration temporarily tweaked its new procedures governing lending to franchisees, to the relief of many franchisors and bankers who maintained the new rules would chill franchise lending.

Puzder's Withdrawal Pains Franchise Supporters, but Cheers Workers' Group

Just one day before his long-awaited confirmation hearing for secretary of labor, Andrew Puzder became the lone cabinet nominee to date to not get the nod, a blow to his many supporters in the franchising community who hoped the CEO of CKE Restaurants would set the department on a pro-business track. But at least one workers' group cheered.

New Stats on Women in Franchising

I’m all about encouraging diversity in franchising, and was pleased to see some new statistics on women in franchising from Franchise Business Review. On the whole, FBR’s numbers point to a clear majority enjoying operating the business, while barely more than half feel their work/life is balanced.

Additional 30,000 Temps Power Valentine’s Day Surge at Edible Arrangements

At Edible Arrangements, Valentine’s Day is the single biggest day of the year.

A&W Getting Back in the Game

With fond memories of A&W root beer floats with my parents and brother when I was a kid, I’m happy to hear the news that the brand is back on the gas five years after its sale by Yum. For the first time in more than 10 years, A&W is reporting systemwide revenue and store count growth, as it kicks off a new franchise sales initiative.

Noodles & Company Plans to Shed 55 Restaurants in Next Few Months

Noodles & Company, the fast casual concept struggling with declining sales for better parts of the last year, has announced plans to close approximately 55 “underperforming” restaurants in the coming months.

Training New Drivers When Schools Won't

Things have changed since most of us received our driver education training during our teenage years. What used to be within the purview of brave school teachers has now been passed off to the private sector as many school systems have cut funding for in-school driver’s ed courses. As this trend spread throughout the United States, Washington-based 911 Driving School has profited and expanded to fill the void.

Franchise Exec Takes Unexpected Medical Detour While On the Road

One of the best decisions Marc Mushkin made in his lengthy career in international franchising is not putting the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on his hotel door in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).

Domino’s Introduces Pizza Wedding Registry

Just weeks after my Franchise Times cover story on Domino's, the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based pizza giant has outdone itself with a pizza wedding registry. Seriously.

Following big gains, Captain D’s expects strong 2017

It was another terrific year for seafood franchising giant Captain D’s, as the company obtained a record-high systemwide AUV in 2016. It saw fourth quarter system wide sales increase 1.3 percent, along with a 2.3 percent systemwide same-store sales increase over the year. This marks six consecutive years of sales growth for the Nashville-based company.

Diversity on Display at IFA

Two days into my third trip to the IFA annual convention in Las Vegas, I’ve once again seen the remarkable diversity representative of the amazing, global shifts underway in franchising. And I’m not just saying that because it was part of my presentation on the first day.

At the Movies: 'The Founder' Is Made for Followers of Franchising

Restaurants are said to be a pennies business, so it was only fitting that when the Ray Kroc character in the film, 'The Founder,' meets his future wife, Joan, playing the organ at a fine-dining restaurant in St. Paul, he joins the attractive blonde at the keyboard to lustfully sing 'Pennies From Heaven.'

Forget Overtime; Undertime Is Real Villain, Anytime Fitness Says

Franchise operators spend a lot of time worrying about overtime, but the real villain in their businesses is undertime—the amount of money employers pay for disengaged workers who are present only physically. That’s advice from the kilt-wearing Dave Mortensen and Chuck Runyon, co-founders of Anytime Fitness, who gave a lively keynote address today at the IFA's annual convention.

There's Work to Do, IFA Chair Urges Convention Attendees

“It took 50 years to create this misperception about franchising. It will not be undone in 50 weeks,” declared Aziz Hashim, chair of the International Franchise Association board of directors, in the opening general session of its annual convention in Las Vegas yesterday.

Tim Hortons expanding its North American footprint to Mexico

Last week, Restaurant Brands International (NYSE: QSR) announced its brand, Tim Hortons, would expand into Mexico. The company says it will form a master franchise joint venture with an unidentified group of investors.

Advice Abounds for Would-Be Owners in Zor Awards Package

How do top-performing operators select the franchise brands that are right for them? We’re getting an earful on the topic, from multiple franchisees we’re featuring in our upcoming Franchise Times Zor Awards package, which will identify the best franchises to buy in each of 10 categories, to be published in March.

Coffee Pro Pivots to Building Dog Utopias

Neil Gill is the president and CEO of Phoenix-based Dogtopia, and is very enthusiastic about the business, but comes from Praise International, a subsidiary of Gloria Jeans Coffees where he helped turnaround and reenergize the brand in North America. He’s hoping to pull the same old tricks in the franchised dog space.

10 Win Prestigious FT Dealmakers Awards

Franchise Times today announces winners of the 2017 Franchise Times Dealmakers awards, the fifth annual project recognizing the boldest players driving mergers and acquisitions in franchising.

‘Simple’ Wingstop opens 1,000th location

Dallas-based Wingstop has opened location No. 1,000, a major milestone for a brand defined by its simplicity.

Arby's CEO on Record Sales, Maintaining Growth in QSR

Arby’s CEO Paul Brown announced record systemwide sales of more than $3.6 billion, a 25% increase in AUVs and 3.8% same-store sales growth—more than double the growth rate of the QSR category. Those numbers represent 25 consecutive quarters of of same-store sales growth and 11 consecutive quarters of transaction growth for the Atlanta-based brand.

CoreLife Lands Experienced Michigan Operator as First 'Zee

A long-standing relationship with Larry Wilson, founder of CoreLife Eatery, convinced Stevensville, Michigan-based operator Joyce Lunsford to sign on as the healthy restaurant brand’s first franchisee—that and a taste of beet lemonade, something Lunsford thought she’d hate.

Amazing Lash Operators Don't Hesitate to Enlist Family

If you think your holiday gatherings with family can be fraught, consider John and Janet Mok, Amazing Lash Studio franchisees in New Jersey who have convinced all four of John’s siblings to buy into the franchise, as well. “We’re either heroes or goats, right?” says John with a laugh.

Capriotti’s Founder Lois Margolet Passes

Lois Margolet, founder of Las Vegas-based Capriotti’s Hand Crafted Sandwiches, passed away on Thursday following a battle with lung cancer. She was 68.

Former NFL Linebacker, Mooyah ‘Zee Shares Franchise Experience

“Just like in football, coaches move, so you can’t pick a franchise just for the people, the leadership; you pick it for the model,” said Bradie James, speaking during Franchise Expo South in Dallas. James, a multi-unit franchisee of Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes, is also the company’s director of brand engagement.

Can Taco Bell Actually Win Market Share in China?

Yesterday Yum China announced the grand opening of a new Taco Bell in Shanghai, the chain’s first location in China after a decade-long absence. With a potential customer base of 1.3 billion, Yum Brands and Taco Bell seem excited about the likelihood of a big expansion in China.

Famous Toastery says ‘happy holidays’ with artful pancakes

Famous Toastery opted not to put too many guardrails on a holiday social media campaign, instead having a little fun with a hypnotizing pancake artist.

'Idea Guy' Founder Sells Pizza Patron, Pivots to What's Next

Antonio Swad, founder of Dallas-based Pizza Patron and Wingstop, is on to a new venture after selling this week Pizza Patron to the brand's largest franchisee, Charles Loflin of San Antonio.

Dueling Surveys Blast, Praise Labor Nominee Puzder

The headlines this week were negative for Andy Puzder, Trump’s choice for secretary of labor and CEO of CKE Restaurants—so much so that the International Franchise Association commissioned a survey of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s employees to counteract a damning one released Tuesday by Puzder foes.

Drew Brees Aims to Score With Dunkin’ Donuts

As speculation mounts about how long Drew Brees will continue as quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, it’s becoming clearer that one of the most famous and talented players in the NFL has teed himself up to be a major player in the franchise world for many seasons to come. Adding to his growing empire of Jimmy John’s and Walk-On’s restaurants, he is set to build 69 new Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in Louisiana.

How the Housing Market in India Differs From U.S.

Real estate in India is like football in the U.S., says Ramnik Chopra, managing director and lead investor in Coldwell Banker India. He’s not saying it’s a game, only that homeowners are fanatical scorekeepers. “Everyone wants to know the price of their property” and every weekend they’re checking the newspapers for the stats, he says.

Retail, Labor Indicators Looking Good

As the numbers begin trickling in after the cash registers cool down from the holidays, initial reports suggest it was a good Christmas for U.S. retailers in general, with First Data reporting a 4.7 percent year-over-year increase in retail sales during the season as part of its SpendTrend Holiday Season numbers.
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