Execs share growth stories, angle for investments at Franchise Times conference
Touting high average unit volumes, restaurant redesigns, delivery initiatives and more, c-level execs shared their brand’s growth plans May 6-8 at the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference. Presenters included legacy brands such as A&W, TGI Fridays and Wendy’s; emerging brands such as Urban Air Adventure Park and Melt Shop; new segment brands such as One Cannabis and Stretch Zone; and more. More than 70 franchisors presented the investment case for their brands to an audience of financiers, family offices, private equity firms, lenders, institutional investors and operators, and then engaged with audience members in private Q&A sessions following each talk. We present in this digital edition the videos of all presentations with introductions by the Franchise Times editorial staff.
Articles by Beth Ewen, Tom Kaiser, Laura Michaels, Nancy Weingartner Monroe and Nicholas Upton.
Justin Livingston - VP of Franchise Development
One Cannabis brings national legitimacy via franchising
All it takes is one stroll through downtown Denver or Las Vegas these days to smell the possibility of the marijuana industry, both for medical purposes and recreational use. As Las Vegas city officials clear the way for recreational lounges that will lead the country in open use, marijuana is gaining both acceptance and legitimacy for this entirely new industry.
Getting the hot question out of the way, One Cannabis COO Mike Weinberger said he didn’t have samples for the audience, but offered to lead a weed crawl through several dispensaries near the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.
“We are the only franchisor in cannabis,” he said, noting several brands have lingo mentioning franchise efforts but his one-on-one conversations with such brands showed many didn’t even know what a franchise disclosure document was. This, he said, strongly suggests One Cannabis will remain the only professionally franchised operation in the space—at least for the next few months in a budding national industry that’s changing fast. Click here to watch the presentation
Christine Specht - CEO
Cousins Subs expanding into Chicago
CEO Christine Specht of Wisconsin-based Cousins Subs shared her deep family roots in the national sandwich chain that began franchising in the 1990s. Now, after repositioning the company with restaurant refreshes, new locations and an updated menu, Specht said the brand’s key differentiators are grilled meats and fresh-baked Italian bread that “people from out east would appreciate.”
As the brand grows behind its approximately 100 locations, 80 percent of which are franchised, it has also doubled down on its Wisconsin roots with fried cheese curds, shakes and floats and new items like Wisconsin mac and cheese.
“We give consumers a better experience and we have a better menu,” she said, highlighting the four core values that have driven the brand updates; being grounded, passionate, optimistic and purposeful. ‘It’s not terribly glamorous, but we do it well.” Click here to watch the presentation
Andy Howard - CEO
Huey Magoo’s is second ‘that’s it?’ brand for CEO
Just chicken tenders? That’s it? It’s a valid question, and Huey Magoo’s CEO Andy Howard asked a similar one in the early days at his former company, Wingstop. Just chicken wings? But as is quite apparent by the incredible success of Chick-fil-A and Raising Cane’s, a minute menu with a singular focus can work really, really well.
Howard said the idea started forming back at Wingstop, when his own success sent chicken wing prices into the stratosphere. “I had this crazy idea to put in a boneless wing,” said Howard. “They thought I was crazy. But it was enormously successful, grew to five, 10, 30 percent of sales—some stores are at 50 percent. And it was a safety play.”
Chris Grandpre - CEO
Conserva Irrigation sees potential in leaky pipes
Making the pitch that growing Conserva Irrigation is job one after divesting Mosquito Squad, Outdoor Living Brands CEO Chris Grandpre said he sees massive potential in servicing irrigation systems in a world of growing water restrictions and costs.
Having seen the OLB headquarters and leadership team up close in a previous visit to its headquarters in Richmond, Virginia, I’m inclined to believe Grandpre’s take on the irrigation segment that’s largely served by independent contractors who don’t specialize in the category.
“Ninety-nine point nine percent are one guy in a truck, no website and probably with a magnetic sign on the side of his truck,” Grandpre said of the irrigation business, which hasn’t had a national, professional brand leading the way. Click here to watch the presentation
Alex Wilkes - Senior Vice President
Pearle Vision counts landing private equity as key goal
“We’ve been trying to land this plane for over a year now,” said Alex Wilkes, SVP, about his efforts to attract private equity firms to buy independent eye care brands and roll them up under the Pearle Vision platform.
He outlined that goal as one of three key initiatives last year in an interview with Franchise Times, and stated it again at the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference in May.
The engine behind that effort and others is Luxottica, the parent company of Pearle Vision and many other eyewear and eye care brands. In 2015, Pearle “began the journey of developing a world-class supply chain solution for our franchisees,” he said. Click here to watch the presentation
Mary Rawlins - Vice President of
Firehouse Subs touts strong AUV
What started with one store in 1994 has grown to 1,152 restaurants for Firehouse Subs, which is celebrating its 25th year and continues to expand thanks to involved operators and strong unit economics, said Mary Rawlins, vice president of financial services. The average investment to open a location is $345,000, said Rawlins, and average unit volume is $710,000. Online ordering and delivery are becoming a bigger part of the business, and “we’re trying to stay on top of that and making sure we have really good contracts” with the delivery partners, she said. Click here to watch the presentation