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The best franchise prospects and candidates are looking for a solid, proven system to invest their hopes, dreams, and hard-earned savings in. If you don't have it, they'll find someone who does. Look for leadership insights from top CEOs and presidents in every issue, along with guest columnists and leadership gurus who will share their insights and expertise about winning leadership techniques.

Feature Story:

In With The New!: Cousins Subs Reboots For Future Growth »

By Christine Specht

The fast casual space is one that continuously evolves to meet consumer demands. From restaurant design to ordering methods and digital advancements both in-store and online, brands are continually undergoing changes to keep their dynamic guest base happy... and full. We at Cousins Subs are no exception. But before I introduce you to the reinvented Cousins Subs, I must first set the stage as to how we got here.

Who we are
For those not familiar with Cousins Subs, our 40-plus year journey began in 1972 when my father Bill Specht and his cousin Jim Sheppard brought their favorite/ style of sub sandwich from the East Coast to their new hometown of Milwaukee. Setting out to serve "Better Bread. Better Subs." they began a legacy of meticulously crafting the finest sandwiches possible...

Feature Story:

They Bought The Brand!: Two Capriotti's Franchisees Now Own The Company »

By Kerry Pipes

Ashley Morris and childhood friend Jason Smylie were not afraid to take on the world when they graduated from college in their early 20s. While attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) both had been such raving fans of Capriotti's Sandwich Shop that they broke an apartment lease to move closer to a store.
Morris began as a financial advisor at Wells Fargo and Smylie as a software engineer at Bechtel Nevada before they purchased a Capriotti's in 2004. Four years later, they assembled an investor group and bought the whole company from Lois and Alan Margolet, who founded the company 40 years ago in Wilmington, Del. Today, Morris is CEO and Smylie is president--and that youthful passion, which continues today, is one of the cornerstones of their success...

Feature Story:

It Starts At The Top: Leadership Sets The Tone For Service Aptitude »

By John DiJulius

Any big initiative, project, or revolution must have the support of the senior leadership team; otherwise it will be considered "flavor of the month" or "management by bestseller."
Customer service must be as important as finance, sales, operations, and technology. It must be discussed at board meetings and strategic planning sessions with leaders and everyone else in the company, including front-line employees. To create long-lasting change, the senior leadership team must provide the necessary resources. That doesn't mean just increasing the budget for customer service. It is having someone in charge of the project--that is, a chief experience officer (CXO)--who is dedicated and loses sleep over the customer experience program and the results...

Feature Story:

PRofessional Help: Choosing The Best PR Firm For Your Brand »

By Kerry Pipes

Public relations is witnessing something of a tactical evolution these days, but at its core it's still all about communication and relationships. No two elements are more fundamental--or effective--in designing and executing a franchise PR strategy. Whether looking to enhance consumer marketing efforts or to inject new energy into a lead generation program, the right PR tools, well-crafted content, and savvy PR people can help brands succeed in getting their messages across effectively.
Today's public relations is strategic storytelling, says All Points Public Relations President Jamie Izaks. "It's about developing a comprehensive strategy that integrates or blends several tactics used to tell the best stories possible about your brand," he says...

Feature Story:

They've Got The Meat!: How Arby's Reinvigorated Its Brand »

By John Bowie

Arby's has come a long way in the past few years. Over that time, the legacy brand has launched a series of innovative, meat-focused menu items, including the sizzling Brown Sugar Bacon sandwich lineup, the most successful limited-time offer platform of 2015. It was so tempting that we even created a "Vegetarian Support Hotline" for our non-carnivorous guests who were lured by the sandwich's "meaty goodness."
This past year, we opened 69 new restaurants system-wide including 60 new restaurants in the U.S., the highest number since 2008, and we completed more than 175 remodels. In December, we were proud to reopen our doors in New York City after nearly a decade, just a few steps from Times Square. Adweek said it best: "If you haven't been inside an Arby's lately, you probably wouldn't recognize the place...

Feature Story:

MOD Squad: She Saw A Need And Created A Brand (Twice) »

Franchise Update

Ally Svenson, co-founder of MOD Pizza with her husband Scott, is no stranger to starting and growing a business. When she lived in London in the 1990s, she missed her Seattle coffee--so they founded Seattle Coffee Company in the U.K., eventually selling it to Starbucks. Back home in Seattle she searched for "fast, affordable, real" food for her on-the-go family of four active boys. Not finding anything that met her expectations, she and Scott founded fast casual brand MOD Pizza in 2008. Today, with more than 100 locations, the dynamic duo is set to go back across the pond to the U.K., part of their plan to open more than 100 new stores per year. As the saying goes, "If you see a niche, fill it."
Name: Ally Svenson
Title: Co-Founder, Head of Brand
Brand: MOD Pizza
System-wide revenue: $60+ million (2015)
No...

Feature Story:

Founded In Love: Necessity Was The Grandmother Of This Brand »

By Kerry Pipes

Shelly Sun, co-founder of BrightStar Care, never planned to start a company. But in 2001, she and her husband, J.D. Sun, were struggling to find quality in-home care for his grandmother and discovered they weren't alone. Soon after, they decided to take matters into their own hands.
"We built a healthcare staffing company to provide the full continuum of care, from home care to supplemental staffing for corporate clients such as nursing homes and physicians," she says. Sun says she worked 90 to 100 hours, 7 days a week in those early years, but the payoff has been worth it.
They launched the company in 2002 and began franchising in 2005. "Although we already had three successful company-owned locations, we knew that through franchising we would be able to expand much faster than if we were to do it on our own," she says...

Feature Story:

Toy Story: It All Began At Nursery School... »

By Kerry Pipes

Sharon DiMinico had a "Eureka" moment following the birth of her second child in 1987. She recognized something was missing for the parents and children in her local community. "I saw there was a real need for a unique store that could offer high-quality toys, books, and games for little children through preteens," she recalls.
DiMinico already had some retail and business experience and knew firsthand what parents were looking for when it came to raising their children. She wrote a business plan for a special kind of toy store and presented it to her children's nursery school in Acton, Mass., where she was a board member. Her idea was not only to provide needed resources to the children, but also to supplement the school's revenue. It worked, and then some...

Feature Story:

Mama Pop: Doc Popcorn Spreads Smiles Worldwide »

By Kerry Pipes

Renée Israel loves the smell and taste of fresh, kettle-cooked popcorn. When she and her husband Rob spotted mom-and-pop kettle corn makers at a farmers market in Boulder, Colo., in the early 2000s, it got them thinking. How could they bring fresh-popped flavored popcorn to a wider audience?
"We spent the next few years perfecting a unique, fresh-flavored popcorn that could be easily prepared on the spot," she says of their pet project, which they named Doc Popcorn. They also developed a variety of simple and flexible business models for distribution in high-traffic venues. Places such as convention centers, entertainment venues, malls, and stadiums could all sell popcorn from carts, kiosks, or inline stores.
During the first decade of Doc Popcorn, they ran several stores themselves in Colorado, honing and perfecting their model...

Feature Story:

Recipe For Success: Making A DIfference In Children's Lives »

By Eddy Goldberg

If "Undercover Boss" doesn't call you (or perhaps you just don't like cameras or value your privacy), you still can go undercover. Julie Burleson, founder of Young Chefs Academy (YCA), did that for two months and calls it one of the best things she's ever done.
Giving the popular E-Myth trope a new spin, she says, "In order to be able to work on your biz, you have to work in it." She wasn't in disguise, but the people at a company-owned store in Atlanta (she's based in Waco) didn't know who she was--and she didn't tell them. "I did everything from grocery shopping to scheduling classes to teaching classes, talking with parents, and answering the phone." What better way to discover what works and what doesn't, what your franchisees need and what they don't...

Feature Story:

Artistic Vision: Raising A Generation That Values The Power And Passion Of Art »

By Eddy Goldberg

Turning your passion into a successful business is every entrepreneur's dream. Turning it into a business that helps other entrepreneurs realize their dreams is even better. Combine that with helping children realize their own creativity and passion is the best.
"We attract people who really want to make a difference," says Bette Fetter, founder of Young Rembrandts, a children's drawing program with nearly 100 offices in the U.S. and abroad. The business, which she started as a home-based business in the Chicago area, soon grew to have 90 teachers working part-time.
"The company started out as Bette's Art Class, but when I incorporated I wanted the name of an artist who was known for his technical skill. Rembrandt is known for his ability to draw and paint, and for his real mastery of art technique," says Fetter, who, in addition to being an educator, is an artist herself...

Feature Story:

Tragedy To Triumph: Heidi Ganahl Kept Her Focus On Her Dream »

By Kerry Pipes

Heidi Ganahl says she has always been an entrepreneur and dog lover. "My husband and I were characterized by two things: we thought up crazy, wild ideas and we loved taking care of our two dogs," she says of their life in the early 1990s. They even wrote a business plan for a "fun doggy daycare business" with a camp-like theme they thought would be great someday. But then tragedy struck: her husband Bion was killed in an airplane accident.
"That was a tough period," recalls Ganahl. "It took a few years before I came back around to the idea of our dog daycare business." That's when her brother Patrick encouraged her to use money she had left from the accident settlement to start the company she had always been passionate about.
In December 2000, she opened the first Camp Bow Wow, in Denver...

Feature Story:

From Pain To Gain: Shane Evans' Back Problem Led To A Successful Brand »

By Eddy Goldberg

How do you cure years of debilitating, recurring back pain? For Shane Evans, it was therapeutic massage. She liked the results so much that she started a franchise to offer that same experience to others. "I haven't had a back problem since I started Massage Heights," says Evans who co-founded the company with her husband Wayne in 2004.
When they opened their first unit in San Antonio and found customers clamoring for more--as well as asking about how they could open one themselves--they knew they were on to something. After 3 years of perfecting the model, they began expanding nationally through franchising. Today they have 140 open and are looking to hit the 300 mark by the end of 2018.
Their success--and appeal--has not gone unnoticed...

Feature Story:

What's An Açaí Bowl?: Spreading The Word, One Bowl At A Time »

By Eddy Goldberg

Let's start with what's an açaí berry. Looking like a cross between a grape and a blueberry, the açaí (ah-sigh-EE) berry is a small, reddish-purple fruit harvested from palm trees that grow around the Amazon River Basin. Its taste has been described as evocative of wild berries and chocolate. Its health benefits as an anti-oxidant "superfood" are well-known...
So, can you build a business around a Brazilian berry? Tara Gilad and her husband Roy think they can, and in 2011 founded Vitality Bowls, a Superfood Café.
"We think there's a really big gap in the market," she says. "People want healthy food and healthy options." However, she realizes that a business is not built on açaí bowls alone...

Feature Story:

Brand Builders!: Blaze Pizza Is Disrupting The Industry »

By Eddy Goldberg

If you had LeBron James on your team, you'd feel pretty good about your chances of winning--big. And that's exactly what Blaze "Fast-Fire'd" Pizza intends to do. James made news last October when he didn't renew his deal with McDonald's and opted instead to publicly endorse Blaze Pizza.
"We're very lucky to have him," says Elise Wetzel, who co-founded the brand in 2011 with her husband Rick (of Wetzel's Pretzel's). But unlike his paid deal with the Golden Arches, James is an investor in Blaze Pizza. In fact, he's been one since 2012.
"LeBron came on as a founding investor and he had been silent and in the background," Rick Wetzel told ESPN last fall. "Now we're using him to get our message out there and put the spotlight on our brand...

Feature Story:

Art Appreciation: Sharing A Passion For Teaching, Kids, And Art »

By Kerry Pipes

Mary Rogers likes to start things and she likes to see children learn. In 1984, she started Computer Explorers, a brand created to teach kids how to work with the newly arriving wave of personal computers. It was a successful brand she deeply enjoyed being a part of, and it's where she first worked with Rosemarie Hartnett. In 1997, with about 150 franchises in 11 countries, Rogers sold her interest in Computer Explorers and left the company. "I left thinking I would just spend the rest of my career consulting and doing various other projects that were of great interest to me," she says.
But the franchise start-up bug wouldn't leave her alone. In 2002, she and Hartnett, who had since spent time with the Tutor Time brand, teamed up to launch a new franchise company focused on delivering art programs to children...

Feature Story:

Fabulous Female Franchise Founders »

Franchise Update

When the team at Franchise Update first floated the idea of highlighting female franchise founders, we didn't realize how many there are! Our list filled quickly before the day ended, and we continued to add more in the weeks that followed. But perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised. After all, we see successful women leaders in franchising all the time, both franchisors and franchisees.
Like most, we were aware of the more well-known women who founded franchise brands. (Quick: Name five!) But as we dug deeper, we began discovering how many women had pioneered their own businesses and turned to franchising to expand them across the country and, for some, around the world. But why should we have been surprised (other than historical bias, prejudice, and stereotypes that just won't fade away)?
Some well-known female founders are among our list, along with many more who aren't so well-known--but likely will be in the not-too-distant future...

Feature Story:

Cleaning Up: Dan Tarantin Has Chem-Dry And N-Hance On The Fast Track »

By Kerry Pipes

Dan Tarantin is president and CEO of Harris Research, franchisor of Chem-Dry and N-Hance Wood Renewal. Chem-Dry, founded in 1977, is a carpet and upholstery cleaning brand with more than 3,500 locations in 50 countries and provides services to nearly 10,000 homes daily. N-Hance is a cabinet and floor restoration service with more than 370 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
Tarantin was hired in late 2011 to reinvigorate and grow the brands. From 1999 to 2001, he was president and CEO of Jackson Hewitt Tax Service. During those years, the company doubled from 1,700 to 3,400 locations, customers increased more than 100 percent, revenue grew 200 percent, and EBITDA was up 600 percent. And there was more. He restructured $30 million of marketing initiatives to expand the customer base, increase brand awareness and influence, and boost client retention...

Feature Story:

Change Agent: Making The World A Better, Cleaner Place »

By Kerry Pipes

Jonathan Barnett has a portfolio full of ideas and plans for his expanding the Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning brand. As an enterprising college graduate, he founded the brand in 2006 because, he says, "Carpet cleaning has a low barrier to entry, is excellent for creating repeat business, offers a service in high demand, and has the potential to net millions of dollars." Today, nearly a decade after launching his dream, he remains atop the brand as CEO, directing its growth and pushing the boundaries of an old-school industry.
His track record to date is promising. Barnett opened the first Oxi Fresh in Denver, and within 6 months the company had expanded to 17 locations in 5 states. He gave the first five franchises away free, including one to his mother, who remains a major influence in his life...

Feature Story:

Fresh-Baked Approach: We Take Our Pretzels Seriously, Not Ourselves »

By Bill Phelps

In the fast food industry, taste will always rule. The past few years, however, have seen a shift in the way guests connect with brands, with elevated expectations regarding food quality, transparency, and authenticity. While evolving with your guests is mandatory for success, doing it in a way that aligns with your brand's ethos is the difference between average and thriving. For all the growth Wetzel's Pretzels has experienced, ensuring that our products, marketing, and guest experience have been brand aligned since day one is an element we're incredibly proud of. We were the 10th player in the fresh-baked pretzel category when we entered in 1994, and people said we'd maybe get to 30 locations. We will end 2015 with 320 units, with another 35 to 40 opening in 2016...


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Big Data: All aboard the data train!    

Franchise Update Magazine

Issue III, 2016

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