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Wetzel’s Pretzels’ pleasant delivery surprise


Jennifer Schuler is Wetzel’s Pretzels new CEO and a franchisee of two stores in Minnesota’s Mall of America.

Just a few weeks into a delivery test for Wetzel’s Pretzels, new CEO Jennifer Schuler counts two surprises, in a good way.

“We all know the average ticket for delivery is higher; ours has been significantly higher,” with the number of items per invoice about 75 percent higher than in the restaurants, she says. It’s unclear in these early days exactly why. “Are they ordering for parties? Are they ordering for work events?” Wetzel’s ongoing test at Kitchen United’s first virtual kitchen in Pasadena, California, will seek to learn details. A virtual kitchen is an all-online-ordering and delivery model, no-seating restaurant.

The second surprise: traditional locations do most of their business Friday through Sunday, she says. “At Kitchen United it’s a really good weekday business,” which seems promising if ‘zees can boost their sales on slow days at the mall. A pretzel sells for a low price point, $3 to $4, with Pretzel Bites at $4 to $6. That’s one reason she wanted to try delivery as a test, to avoid saddling franchisees with high delivery fees if it wasn’t profitable. “We needed to see if the math would work out. Rather than test it in stores, we can do a protected, incubated test” with Kitchen United.

Franchising Gives Back

Aimed at highlighting the charitable efforts of franchisors, franchisees and industry suppliers, the International Franchise Association and its Educational Foundation are seeking nominations for the fifth annual Franchising Gives Back Awards. Nominations are open through June 21 at franchisinggivesback.org/awards. Winners will be honored at the Franchising Gives Back Celebration & Awards Dinner on September 9 to kick off the Franchise Action Network Annual Meeting at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C. Gold award winners receive a $5,000 donation and Silver winners receive a $1,000 donation for their charity partner.

Buzz Adds British Swim

Rita Goldberg says she “couldn’t be happier” about the sale of the swim school business she started more than 30 years ago to Buzz Franchise Brands, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy decision for the founder of British Swim School. “None of us like to think we’re not the best at what we do,” says Goldberg. “But I saw so much potential and so much possibility, but I knew I probably wasn’t the person to take it there.” Those now tasked with taking the franchise to the next level are new British Swim School CEO Greg Longe and Buzz Franchise Brands, which came on as a capital partner and added BSS to its portfolio of home service brands. It’s the first acquisition for Buzz and CEO Kevin Wilson, who sold Mosquito Joe to Neighborly last year, leaving him with Pool Scouts and Home Clean Heroes. British Swim School, Wilson acknowledges, “could be viewed as a bit of a departure for us.” But, he continues, “we like the industry, the franchisees were doing well and growing—and growing fast. What we saw was an opportunity to accelerate that growth and grow the footprint across the U.S. and internationally,” says Wilson. “There’s a lot of white space, the unit economics are great.”

Dog Haus Goes Virtual

When Kitchen United’s first virtual kitchen opened in the River North neighborhood in Chicago in May, Dog Haus was one of a dozen brands testing the viability of a mobile-ordering and delivery-only restaurant. It committed to the next 25 Kitchen United locations slated to open in 10 markets by the end of 2020.

Anytime in Antarctica

When it departs for Antarctica in November, adventure expedition ship the Magellan Explorer will have an Anytime Fitness gym on board for use by guests, marking yet another international territory for the 24/7 fitness franchise. The brand touts the joint venture for giving it a presence on all seven continents.

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