Where are they now?
My Girl Friday—We first looked at this Cincinnati-based personal concierge service in May 2005. The company, founded by Julie Hagenmaier in 1999, sold a single franchise, which is operated by Las Vegas resident Ann Brommenschenkel. Repeated attempts to contact the company failed—the listed phone number is disconnected and e-mails bounced back. Brommenschenkel says she has not been able to contact the company and is uncertain what is going on. She has hired a lawyer, but would not comment on the nature of the lawyer’s investigation. Brommenschenkel, who signed on with the company in 2005, says her business has been successful and she intends to continue operations, despite the franchisor’s problems.
Baker Bros. American Deli—This Dallas-based deli was optimistic about franchised expansion when we first looked at it in February 2001, but the few deals the company had on the table fell through after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Instead of pursuing franchising, the company focused on improving same-store sales for a few years, says Ralph Kinder, director of franchise development. By 2005, prospective franchisees were showing interest, and the company has since opened eight franchised units, in addition to its four corporate stores. Baker Bros has seen increased sales in part as a result of price-crunches on consumers. “I think we’re seeing some trade-down from the casual-dining consumer, but I still think we get some trade-up from the fast-food restaurants as well,” Kinder says. Baker Bros. plans to have six more delis open by the end of the year, and is looking for multi-unit franchisees nationwide.