Stephen Reitz was in his late 30s when he entered the world of franchising. He'd already learned quite a bit about the world of business in the years preceding his career switch. "I had a number of positions before I got into franchising," says Reitz, who spent 20 years at Ford Motor Company in sales and marketing. One highlight at Ford was a week he spent with W. Edwards Deming, the legendary management and quality guru who helped the Japanese create some of the world's leading manufacturers--and who spurred Reitz to become passionate about process improvement.
After graduating from the University of Maine, Michael Kern landed jobs at top advertising agencies including Young & Rubicam and McCann Erickson. He later held top marketing jobs for KFC and Long John Silver's, at one point serving as worldwide chief marketing officer for Long John Silver's.
Most of the headlines in 2009 have carried a common theme with respect to business and retailers in particular: a struggling economy and record high unemployment. Although most employees, customers, and vendors are as honest as the day is long, others simply cannot resist the temptation to steal what they cannot afford--especially in difficult times.
Rollie Trayte and Gary Widman
Did you do your homework? In my last article, I discussed taking a broader look at the concept of "performance measurement." Rather than allowing a simple percentage change (or even a percentage change relative to a broader index) drive how satisfied you feel with your portfolio's performance, I suggested thinking longer and harder about defining success on your own terms. After all, what good is a "good" performance number if it doesn't leave you with a portfolio that can help you achieve your goals?
Since mid-2008, the economy, consumers, and the restaurant industry have been in the vice grip of the country's deepest and longest recession since the Great Depression. Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to emerge. Most economists are now saying we have reached or passed the bottom. While the going is certainly still rough, business conditions are beginning to improve, unemployment is stabilizing, and consumers are dipping their toes back in the spending pool. Capital flow is increasing, with equity investors coming off the sidelines and lenders beginning to seriously pursue new debt facilities for borrowers.
I love Tivo. At least, I used to. But then I had to interact with live people. Now this is not the beginning of a rant about bad service. It's the beginning of a rant about bad service design. Because when employees are directed to follow processes that drive customers crazy, that failure of service design is management's responsibility.
Ricky Warman already knew a lot about finance when he left his job as an investment manager for Prudential Securities in Miami to start a life in franchising in the early 1990s. Warman was a friend of Jenny Craig and started in franchising with nine Jenny Craig weight loss centers. He would go on to try other franchise brands, including Schlotzsky's. Today he's wholly committed to the Papa John's brand, operating 42 pizza locations. (He had 53, but recently sold 11.)
Social media, social networking, social marketing, social recruiting. Whatever you call these new connectivity platforms, they're sweeping the business world in 2009--much as the Internet and World Wide Web did circa 1995. Everybody wants in on the action, but no one is quite sure how. Okay, maybe some people know. We asked a few--and went online (of course) to find out more. We also pulled a few thoughts from "The Long Tail," a book by [i]Wired[/i] magazine Editor Chris Anderson on how Web 2.0 and social media have transformed marketing and sales.
Jason Shifflett learned early in life that Domino's Pizza could offer him the keys to a successful life--and that he plans you make in your youth don't always come to pass. "I started with Domino's at age 14 and worked my way up in high school," says Shifflett. In college, he was a biology student and planned to attend medical school. He continued to work at Domino's as a general manager--and learned a few things there too.
Glen Helton's lifelong career in franchising began as a teen with his first job at a Burger King in Fayetteville, N.C. Today the Texas native is president and COO of Strategic Restaurants Acquisition Corp. (SRAC), which operates 271 Burger Kings and 17 T.G.I. Friday's across 9 states. Helton, along with SRAC's CEO, Jerry Comstock (former Bennigan's CEO), have become known for turning underperforming restaurants into profit generators. They did it for the 226 Burger Kings they acquired out of bankruptcy 5 years ago, and they also have added 45 new ones. Today they're applying their turnaround skills to the 16 T.G.I. Friday's in New York and Florida that they bought out of bankruptcy in August 2008.
Bret Hooppaw, Luihn Food Systems' director of operations, had an "Aha!" moment when his 19-year-old daughter said she'd applied online for a summer job. When he asked, "Why don't you just go over there and apply in person?" her response was, "Nobody does it that way anymore, Dad." That's when Hooppaw, who helps oversee 90 KFC and Taco Bell locations, realized instant communication technologies are second nature to the Millennial generation--those who make up most of today's frontline employees--who will be his managers 5 years from now and who will be the organization's leaders in the next 5 to 10 years. "I knew I had to find a way to meet them on their ground," he said.
By now you're most likely familiar with pop culture buzzwords like tweets, friending, and texting. But if you haven't had much firsthand involvement in these activities, chances are you will very soon. These ubiquitous and participatory endeavors are all part of a "social networking" trend that's spreading like wildfire online and, some say, is poised to create a new frontier in 21st century marketing.