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November-December 2017

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In this issue

Team Sizzler—Gary and Sally Myers and their son Bryce—starts early and stays late

‘The kids’ first solid food was baked potato,’ jokes Sally Myers, half of the husband-and-wife pair who have grown their Sizzler empire to 23 stores. Sally got an early start, learning from her father in the booth where he always held a seat open so a guest, busboy or VIP could join them. Today their firm, BMW Management, is the ultimate driven machine.

No bad Thanksgivings for Flis family

Dominic Flis cannot pinpoint one particular day that was the best ever for his family’s Little Rock, Arkansas-based Burger King operation. But naming the worst day ever is painfully easy: There are two. “The day my Mom passed away and the day my Dad passed away,” he says, in 2007 and 2009, respectively.

At My Eyelab, the doctor won’t see you now

Close your eyes and bring yourself on a virtual journey to your last eye exam. After filling out the insurance paperwork, an assistant brings you down a hall and into a dimly lit room with the big machine front and center.

Getting on a meal plan is job one for campus franchisees

Campus dining is no longer bland pasta, iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing. A wide range of franchise brands cater to on- and off-campus student populations, and great food is becoming a draw for prospective students.

To finance remodel programs, document the sales bump

If you can’t prove a ‘kick’ in revenue from your remodel program, don’t expect franchisees to buy in. But a 6 to 7 percent increase in sales is likely to attract operators and financiers alike.

Future’s at curb with Domino’s, Ford test

The future is officially here, and it’s smothered in mozzarella cheese. Domino’s Pizza and Ford, through a home-state partnership in Ann Arbor, Michigan, have teamed up on a live-action research project that’s resulted in the world’s first pizza deliveries made by fully autonomous cars.

Tough Mudder without the tear gas

Will Dean, CEO and founder of the extreme Tough Mudder endurance events, is broadening his portfolio beyond the now-infamous obstacles such as Arctic Enema and Electroshock Therapy—which are basically what they sound like, but safe enough to insure—into the cutthroat world of franchised fitness.

C Squared and Sport Clips partner walks the talk

When Carty Davis works with clients of C Squared Advisors, the investment banker and franchise advisory firm he co-founded in August 2016, he’s not spouting abstract theories. Rather, he’s employing practical know-how based on decades in the restaurant business—and especially 15 years in the barbershop.

‘Two inches of goo’ doesn’t faze Filta

“The moment I saw it I fell in love with it, because no one wants to clean their fryers,” declares Lauren Wanco, a franchisee since May for Filta Environmental Kitchen Solutions in Las Vegas, a mobile service that handles the dirtiest of restaurant jobs.

Gig economy fuels Office Evolution

There must be some great kindergarten teachers out there because we’ve all learned how to share really well. We share our rides, our boats and even our homes through various portals.

Three brands to one for Moe’s operator

Focus became the name of the game for Matt Rusconi, a Moe’s Southwest Grill operator with 14 stores who believes in ‘rewarding versus threatening’ employees

Finding the funny in mobile delivery, plus words you can use

Who knew food on demand could be so funny? But when you combine franchised restaurants and independents with the future, there’s lots of fodder. Cartoonist Dave Allred inked three ideas we thought readers of our Food On Demand e-newsletter would identify with.

Rave tests mobile delivery at Pie Five

Scott Crane joined Dallas-based Rave Restaurant Group as CEO in January, after the parent company of Pie Five Pizza and Pizza Inn had turned in some tough quarters and the former CEO was gone.

Private equity capitalizes on growing senior space

Agold rush of sorts is emerging in one franchising sector. Or perhaps “silver rush” is a more appropriate term.

At 40, an up-tempo plan for National Franchise Sales

‘You don’t come to me for a deal. It has to be fair,’ declares Jerry Thissen, the founder of National Franchise Sales, who over 40 years and with 26 employees has built the firm into the largest franchise brokerage outfit in the country.

Attorney Peter Lagarias’ work with kids ‘never gets old’

In his life as a franchise attorney, Peter Lagarias says, “things often don’t resolve for on and on and on.” By contrast, results are immediate from Rotaplast International’s work, in which teams of doctors, nurses and Rotary volunteers travel to foreign lands and repair cleft palates and lips for children whose families can’t afford the surgery.

To expand, first choose your lifestyle, as two ‘zees show

Life’s many attachments and entanglements have a way of tying a person’s life down to a single geographic location. Dreaming of winters in Key West? Tell that to your operations manager expecting you down at the store. Summers at the cabin? Don’t forget about that site selection tour already on the docket.

Restaurants shuffle space to accommodate mobile orders

Just as e-commerce is shaking up the retail industry, m-commerce—purchasing from mobile devices—has the potential to be a game changer for quick serve restaurants.

Joint employer tops list at Franchise Action Network event

Matthew Patinkin said there’s “no way” he would have become a franchisee if the joint employer rule had been an issue 25 years ago. Patinkin, a multi-unit franchisee with dozens of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels stores in several states, was talking to Julius Niyonsaba, a legislative aide to Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin, during a meeting as part of the International Franchise Association’s Franchise Action Network event in Washington, D.C., in September.

Is your city resilient? The Urbane Franchisor suggests a check

Business owners and operators rightly think of themselves as a resilient bunch, generally ready for anything and unfazed by the unexpected. But sometimes problems are bigger than any individual or company, as we starkly witnessed while two U.S. states buckled from simultaneous natural disasters, and then Puerto Rico was battered by Hurricane Maria.

Two tax tips, often overlooked, may be worth the work

Everyone loves tax time, so certainly business owners know their deductions, allocations, recaptures and exclusions inside and out, right? Here are a couple of tax considerations that are easy to overlook.

UK, Malaysia operators freshen up Wingstop

Rick Ross catches the ear of a United Kingdom operator, who forms Lemon Pepper Holdings in homage to the rapper. In Malaysia, meanwhile, a new developer moves away from counter service to appeal to local customers.

Country Profile: Hunting for growth in Argentina

The sky blue and white bands represent the clear skies and snow of the Andes, while the yellow sun symbol with a human face commemorates the appearance of the sun through cloudy skies on May 25, 1810, during the first mass demonstration in favor of independence.

Start early to safeguard intellectual property, advise Living Large subjects

Patents help ensure proprietary technology is secure at Watermill Express and Spray-Net. For Blink Fitness, being aggressive about trademark infringement is important, especially as the brand continues to grow.

In the age of Twitter, consider three cautionary tales with a viral theme

Imagine if two of your Motel 6 hotels in Phoenix were the sites of at least 20 arrests by Immigration & Customs Enforcement or ICE, between February and August this year, as the Phoenix New Times reported in September.

Franchising’s success around world draws attention—and legal proposals

Editor’s note: Philip Zeidman, our regular columnist, is away and his colleague Tao Xu is filing this and the next report. By the time you read this column, I will have traveled to Sydney, Australia, for the International Bar Association’s annual conference.

Battle of the heavyweights: Here’s what happens when SEO fights PPC

When it comes to franchise lead generation, two heavyweights dominate the ring. In one corner looms search engine optimization (SEO)—an opponent who fatigues the competition with stamina and endurance. And in the other, we have pay-per-click advertising (PPC)—the knock-out artist known to deliver power punches in the early rounds.

265 restaurants, 3 brands, 9 states—a peek inside Shawn Eby’s playbook

Shawn Eby, 48, brims with confidence about his baby—Goalz Restaurant Group, a franchise company he formed last February. Eby, a veteran of Dairy Queen, Burger King, Arby’s and Taco Johns, is counting on employees he’s met along the way to help him open 265 fast-food restaurants across three brands and nine states, all within five years.


Activist investors won 131 board seats last year. While 2017 won’t be quite as active as that, public companies have already spent $43 billion on proxy contests.

Executive Ladder

As the new VP of marketing at Pita Pit, Doug Reifschneider finds himself in a familiar place even though he and his wife moved nearly 2,700 miles from Jacksonville, Florida, to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. After spending 11 years in the same role at Firehouse Subs, he’s once again building a marketing team almost from the ground up as Pita Pit accelerates its recent growth streak.
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From the Magazine

Publisher's Column

Adieu to everyone’s fave writer, including my dad’s

When you’re a kid and you just finished your seventh grade band concert, you expect your parents to tell you how great the performance was. Even if the band concert was painful to most within earshot. Sometimes that’s their job, to praise you when you try your best, even though you might come up short performance-wise to the guy next to you. I wouldn’t say that my parents over-complimented me, as is society’s complaint of the baby boomers’ treatment of their millennial offspring. But they were enthusiastic, whether it be that band concert or my marching with my baton in the July Fourth parade.

Loose Ends

I’m bidding farewell before I become a caricature of myself—hey, wait...

A lifetime ago I was the editor of a newsletter on franchising. On my first day the owner gave me a list of people in the industry to call, saying they would be happy to get me up to speed on franchising. That list included Neal (perhaps Neil, it’s been awhile) Simon, David Kaufmann, Phil Zeidman and Michael Seid. Mort Aronson, who was the general counsel at Holiday Inn at the time, was another early contact, as was Joyce Mazero. All but one were attorneys and so much of my early franchise education was legal and pro-franchisor.
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