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Franchise Finance & Growth Conference Has a New Hip Home

One floor above the casino, the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference attracted a sea of suits that conflicted sharply with the more casual, and dare we say, more skimpy, clothing on the main floor. In case you, like my daughter, think I exaggerate, I can back up my observation.

Massage Heights Adds The Gents Place to Stable

I had the opportunity to interview Shane Evans, president of Massage Heights, while at the International Franchise Association annual convention in February, for an upcoming story. At that time she was not quite ready to announce her family-owned brand’s new acquisition. Now the news is out about the purchase of The Gents Place.

Friendly’s Continues Brand Resurgence

After falling on hard times, Friendly's is reviving itself and its restaurants, explains CEO John Maguire during the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference.

Not Changing, but Just Getting Started

As the keynote speaker at this year’s Franchise Times Finance and Growth Conference in Las Vegas, Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison highlighted the brand’s adherence to core principles while simultaneously preparing for massive additional growth in the United States and abroad.

Gigi's May Be Poised to Live Up to Her Story

Gina Butler was telling the same story on the first day of the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference in Vegas today, but the brand she founded, Gigi's Cupcakes, may soon start living up to the tale.

Inventing on a Jet Plane

What do you do on plane rides? If you’re like me, you thumb through a stack of magazines while drifting in and out of an uncomfortable slumber. If you’re Jeff Mateka, founder of Redbox+, you kill time by dreaming up entire new business ideas—successful ones, at that. So the story goes from Lyle Blanchard, franchise development director at the Winona, Minnesota-based company that’s been cleaning up job sites since 2007.

Paragon's Prez Shares His Favorite Types of Borrowers

“We do want to diversify. We don’t want everything in fast food,” says Charles Yorke about the franchisees Paragon Small Business Capital Group likes to finance. We tracked down Yorke, president of the Paragon Bank division in Atlanta, right before heading to the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference in mid-March, to learn about one lender’s outlook.

Words of Wisdom from FT's Dealmakers Winners

The Franchise Times Dealmakers cover story for April is on the page and headed to the printer, but meanwhile I’d like to share some notable quotables from the package.

Gloria Jean's Coffees Harnessing Local TV

Originally started in Chicago by Ed and Gloria Jean Kvetko in 1979, Gloria Jean’s Coffees is a 59-unit coffee chain that’s now based in Southern California, largely mall focused and looking to continue the growth it began in 2015.

Checkers & Rally's Slaps Burger King in Wiener War

“Hey Burger King. It’s time to compare wieners.” So declared the full-page ad in USA Today last week, in which Checkers & Rally’s shot back at Burger King after its national rollout of a $1.99 hot dog in February.

K-9, Orangetheory Deals and More Setting Fast Pace

It’s only March, and some notable mergers and acquisitions are already piling up in the franchise space. Here are four catching our attention:

It's All Happening in Detroit

I’m an excitable guy, and usually find something to be excited about for all of my work travels, but I’m especially pumped for my upcoming trip to Detroit. As regular Franchise Times readers know, I’m a big fan of cities and urban franchising—and it’s all happening in the Motor City.

Crazy Ice Cream Chain Branches Out

Combining the novelty of “highly decorated” ice cream stores, model trains and see-through bathroom doors, Florida-based Sloan’s Ice Cream is on the cusp of major expansion in the United States, Kuwait and Dubai.

Why Burger King Is Now Warren Buffett’s Favorite Franchise

In his annual letter to Berkshire shareholders, Buffett sang the praises of the architects of the Burger King and Tim Hortons merger.

Engineering For Kids Soaring High

It’s one thing to hear about a young franchise with dramatic plans for growth. It’s quite another, in the eyes of this reporter, to hear about a franchise started by a full-time school teacher that’s up to 152 locations and in 22 countries just seven years after it was founded.

Going On a Weekend Gender Bender

This is what I learned in my gender-bending weekend: From a drag queen, it takes just a small safety pin to turn a conservative neckline into a cleavage-baring one. And from a Shakespearean play, women can look amazingly masculine, even without the pincushion codpiece.

Minneapolis May Extend Drive-Through Ban. Is That Bad?

Drive-throughs are a big part of franchising and the American suburban landscape. As illustrated by a new proposal in Minneapolis, many cities are outlawing the construction of new drive-through businesses along with other auto-oriented facilities. Is this a bad thing? Maybe not.

New Option for BrightStar 'Zees, Plus Gyro Shack's Debut

I pick up many juicy tidbits whenever I attend a conference, and this year’s International Franchise Association annual conference in San Antonio is no exception. Here are two, from BrightStar and Gyro Shack:

Smart Response Critical in Crisis, IFA Panelist Says

Tim McIntyre, vice president of communications at Domino's pizza for a couple of decades, has learned many lessons about crisis management that have only grown sharper since the rise of social media. A cardinal rule: “Your response affects your reputation as much as the incident itself,” he said at a panel on the topic Sunday at the International Franchise Association’s annual conference in San Antonio.

For Franchisees, Multi-Unit Growth Means Letting Go

Growth is the name of the game for franchisees, but making that move from one-unit operator to multi-unit franchisee is no small task, as attendees of a franchisee growth session at the annual IFA Convention learned.

Enjoying a Wet Willie in Houston

As I took a drink of my multi-colored Superman frozen daiquiri from the Wet Willie’s booth at last week’s Franchise Expo South, I wondered why others weren’t also giving away booze, regardless of the company. The sugary, colorful and surprisingly potent concoction was the perfect break from the show, and a pleasant gateway for the conversation I had with the franchised company’s CEO, William Dickinson.

Pet Franchise Is for the Birds

People who don't work for pet franchises imagine those who do spend all day playing with dogs, yammering with birds and getting treats. And that may not be too far off the mark.

Expo Show Psychology

There’s always interesting stuff to see at the big franchise shows. Having just returned from the 2016 Franchise Expo South in Houston, I saw it all, but my favorite encounter was with a guy whose booth was directly across from ours.

Second Mover in Healthcare Franchising Proves the Trend

Well, that didn’t take long. Nurse Next Door, a Vancouver-based home care franchise, announced this week a deal with St. Joseph Health in California, in which the not-for-profit St. Joseph will become a franchisee of a for-profit healthcare brand, and will open 26 franchise territories with an additional 12 as options to build out in the future.

No Rich Kids for QSR International's Prez

Speaking of Franchise Times Dealmakers winners, whom I had fun interviewing all week, I’ve already heard some gems that I’m looking forward to sharing with readers in our April issue. Here’s one from QSR International's president that I couldn’t wait to tell:

Please Pray for Me, I'm in D.C.

The annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., is not for the easily annoyed or enochlophobic. Nor is it a place where you can save a seat for a friend. Sorry, Dina Dwyer-Owens.

Less Serious Outtakes from Fast & Serious Interviews

All 40 interviews with the winners of our Fast & Serious ranking, the fastest, smartest-growing franchises, will be in our March issue, but here's what two CEOs talked about on the record, but off the page.

Freshii Hopes to Bowl Loyal Chipotle Customers Over at Lunch (Today)

Have lunch plans for today (Feb. 8)? Since you can't go to Chipotle, two franchises have food promotions hoping to attract loyal Chipotle fans.

Former Baseball Star Koskie Tells Truth About Franchisee Life

Corey Koskie, former third baseman for the Minnesota Twins, tells how difficult it was to be a Planet Fitness franchisee in a riveting blog post on The Players' Tribune, including the infamous clogged-toilet incident.

Growth Advice From Three Big Multi-Unit Franchisees

Becoming more than a one- two- or three-unit franchisee is no easy task. What brands to go with? How far from home can you wander? We talked to a few of the biggest multi-unit franchisees in the biz for their advice on growing a larger franchise operation. As a bonus, we asked them what to expect in the economy for the rest of 2016.

12 Win Prestigious FT Dealmakers Awards

Franchise Times today announces winners of the 2016 Franchise Times Dealmakers awards, the fourth annual project recognizing the boldest players driving mergers and acquisitions in franchising.

Keller Williams Crushing the Real Estate Game

Based off some impressive new numbers extending Keller Williams' lead as the world’s largest real estate franchise, the fast-growing company is riding the recovery wave to the top of its game. We recently spoke with the company’s president, John Davis, to find out what’s behind the great numbers and what are the most interesting things happening in America’s real estate market.

Metaphorical Franchising

At this week’s Franchise Forward event held in the Twin Cities, a great panel of franchise experts delved into a variety of topics impacting the industry, while host John Francis used his keynote address to compare multi-unit franchising to the life cycle of people. It was an interesting approach.

Planet Fitness Knows How to Make the Most of Its Moments

We’re reporting our Fast and Serious cover story for March right now, and enjoying the opportunity to pick the brains of 40 CEOs of the smartest-growing franchise brands, to learn how they drive sustainable growth. Along the way, we’re picking up some interesting stories, like the experience of Planet Fitness when it went public last August, and did so in a big way.

Dickey's Heir Holds on to Grandpa's Passion, Lets Go the Smoke

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is another one of our Fast and Serious Brands, which we’ll cover in the March issue when we reveal our ranking of the 40 smartest-growing franchises. Roland Dickey Jr., grandson of the founder, had plenty to say about how he and his team are using metrics and analysis to slim down the restaurant’s footprint and in the process boost average unit volumes. But he also got to recalling his grandfather.

Introducing The Urbane Franchisor

Everyone who knows me is well aware of my urban obsession. Now with the upcoming March issue of Franchise Times, everyone in franchising will know, too, with the start of my new column: The Urbane Franchisor.

In Tale of Two Cities, Employers Get First Say on Sick Pay

Anyone in private business who thinks they could have made a career in public policy, consider this a cautionary tale, as we report on "listening sessions" held by a Minneapolis city council work group contemplating mandated sick pay policies.

…But From Workers' Standpoint, It's a Different Story

In Minnesota, it’s against the law to force a sick employee in foodservice to come to work, or more to the point, to knowingly allow a sick employee to stay at work. But that’s not stopping the anti-public health and -humanity practice, according to four employee panelists on a Minneapolis City Council work group that’s contemplating sick pay mandates.

New IFA Leader Addresses Issues, Fundraising

Former International Franchise Association CEO Steve Caldeira was a fantastic PAC fundraiser, his successor Robert Cresanti told the audience at the IFA Franchise Business Network luncheon in Minneapolis January 21. “I am not,” he added.

NRD Capital's Aziz Hashim on Unlocking Multi-Unit Growth

Aziz Hashim, general partner at NRD Capital and chairman of the IFA, on how to smartly grow a large, multi-unit franchise operation.

Tackling European Development from 'A-near'

When Michele Fishman, vice president of International Development with The Alternative Board (TAB), decided to tackle the European market back in late 2014, she leased an apartment in Madrid, Spain, for six weeks. Here's some of what she learned.

Franchising Rides the Cheap Oil Whitewater

On the continuum of good to bad, I’m strongly of the mindset that cheap oil is good for the franchise economy. Even as some economists sound their warning bells as further oil price drops coincide with significant stock market free falls, more money in the pocket of everyday consumers will undoubtedly flow to service-oriented businesses in the coming months.

On The Loose in New York City

This is the first in a series of articles from Franchise Times' Editor at Large on her adventures in the U.S. and abroad. Spoiler Alert: This particular blog only has one franchise reference, but if you enjoy eating for more than just sustenance, you should be able to overlook that one shortcoming.

Six Questions w/New Two Men and a Truck CEO Jeff Wesley

Jeff Wesley was recently named CEO of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK after serving as CFO for the brand for almost eight years. He took over for Brig Sorber, one of the original "Two Men" of the company. This comes on the heels of 57 consecutive months of growth for TMT.

12 Newcomers Make FT's Exclusive Fast & Serious List

Twelve newcomers appear on the new Fast & Serious list, our annual ranking of the 40 smartest-growing franchises, based on a nine-point, proprietary formula.

At FT Dealmakers Time, Notable M&A Trends Emerge

It’s Dealmakers time at Franchise Times, when we evaluate the mergers and acquisitions in franchising nominated last quarter by all sorts of players for our annual project.

2015's Franchise Stock Market Winners & Losers

Last year was a strange one for investors. The DJIA gained only 130 points during the year and many fast-casual restaurant concepts went public to mixed results. Now that we’re into a new, equally weird year, let’s take a look at the winners and losers in franchising as determined by stock market performance.

Are Roomy Pants Hot or Not? FT and Others Weigh In

“What’s Hot? What’s Not?” was the topic for real estate and retail pros gathered this week in Minneapolis to hear fashion, restaurant and franchise gurus, including our own Tom Kaiser of Franchise Times, at a Minnesota Shopping Center Association event. Some were obvious and others contentious.

Brothers' Bond is Bread

Behind every freelance writer lurks another career option. We originally wrote a longer story on Robert Lillegard's bakery experience for our sister publication, Foodservice News, but thought Franchise Times readers would enjoy this family business profile, too.

Is Industrial Chic on Its Way Out?

Whether you’re renovating your home or dreaming up a new look for your restaurant, it may be time to look beyond mixing metal and glass with distressed, barnwood-like wood. If it’s a large-scale redesign covering several/many units, you should be even more on top of these shifting winds, as a design lasting 5-15-plus years needs to be as timeless as possible.
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