Dominators!: Six Operators Who Shine in 2009
To be the best at what you do. To be the best in your market, your industry, your niche. To take your passion and build a business that excels in every way. To build teams, train managers, and win the loyalty of customers. To gain recognition and win awards from your franchisors. And to provide for your family and build a life--and a business you can pass on to your children. All these goals and more are what drive multi-unit franchisees to dominate. In our annual "Dominators" issue, we feature six operators what drives them. Here's a "sneak preview."
- Sean Falk - This former Marine captain and three-time Ironman triathlon winner has turned his energies to building his franchise business. "I worked for corporate America for nearly five years after my time in the Marine Corps, and I liked it and did well. But I'd always wanted to own my own business." After pretty much cornering the market for cookies, pretzels, and snacks in his hometown of Monroe, Mich., he's branched out into Kentucky and Ohio, opening his first restaurant, Salsarita's Fresh Cantina--and taking Franchisee of the Year honors.
- Glen Helton - Five years ago, this turnaround specialist teamed up with former Bennigan's CEO Jerry Comstock to buy 226 Burger Kings out of bankruptcy; today they have 271. Not enough? Last year they took on the challenge of transforming 16 T.G.I. Friday's, also acquired out of bankruptcy, into profit generators.
- Michael Kern - After graduating from the University of Maine, this multi-unit operatore landed jobs at top advertising agencies, followed by top marketing jobs at KFC and then Long John Silver's, where he was worldwide chief marketing officer. Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, today he operates 20 Long John Silver's, 10 A&W All American Food locations, and 1 Salsarita's Fresh Cantina across the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Virginia.
- Steve Reitz - If he has one regret, it's not getting into franchising sooner. However it could be argued that his 20 years at Ford in sales and marketing--including a week with legendary quality management guru W. Edwards Deming--paved the way for his success as a multi-unit franchisee. Today he's applying his passion for process improvement and quality to his seven Supercuts doing Florida, and his first of seven Five Guys Burgers and Fries he's opening in Michigan.
- Jason Shifflett - As a teen, he'd intended to be a doctor, but Domino's Pizza changed all that. "I changed my major from pre-med to business," he says. "I graduated from school in August and had my first store in October." Today, at 32, Shifflett has 30 Domino's and in 10 years sees himself leading a franchise group with 100 locations.
- Ricky Warman - In 2006, after more than 15 years in franchising, this former investment manager embarked on an expansion plan for his Papa John's units in South Florida. The coming recession was nowhere in sight and strong population growth was predicted for the region. Then the bottom fell out. But by keeping an eye on costs, and aided by consumers seeking out less expensive fare, he's been able to keep his 42 units above water. In fact, he says, they're doing well.
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