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Feature Story:

Del Taco Man: Franchisee, Franchisor, Family Man, Innovator »

By Debbie Selinsky

If Del Taco were a sports team, Paul Hitzelberger would not only be its MVP, he'd also be the GM and coach. For the past three decades, he's been on both sides of the business, as franchisor and franchisee, playing a leading role in helping the brand grow to more than 540 restaurants in 17 states.
After serving 15 years as chief marketing officer for Del Taco, he retired, but it didn't stick. In 2001, the Chicago-born entrepreneur started a new career as a franchisee, buying eight Del Taco locations in Utah. "The only partner I have now is my wife," he says, adding that he has an "outstanding" relationship with Del Taco and loves the product.
A former senior officer with General Mills and franchisor at Coast to Coast stores, Hitzelberger has earned franchisee accolades over the years, regularly posting the highest average volume within the Del Taco system...

Feature Story:

Against The Odds: ServiceMaster Franchisee Sets Records And Sails To Success »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Dan Fry entered the world of franchising knowing very little about the business. He was warned of the odds of succeeding in a new business but he didn't let that stop him or hold him back in anyway. He excelled first as a ServiceMaster franchisee and became one of the brand's top 200 franchisees after only one year in business. He's maintained that growth rate over the last 12 years and has earned numerous franchise growth and excellence awards. His newest business venture is as a Furniture Medic franchisee and he's excelling again. He has already set a record for the highest first year revenue of any new franchisee and been recognized with the brand's Rookie of the Year Award.


Name: Dan Fry
Title: Owner/Partner
Company: ServiceMaster Advanced Restorations, LP
(Also: Furniture Medic by Wood Restore, LLC)
Location/Territory: Dallas/Fort Worth
No...

Feature Story:

On A Mission: Michael Kulp Takes Care Of Business And His People »

By Debbie Selinsky

Michael Kulp thinks big. While some business executives are looking at what to cut because of rising payroll and healthcare costs, Kulp, president and CEO of KBP Foods, a $250 million restaurant company with units in nine states, is taking an "inverse" approach.
"We're using our growth as a vehicle to handle costs rather than shrinking the business down," says the 38-year-old Colorado native. "We're making sure that our growth and cash flow outpace the costs of healthcare and payroll." This approach illustrates what Kulp finds most rewarding about his job, he says. "Our mission is to develop our people personally, professionally, and financially."
With that goal in mind, KBP Foods, which includes nearly 300 KFCs, Taco Bells, and Long John Silver's, took another major step...

Feature Story:

Big Operator, Bigger Heart: Family, Philanthropy, Diversity, And Drive »

By Debbie Selinsky

Tony Lutfi, who immigrated to the United States from Lebanon, is one of the most successful QSR franchisees in the country, rapidly growing his five food brands to market domination and record revenues.
Lutfi, who first ventured into franchise ownership in the early 1990s as a franchisee of Arby’s and Long John Silver’s in Northern California, now owns a whopping 130-plus restaurants in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Missouri.
No one-trick pony, in 2011 began diversifying his portfolio beyond food, and just 3 years later operates a total of 29 Sears retail stores: 17 Sears Home Appliance Showrooms, 3 Sears Appliance & Hardware stores, and 9 Sears Outlet stores.
His MarLu Investment Group was able to accomplish such rapid growth across brands because, he says, “We keep the same focus on culture that has kept us in business and away from trouble...

Feature Story:

Renaissance Man: Paul Hitzelberger Draws On A Broad Base Of Knowledge, Skills, And Experience »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

The list of accomplishments is long for Paul Hitzelberger. He was a senior officer with General Mills, part of the Coast to Coast franchise, turned Osco Drug Stores in the Central Illinois region from worst of 13 to best in less than two years, was selected for the company's Hall of Fame, and went on to engineer 15 years of consecutive same-store sales increases at Del Taco. To use a sports metaphor, Hitzelberger is an All Star.
For the past three decades, he's been on both sides of the business, as franchisor and franchisee, playing a leading role in helping the Del Taco brand grow to more than 540 restaurants in 17 states.
After serving 15 years as chief marketing officer for Del Taco, he retired, but it didn't stick. In 2001, the Chicago-born entrepreneur started a new career as a franchisee, buying eight Del Taco locations in Utah...

Feature Story:

2014 MVP Awards: Honoring Outstanding Multi-Unit Performers »

By Kerry Pipes & Eddy Goldberg

The best franchisees are some of the hardest-working and kindest people around. They provide customers with consistent products and services, give back to their communities, and provide jobs for thousands of employees. Each year we recognize outstanding multi-unit franchisees with our MVP (Most Valuable Performer) Awards. We thank Comcast Business Services for sponsoring the awards. Here's a preview of this year's winners.

Noble Cause Award
Sam Anabi was a police officer before becoming a franchisee. He now has 200 gas stations and 23 restaurants (Del Taco and Subway). His people-centered approach shows in how he cares for his employees, customers, and the needy in the communities where he operates.

American Dream Award
Nachhattar Chandi has come a long way from walking 3 miles to school on India's dirt roads...

Feature Story:

Running A Business: Overcoming Life Challenges To Succeed In Franchising »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Natalie Ehrlich knows what it's like to overcome difficult times in her life. One of the most challenging periods she ever faced was when she was a single mother studying to earn her Ph.D. while raising her son at the same time. She says it was a tough time that taught her the importance of hard work and dedication and ultimately helped shape the person she is today.
As we continue to interview and profile franchisees who think outside the brick and mortar box, we checked in with Ehrlich, an Oxi Fresh franchisee who recently ran 42 marathons in just 12 months. Here's more about her.

Name: Natalie Jo Ehrlich
Title: President and Owner
Company: Oxi Fresh of Phoenix, East Valley, and Northern Arizona
No...

Feature Story:

Keep On Truckin': David Griffin And His Family Persevere And Prosper »

By Kerry Pipes

Four years ago David Griffin had just purchased 25 Jiffy Lube stores in Colorado. The stores were underperforming, some were dilapidated, and the U.S. economy still at one of its all-time lows. Those factors created a perfect storm for Griffin to expand--but it wasn't a walk in the park.
"We've spent the last three years reviving those units, and it has been a monumental task," says the 56-year-old today. Griffin says it took millions of dollars to turn around those 25 struggling locations--and the process tested both the company and his family, which is deeply involved in the business. "I'm still working right alongside my wife Joye and my three sons," he says. "We are today's family farm."
The effort paid off, says Griffin. "Sales at those 25 stores had been in a double-digit dive prior to us taking them over...

Feature Story:

A New Shade: John Sullivan Finds Flexibility And Success In ProTect Painters Franchise »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

John Sullivan is a Midwesterner with a background in retail and corporate America. He moved to St. Louis following college and began his career with Macy's department stores. He went on to work in the plastics industry for companies like Dow Chemical and Rohm and Hass over the next 12 years. But it was when his executive level position required extensive travel that he began to reassess his career. He began looking for a way he could be at home more with his family. Franchising proved to be the perfect solution.
Three years ago Sullivan became a ProTect Painters franchisee and has loved every minute of it. He says he has a much more flexible schedule and that much of what he learned in the corporate world has helped him become a successful franchisee...

Feature Story:

Women At The Top: Cheryl Bachelder »

Franchise Update

Feature Story:

An Opportunistic Choice: Ahmed El-Hawary Succeeds In Food Franchising And Beyond »

By Debbie Selinsky

Some would say find what you do best and stick with it. If you've been successful with food franchising, then stay in that lane. But Ahmed El-Hawary doesn't see things that way.
El-Hawary, who worked in his family's restaurant as a youth, operates four Firehouse Subs. When he opened his first 12 years ago, he was the brand's youngest franchisee. Last December, he opened his first Golden Corral restaurant, a $3.5 million project built from the ground up.
But when the 34-year-old--who also worked in his father's business selling glass doors, screens, and garage doors--had the opportunity to acquire eight Sears Outlets stores, he didn't hesitate.
"It was an opportunistic choice. We're the third franchisees to come in and do the Sears Outlets, which are now outside the Sears brand but still have that strong name behind them," he says...

Feature Story:

Franchising Without Walls: Closets By Design Franchisee Leaves Fortune 500 World For Franchising »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

A couple of months back we began occasionally profiling franchisees who have chosen to operate in brands that don't require a "brick and mortar" location. These service-oriented brands typically allow individuals to be a part of franchising without needing to build, purchase, or operate from a retail location. It's a franchise business model that is becoming more and more popular.
This time we caught up with Charles Waterman, a Closets by Design franchisee in Southeast Pennsylvania. He's been with the brand about 10 years now and as we found out this is not his first foray into franchising. Here's more of what we discovered about Waterman.


Name: Charles Waterman
Title: President
Company: Closets by Design of Southeast Pennsylvania
No...

Feature Story:

Holding Court: Food Court Pioneer Makes All His Brands Work Together »

By Debbie Selinsky

Jack Hough has never been limited by space. Back in 1996, he was trying to figure out which restaurants to place where in a somewhat limited space at the North Georgia Premium Outlets mall.
"It was our first outlet, and space for everything was an issue," says the Alabama native. "So I said, 'Why can't we run nine separate concepts out of the same kitchen with one GM?' A few of my franchise friends had a fit because it had never been done before, but after I explained that it would not interfere with their menus and concepts, we were able to get it done."
Over the years, Hough has extended that consolidated food court model into 14 airports, outlet malls, universities, and other "non-traditional" settings across 12 states. Today his company, MSE Branded Foods, represents more than a dozen national franchise brands, including Arby's, Sbarro, Subway, Steak 'n Shake, and signature concepts such as JJ's Sports Bar & Grill and the Buckhead Grill...

Feature Story:

Peak Performers: Steve And Joanne Reitz Aim For Perfect Every Time »

By Kerry Pipes

Steve and Joanne Reitz are partners in life and in franchising. Since we last checked in with him (2009, Q4) the two also have been partners in exploring. In 2010, with their teenaged son Matthew, they climbed Tanzania's Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet). "It was an amazing trip," he says. In fact, Joanne has been bitten by the exploration bug and has climbed several other mountains since, including Everest Base Camp in Nepal. But back at home, it's still business as usual for the husband-and-wife team.
When we last chatted with Reitz, he had 7 Supercuts salons in the Jacksonville, Fla., area and had just opened his first Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant in his territory of Western Oakland County, Mich. (Reitz, who now lives in Florida, grew up in Detroit...

Feature Story:

A Perfect Match: Nurse Makes Transition To Interim HealthCare Franchisee »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Lynette Helling spent her first three years as a nurse working in a burn center. She worked 12-hour shifts and supplemented her time and income with staffing shifts from a local staffing company. Then one day she spotted a classified add for Interim Healthcare in her local paper.
So she applied with Interim for additional supplemental income and ultimately found her interest in the company growing. She began working for Interim as the director of HealthCare Services. A decade later the Lincoln, Nebraska franchise territory became available and Lynette and her husband, Mark, became franchisees.
Here's more of what we learned about Helling.


Name:  Lynette Helling, RN
Title: President
Company: Interim HealthCare
Location/Territory: Lincoln, NE
No...

Feature Story:

Egg-ceptional Operators!: She Once Wanted Nothing To Do With Restaurants »

By Debbie Selinsky

Rose Colarossi, a high-energy multi-unit franchisee from Frisco, Texas, likes to open remarks about her franchising career with this question: "Which came first: the mama or the egg?"
In this case, the egg--as in The Egg & I--came first with Colarossi and her husband, Rob, who today own three in the North Dallas area. Recently, along with partners, they signed on as area developers for Mama Fu's Asian House. They opened their first unit last October and have committed to opening 13 more in Dallas and Collin counties in Texas.
Colarossi admits that she was a reluctant restaurateur at first. "When my son tried to tell me about his work at The Egg & I during college, I told him running restaurants is the hardest job there is and one that I, personally, wanted nothing to do with," recalls the New York native and former Curves franchisee, whose past includes working as a behavior modification therapist for autistic children and a marketing research coordinator...

Feature Story:

Simon Says: Grant Simon Keeps It Moving With Three Brands In Three States »

By Kerry Pipes

Grant Simon entered the world of franchising with Great Clips. That's where he had found success when we first interviewed him back in 2008.
He was operating 18 Great Clips salons in the Atlanta area. He was doing well but had an itch for more, and had just teamed up with fellow area Great Clips franchisee Greg Thomas to purchase a car wash business.
"It looked like a good opportunity, so we did it," says Simon. "We turned it around and quickly sold it for a healthy profit." It was an omen of good things to come. The two entrepreneurs invested their proceeds in Great Clips salons outside their Atlanta market and the growing began. Since the end of 2008, Simon has purchased 10 more Great Clips salons in Florida and Alabama through new builds and acquisitions, bringing his total to 28 units...

Feature Story:

Banking On Success: Retired Banker Opens 3-Brand Car Care Center »

By Debbie Selinsky

John Mulherin, a former investment bank CEO, likes to say he flunked retirement. "I believe that as people age, they have a decision to make," he says. "That decision is: Am I going to allow myself to be put on the shelf, or am I going to put myself in a position to stay engaged and challenged?"
After 35 years in financial services, banking, and money management, Mulherin, a Chicago native, retired in his 50s and moved south to South Carolina's Charleston area. Three years ago, he decided, "I'd like to learn a new industry," he says.
"I looked at consumer trends and observed that one of the most pervasive trends is how disappointed and challenged most consumers feel about the simple act of getting basic car service and maintenance...

Feature Story:

Brandmaster Jack: Food Court Pioneer Juggles Multiple Brands Masterfully »

By Debbie Selinsky

In 1996, Jack Hough was trying to figure out which restaurants to place where in a somewhat limited space at the North Georgia Premium Outlets mall.
"It was our first outlet, and space for everything was an issue," says the Alabama native. "So I said, 'Why can't we run nine separate concepts out of the same kitchen with one GM?' A few of my franchise friends had a fit because it had never been done before, but after I explained that it would not interfere with their menus and concepts, we were able to get it done."
Over the years, Hough has extended that consolidated food court model into 14 airports, outlet malls, universities, and other "non-traditional" settings across 12 states. Today his company, MSE Branded Foods, represents more than a dozen national franchise brands, including Arby's, Sbarro, Subway, Steak 'n Shake, and signature concepts such as JJ's Sports Bar & Grill and the Buckhead Grill...

Feature Story:

Multi-Unit Franchising Conference: Las Vegas Plays Host To Another Winning Conference »

Multi-Unit Franchisee


Franchise Update's Multi-Unit Franchising Conference just wrapped another winning event that attracted record numbers and offered another stellar lineup of keynote speakers and industry titans. This year's conference theme was "Planning For Growth: Your Pathways To Success." The event took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, April 23 - 25.
Attendance figures reached new heights of almost 1,400 this year, with more than 550 of those being franchisees representing more than 400 franchisee enterprises. The franchisees in attendance accounted for more than 10,000 operating units, more than $10 billion in annual system-wide revenue, and they provide jobs for more than 200,000 employees. More than two-thirds of the franchisees attending indicated they were searching for additional brands...



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