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Just the Facts, Ma’am


It’s not every day you can impress your kids, especially when they are past the age of, oh, let’s say 9. Sons Ben and Sam are 21 and 17 respectively, so it can prove difficult. I don’t try to stay up on their music, because I’m sure I wouldn’t get it right, and really, who wants their mom listening to their music and pontificating on it? I don’t try to be hip and use their catch phrases. I feed their friends pizza when they are at our house, but I don’t watch TV with them. I know when I’ve become an interloper in their world and I respect that. But still, I would find some satisfaction in impressing them once in a great while. I don’t ask for much.

I thought I had the opportunity the other day as FT Executive Editor Nancy Weingartner and I arrived at the Las Vegas airport to attend the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual convention. I came upon a “Tap Out” shop, which sells branded apparel that targets fans of mixed martial arts, or “ultimate fighting.” Both boys are fans and would love one of its T-shirts. Their mom knows what they like, right?

Nancy was nice enough to browse with me (she’s not a fan of the sport) and we picked a shirt for each of them based on the colors we liked—as moms do. I brought them home from my trip and presented Sam with his shirt. He loved it. But when I showed him the shirt I was going to send to Ben, who’s at college, we happened to notice on the price tag that the shirt represented a fighter Ben “hates,” as Sam put it. Sam and I scoured the shirt, looking for the fighter’s name imprinted anywhere. We didn’t find it, and I cut off the tag. “Next time call me, Mom,” Sam said to his simpleton parent.

I’m still going to send it to Ben, hoping he won’t discover the shirt represents someone he “hates.” Will I get away with it? Will Ben be impressed? I’m trying, people! Stay tuned.
What this reminds me of is franchising, of course, and how having your facts straight is such a big part of the story. I thought I could walk in and one brand would please both guys. But, just like in franchising, one size doesn’t fit all, all the time.

This is evident to franchisors that have chosen the wrong franchisees. As columnist Mark Siebert writes in this month’s issue, you have to fish where the fish are, but you don’t want to pull just any fish into the boat. You want the best, and that takes time, research and patience.


Mary Jo can be reached at 612-767-3200 or at mlarson@franchisetimes.com


Finance attorney and columnist Dennis Monroe espouses the same message, but with a different topic. The days of one-size-fits-all financing are long gone. Franchisees have to try harder to convince lenders to finance their businesses. Dennis gives tips on how to convince lenders to say “yes” when they want to say “no” — good information to have during a credit crunch.

And we have an extensive real estate section in this issue that also gives inside information on how to deal with landlords, and debunks the myths and generalizations surrounding the current real estate market. What do you have to do to secure the best site for the lowest possible amount, and what is reasonable to ask for?

Of course I have to mention the subject of our cover story, Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeyes. Cheryl has a long history in the restaurant industry, and understands that helping franchisees to be profitable is part gut, and part facts and figures. She was astounded to learn after joining the company that they had no hard data to track unit profitability and other metrics. Once she and her team pulled some of those numbers together, she could share with the franchisees best practices of those who were the most profitable. In this case, getting the facts first helped her convince those franchisees that sometimes one way of doing things is better.

Unlike me, I’m betting Cheryl doesn’t buy the wrong T-shirts for her kids. She probably investigates, then acts. And as a result, I bet she doesn’t have to hide yet another column from one of her kids.

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