Nancy Weingartner is the well-known Executive Editor of Franchise Times, the industry’s leading trade publication. Growing up around the US and Asia as the daughter of an Air Force officer, Weingartner graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, launching a career in journalism and public relations. More recently, she has spearheaded Franchise Times’ leadership of franchise trade missions as well as the organization’s international coverage. While Nancy is used to holding the tape recorder, IFA turned the microphone on her after her recent return from the Latin America trade mission co-hosted by the U.S Commercial Service, Franchise Times, and the International Franchise Association.
Why do you like going on trade missions?
You have a sense you’re doing something worthwhile—helping bring jobs and the U.S. culture to the rest of the world. But seeing each country’s own culture and landscape firsthand, plus hanging out with personality-laden franchise sales executives is well worth jet lag long hours and missed deadlines at home.
What country is your favorite in terms of a trade mission experience, and why?
The easy answer is all of them. But because India was my first foray into trade missions, it affected me the most. I was stunned by the juxtaposition of the extreme poverty and wealth, with a sliver of middle-class in between. The pros on the trip saw opportunity; I had to struggle not to see obstacles. But by the end of the trip, I started seeing it through their eyes.
How would you characterize the value of the U.S. Commercial Service to international franchising?
I have become their biggest evangelist. Everyone I’ve met with the Service is dedicated and ready to move molehills and the occasional mountain for franchisors. And their in-country staff is well connected to the local business community.
As executive editor of Franchise Times, what is your favorite part of the job?
The people I write about, and traveling—whether it’s overseas or to Miami.
When did you discover that you were a writer?
In college I was a typesetter for the local newspaper. I asked if I could write a story and it ended up as the lead story on the front page. I was hooked.
How much do you travel?
It varies, but it probably works out to a trip a month—but not so often that I have a suitcase pre-packed or can easily locate my universal plug adapter.
Do you have a favorite story that you have written for Franchise Times? Why is it your favorite?
That’s like asking which child is my favorite. I’ll say the same thing I tell my three kids when they ask: You are. But stories that come to mind are the Dunn Bros Kenyan coffee plantation trip and visit to Kibera, the worst slum in Africa; all the trade missions; and hanging out with KISS’ Gene Simmons was definitely an experience.
Which franchise brand do you patronize the most?
Right now I’m hooked on Jimmy John’s subs. No. 5, no sauce, no onions.
For those outside the industry, what do you think is the least known fact or aspect about franchising?
Most locations of a national brand are independently owned and operated by local business people.
What do you think are the prospects for franchising’s international growth?
I think the sky is the limit. According to our 2012 Top 200 ranking, the number of international units for those 200 companies grew 112.9% in the 12 years we’ve been tracking. Significantly more than their domestic growth.