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When sons Ben and Sam, now ages 26 and 21, respectively, were in elementary school, I more than once advised them, “Don't make the teacher call me. I will not be happy.”

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When her oldest daughter Erin Casey Wolf's bridesmaids were treated like “second-class citizens” at a bridal boutique, Kathleen Casey told her daughter they should open a Bella Bridesmaids franchise. Casey had seen an ad for the franchise in a fashion magazine at a time when both mother and daughter were seeking small-business opportunities. Casey Wolf just happened to be traveling to San Francisco where the flagship store was located and on Mother's Day, she presented her mother with a framed picture of the store and an invitation to be business partners.

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Friendly's CEO calls recent high-profile closures ‘medicine that should've been taken years ago.' His tough approach to right the brand includes a mandate to be, well, friendly. Turns out that's not as easy as it sounds.

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Flynn Restaurant Group landed this year's Franchise Times Deal of the Year when CEO Greg Flynn, above left, bypassed the middleman and attracted the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund as an investor. Heidi Ganahl of Camp Bow Wow, middle, and Chuck Runyon of Anytime Fitness, right, landed big deals of their own, along with seven more savvy operators. What lessons can they share about the art of the deal? Read on.