We’ve done the hard work so relax, enjoy the show
If you are a regular reader of this column, you may remember last month I opened with an accounting of my first jobs as a teenager, one of which was the unenviable task of “walking beans” on my grandfather’s farm, which means walking down rows of soybeans with a hoe in tow, pulling the weeds. (Soybeans sold with weeds in the mix lowered the price.)
My column caught the eye of one FT reader who wrote to me that he, too, walked beans as a kid and often had to explain to city dwellers what it means. I thanked him for writing and said it was a dirty, tough job, especially when one has a brother who would throw the occasional dirt clod at you.
My brother Jeff, three years older, was just older enough to torment his little sister. It wasn’t enough we had to be out there actually doing that hot, sweaty work. Why not be a nuisance, too? Breaks up the monotony. To be honest: He worked harder at it than I did, as I usually gave up after lunch to watch the soap opera “Guiding Light” with my grandmother. In the air-conditioning. He wanted the money more than I did, and my grandfather paid us an hourly rate. I made a little money, watched a little TV. My brother made a lot of money.
I couldn’t help but think of Jeff and me working together as adults, when I read this month’s story about Suzanne Greco, who has the daunting task of following in her big brother’s footsteps. And those are big footsteps, as her brother is the late Fred DeLuca, founder of Subway.
Greco grew up in the business, from sweeping floors as a kid, and then after college, to working in various departments in the company as an adult. As FT contributing writer Julie Bennett tells us, DeLuca’s style was a get-it-done-now immediacy. Greco’s is different. “When you get down to the nitty-gritty,” says multi-unit franchisee Don Rottingham, “she’s as tough as Fred was, but she has more style and is a bit more hands off.”
A new redesign is helping drive sales in many units, but Greco isn’t off the hook with some franchisees just yet. Some smaller operators say they are struggling. Why? You’ll have to read Julie’s story to find out what’s working, and what improvements still need to be made.
The Subway story is just part of our Top 200+ editorial coverage this month. As readers know, we rank the top 500 franchisors in the nation based on worldwide sales in every October issue. It gives you, the reader, a snapshot into how franchising is doing on a macro basis, and which chains are leaders in their field, and who has more work to do.
Part of that coverage includes FT reporter Nick Upton’s fascinating story on Gino Blefari, the CEO of Top 200 company Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, a realty franchise. You know he’s a leader you want to follow when he has a notebook full of “confidence-inspiring affirmations,” as Nick writes. If that sounds like something out of a Zig Ziglar conference, perhaps it might be, but he’s using it to inspire agents around the world.
And of course gracing our cover this month is the CEO of Top 200 company A&W Restaurants, Kevin Bazner.
Associate Editor Tom Kaiser reports Bazner and fellow franchisees purchased the iconic root beer drive-in chain from Yum Brands and are trying to make it relevant again. I was sold when Tom wrote they were making root beer in the stores again, but Bazner says there’s more work to be done. “You can sexy up a brand all you want, but people gotta make money.” Now isn’t that music to franchisees’ ears?
Of course we have more than our large Top 200+ coverage, so dig right in. Putting together this issue was hot, sweaty work for the editorial team. I tried to stay out of their way and let them do their jobs. It was easy. “Game of Thrones” was on.