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August 2015

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In this issue

A projector project, inspired by Pizza Hut

Sometimes a good idea should stay just that—an idea. During a lull in our production schedule this summer, FT decided to sincerely flatter Business Insider and see if we, too, could recreate Pizza Hut’s Blockbuster Box, which repurposes a pizza box as a movie projector. The clever promotion was dreamed up by Ogilvy Hong Kong for Pizza Hut Asia.

Hammer & Nails is ultimate man cave

Women are welcome, but there’s no polish, no acrylics, no flip-flops provided and no babies. They do, however, get to hold the TV remote.

Many profit centers at Wag N’ Wash

Clark Kerndt left his corporate job knowing that operating one unit wouldn’t match his salary, but it would present a better lifestyle—both professionally and personally.

Bees buzzing at Radisson Blu

FireLake at the Radisson Blu in the Mall of America in Minneapolis got a honey of a deal from the University of Minnesota’s Bee Squad: Support our bee research and by next summer you’ll have enough local honey to sweeten more than just the honey-glazed pork chop currently on the menu.

Can commercial and social mix at MSA Worldwide?

When selling Rogaine failed to satisfy, Julie McBride turned to social franchising. She now joins MSA Worldwide to try to make the business model work for, well, business people. The goal is global impact.

Loading up the fries at Smoke’s Poutinerie

Loaded fries are loaded fries, until they’re served up by a young franchise whose founder believes in brand differentiation above all else. That, and an imaginary counselor named Smoke.

No sacrifice too great for Bubbakoo’s founders

Forget sleeping in your own bed. The co-founder of Bubbakoo’s gave up that nicety and more to launch the brand. Eight years later, the company’s fortunes—and the founders’ personal space—have improved mightily.

Father passes baton at Aaron’s franchise

Since January, Charles Smithgall III has been living in a 250-year-old house in the safest city in Mexico, studying Spanish daily and eating elegant breakfasts for the equivalent of USD $4. “I’m the only American here. They call me El Gringo,” he says proudly. On weekends he goes deep-sea fishing, and chats with his 50 closest Mexican friends, all of whom speak to him in Spanish. His wife has elected to just visit from Atlanta for now, he says, of his new home away from home. Once he’s mastered Spanish, he’ll move on to another project, piano lessons—and perhaps live part time in Spain. “My wife says if I move to Spain, she’ll go with me,” he says with a hint of a smile in his voice.

Crashing McDonald’s annual meeting

McDonald’s banned the media from its annual meeting this spring, but our long-time writer Julie Bennett is a shareholder, too, and so made the cut. She offers a glimpse into a storied franchise now under siege.

New concept for Famous Dave’s founder: Jimmie’s

With ties severed to Famous Dave’s, the barbecue franchise he founded, Dave Anderson is back as head pitmaster for Jimmie’s Old Southern BBQ. Can he avoid the mistakes that soured his former experience?

Rush is on for healthcare providers

Burger and pizza joints long ago set the course for rapid expansion through franchising. Now chiropractors, physical therapists and many more healthcare providers are following their lead.

Money can make employees care

Some restaurant operators feel so strongly about upselling, they actually pay their employees more to do it. That was among the nuggets of wisdom from Dickey’s, Goldco, Habit Burger and McAlister’s Deli.

How restaurants can beat competition

New restaurants are opening at a healthy clip, outstripping the increase in diners’ dollars. Which brands will beat the competition? Here are ways to keep the customers coming.

Askar brothers juggle seven brands

Askar Brands began by buying Papa Romano’s in 2006. Seven acquisitions and 200 units later, the family-owned enterprise keeps growing.

More choices improve Bruster’s outlook

One scoop or two? That’s a common question at Bruster’s Real Ice Cream. But now franchisees have more choices, too—freestanding, endcap or inline stores. The options are proving popular.

How much accounting, HR is just right?

Tapping outside firms for certain services helps owners stay sane. The hard part is knowing how much to outsource. We asked a few operators and experts how they make the call, and found it’s trial and error.

Time to act on tech upgrades

Now is a challenging time to be in the quick-service restaurant business. The fast-casual segment continues to gobble up market share, with sales growth exceeding 500 percent since 2000. The impact isn’t so much rippling throughout the industry as it is roiling the competitive landscape.

Trade mission heads to Norway, neighbors

Norway is the first country on the upcoming franchise trade mission, which also includes stops in Finland and Sweden. Here’s an overview of what franchisors on the mission are apt to encounter.

Land of the midnight sun offers opportunities

The cross is common to most Scandinavian flags, linking Norway to the other countries. The colors are believed to have been influenced by the flags of France, the U.S. and Britain.

Crossing to Canada, the right way

If giant U.S. retailer Target with all its resources couldn’t make it, what chance in Canada does a mid-sized franchisor have? Actually, success in Canada comes with seeing it as international expansion, not just heading to a northern neighborhood.

Living Large brands discuss people practices

Finance, real estate and other subjects aren’t easy for the three franchise brands we’re following all year in this column. But at least some answers are black and white. When it comes to employee relations, everything is gray.

Moe’s new marketing VP details approach

Richard Kolman was hired as senior vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer at Worldwide Express. Stacy Soderstrom and Jameka Spencer joined the executive team at Handyman Matters as vice president of franchise development and director of franchise development, respectively.

Data breaches keep ‘zors up at night

Shelly O’Callaghan, general counsel at International Dairy Queen, had one of her worst days ever in October 2014, when news broke about a data breach at the Minneapolis-based franchise.

Deals for McAlister’s, AAMCO, Russo’s

Christine Berry, who’s been working in restaurants since she was a teen, is a talented trainer. She’s so good, in fact, that her former employer, Biglari Holdings, dispatched her to lead Steak ‘n Shake opening teams in the U.S. and in Cannes, Ibiza and Dubai.

In Prague, why not to stay at home

Prague was at its best. The river was sparkling; the music was stirring, spritely or stately as you chose; the art and architecture appealing; the food extraordinarily good. There was not even a hint of the grim life under socialism, which many of us remember from our earliest visits there.
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From the Magazine

Publisher's Column

A debut for Dixie

About 10 years ago, our family owned Yorkies. You know, the little dogs with bows in their hair. We didn’t do the bows, but you get the picture.

Loose Ends

Sometimes it all comes out in the wash

When a woman reaches a certain age without a canine companion, she finds herself in the unsavory position of having to rely on the kindness of nonstrangers to wash a dog at the local Wag N’ Wash.
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