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January 2017

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In this issue

Don’t mess with MOD: How to build a fiercely loyal workforce

‘If you treat people like they matter they will do anything,’ says Kory Harp softly, belying his burly looks to explain why he believes the culture at MOD Pizza is a precious treasure. He and others in the MOD Squad, as more than 3,000 employees and eight franchise partners are known, are determined to keep that enviable culture alive even as the chain expands nationwide. Founders Scott and Ally Svenson have their backs, insisting they care much more about purpose than pizza.

Jersey Mike’s tops this year’s Fast & Serious list

The No. 1 franchise on this year’s Fast & Serious list—designating the fastest-growing franchises over three years, in order to ensure sustainability—ironically talks more about being methodical than pushing to the max. “We’re very diligent—some people would call it slow, but we try to be real thoughtful about it,” says Hoyt Jones, president of Jersey Mike’s, the sub sandwich chain that requires a full-week training for every franchisee in New Jersey headquarters. Learn his growth strategies, plus those of 39 more franchise bosses who are intent on growing quickly but only in ways that can last.

Wisdom from the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference

Political pundits, restaurant CEOs and financial wizards shared advice and philosophies at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference, presented each November by the Restaurant Finance Monitor, FT’s sister publication. Here are some highlights, with many more online at franchisetimes.com.

Apple Pie Capital strives for new finance normal

‘If I can do so much on the internet, why can’t I do my financing?’ That simple question drove Denise Thomas to start ApplePie Capital, which a couple of rounds of funding and a couple of years later is marrying tech with money.

Spray-Net, Blink Fitness and Watermill Express tackle challenges

Spray-Net, Blink Fitness and Watermill Express are the emerging franchises we will follow all year as they tackle their challenges. Our first installment of Living Large for the new year examines how the brands work to increase revenue and control expenses at the unit level.

Backing away from the ledge after Trump

After the election I had this reaction, like a popular majority of the voting public unless in fact 2.8 million of those votes were illegal: UUUUGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH. But I didn’t think I could fill this column with that word, so I began moving through the seven stages of grief.

Proposal by Euro parliament: a realistic solution?

It is rare that the European Parliament has anything to say about franchising. Recently though, that august institution spoke up, in the form of a study published by one of its committees, looking at the impact of regulation on franchising in Europe. While it is not the official position of the parliament, it cannot safely be ignored.

When social media meets SEO

Over the years, I have heard dozens of franchise salespeople lament the social media efforts of their franchisors. They often feel the money spent on social media is wasted when it comes to franchise lead generation. And while there are numerous ways that a franchisor can ineffectively utilize social media, savvy franchisors have found that social media, done right, can have a profound impact on their franchise marketing efforts.

After Wendy’s purchase, JAE banks on ‘The Machine’

Back in September, Pompano Beach, Florida-based JAE Restaurant Group announced it was now one of South Florida’s largest employers, having acquired 97 Wendy’s re-franchised restaurants within a year.

Astrological signs and your bathroom habits

Most likely the last time bathroom humor was top of mind for the team at Fish Consulting was when they were in the third grade (junior high, maybe high school, for the boys). But when their client, Mr. Rooter, wanted to create consumer buzz around the plumbing brand, Fish drilled down and asked themselves, “How can we make this sexy?” according to Andie Biederman, senior account executive for the south Florida PR/advertising agency.

India’s cash dearth upsets trade mission

Problems due to India’s prime minister’s demonetization of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes didn’t amount to a hill of beans compared to what the average Indian has had to put up with, but it was still upsetting to members of the franchise trade mission in December, as FT’s Nancy Weingartner reports

Dream email sparked Dog Haus deal

A massive development deal for Dog Haus started with a simple email on the franchise’s website— you know, that generic contact form that rarely coughs up a promising lead.

Erbert and Gerbert’s franchisee aims high

Spend just two minutes on the phone with Aubrey Janik, age 23, and you’ll quickly have an appreciation for her outsized share of ambition and fearlessness. She’s got a two-, three- and five-year plan, and if it all works out, franchising may have found its newest up-and-coming star.

Fear is relative for Best in Class CEO

Failure is a subjective term for Hao Lam. The founder and CEO of Best in Class has had life-changing failures—10, he says—including running from gunfire and being sent to a Vietnamese prison on several occasions.

DQ boss likes the word ‘accountable’

This operator grew from seven locations to 180, all in the Dairy Queen brand, while still in his early 30s. But his advice for other young operators is to make one unit profitable before adding another.

What happens when technology weds capital

Lending tech, insurTech, blockchain, oh my! The financial world is changing dramatically, but what on earth does it mean for business owners who don’t live in the cloud?

Public transit adds to Denver’s zip

Stepping off the sleek, new A-line train that swept me from the gates of DIA into the heart of downtown Denver—23 miles away—I was easily impressed by the Mile High City.

High standard of living attracts attention in Taiwan

Business ownership is revered in Taiwan, where entrepreneurs are seeking well-known franchise brands they can develop and where U.S. franchisors can test their concepts before launching in mainland China.

Taiwan, at a glance

Location: In Southeast Asia, Taiwan borders the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, Taiwan Strait, and the South China Sea just east of mainland China. Size and name: The island is about the size of Maryland and Delaware combined. Officially known as the Republic of China.


There are headless companies among us! Four public restaurant companies are currently without a permanent CEO, fallout from a transformative era and a difficult year for the industry.

Executive Ladder

Executive Vice President and COO of Midas, Mike Gould, retired after 36 years with the business. Focus Brands promoted Paul Macaluso to president of McAlister’s Deli. SpeedPro Imaging appointed Ryan Reeves as its vice president of franchise sales. Reeves previously held directorial positions at McAlister’s Deli and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit.
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From the Magazine

Publisher's Column

After a year of vitriol, a dose of inspiration

The year 2016 was a stressful and vitriolic one—at least if you watched the news. From every which way, it seemed all the loudest voices were intent on tearing down other people. As the old (really old) Simon & Garfunkel song laments, “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?”

Loose Ends

Why I never skirt the issues when covering bigwigs or trade missions

Most people who go to Vegas lose their shirt. I lost my skirt.
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