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March 2016

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In this issue

The perfect runners’ playlist for franchises

You’ve had a good run, but you’re finding you’re just not cut out to be a franchisee. Perhaps it’s the music playing in your head?

A few more Fast and Serious tales

Here are a couple of “outtakes” that didn’t fit in our Fast and Serious cover story this month. Retro Fitness’s Eric Casaburi said if he had a nickel for every time someone told him they needed to get into shape before they could join a gym, “I wouldn’t be on this call, I’d be on an island.”

People pay to break stuff at the Anger Room

Donna Alexander grew up on the South Side of Chicago so she knows angry people. She was just 16 when she says she came up with the idea for a place where people could take out their aggression without hurting other people or other people’s property.

Always time for wine at Famous Toastery

Wine isn’t just for lunch, happy hour, dinner, after-dinner and late night anymore. Now it’s for breakfast, too. So believes Famous Toastery, the “better breakfast” franchise that has unveiled wine pairings to match its omelets.

Sonic operator embraces complexity

Multi-unit operators are sought-after by most franchisors, so we wanted to know what makes them tick. In this debut column, Sam Freitag, a Sonic franchisee who now is branching into a new brand, describes the power of listening.

Hammer & Nails attracts Massage Envy founder

Michael Elliot, founder of Hammer & Nails, the ultimate man cave, has to feel like he just nailed it.

Dwyer’s boss talks values on Capitol Hill

When the King of Jordan couldn’t make the dinner at which he was to deliver the keynote speech to the Republican Congressional Institute Retreat last January, Dwyer Group Co-chair Dina Dwyer-Owens was elevated from break-out session speaker to the main stage.

Tint World’s CEO: ‘Don’t hire dirtbags’

Charles Bonfiglio, a Brooklyn native with the accent to prove it, started his business career in high school, when he opened a pizzeria. Next he designed a clothing line and then sold it, while working at a car stereo shop. Then he discovered Meineke, and “all of a sudden things turned on for me,” he says.

Fast and Serious: FT ranks the smartest-growing brands

What kind of gym has a “Lunk Alarm” to warn against hard-core body builders? Or a free pizza night for members the first Monday of every month? Or a debut on the New York Stock Exchange complete with purple carpets—the brand’s signature color—and “hand chairs” out front to attract tourists? Planet Fitness, the No. 1 company on this year’s Fast and Serious ranking. Now CEO Chris Rondeau’s charge is sticking to the brand’s contrarian nature. “The success is strongly believing in the culture and not wavering,” he says. Read on for his growth philosophy, along with that of 39 more smart franchise leaders committed to building bigger systems, but only in sustainable ways.

Secret club gives an experience, as all retailers should

It’s not enough to sell products in a beautiful setting anymore. Now, customers want to feel part of something special, a panel of retail trend-watchers say. From pizza to cupcakes, roomy pants to tech cashmere, they proclaim what’s in or out.

In people vs. machines, a vote for humanity

Restaurants are testing new ways to speed the ordering process, replacing humans with machines in various permutations. Staffers Tom Kaiser and Beth Ewen decided to check out a few versions of the trend, and came up with a final tally.

The Urbane Franchisor debuts, about citified franchising

As an urbanist, I’ve always laughed at how big cities are portrayed in movies—flaming garbage cans in the alleys, steam pouring out of manhole covers and hordes of feral cats lurking around every corner. While every metropolis has its unsavory spots, these fictional vignettes are hilariously off the mark.

New rules allow sophisticates to do crowdfunding

Making a donation to a crowdfunding campaign for a preordered gizmo or special perk is nothing new. But the Kickstarters and IndieGoGos of the world have a sophisticated new relative: equity crowdfunding.

Interest rates loom small in operators’ outlook

Every Fed day sends jitters around the stock market and has consumers wondering what it means for their next car or home loan. But for franchisees building restaurants with debt, moves by the Federal Reserve can materially change access to capital and fixed finance costs.

Suburbs still attract some franchise brands

Whether you blame the housing crisis, the millennials or global urbanization, there is a noticeable shift away from the staid suburbs in favor of trendy urban neighborhoods. But, while suburban locations may be down, it may be too soon to count them out completely.


Last year was mixed for stocks on the Franchise Times Scoreboard, as China volatility and an oil drop got investors wary about the future.

Canal-bisected Panama helps franchisors test waters

Panama has a lot of advantages for franchisors wanting to break into the Latin American market. Business practices are a blend of U.S. and Latin styles—only conducted in Spanish.

All about franchising in Panama, in one handy place

Location: Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean

Wing Zone is first to discover Malabo

The world is a dangerous place right now, which is one reason Wing Zone, a chicken-wing concept based in Atlanta, is taking a year off exploring new countries in order to concentrate on the birds in hand, according to Hair Parra, vice president of international development.

Romancing your candidates takes art, science

Franchise development is a bit like dating—good franchisors can take their pick of weak candidates, but what they want is a strong fit for the brand. What can an up-and-coming ‘zor do to woo the ‘zee of their dreams?

National Franchise Institute founder aims to fill gaps

First-time franchisees aren’t the only ones nwho don’t know what they don’t know. Sometimes franchisees with multi-unit development deals get the first unit open and then are too tired, broke or emotionally tapped out to fathom how they could possibly start work on the second or third one.

Executive Ladder

TGI Fridays named Hilton Worldwide vet Robert Palleschi as its new CEO to replace Nick Shepherd, who resigned in October.

What’s underneath that Tilted Kilt?

Tilted Kilt restaurants are known for their good-looking servers dressed in skimpy Celtic outfits, but lift the skirt a bit in Chicagoland and you’ll find an ugly battle brewing.

Is a franchisee a consumer or not?

Let’s cut to the chase: The answers are, respectively: generally not (thus far) and yes.

How to win at a franchise expo

Chances are, the words “science fair” conjure up a scene of school children vying for the attention of others, showing off all the hard work they’ve put into their prized project. When you think about it, that’s not too far off from what a franchise trade show is like. The franchisors are decades older, of course. And, instead of aiming for a gold star, they are vying for business relationships worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Why the pizza segment has legs

It’s no secret to what’s driving fast-casual pizza’s popularity among franchise investors. “From a segment perspective,” declares Yarom Goldman, a MOD Pizza franchisee in North Carolina, “it’s the unit economics. You have a 2,200-square-foot box that can do AUVs north of $1 million. The investment is low.”
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From the Magazine

Publisher's Column

If you want values in the workplace, start at home

It started when my sons were young kids. Husband Doug and I wanted to install values in Ben and Sam, now 27 and 22, respectively—one of which was a work ethic. You’re never sure if they are picking up on it at the time, because mainly they are sighing heavily when you insist, “I’ve asked you three times, now turn off the TV and finish cleaning your room!”

Loose Ends

How to make your pant leg off limits to your dog and your employees

Sometimes life throws you a bone. In my case, it came in the guise of a business book, “Dog Training for Managers.” The book is a serious look at how the same techniques for training dogs can be used for training employees.
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