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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:

Rider On The Storm: From 25 To 50 Restaurants In 4 Years »

By Kerry Pipes

Things have been good for Greg Cutchall during the last four years. He's doubled the number of restaurants he operates from 25 to 50 units. And this from a guy who said he never wanted to go into the restaurant business.
That's because a young Cutchall watched his father and uncle struggle to make ends meet with their two A&W Restaurants and told himself he would never go into that business. Today, the 60-year-old Cutchall has not only entered the restaurant business (42 years and counting), he's done extremely well, providing a good life for his family and opportunities for his thousands of employees throughout the years.
"Nothing is more rewarding than being in a restaurant you helped create and seeing engaged, happy employees operating a restaurant that keeps customers coming back," he says...

Feature Story:

All The Right Moves: Guillermo Perales Puts The Focus On Operations And Growth »

By Kerry Pipes

Guillermo Perales is at it again. When we spoke to him last year (MUF Q4 2012) he was on the grow and flirting with 400 locations throughout his restaurant kingdom. Now he has been recognized with the Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine MVP Award, while busy remodeling more than 40 of his Burger Kings, Popeyes, and Golden Corrals, cutting the ribbon on three new Popeyes, and in the building stages of several more units in his core markets of Dallas, Houston, and Orlando, Florida.
"We've still got around 400 total locations," he says matter of factly, "But we did sell off 10 Golden Corrals in January and have been heavily remodeling a number of our other units." He says another handful of restaurants are awaiting building permits that are "tough going...

Feature Story:

Above And Beyond: Steve Baliva Uses His Friday's To Go Extra Mile During Hurricane Sandy »

By Debbie Selinsky

Just before Hurricane Sandy slammed into the New Jersey coast, Tom's River, N.J., resident and franchisee Steve Baliva was huddling with team members from his area T.G.I. Friday's restaurants to try to prepare for what many forecast to be the storm of the century.
"We knew it was coming and thought that we had five restaurants in the path of it," he recalls. "Turns out we had seven in the path - five in Jersey and two on the border of the Pennsylvania side. We were laying up plans to close down on Sunday, Oct. 29, since we knew we'd lose power."
Baliva, Friday's 2011 Franchisee of the Year and vice president/restaurant operations for Metz Culinary Management, lives within 10 minutes of several of the restaurants, so on Tuesday, he headed out to check on things...

Feature Story:

2013 MVPs Selected & Named: 9 Individuals In 7 Categories »

By Kerry Pipes

Franchising is a tough business, and succeeding even tougher. But with a keen eye on the bottom line, customer service, and community involvement, there are a handful of multi-unit franchisees who rise to the top. We like to call them superstars and once a year Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine recognizes a select few with our Annual MVP Awards. This year we carefully selected 9 individuals who have demonstrated character, innovation, and sacrifice within their markets and brands. We'd also like to thank our sponsor, Comcast, for their support in making these awards possible. Here's a little more about each of this year's winners. Their full profiles follow.


William Ray Bruce
Noble Cause
Abundant Brands; Subway, Costa Vida, Roxberry Juice, and Big Al's BBQ

William Ray Bruce has always had a "do good vibe" philosophy to business...

Feature Story:

Tavern Tycoon: Young Entrepreneur Knew His Destiny In Third Grade »

By Kerry Pipes

A third-grade writing assignment led to a real revelation for Brandon Jones and his father. The teacher asked the kids to write about what they wanted to be when they grew up. "Most kids said things like 'Be a policeman or a firefighter,'" says the 33-year-old today. "I wrote 'Own a bar with my dad.'" It may have sounded odd to his teacher, but that's exactly what he went on to do.
Jones grew up in La Porte, Ind., a town of about 22,000. He was a hard-working kid who was throwing newspapers by age 13, earned enough money to buy his own moped at 14, and stayed busy doing various jobs when he wasn't on the athletic field or in the gym. When Jones was still a toddler, his father converted an old house into a small tavern, and it was here that Jones would finally fulfill his third-grade desire...

Feature Story:

Triple Player: Veteran Papa John's Franchisee Expands His Brands »

By Kerry Pipes

The last time we spoke with Ricky Warman, in 2009, he was pouring his blood, sweat, and tears into successfully operating 42 Papa John's units in Florida. The former Prudential Securities investment manager had left the corporate life behind in the early 1990s for the rough-and-tumble world of franchising. He liked what he found there, and he was good at it.
Early in his franchising career, before finding his real rhythm with Papa John's, he spent time with brands including Jenny Craig and Schlotzsky's. Papa John's turned out to be a good fit for Warman, and he eventually grew to 53 locations in various locales throughout Florida. Over the past four years, however, he sold off all the units outside his core areas of Miami, Dade, and Broward counties and redirected his focus to the remaining 31 units...

Feature Story:

Coming On Strong: John "JD" Draper Makes It Happen With 125 Units, 6 Brands, And 4,000 Team Members  »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

John "JD" Draper simply looks like a leader. Maybe it's his dapper attire, mile-wide smile, and booming voice. Or maybe it's his decades long command of operating franchises. He's experienced, successful and has the acumen to continue being successful.
Draper has been a student of franchising since his first job out of Wayne State University. "I went to work straight out of college as a shift manager for a Burger King in Detroit. I made $1.75 per hour," he says. Today, as president of operations for V&J Holding Companies in Milwaukee, he is responsible for 125 units, 6 brands, and 4,000 team members in 6 states (Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Minnesota, and Massachusetts).
Draper describes himself as a "participatory manager," and can readily discuss the Affordable Care Act, multi-brand challenges, the economy, and relationships with franchisors, team members, and employees...

Feature Story:

No Turning Back: Former Ski Coach Races To Top-Earning Status In Franchising »

By Debbie Selinsky

When Jim Fitlow skis, he goes at it full tilt. In fact, one of his favorite quips is, "Turning is highly overrated."
Now the former ski racing coach and his partner Mike Allen are applying that same "go big or go home" philosophy as multi-brand, multi-unit franchisees for Re-Bath, Floor Coverings International, and HomeStory Doors & More, all in Utah and Colorado.
Fitlow, born in Florida, was raised in Michigan where the ski bug bit him at a young age. He met Allen later, in college at Montana State University. When Fitlow got out of ski race coaching--"I enjoyed it and had some success with that for a few years," he says--he began to look around for something that would keep him in Salt Lake City.
Fitlow and Allen knew a local Re-Bath franchisee, a retired plumber they'd swapped jobs with on occasion...

Feature Story:

A Keen Sense: Lloyd Sugarman Uncovers Success One Brand At A Time »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

When Cold Stone Creamery first showed up on his radar, Lloyd Sugarman knew it had great franchise potential years before the couple who started it were ready to grow. And he had a special feeling in his gut the first time he visited a tiny coffee shop in Chicago called Starbucks, but he listened to friends who insisted coffee shops had limited growth potential, and didn't make a move.
But all systems were go in the late 1980s when the self-made businessman who'd battled ADHD as a youth, got a tip from a 9-year-old girl on a flight to California. When he asked her father about new restaurants in the LA area, she piped up, "There's that new place in Melrose--Johnny Rockets. It's a little hamburger and malt shop."
Sugarman liked the name so much that he rented a car and drove to Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, near West Hollywood...

Feature Story:

Rider On The Storm: From 25 To 50 Restaurants In 4 Years »

By Kerry Pipes

As a youngster, Greg Cutchall watched his father and uncle struggle to make ends meet with their two A&W restaurants and told himself he would never go into that business. Today, at 60, Cutchall has not only entered the restaurant business (42 years and counting), he's done extremely well, providing a good life for his family and opportunities for his thousands of employees throughout the years.
"Nothing is more rewarding than being in a restaurant you helped create and seeing engaged, happy employees operating a restaurant that keeps customers coming back," he says.
Things have been good for Cutchall since we last spoke with him four years ago. He's grown from 25 to 50 restaurants operating in five states, experiencing the most growth with Paradise Bakery & Cafe, which he's grown from four locations to 17...

Feature Story:

The Pursuit Of Innovation: Glenn Mueller's Passion And Innovation Have Helped Make Him Domino's Largest Franchisee »

By Kerry Pipes

Glenn Mueller is Domino's Pizza's largest single franchisee with 135 units. It's a partnership made in pizza heaven.
It's been three years since we spoke with Mueller. At that time he recalled how he and his team had not only weathered the massive Hurricane Katrina--which affected many of his Gulf Coast Domino's stores--but how he had reopened stores within days to take care of his team members and the people in the communities they served.
Beyond his compassion and relentless drive, it's difficult to write about Mueller without acknowledging his unending pursuit of innovation. For example, those insulated bags that keep your pizza steaming hot while it makes its way to your house? Courtesy of Mueller and his team. And those illuminated portable car-top signs? You guessed it...

Feature Story:

Franchise Whisperer: Perpetually On The Prowl For The Next New Thing »

By Debbie Selinsky

Lloyd Sugarman--Sugie, to his friends--is something of a "franchise whisperer."
He sniffed out Coldstone Creamery as a concept with great franchise potential years before the couple who started it were ready to grow. And he had a special feeling in his gut the first time he visited a tiny coffee shop in Chicago called Starbucks, but he listened to friends who insisted coffee shops had limited growth potential, and didn't make a move.
But all systems were go in the late 1980s when the self-made businessman who'd battled ADHD as a youth, got a tip from a 9-year-old girl on a flight to California. When he asked her father about new restaurants in the LA area, she piped up, "There's that new place in Melrose--Johnny Rockets. It's a little hamburger and malt shop...

Feature Story:

Zero Tolerance: The Ramifications Of Harassment On Your Business »

By Timothy Bednarz

The role of the leader is to create a smooth operating and empowered organization that frees employees from obstacles and barriers to their personal productivity. The presence of harassing behaviors and those who would use them against their fellow employees destroys any and all empowerment and organizational cohesiveness a leader builds.
Harassment in any form humiliates and frustrates not only the victim but the employees forced to witness these behaviors on a consistent and regular basis. A "conspiracy of silence" typically develops that creates an organizational tolerance of harassment even when corporate policies are in place to prevent harassment in any form from occurring.
While harassment may not be tolerated at the higher levels of management, it can be present in the lower echelons of the organization...

Feature Story:

Rapid Growth: Tony Lutfi Goes From 52 To 134 Units In Three Years »

By Kerry Pipes

When Tony Lutfi was asked back in 2009 where he'd like to be in five years, he said 100 units. At that time he had 52. Boy does he mean business. Today his MarLu Investment Group operates 134 franchise units including Arby's, Church's Chicken, Jack in the Box, Little Caesars, Sizzler, Sears Appliance Showrooms, and Sears Hardware & Appliance.
"We accomplished that goal in three years," he says today, "in part because we keep the same focus on culture that has kept us in business and away from trouble." Lutfi's culture promotes teamwork and cross-functionality with a sense of ownership. His managers treat the business as if they own it and, he says, that has been the driving factor behind their cost controls and the real engine for their growth...

Feature Story:

Avoid These Common Hiring Mistakes: 10 Ways To Hire The Wrong Person Every Time--guaranteed! »

By Mel Kleiman

In my 20-plus years of teaching and consulting with business owners and hiring managers about how to "hire tough so they can manage easy," I've discovered there are 10 commonplace mistakes almost everyone makes that are guaranteed to result in bad hiring decisions and waste untold time, money, and effort. Thank God I've never had a client who's made all these mistakes at once, but it really only takes two or three to sabotage your efforts to hire great people. Are you guilty of any of the following?

Feature Story:

Mr. Hospitality »

By Debbie Selinsky

"If you're not hospitable, you're in the wrong game."

If President Obama decided to name an Ambassador of Franchising, John "JD" Draper, with his dapper attire, mile-wide smile, and booming voice would surely make the "short list" of top candidates. At least someone in Washington is listening: Draper was just voted onto the board of the IFA Educational Foundation's Diversity Institute.
Draper has been a student of franchising since his first job out of Wayne State University. "I went to work straight out of college as a shift manager for a Burger King in Detroit. I made $1.75 per hour," he says. Today, as president of operations for V&J Holding Companies in Milwaukee, he is responsible for 125 units, 6 brands, and 4,000 team members in 6 states (Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Minnesota, and Massachusetts)...

Feature Story:

From Tasks To Individuals: Making The Transition From Manager To Leader »

By Timothy Bednarz

Managers are often task-oriented, and not necessarily focused on their employees. Leaders on the other hand are people-oriented; they work through and motivate their employees, utilizing their resources to perform assigned tasks in the most productive and profitable way possible.
Many managers confuse management with leadership, and feel they are automatically leaders because they occupy a position of higher responsibility. While this assumption is often true, many fail to display active leadership qualities. The roles leaders fulfill are different than those of managers, although sound management practices are complementary to effective leadership.
While some individuals are natural leaders, most managers must evolve into leaders both by investing time and effort in developing their abilities and by adapting their management roles to a more flexible, effective leadership style...

Feature Story:

Shipping Out Service: Navy Veteran Jo McCabe Succeeds With Mr. Handyman »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

You might assume that Jo McCabe has a background in home repairs. The co-owner of Mr. Handyman and the system's 2010 Franchisee of the Year, serves the Prince William and southern Fairfax counties in Virginia. But it's her background in the military that has helped her succeed in franchising.
McCabe attended the U.S. Naval Academy and received a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and then furthered her education with an MBA from Southern New Hampshire University. She worked as an aircraft maintenance officer in the U.S. Navy and served in the Reserves. McCabe spent eight years in physical security, overseeing the Navy's northeast region and eventually managing 1,500 people.
She graduated from the Naval Academy in 1991 and served until 1996, then joined the Reserves...

Feature Story:

Future Certain: Third-Grade Wish Comes True »

By Kerry Pipes

When Brandon Jones was in the third grade, his teacher asked the class to write about what they wanted to be when they grew up. "Most kids said things like 'Be a policeman or a firefighter,'" says the 33-year-old today. "I wrote 'Own a bar with my dad.'" It may have sounded funny to his teacher, but that's exactly what he went on to do.
Jones grew up in La Porte, Ind., a town of about 22,000. He was a hard-working kid who was throwing newspapers by age 13, earned enough money to buy his own moped at 14, and stayed busy doing various jobs when he wasn't on the athletic field or in the gym. When Jones was still a toddler, his father converted an old house into a small tavern, and it was here that Jones would finally fulfill his third-grade desire...

Feature Story:

Processes And People: Time To Renovate And Retrofit Your Customer-Focused Culture »

By Lisa Ford

Creating a customer-focused culture requires strategy and constant review. Each year you should review your goal setting and organizing efforts. Take the time to apply these same disciplines to your customer focus. I suggest going as far as renovation and retrofitting.
I encourage you to look at two areas - processes and people - to strengthen your customer focus.
Organizations' processes and systems can get complicated. Too often businesses have an internal focus that can create hassles for the customer. Customers want ease, simplicity, and responsiveness. No matter how the customer contacts your business, hassle free is their desire. Look at your website, social media, call center, phone handling, and in person contact. Where are the interaction points that can cause glitches, delays, and frustration? Evaluate how hard it is for the customer to reach you and get a timely response...



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