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Every franchisee who relies on hourly employees has struggled with finding good, dependable staff and managers. There are some tricks of the trade, techniques, and processes that can help you interview better, hire smarter, train better, and retain longer. Successful franchisees are the ones with great employees who are passionate about the brand, its customers, the people they work for, and their own career advancement.

Find tips and insight from human resources experts, franchisees, and franchisors who know what it takes to hire, train, and retain top-performing employees.

Feature Story:

Success-ion Story: Family Business Diversifies To Expand »

By Helen Bond

As senior vice president and chief investment officer of Impact Properties, Shirin Kanji is in charge of all of the Tampa-based company's investment-related activities. As with most family businesses, however, his real job goes far beyond just getting a deal done. "Since I was a teenager, my role covered anything that would help support the operating team," says Kanji, who has been busy adding more to his business plate.
This past October, the company acquired 40 Rent-A-Centers, further diversifying a portfolio that already included six hotel franchise brands, Firehouse Subs, and BurgerFi. "We had gotten close on a handful of other targeted deals along the way, but ultimately I feel we got the right fit with Rent-A-Center," says Kanji...

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Never And Always: Creating A Customer-First Organization »

By John DiJulius

You want customer loyalty? Be brilliant at the basics.
World-class service companies have what I like to call a "customer bill of rights" that every person in that organization clearly knows and follows 100 percent of the time. Would you ever expect to see a Disney cast member on break, in full uniform, chewing tobacco and spitting on the ground near the front entrance where guests are walking? Doubtful. Would you ever think a Ritz-Carlton employee, when asked for directions to the ballroom, would respond, "I don't know. I work in housekeeping."? Highly unlikely! One of the most effective ways to elevate your company's customer service level is by instituting your own customer bill of rights.
If anyone is going to wear your uniform or name tag or represent your brand, you need only a small set (6 to 10 actions or standards) for your employees to live by...

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GPS Hospitality To Grow With New Chief Development Officer »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Atlanta-based GPS Hospitality is one of the largest Burger King franchisees in the country with 222 restaurants. The company now has a new chief development officer to spearhead continued growth.
Brian Arnold, a founding partner of GPS Hospitality, previously served as vice president of development. He successfully oversaw the completion of 45 remodels and the construction of three new locations, and played a key role in the nine acquisitions the company has completed during the past three years.
As chief development officer, Arnold will continue to oversee new restaurant construction, remodels, equipment and facility management with 21 remodels and six new restaurants planned for 2016.
Arnold has more than 20 years of development experience, including 15 years with Arby's Restaurant Group...

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Role Player: Gary Moore Has Done It All »

By Helen Bond

Multi-unit franchisee Gary Moore has spent most of his life in the restaurant business, assuming nearly every available job title along the way. "I relate very well to people in the restaurant business because I have that experience," says Moore. "I understand each role and can put that hat on because I have been in that role myself. It has helped me a great deal."
Based in Salt Lake City, Moore operates 58 Burger Kings in five western states, 6 Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill restaurants, and 10 convenience stores/gas stations. Most recently, he struck a development deal with the Utah-based Beans & Brews Coffee House to build 20 stores in Nevada.
With more than 30 years in franchising, Moore is still happiest behind the restaurant counter with his sleeves rolled up working alongside team members and talking with customers...

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McAlister's Deli Mega Franchisee On Track To $100 Million In 2016 Revenue »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Yaron Goldman grew up in New Orleans cooking all the time and says he dreamed of having his own restaurant one day.
"I have always enjoyed cooking, ever since I was a child," says Goldman, the second largest McAlister's Deli franchisee in the system. "My sister and I use to cook all the time and there is nothing better than serving someone a great meal."
These days, Goldman is dishing up even loftier goals. The chief executive officer of Southern Deli Holdings LLC is at the helm of a strategic growth plan that includes 2016 revenue projection in excess of $100 million and the addition of three more brands in the next 10 years. The franchisee currently operates 59 McAlister Deli restaurants in North and South Carolina, Missouri, Colorado, and Wyoming and three MOD Pizza spots, the made-to-order Seattle-based fast casual pizza chain...

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One-Brand Woman: Dawn Lafreeda Builds A Denny's Empire »

By Kerry Pipes

When we last visited with Dawn Lafreeda in mid-2012 she was operating 70 Denny's restaurants in six states and had been adding restaurants, even through the Great Recession. That's not really surprising for Denny's largest individually owned franchisee and one of the largest female restaurant franchisees in the country.
Since then, Lafreeda's San Antonio-based Den-Tex Central company has entered another new market and bought five more Denny's in Arkansas. She's also converted an old Shoney's restaurant into a Denny's location in Neosho, Mo., and closed one underperforming location, bringing her total to 75 locations.
Lafreeda takes growth, challenges, and success in stride. "We like to do whatever makes sense for us," she says...

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Mega Zees: 7 Franchisee Superheroes Tell How They Did It »

We kick off 2016 with our annual Mega 99 issue: a list of the largest U.S. franchisees ranked by total number of units--along with 7 profiles of multi-unit mega-operators. For the profiles we've identified movers and shakers who have gone big, whether by revenue or by number of brands, units, or locations--or by all of these signs of franchising success. These truly are franchisees who don't settle for less.
Going big takes a certain kind of drive and initiative, as well as a nose for deals, leadership skills, business savvy, and perhaps a dash of good fortune. Few actually make it, and the ones who do have invested blood, sweat equity, and sleepless nights to get there--building their success on the four pillars of strong brands, passionate teams, dedicated employees, and loyal customers...

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Texas Dairy Queen Franchisee Thinks Big »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Bill Spae was taking a little time off when he got a phone call with an investment opportunity too good to pass up. He took the deal to invest in and become CEO of Vasari LLC (the largest Dairy Queen franchisee in Texas and the second-largest in the DQ system), and to improve operations and double the size of the company.
Spae, who most recently served as CEO of Mooyah Burgers, Fries, & Shakes and COO of CiCi's Pizza, loves running companies. And in early 2014, he brought those 40-plus years of franchising experience to Vasari's 76 Dairy Queen restaurants--70 in Texas and 3 each in New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Spae, who began his career at Burger King, has a seemingly bottomless well of experience running, growing, and turning brands around...

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Area Rep Supreme: Mike Pietrzyk Is Setting The Pace For Firehouse Subs »

By Kerry Pipes

Mike Pietrzyk has always loved contributing to charitable causes. So it wasn't surprising that a decade ago the Firehouse Subs area representative came up with the idea of selling his restaurants' empty 5-gallon pickle buckets, rather than tossing them out. He estimates that his idea, at $2 per bucket, has helped the brand raise more than $600,000 for the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. "Corporate loved the idea, and now Firehouse franchisees everywhere continue raising money by selling the buckets," he says.
The 65-year-old Pietrzyk is a longtime food business veteran and franchise executive. Starting out as a manager in a Burger Chef in Michigan, he went on to work with Pizza Hut, Wendy's, and eventually opened his first Little Caesars franchise in Virginia in 1984...

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High Flier: Gina Puente Makes Life Tasty For Travelers  »

By Kerry Pipes

Innovation in non-traditional locations defines Gina Puente's approach to business. When we profiled her in 2010, she told us how her family business, Puente Enterprises, had created La Bodega Winery, a winery in an airport, in the mid-1990s. She also had a half-dozen other concepts going in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. We caught up with her recently and she's been at it again.
In 2013, Puente created and launched Sky Canyon by Stephan Pyles, a unique restaurant that serves contemporary Texas cuisine along with a dose of Southern hospitality and charm. It too, of course, is located in an airport--one at DFW and another at Dallas Love Field. She likes to say her company's "unique-ability" is to create and adapt new, innovative concepts into non-traditional environments...

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Michael Tucker Expands With Dickey's Barbecue Pit »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Michael and Margarita Tucker already own the Dickey's Barbecue Pit location in La Quinta, California and have now just signed a development agreement to open three more stores in Indio, Moreno Valley, and Redlands in 2016. The California expansion is on for the franchisee and the franchisor.
Tucker is no stranger to franchising or success. The California entrepreneur owns several franchises of the Dallas-based convenience store brand 7-Eleven. He's even won 7-Eleven's prestigious Retailer Initiative award for three consecutive years. He says he's eager to expand with the Dickey's brand.
"I have been a business owner for most of my life, but the support I receive from Dickey's makes all the difference," says Tucker. "Dickey's is not only a fun and happy place to work, it has systems and processes in place to support franchisees and is committed to our success...

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Burger Kingdom: Arby's Ex-CEO Returns To His Multi-Unit Roots »

By Debbie Selinsky

Tom Garrett breaks down his 30 years with Arby's--first as an assistant manager, then as the brand's largest franchisee, and finally as CEO of the franchisor--this way: "I like to say that 25 of those years were great, 3 were mediocre, and 2 were miserable--in that order."
In mid-2005, Garrett was president of RTM Restaurant Group (operator of 775 Arby's in 22 states with sales of nearly $800 million) when it was acquired by Triarc Companies (franchisor of the Arby's brand). Following the sale, he became COO of Arby's at a time, he says, when the company was "overleveraged in an economic crisis." However, he adds, the time he spent there, before exiting as CEO of Arby's Restaurant Group in early 2010, was ultimately worthwhile. "I can't say it was fun, but those 5 years made me tougher and smarter and better prepared to go back to what I love: being a multi-unit franchisee...

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Baskin-Robbins Grows And Offers  »

Baskin-Robbins, has signed development agreements with two franchise groups to develop three new ice cream shops in Banning and Temecula, Calif., over the next few years. But the brand has also just launched a unique new development strategy by creating a "ready-to-operate shop" for potential franchisees.
New franchise group M DB Enterprises, LLC, led by husband-and-wife team Hemant and Hemlatta Bhakta, plans to develop one new shop in Banning. Hemant previously held several positions with Baskin-Robbins before deciding to open his own shop. The new Banning location is planned to open at the end of this year.
Gary and Maria Yarbrough have been Baskin-Robbins franchisees since 2011 and plan to develop two new shops in Temecula. They currently own and operate a Baskin-Robbins in Chula Vista and are developing a second location in the area, which is slated to open in April...

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HuHot Franchisee Turns To Private Equity »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

HuHot Mongolian Grill's largest franchisee has just been acquired by private equity investment firm Sun Capital. The Omaha, Nebraska-based CCW, is the franchisee of 21 HuHot restaurants across the Midwest, including locations in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota.
"CCW has built a strong business on a unique concept, and we're excited to partner with this experienced management team to build on their tremendous success," said Marc Leder, co-CEO at Sun Capital. "The company is well positioned for continued, substantial growth."
Sun Capital's Managing Director Anthony Polazzi added, "We see significant opportunity for CCW to expand with the HuHot brand and beyond. We are actively exploring development partnerships with fast-casual franchisors, as our focus will be on working with the business' outstanding operating team to scale this single concept franchisee into a multi-concept platform...

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Common Terminology: Franchisors Should Speak The Same Language »

By Paul Wilbur

Franchising is full of creative entrepreneurs and marketers. With creativity, however, comes the desire to explain franchising in terminology that differentiates a brand from its peers.
Take for example a model FRANdata has defined for years as the Area Representative Growth Model. This model uses intermediaries (area reps) to sell and support franchisees in a territory, but those intermediaries do not contract directly with franchisees. We've come across at least 10 different names for this model, including regional director, regional developer, regional manager, regional services, master franchisee, master franchisor, area franchisee, area director, area developer, and area representative. This is a terribly confusing situation for prospective franchisees, lenders, suppliers, and the industry overall...

Feature Story:

Van Jakes On Franchising After Football »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Van Jakes spent 8 years playing football in the NFL. He was a cornerback for the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, and Green Bay Packers. He says he enjoyed playing football at the professional level and thrived on the competition.
When it came time to retire from the game in 1991, he wasn't looking to sit back and take it easy. He felt that there was more to do. The budding entrepreneur started investigating business opportunities that eventually led him to franchising, and eventually to the McDonald's brand.
"I knew I wasn't done building my nest egg," says the 54-year old Jakes. "And I wanted to be a good steward of my financial resources." But, he says, he didn't foresee himself doing so by opening "Van Jakes' Hamburger Stand...

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IFA Battles Seattle's Minimum Wage Law »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

The International Franchise Association is appealing Seattle's minimum wage law all the way to the Supreme Court. Last week, the organization filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, asking the United States Supreme Court to review the decision of the Ninth Circuit in the Seattle Case.
The association says the law's discriminatory provisions harm franchisees.
IFA and five Seattle franchisees sued the City of Seattle in June 2014, seeking to block portions of the city's law to increase the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour. The plaintiffs asked the court to enjoin the city from treating franchisees as large, national companies rather than the small, locally-owned businesses that they are.
"The controlling Supreme Court precedent and the conflict among the decisions of the federal circuit courts have proven that a Supreme Court review of the Ninth Circuit's decision is the appropriate next step," said IFA President & CEO Robert Cresanti...

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Lottery Winner Becomes Franchisee »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Upon winning a mega lottery like this month's $1.5 billion Powerball, you typically hear stories of winners putting their earnings toward buying a new home or a luxury car. While there are a million ways to spend the winnings, the key is to make smart investments that enable you to maintain and grow your fortune. Jason Fry, owner of four successful Batteries Plus Bulbs stores in Florida, would testify that franchising is one worthwhile investment.
After winning $47 million in the 2008 Florida state lottery, Fry did what most overnight millionaires would do: he bought a boat, an Escalade, a Shelby Mustang, a motorcycle, and a house in Ft. Myers. He also made several business investments, including acquiring a Batteries Plus franchise store in 2009...

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Golden Opportunity: Jewelry Wholesaler Turns To Franchising And Shines »

By Debbie Selinsky

Annie Aggarwal, whose parents Renu and Bharat Aggarwal moved to Texas from India in 1989, recalls her extended family's surprise in 1997 when her mother decided to use her savings to purchase a Subway franchise in Houston.
Her mother Renu, who had been a full-time housewife, had saved funds from selling 22-karat gold jewelry from India wholesale to upscale jewelers in Houston and Dallas. She heard about Subway and franchising and decided that being a franchisee would be lower risk than selling jewelry, a "golden ticket" sure to take care of her family in the future.
Despite her husband's initial hesitance, the mother of two, who spoke minimal English and some basic Spanish, went ahead with her plan. Today she owns 55 Subways in Texas and New York, and to diversify, recently added Wing Zone in Houston...

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Right Time, Right Place: Parlaying Military Experience Into Franchise Success »

By Debbie Selinsky

Scott Richburg, a former U.S. Army National Guard officer and owner of an engineering consulting firm, smiles when he recalls the learning curve he faced when he bought his first Sport Clips franchise in 2003. "Learning to relate to and communicate with hair stylists took some time," he says. Twelve years and 14 additional salons later, he's clearly figured that out.
As with many in the business, his transition into franchising began with a haircut--and a bit of good luck and timing. "When I went into a Sport Clips for a haircut, the experience just blew me away," he says. And he was ready, even eager, for a change.
"I didn't want to do engineering any more and was looking for something else to do. In a twist of fate, I was talking with a banker friend who'd heard from a business broker selling Sport Clips franchises...


Learn More

Multi-Brand 50    

Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine

Issue II, 2016

Multi-Unit Buyers Guide    

2016 Multi-Unit Buyers Guide

Special Edition

Top Opportunities »

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