The Multi-Unit 50: 2009's "MU50" List of Leading Multi-Unit Brands

Everybody loves lists. Whether it's a year-end "best of" list in the entertainment world or a list of business-performance rankings, we see them everywhere. Lists give us insight and a benchmark for all kinds of comparisons. Readers continue to tell us that the lists found in the pages of Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine each issue are informative--and sometimes provocative--and provide a perspective that often allows for self-assessment and operational adjustments.

We have once again teamed up with our statistical partners at FRANdata, who have graciously crunched the numbers to generate our "MU50" lists. The first list, "Top 50 Brands by Number of Multi-Unit Owners," highlights the franchise brands with the highest total of multi-unit operators. It's not surprising to find Subway and McDonald's at the top--Subway and McDonald's combined have nearly 6,000 multi-unit operators in their systems. However, you may be surprised to see some other brands that made the list.

Our other MU50 list, the "Top 50 Brands by Percentage of Multi-Unit Owners," identifies the brands with the highest percentage of multi-unit operators. The two leaders, Panera Bread (97.7 percent) and Applebee's (97.6 percent), are almost exclusively operated by multi-unit franchisees.

The lists do a remarkable job of revealing the numbers--and could be useful for multi-unit operators shopping for additional brands with multi-unit potential--but they don't tell the personal stories of the multi-unit operators behind them. To put a face on the stats, we had our team track down a half-dozen successful multi-unit, multi-brand operators for insight into how and why they do it. Here's a preview of what we found.

Chris Haque was born in Bangladesh and came to the U.S. as a teenager. He's faced some remarkable challenges in his life (to say the least!), and today he is president and CEO of Haque Holdings in Seattle which has five brands: Denny's (5), Baja Fresh (3), Church's Chicken (2), Tortilla Flats (1), and Bennigan's Bar & Grill (1).

Craig Horn, a self-proclaimed perfectionist, is president and CFO of JEM Management Corp. in Fresno, Calif., which operates 22 Wendy's and 15 KFC restaurants. This relative newcomer to franchising has caught on quickly. Says Horn, a sports enthusiast: "Make yourself valuable and you will get playing time in sports and in employment. Your company cannot afford to lose you."

Jeff Reetz was a head coach at Pizza Hut, helping to inspire a group of regional coaches to winning records at dozens of restaurants in the 1990s. Nine years ago, bitten by the franchisee bug, he found a market he liked in Louisville and southern Indiana and bought 25 Pizza Huts. Today he has 32 and is co-branding 12 with WingStreet.

John Hotchkiss has been working in franchising since he was 9. His franchising father taught by example and instilled a fundamental understanding of franchising in the young man. Today, at 33, Hotchkiss operates 40 Little Caesars and 3 Firehouse Subs in San Antonio.

Thomas "Tab" Broome, who grew up on a farm in rural North Carolina, has been in franchising for about 30 years, minus the 4 years he operated his own restaurant. "When you're not in a franchise operation, you basically do it all," he says of the experience. Today, he's president of Scottish Food Systems, where he oversees 27 KFCs and 8 Pizza Inns.

Tony Lutfi immigrated to the U.S. when he was 16, a Palestinian-Jordanian immigrant looking for a better life. His first job was a graveyard shift at a Jack in the Box. He was passionate about the company and quickly promoted. He raised his own money, teamed up with a partner, Greg Maroni, and purchased four Church's Chicken restaurants in Las Vegas. Today, Lutfi is Chief Operating Officer of MarLu Investment Group, which operates 46 Church's, 2 Little Caesars, 3 Arby's, and 1 Burger King.

To learn more about each of these unique franchise stories... read on.

Top 50 Brands by Total of Multi-Unit Owners


MULTI-UNIT TOTAL % OF MULTI-UNIT
RANK BRAND FRANCHISEES FRANCHISEES FRANCHISEES
1 SUBWAY 3,876 8,866 43.72%
2 MCDONALD'S 2,118 2,583 82.00%
3 THE UPS STORE 798 3,615 22.07%
4 DUNKIN' DONUTS 747 1,350 55.33%
5 DOMINO'S PIZZA 698 1,282 54.45%
6 BURGER KING 618 1,047 59.03%
7 QUIZNOS 516 4,052 12.73%
8 TACO BELL 501 857 58.46%
9 WENDY'S 473 791 59.80%
10 KFC 468 781 59.92%
11 GREAT CLIPS 434 778 55.78%
12 AMERIPRISE FINANCIAL 415 6,226 6.67%
13 CLUB Z! IN-HOME TUTORING 328 13 3.81%
14 PIZZA HUT 298 443 67.27%
15 ARBY'S 254 436 58.26%
16 BASKIN-ROBBINS 248 915 27.10%
17 LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA 241 462 52.16%
18 COLD STONE CREAMERY 232 998 23.25%
19 LONG JOHN SILVER'S SEAFOOD 230 324 70.99%
20 MIDAS 215 890 24.16%
21 PAPA JOHN'S PIZZA 213 330 64.55%
22 TCBY 203 612 33.17%
23 PAPA MURPHY'S 195 415 46.99%
24 POPEYES CHICKEN & BISCUITS 193 510 37.84%
25 HOT STUFF FOOD 185 400 46.25%
26 A&W RESTAURANTS 184 346 53.18%
27 KUMON METHOD CENTER 182 1,054 17.27%
28 VISION SOURCE 174 1,347 12.92%
29 CHICK-FIL-A 160 995 16.08%
30 SUPER 8 MOTELS 153 1,414 10.82%
31 COMFORT INN 152 1,334 11.39%
32 HAMPTON INNS & SUITES 143 1,258 11.37%
33 DENNY'S 130 450 28.89%
34 MERLE NORMAN COSMETICS 118 1,620 7.28%
35 BLIMPIE 108 807 13.38%
36 IHOP 108 820 13.17%
37 ECONO LODGE 103 793 12.99%
38 COMFORT KEEPERS 90 368 24.46%
39 ANYTIME FITNESS 81 411 19.71%
40 QUALITY INN 81 721 11.23%
41 HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE 75 392 19.13%
42 CICI'S PIZZA 69 444 15.54%
43 CARVEL 65 419 15.51%
44 ABBEY CARPET & FLOOR 59 541 10.91%
45 HUNGRY HOWIE'S PIZZA & SUBS 57 456 12.50%
46 RAMADA INNS 56 581 9.64%
47 BUDGET BLINDS 52 696 7.47%
48 GOLD'S GYM 52 363 14.33%
49 COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT 48 335 14.33%
50 SLEEP INN 48 325 14.77%


Top 50 Brands by Percentage of Multi-Unit Owners


% OF
SINGLE-UNIT MULTI-UNIT TOTAL MULTI-UNIT
RANK BRAND FRANCHISEES FRANCHISEES FRANCHISEES FRANCHISEES
1 PANERA BREAD 1 42 43 97.67%
2 APPLEBEE'S NEIGHBORHOOD 2 56 58 96.55%
GRILL & BAR
3 LA WEIGHT LOSS CENTERS 5 43 48 89.58%
4 BUDGET RENT-A-CAR 7 53 60 88.33%
5 MCDONALD'S 465 2,118 2,583 82.00%
6 MRS. FIELDS COOKIES 48 218 266 81.95%
7 QDOBA MEXICAN GRILL 12 43 55 78.18%
8 RED ROBIN BURGERS 7 19 26 73.08%
9 LONG JOHN SILVER'S SEAFOOD 94 230 324 70.99%
10 BANANAS SMOOTHIES 79 183 262 69.85%
& FROZEN YOGURT
11 PASSPORT HEALTH 16 37 53 69.81%
12 ACE SUSHI 41 91 132 68.94%
13 RALLY'S 11 24 35 68.57%
14 PIZZA HUT 145 298 443 67.27%
15 VALVOLINE INSTANT OIL CHANGE 30 61 91 67.03%
16 PAPA JOHN'S PIZZA 117 213 330 64.55%
17 KFC 313 468 781 59.92%
18 WENDY'S 318 473 791 59.80%
19 HARDEE'S 63 93 156 59.62%
20 EL POLLO LOCO 13 19 32 59.38%
21 AARON RENTS 49 71 120 59.17%
22 BURGER KING 429 618 1,047 59.03%
23 TACO BELL 356 501 857 58.46%
24 ARBY'S 182 254 436 58.26%
25 PRETZEL TIME 51 71 122 58.20%
26 GREAT CLIPS 344 434 778 55.78%
27 PENN STATION SUBS 20 25 45 55.56%
28 PRETZELMAKER 41 51 92 55.43%
29 DUNKIN' DONUTS 603 747 1,350 55.33%
30 DOMINO'S PIZZA 584 698 1,282 54.45%
31 A&W RESTAURANTS 162 184 346 53.18%
32 ZAXBY'S 66 74 140 52.86%
33 LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA 221 241 462 52.16%
34 CHECKERS DRIVE-IN RESTAURANT 51 55 106 51.89%
35 CINNABON 56 59 115 51.30%
36 GODFATHER'S PIZZA 59 62 121 51.24%
37 T.G.I. FRIDAY'S 42 38 80 47.50%
38 PAPA MURPHY'S 220 195 415 46.99%
39 HOT STUFF FOOD 215 185 400 46.25%
40 PACCAR LEASE 41 34 75 45.33%
41 SUBWAY 4,990 3,876 8,866 43.72%
42 AUNTIE ANNE'S 166 125 291 42.96%
43 PONDEROSA STEAKHOUSE 48 36 84 42.86%
44 PLATO'S CLOSET 70 49 119 41.18%
45 GREASE MONKEY 42 29 71 40.85%
46 DEL TACO 60 40 100 40.00%
47 FAMOUS DAVE'S BBQ SHACK 34 22 56 39.29%
48 POPEYES CHICKEN & BISCUITS 317 193 510 37.84%
49 SPORT CLIPS 163 94 257 36.58%
50 SMOOTHIE KING 168 96 264 36.36%

Published: July 8th, 2009

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