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By Debbie Selinsky

Golden Corral Franchisee Leverages ‘hard Knocks’ Into System’s Biggest Success Story


By Most Anyone’s Definition, Eric Holm Is A Business Success Story. The Winter Park, Fla., Man Owns 30 Golden Corral Restaurants, Bringing In $155 Million In Annual Sales And Providing Jobs For More Than 3,000 Workers In Georgia And Florida.
But When You Ask Him About His Life And Career, Holm Is Just As Likely To Tell You About His Two Bankruptcies Or The Time His Independent Restaurant Fell Into A Sinkhole As He Is To Tell You That He Is The Most Awarded Franchisee In Golden Corral History.
“i’ve Been Broke Two Times In My Life And I Didn’t Enjoy Either One Of Them,” He Says. “but I Didn’t Hang Out And Have A Pity Party...

Feature Story:

Pathway To Success: Spencer Smith Follows The System And Gets Results »

By Debbie Selinsky

Spencer Smith may be quiet and unassuming but don't let that fool you. On the inside he's a savvy business operator who has been successful with multi-units and multi-brands and has earned his success by following "the program" and the Golden Rule. The 2013 winner of Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine's Role Model MVP Award, he says following the program is a simple, yet powerful concept.
"Years ago, I read an article about franchising and some of the mistakes people make," says Smith, who opened 39 Aaron's and two Big O Tires stores across 8 western states--all in under 9 years. "I gleaned from that article that when you buy into a franchise, you're buying into doing business that particular way. If you have to be a maverick and reinvent the wheel all the time, both you and the franchisor will be frustrated...

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Dominant Theme: Six Multi-Unit Operators Tell How They Take Territories And Own Them! »

By Kerry Pipes

Domination is the battle plan. In this issue we once again take a look at franchisees intent on being the big boy, leading the pack, or simply, market domination - and where they do it. We've identified 6 multi-unit franchisees (two we've spoken with before). These franchisees aren't interested in just opening a store, they want to be the player in their cities and territories. If that means opening more stores, then that's what they do.
We took them to ask on why they chose the brands they did, how they took on their territories, how they've strategized their growth, and what lies ahead in their plans. They are tactical, savvy, and love attacking challenges.
Every time we put together this annual issue it's amazing to discover the tales of business discovery, determination, turnaround, shakeouts, and bare-knuckle expansion...

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Head West, Young Man: Danny Sonenshine Conquers California And Heads For The Pacific Islands »

By Kerry Pipes

Danny Sonenshine clearly remembers his father encouraging him to look into franchising back in the early 2000's. The elder Sonenshine had experienced his own successful career in the restaurant business and he had always been an important influence on his son.
"There weren't many Wingstops around southern California at the time," recalls Sonenshine, "but my dad saw the potential of the brand and how getting in at the beginning could be a great move." At the time Sonenshine was slogging it out as a litigator and transactional attorney with a major law firm in Orange County - and he was unhappy. "I didn't like working for someone else," he says. "And I didn't like not having any control over my schedule."
So he heeded his dad's advice and although he didn't know much about franchising or restaurants, he had heard that a couple of Wingstops in California were doing good numbers and that the franchisor was looking for franchisees...

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A Good Feeling: William Bruce Is Pickin' Up Good Vibrations...and His Community »

By Kerry Pipes

When we first got to know William Bruce late last year (MUF 2012, 4th Quarter issue) it was clearly apparent that he values people. The COO of American Fork, Utah-based Abundant Brands values his family, customers, his employees, and those in need in his community. His dedication to these important groups of people is one of the reasons he was selected as Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine's Noble Cause MVP Award winner for 2013.
Bruce remains dedicated to his company and the empire of more than 250 Subways and 16 Costa Vida Mexican Restaurants...and The Rescue Missions of Salt Lake City. Together they distribute the excess rice, beans, pork, tortillas, and other food flavors into a seven-layer burrito dish. These days, the regular delivery of 400 meals is known on the streets as "Costa Vida Thursday," says Bruce...

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Young Gun: 25-year-old Opens 10 Red Mango's In Under Three Years »

By Debbie Selinsky

It only took Samantha Goldsmith less than three years to open 10 Red Mango locations on her native Long Island. That makes her the system's youngest franchisee, largest multi-unit owner, and Long Island the single largest market for the brand. That's quite an accomplishment, even for a veteran franchisee. But Goldsmith is just 25 and has been in the business for only three years.
Her list of accomplishments, punched up by multiple Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare accounts, is the reason Goldsmith is something of a rock star at her store grand openings and the recipient of Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine's 2103 MVP Influencer Award. "It's great when young people come to the manager and ask if I'm there because they want to talk to me about being successful in business," she says...

Feature Story:

Youth Movement »

By Debbie Selinsky

Red Mango's youngest (and largest) franchisee is a brand ambassador

In less than three years' time, franchisee Samantha Goldsmith opened a whopping 10 Red Mango locations on her native Long Island.
That's quite an accomplishment, even for a veteran franchisee, but Goldsmith is a bit of a prodigy since the 25-year-old woman has only been in the business for three years. She is currently the healthy yogurt system's youngest franchisee and largest multi-unit owner, and has made Long Island the single largest market for the brand.
That list of accomplishments, punched up by multiple Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare accounts, is the reason why Goldsmith is something of a rock star at her store grand openings and the recipient of Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine's Influencer Award...

Feature Story:

Ideas And Innovation: Joe Hertzman Has Both At His Three Brands »

By Debbie Selinsky

As the father of four attending sporting events with his children, Joe Hertzman noticed that when they ordered ice cream they always requested waffle cones. So when Rally's decided to add new Cold Creations items to the brand's menu, Hertzman had a suggestion.
"I said, 'Look guys, why don't we put the ice cream in waffle cones and we can get another buck on the transaction and make another 80 to 85 cents?'" he recalls. "Around the office, we jokingly call it the JoeCone.'"
That kind of innovation over the years is what earned Hertzman the Franchisee of the Year Award from Rally's/Checkers and the 2013 Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine Innovation Award.
"Rally's has great brand relevance, and we truly appreciate their leadership...

Feature Story:

Follow The Leader: Spencer Smith On His Simple But Powerful Strategy For Success »

By Debbie Selinsky

Sometimes leaders gain followers by being flashy and charismatic.
And sometimes role models are people like Spencer Smith, the soft-spoken Colorado multi-unit, multi-brand franchisee who has earned his success by "following the program" and the Golden Rule.
The winner of Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine's Role Model MVP Award describes "following the program" - also known as Franchising 101 - as a "simple but powerful" concept. "Years ago, I read an article about franchising and some of the mistakes people make," says Smith, who opened 39 Aaron's stores in eight years and nine months and also owns two Big O Tires.
"I gleaned from that article, that when you buy into a franchise, you're buying into doing business that particular way...

Feature Story:

A Healthy Business: Multi-Unit, Multi-Concept Franchisee Expands With BrightStar Care »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

As the demand for quality in-home care grows so too does the number of business opportunities within the field of health and advocacy. It didn't take multi-unit, multi-concept franchisee Mark Mooney long to recognize this line of business as viable and lucrative. So he jumped on the chance to acquire several existing BrightStar Care franchise locations.
Mooney was seeking to capitalize on his business experience in the areas of wellness, advocacy, and education, and his strong desire to help others. So it made sense for he and his son Michael to expand their portfolio to include BrightStar Care, a home care franchise that provides both medical and non-medical care to private clients in their homes. The father and son team acquired a total of four territories and now operate locations in West Seminole, Orange, East Volusia, and Lake County, Florida...

Feature Story:

Going Big: One Time Ski Coach Races To Top-Earning Status In Franchising »

By Debbie Selinsky

Jim Fitlow is a lifelong skier and as he loves to say, “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:

Tri-effective: Joe Hertzman Wins With Three Brands Over Three Decades »

By Debbie Selinsky

Joe Hertzman is always thinking.
When the Louisville, Kentucky, father of four attended sporting events with his kids, he noticed that they always requested waffle cones when they ordered ice cream. So when Rally's decided to add new Cold Creations items to the brand's menu, Hertzman had a suggestion.
"I said, 'Look guys, why don't we put the ice cream in waffle cones and we can get another buck on the transaction and make another 80 to 85 cents?'" he recalls. "Around the office, we jokingly call it the 'JoeCone.'"
That kind of innovation over the years is what has earned Hertzman the Franchisee of the Year Award from Rally's/Checkers and this year's Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine Innovation Award.
"Rally's has great brand relevance, and we truly appreciate their leadership...

Feature Story:

Diversification Strategy: Longtime Papa John's Franchisee Consolidates And Grows »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Ricky Warman was a Prudential Securities investment manager who chucked the corporate life to take a stab at franchising in the early 1990s. He's created a successful operation over the past two decades and lately he's been strategically consolidating his business to Southern Florida.
At one point in recent years he had 53 Papa John's locations 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.
"I like to be near the stores and be able to concentrate on doing things really well right here in my own backyard," he says. But with his Papa John's territory now maxed out, and his desire to grow propelling him, he's turned his attention to additional brands...

Feature Story:

Division Of Duties: Retired Husband And Wife Vets Leverage Discipline And Know-How To Franchise Success »

By Debbie Selinsky

When Kevin and Laurel Wilkerson, winners of Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine's Veteran Entrepreneurship Award, came to Marco's Pizza from the military using the IFA's Vetfran program, they were pretty sure their total of 44 combined years in the U.S. Army stood them in good stead.
"What I enjoyed most about the Army was the variety of things I did every day: decision-making, analysis, operations, logistics, training," says Kevin Wilkerson, who retired in 2005 after 24 years as an infantry office in the Army. "Franchising, especially multi-unit franchising, tends to be similar to that. When you look at what a multi-unit franchisee does in a typical day, you're talking about the fact that we can apply ourselves to lease negotiations, site selections, hard and soft science, construction, sequencing, marketing, operations, business analysis, personnel, training...

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...



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