VetFran joins Hiring our Heroes at Jobs Fair



As part of its partnership with Hiring Our Heroes, VetFran exhibited at the March 15 Capital One sponsored Job Fair for Veterans and military spouses at the Washington D.C. Convention Center.  IFA President and CEO Steve Caldeira and soon to be veteran franchise owner Wade Franklin were interviewed by WMZQ, a Washington area country station with a large veteran audience that broadcast live from the fair.  IFA’s Kevin Blanchard and Josh Merin spoke to veterans about ownership and employment in franchising.  Blanchard, a recent veteran said “It is an honor to be in a position of offering resources and explaining current franchising opportunities to other veterans.”

Wade Franklin served seven years in the Navy including deployments to Japan, the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. Leaving the military, Franklin dreamed of owning his own business saying “One good thing about the Navy is they really taught me how to make good decisions and how to manage things, and I felt ‘Hey, I want to take a chance on myself.” Wade saw that The UPS Store was waiving the franchise fee for veterans as part of VetFran’s Operation Enduring Opportunity, giving him the chance to open his own business. “I don’t have business experience, but in franchising they give you the support.” Franklin will open his Arlington, VA UPS Store in April and hopes to begin hiring his fellow veterans.

Kevin Schmiegel, Executive Director of Hiring Our Heroes singled out IFA in his remarks which kicked off the event.  Schmiegel thanked Caldeira for IFA’s commitment to veterans and VetFran’s leadership in the Hiring 500,000 Heroes campaign.   Mr. Schmiegel told the audience that franchising has been a major part of the progress the campaign has made.


Two Men And A Truck Joined by Mich. Gov. Snyder to Announce Growth Plans


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At a time when growing and expanding your business can be challenging, one moving franchise continues to create jobs in its home state of Michigan and across America.  The family owned franchise business, Two Men And A Truck, announced it will expand into 300 new U.S. markets with franchised operations and will grow its presence to 500 sites, while also bringing 125 new jobs to its Lansing, Mich. headquarters.

In a press conference held on Feb.27, which included Two Men And A Truck executives and Gov. Rick Snyder, the governor stressed the importance of growing local businesses.

“Quite often, people spend their time saying we’re hunting for out-of-state companies, we’re trying to bring them in here, and we’re doing a fair amount of that,” Snyder said.  “The fundamental comeback in Michigan is by having successful companies right here in Michigan grow and flourish, and there’s no better example than the company right here.”

Two Men And A Truck experienced 36 consecutive months of growth, are projecting a 23 percent growth for this year and on target to achieve $325 million in sales.

“We believe in the brand, we believe in staying in Michigan and we believe in the growth we’re seeing, but we’re going to need great people here,” explained Two Men And A Truck President Randy Shacka.

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Two Men And A Truck, which has placed greater emphasis on customer service and marketing efforts, has logged 390,000 moving trips in 2012 and currently has 234 locations in the U.S., 19 in Canada and one in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

“Even though the housing market has not returned to prerecession levels and the economy isn’t booming, our numbers continue to demonstrate growth,” stated Shacka.

IFA President and CEO discusses Obamacare and what it means for small business owners



As full implementation of Obamacare is set to go into effect next year, small businesses and specifically franchise owners are doing everything they can to understand the new law, while still trying to grow and create jobs.  IFA President and CEO Steve Caldeira spoke with radio host Mark Carbonaro on FOX News Radio to explain how this law will affect franchise owners who are already living in a challenging economic climate.

“The health care law is anything but affordable for small employers, but the law is here to stay, so we are trying to work with the White House to educate them before full implementation begins,” explains Caldeira.  “As an industry that is projected to create 162,000 new jobs and over 10,000 establishments, we need some flexibility with the law.”

Businesses that hire younger and lower skilled workers are now putting a ceiling on the work week of below 30 hours, as to avoid high penalty costs.  These ‘29er’s’ as they have been called, are the workers that are really going to be affected because their hours will be cut.  Yet as Caldeira explains, it is not because employers don’t want to offer insurance; it is out of necessity just to stay in business.  “Companies are going to have to look at their business model and in order to remain profitable, will have to move people to part time.”

Small business owners will be forced to either stay under the 50 employee threshold or keep workers under 30 hours per week to avoid penalties and neither is optimal for a country that desperately needs jobs.  “These arbitrary markers create perverse economic incentives. Where is the motivation for employers to grow and expand their business?” Caldeira asks.

Click here to listen to the full interview.

Franchisee Buy-in was Key to Turnaround of Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr.




At IFA’s 53rd Annual Convention on Feb. 19, Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, franchisor of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurant chains, told 3,600 attendees that getting buy-in for his unconventional approach to compete with larger restaurant change was a critical component of his turnaround strategy. It has been a guiding principle which has propelled the brands to 3,300 restaurants, with growth for ten consecutive years, including during the recession, and operations now in 28 countries.


“We have a simple philosophy at CKE Restaurants:  If the franchisees make money, we all make money.  We believe we’re the most franchise friendly company around.  For over 10 years, we’ve had a Carl’s Jr. and a Hardee’s franchisee on our corporate Board of Directors,” said Puzder.

Puzder talked about how Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. bucked the conventional wisdom in the early 2000’s with the rollout of the $6 burger for $3.99. The franchisees in the system were very concerned consumers wouldn’t pay $4 for a burger, particularly during a time when most restaurant chains were selling smaller burgers for less money.  Yet by testing the burger in a corporate store in California and demonstrating to the franchisees in the system that the product sold “off the charts,” the brand was able to roll it out nationwide.

“Being able to prove the concept in company owned markets and having the franchisees involved from the beginning were essential to making this product a success,” said Puzder.

The CKE advertising strategy also bucked the conventional wisdom. By involving franchisees in the decision-making process and explaining the rationale for targeting “Young, Hungry Guys” with famous models like Paris Hilton, the franchisees “generally, if reluctantly, went along”.

Puzder said their advertising strategy to compete with brands spending exponentially more dollars on television was to break through the clutter and generate earned media. The numbers and results speak for themselves. According to Puzder, a Kim Kardashian ad got 330 million earned media impressions, Kate Upton got over 1.5 billion in 210 countries and Nina Agdal is close to a billion.

IFA Convention Attendees Pack into Summit to Learn About International Franchise Expansion



Reflecting the increasing focus of IFA membership on international operations, two simultaneous sets of panels were crowded by franchise executives eager to hear from international franchising leaders on Feb. 18 at IFA’s Annual Convention.  IFA’s International Summit offered panels featuring experts including Bill Edwards of Edwards Global Services, Pat Loui of the Export-Import Bank and James Pickup of the Middle East Investment Initiative.  The Summit was broken into two tracks, “New to International” and “Growing Your International Network”.

The first track began with a panel on evaluating opportunities and risk in international expansion.  Bill Edwards, Steve Devine of Johnny Rockets and Jeffrey Brimer of Faegre  Baker Daniels gave an overview of the international expansion from the perspective of franchisors considering going international for the first time.  The panel touched on strong markets, what franchise sectors are in greatest demand, how to tell when you are ready to expand abroad and what steps to take.  The next panel, featuring Alejandro Portilla of TGI Friday’s, John Prittie of Two Men And A Truck and Larry Weinberg of Cassels Brock & Blackwell presented major methods of overseas development, the perspective of international licensees, and stories of their own experiences in international development.

Next door, another track of the Summit offered insights for franchisors already operating internationally.  During the first panel, Gaylen Knack of Gray Plant Mooty, Yoshino Nakajima of Home Instead Senior Care and Douglas Wong of Denny’s reviewed non-traditional expansion strategies.  Doug Wong shared how Denny’s expansion strategy incorporates non-traditional adaptations to local markets including a location with a game room in Latin America.  Gaylen Knack related that many of the fastest growing markets are in the developing world offering great opportunities as well as risks.  Thought leadership as a means of facilitating international expansion was the focus of the Ms. Nakajima’s presentation.  She stressed that improved perceptions will present new chances for growth.

The second panel gave an overview of how franchisors can leverage U.S. Government resources to facilitate international expansion.  This large panel featured Bert Bryan from HASB Global Franchise Finance Alliance, Peter Holt of Tasti D-Lite,  Kristin Houston, representing the US Commercial Service, Pat Loui and James Pickup.  Ms. Loui explained what the Export-Import Bank is, what it offers and presented case studies.  James Pickup presented the the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and its products with a special focus on the Tunisian franchise lending facility recently featured on this blog.  Bert Bryan offered projections of international franchise finance through 2020 with a focus on capital supply.  Kristin Houston, already well known to attendees as the recent head of the US Commercial Service’s franchise team, reviewed the considerable resources they can offer.  At the end of the session, RadioShack’s Marty Amschler related his recent positive experience on a USAID micro-mission to Afghanistan and urged other franchisors to attend a planned second mission.

Slides from these presentations can be found in IFA’s 2013 Convention app.

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