A Dominating Presence

A Dominating Presence

These franchisees "own" their markets

Some people are born with a deep desire to win. They are passionate, determined, aggressive, and persistent. We've come to label these franchisees "Dominators." Some have many locations concentrated in one area, while others have units--and brands--spread across many states.

We interviewed six such Dominators to learn what drives them, what motivates them, and what satisfies them. Each has traced a different path to success, but all are characterized by dedication, hard work, and a never-say-die attitude, no matter what challenges come their way--and each story ends at the same place: success.

This year we introduce four new Dominators and have reconnected with two from previous issues. Their stories offer both insight and inspiration for franchisees seeking to replicate their success with their own brands, in their own markets.

  • Becky Finger was a full-time homemaker and mother of three in Cincinnati the first time she set foot in a Once Upon a Child store in nearby Columbus. That was all it took. She was smitten. Twenty-five years ago when she signed on with the brand, she had 7 employees. Today she has 35, spread across 9 Once Upon A Child stores and 7 Plato's Closets--and those stores have come a long way too. "Earlier, our stores would do maybe $300,000," she says. "Now they're doing $1.5 million or more."
  • Jon-Anthony Lui loves learning. He also likes the idea of franchising which, he says, allows him to work on his business instead of in it. The 30-year-old Canadian now owns 10 Tutor Doctors, employing 350 tutors and serving 850 families in 10 territories in the Greater Toronto area. In 2013, with help from his wife Clarissa, who joined him early on to manage the back end of the growing business, they became the brand's first franchisee to reach $1 million in sales.
  • Renu Aggarwal's success as a franchisee is an American dream story. In 1989, she and her husband moved from India to Texas, where she was a homemaker and sold wholesale. In 1997, she surprised her family by using her savings to purchase a Subway store. Today she owns 55 Subways in Texas and New York and recently added a new brand, Wing Zone, in Houston. At 51, she still has great ambition. "I'd like to have 100 stores and a lot more people in the next 5 or 10 years," she says.
  • Tom Garrett epitomizes a franchise Dominator. In mid-2005, he was president of RTM Restaurant Group, which operated 775 Arby's in 22 states with sales of nearly $800 million when it was acquired by the franchisor. After the sale he became COO of Arby's, exiting as CEO in early 2010. Two years later, when he learned Burger King was beginning a huge refranchising initiative, he was ready--and hasn't stopped since: today his company operates 196 Burger Kings in 9 states.
  • Gina Puente is an innovator with a decidedly non-traditional and energetic approach. Her family business, Puente Enterprises, created a first-of-its-kind winery in an airport back in the 1990s. Since we profiled her in 2010, she has expanded to 19 locations and 10 different brands in 3 Texas airports. In 2013, she created and launched Sky Canyon by Stephan Pyles. This September she won the bid a lease for a quick service BBQ space at DFW for a new concept with Chef Pyles.
  • Mike Pietrzyk is a man with a big heart. The Firehouse Subs area rep is the person behind the brand's $2 pickle bucket sales, which have raised more than $600,000 for the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. When we profiled him in 2010, he was working his way through a 58-store development agreement with Firehouse and had 21 open. Today, he's up to 45 with 3 more in development that will open by year-end. His territory now stretches into Virginia, West Virginia, parts of Kentucky, and North Carolina.

This Dominators issue also includes our annual list of U.S. DMAs with the most franchised as well as the dominant franchisee organizations in each state and region. FRANdata provided the numbers.

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