Top 10 FT Stories of 2017
From Jimmy John to Antonio Swad, we dove into our Google Analytics to compile this year’s most-read stories on FranchiseTimes.com. As always, there were a few surprises, but 2017 was the year of the mega-deal as highlighted by our web traffic.
Leading the charts by a wide margin was Editor-in-Chief Beth Ewen’s amusing interview with Jimmy John Liautaud after his deal to cash out with Roark Capital as a majority investor was named our top deal of the year. He grew his sandwich chain from $300 million in sales to more than $2.5 billion in the past 10 years, giving his original investor, Weston Presidio, a snazzy 16x return.
Second place was a story from late 2014, David Farkas’ piece on franchisees who’ve diversified into other businesses. It’s a great story, with a Papa John’s ‘zee who got into Hand & Stone Massage Spa, an area rep for a franchisor who dove into Orangetheory and a Valpak ‘zee expanding in Atlantic City. The three-pack story contains great insight, but it’s curious when a story from the past strikes a latent chord.
Our new-for-2017 Zor Awards project came in third—to my extreme delight—as the project was a labor of love for our entire edit and design team. Rather than comparing franchises based purely on sales and unit count like our flagship Top 200+ project, Zor Awards is an interactive, lighter ranking that focuses on what beginners to franchising go through in their journey to pick the right franchise and turn that first year into a success. Online voting just launched this week for our second installment of the Zor Awards, which will print in our March 2018 issue. Vote today, before post-holiday lethargy takes hold!
Fourth was last year’s Fast & Serious project, led by Jersey Mike’s, which grew units by more than 46 percent from 2013 through 2015—eclipsing 1,050 locations at the start of 2017. Selecting Mike’s Way is looking pretty good in terms of smart, sustainable system growth.
Our fifth most popular story was Steak ‘n Shake launching 24 new meals under $4. This one had unexpected traction on social media, which I’d have to attribute to some corporate enthusiasm from within the company’s headquarters—or, perhaps, a big chunk of the franchise industry was lured into a post-bar-close burger run after one of the big conferences? In that case, a $4 Wisconsin Buttery Double Steakburger ‘n Fries could be awfully enticing.
The second half of the top 10 most popular stories include MOD Pizza on building a fiercely loyal workforce, our exclusive interview with Subway CEO Suzanne Greco, our cover story on Domino’s getting aggressive with its R&D and market share gains, a look at four hot fitness concepts and, lastly, Wingstop founder Antonio Swad striking gold for the second time with Pizza Patron.
With ongoing legislative action in Washington, an almost total stop of restaurant IPOs, burger and pizza marketing wars and a continuation of mega-deals as private equity maintains its love affair with franchising, we are looking forward to another year of new projects, engaging feature stories and snarky analysis of the industry’s biggest deals of the year. We love what we do here at Franchise Times. Please allow this one last, shameless plug of my doggy Norman, who was featured in the photo shoot for last year's Zor Awards—one of my favorite moments in a year packed with great times.
Happy holidays, safe travels and see you next year!