As vice president of concept development at HMSHost, Novack has his plate full, and seems to relish every bite.
For months, media headlines and story lead-ins have been filled with dire warnings and inflammatory statements about the economy. Phrases like "the road to recession," "dollar debacle," "subprime mortgage implosion," "housing meltdown," "credit crunch," "trading scandal," and "rogue trader" combine with 600-point intra-day swings in the Dow and volatile economic news to bombard our senses almost every moment of every day.
The news is depressing, the economy is sinking, financing is hard to get, the market is down, gas prices are up, and competition is fierce. So why are all these multiunit franchisees smiling?
Customer loyalty cannot be bought. Loyalty is created by great experiences. And loyalty is lost by poor experiences--or loyalty is lost to a competitor who takes care of customers better than you do.
As we have highlighted throughout 2007, the change in the economy we anticipated is finally upon us.
When we visited with Hank Huth last year, the franchising veteran was keeping busy overseeing his 23 Blockbuster Video locations and 7 Palm Beach Tan units. He had an eye on expanding his Palm Beach Tan portfolio and he did just that in 2007, adding 3 more and winning the company's 2007 Developer of the Year Award. But that's not all he's been busy developing.
When Steve Foltz graduated from Eastern Oregon University in 1985 he thought he might be interested in city or government work. To bide his time and help pay bills while he was interviewing for jobs during the day, he took a night job at Rax Restaurant in Portland.
Growing up with a father who owned a Burger King gave Will Bigham an early look into the back room operations of fast food franchising, laying the groundwork for his own career.
For Bill Gellert, who currently owns and operates 14 franchise units across three brands, with a fourth on the way, business is "a constant mixture of fear and excitement." And he loves it.
Against a background of greater economic uncertainty in 2008, will franchise development become more difficult? In a word, yes. To be clear, the franchise business model is alive, well, and growing. This decade's accelerating growth in units and expansion of companies embracing the franchise business model are testament to that. However, it appears that more challenging times are awaiting us in 2008. Here are some of the reasons—and suggestions for what franchisors can do.
When Pat Williamson was a sophomore at the University of Georgia in 1969, he was home from school one weekend and heard about a summer job opportunity. A Frito-Lay route man stocking the shelves in Williamson's father's retail store had asked if there were any kids looking for a summer job. Williamson's grandfather overheard the request and passed along the info to young Pat.
Originally printed in Area Developer Magazines Issue II 2008, the 2008 Top 100 Power Zees examines the top 100 most successful franchisees by the number of units they operate.
Area Developer Magazine
Everywhere you look jobs are being replaced by new technologies and automated systems. We book our own airline tickets online. We fill our own gas tanks and pay at the pump. Touch screens at the neighborhood deli allow us to punch in our sandwich and beverage order. We can pick up a rental car and check into and out of a hotel without ever interacting with any of the providing business concern's employees. And don't even get me started on automated voice call-directing systems.
Florida-based businessman Peter Economys and New York entrepreneur Rob Tobias have a very special talent important to area developers: they're champion multi-taskers. But the concentration and mental agility necessary for the success of any area developer is doubly important for them--because each oversees multiple concepts.
"I love the action of the restaurants and the strategy of the real estate. This is the jackpot business for me," says Mike Scanlon, president and CEO of Thomas and King in Lexington, Ky., where he opened his first Applebee's in 1988.