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May 2017

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In this issue

The truth about family business: How sacrifice, pain and triumph built Massage Heights

When Shane Evans, co-founder and president, left her hard-charging sales training in the past and began focusing on the culture at Massage Heights and the health of its franchisees, unit count began to rise and this year should hit 180. The complicated part? Getting husband, mom, two younger brothers and now the founder of another brand, The Gents Place, on board at this quintessential family-owned franchise.

Plus, The Gents Place, Massage Heights’ newest step-sibling, elbows in

Teach a man to shave and he’ll end up buying a cheap eight-pack of Bic razors to use at his bathroom sink. But give a man a straight-razor shave, and you’ll have him all lathered up—and in your barber chair for a lifetime.

The Melting Pot scouts from within for new owners

As its franchisees age, this 40-year-old brand is creating an ownership path for employees. Mentorship, operations training and finance assistance are all in the mix, creating a rich stew of opportunity.

In real estate, second time around feels just right for some

A flexible footprint for Bar Louie, plus a vow to make each location different, means second-generation spaces often do the trick for operators. But beware jumping on a recycled spot without due diligence, or you may find unhappy surprises.

Start early if you’re eyeing the exit at your business

Call it an exit, a liquidity event, retirement or some yacht money—selling a business can be a major life-changing moment. And like other big life moments, it takes a lot of planning.

Eight trends to watch in real estate

Big name retailers have been dominating headlines in recent months with a fresh wave of store closings and bankruptcies. National retail chains closed an estimated 4,000 stores across the U.S. in 2016 and that number is expected to grow by another 5,000 stores this year, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

Hated veggie wins over CoreLife’s ‘zee

A long-standing relationship with Larry Wilson, founder of CoreLife Eatery, convinced Stevensville, Michigan-based operator Joyce Lunsford to sign on as the healthy restaurant brand’s first franchisee—that and a taste of beet lemonade, something Lunsford thought she’d hate.

Pray, work, repeat for RNR operator

Staying even is not OK for Shannon Strunk, who with his wife, Cynthia, operates more than 60 units of three brands in the Gulf Coast. He believes in owning real estate, too, because ‘cash disappears quick.’

Anytime Fitness duo covers ‘A to Z’

As soon as an Anytime Fitness franchisee signs on the dotted line, Maddy and Paul jump into action. That’s Maddy Vaith and Paul Bosneag, the dynamic duo at the Woodbury, Minnesota-based fitness club franchise, who have now taken more than 1,000 franchisees through base camp training all the way through their first year in business.

Plenty of foot traffic at this new franchise

The eyes may be the window to our souls, but our feet have souls as well. In the Indian culture touching an elder’s foot is a sign of respect and deference. Foot-binding in the Chinese culture was not only a way for women to show off their family’s wealth and thus marry better, but the tiny, deformed feet were seen by some as erotic. And, foot-washing in the Bible, especially when done by Jesus, is sacred.

Slapfish touts boat-to-plate cuisine

You’ve heard of farm-to-table, but a new franchised seafood player has coined the term “boat-to-plate” to describe its responsibly sourced, seasonally shifting menu that’s designed to get Americans eating more seafood without harming global fisheries.

Minding their business at Current Meditation

You hear a lot about mediation in franchising, but not meditation.(What a difference a “t” makes, especially if it’s herbal.) But thanks to a group of Massage Envy, European Wax and Amazing Lash Studio franchisees that’s about to change.

Greene Turtle rolls out first unit in a casino

The Greene Turtle has opened its first casino-based restaurant at the Hollywood Casino in Perryville, Maryland, along with a new, 24-hour fast-casual eatery called Greene Turtle Express. Tom Finn believes the firsts for the company hold promise for more such expansion.

Old Chicago strive to buck casual restaurant trend

Beer offerings, menu changes and a new prototype are fueling growth for companies under the Craftworks umbrella, especially Old Chicago. CEO Srini Kumar describes his goal of ‘winning market share, not growing market share.’

Driving schools step on gas to fill teaching gaps

Two fast-growing driving schools are looking to drastically improve the driver’s ed status quo. No more ‘sketchy guys in beat-up Camrys,’ vows the CEO of Fresh Green Light. 911 Driving uses cops as instructors to set it apart.

This millennial tale cuts against the grain, in The Urbane Franchisor

You’ve read it here, and certainly heard it elsewhere: Fancy millennials don’t care for the suburbs they grew up in and are willing to pay dearly to raise their heritage-breed chickens in peace—as close to downtown as possible. Futurists and demographers have doggedly predicted how this urban migration will hollow out the ‘burbs and revamp rusty cityscapes.

Our writers were there in force, at FT’s spring conference, and report the highlights

Three days, 45-plus presentations, numerous lenders and financiers and one Dealmakers awards luncheon comprised the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference in March. Our reporters were there in force, and present these brand snapshots for anyone who missed them.

Spanish operator looking to add U.S. brands

New franchise partner Grupo Iberfood will start by developing the Hooters brand in Spain, where it says competitors are few and the locals ‘love sports, tasty food and beer’—not to mention the servers in orange hotpants.

Country Profile puts the spotlight on Spain

The coat of arms on the hoist side of the yellow band is quartered to display the emblems of the traditional kingdoms of Spain (clockwise from upper left: Castile, Leon, Navarre, and Aragon), while the stylized pomegranate at the bottom of the shield represents Granada.

Finding sites requires a mixed bag of tactics

Spray-Net uses big data. Watermill Express relies on a tiny footprint. And New York-centric Blink Fitness figures if they can make it there, they’ll make it anywhere. Our three Living Large franchisors go beyond location, location, location to tell what makes a good site.

Trip across the pond reveals healthy business model, inspiring stories

I was excited as I stepped to the registration desk at the British Franchise Association’s International Symposium on Franchising in March. The symposium was intended to give attendees a tutorial on global expansion by franchise companies, and in particular, the variety of factors a franchisor must consider when expanding beyond its current country of operation.

At spring cleaning time, try these tactics to spruce up social campaigns

When legendary ad man Keith Reinhard launched “You deserve a break today” for McDonald’s in 1970, he couldn’t have anticipated its impact. The jingle drove millions of Americans to the doors of the burger giant, with catchy lines and a lively dance number.

Del Taco operator grows debt-free, plus new moves by Toppers and Tide

Asked if Utah is a good state to do business in, Del Taco franchisee Paul Hitzelberger stage-whispers “Oh, it’s a terrible place,” as if he intends to keep rivals away. “Just kidding,” he adds a moment later, chuckling. “I enjoy doing business here.”

Executive Ladder

Tim Hicks has joined Elevated Brands as senior vice president of franchise operations and development. Rave Restaurant Group named Judy Messenger as its new vice president of real estate.


Who cares about the comps when multiples like this are flying around? Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen pulled in 10.4 times 2016 EBITDA (also known as gross earnings), Popeyes got 19.6 times (a 27 percent premium to trading levels) and Panera got 19.4 times 2016 EBITDA, a 20 percent premium to its stock price.
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From the Magazine

Publisher's Column

A textbook case in family biz, minus the eye-rolling

When my kids were in grade school, my neighbor across the street home-schooled her kids. I couldn’t even begin to fathom it. First and most obviously, I worked full-time outside the home. Secondly, and probably most importantly, my kids and I couldn’t have done it. Seriously, I think we would have killed each other.

Loose Ends

From the grandfathered KFC to pink sand beaches, Bermuda is artwork

If you’ve ever gone to Bermuda and come back with an earworm, you’ll know the kind of pain I was in after my recent vacation near the capital city of Hamilton. I wanted so badly to start the blog I did for tax purposes: “Hey, why aren’t you people rapping? You’re in Hamilton, aren’t you?” See what I mean? There’s a good joke in there somewhere thanks to the Broadway play, but I just couldn’t make it work.
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