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.

Condoleezza Rice Receives Multiple Standing Ovations for Convention Keynote Address




Dr. Condoleezza Rice told attendees of the IFA 53rd Annual Conference that “getting this economy going again is number one on our country’s ‘to do’ list.”  Speaking before a crowd of over 3,500 who gave her multiple standing ovations, Rice said that the private sector will lead the country’s ability to grow our economy, but certainty is needed.  “When certainty is there, I’m sure the business community will again begin to hire.”

Rice shared her thoughts on the state of America’s reputation around the world and the importance of not only addressing the issue of growing the economy, but the issues of early childhood education and  comprehensive immigration reform, as key issues that are critical to our national security.

It’s not just about getting our fiscal house in order (tax reform, the national debt and spending), but it’s about the core of the United States, what she called our “great national myth.”  Rice explained that the nation’s success across the board is based on our belief that “it doesn’t matter where you came from, it’s about where you are going,” referring to the great opportunities for all American’s regardless of their station in society.  To keep that alive, we must address the hard issues facing us as a country to ensure that immigrants can contribute to the country in meaningful ways.

Rice cited the need to fix the crisis in early childhood education that is condemning low-income kids to failings schools.  If we don’t she said, a large population of low income, uneducated people will be our greatest national security threat.  She said that we must require excellence in students, utilize afterschool programs to ensure that the skills of children are equally realized and support charter schools to create competition in grade schools like higher education institutions face.

While the country is facing a myriad of challenges, Rice explained “I have faith in America and Americans.  We are still the finest, most innovative, creative and problem-solving country in the world.”

Technology Summit focuses on Social, Local and Mobile technologies



500 attendees attended the Technology Summit, which focused on Social, Local and Mobile (SoLoMo) technologies Feb. 18 during IFA’s Annual Convention.  After hearing Jesse Dwyer, head of communication and global content strategy for Global Vertical Marketing at Facebook, the audience quickly realized that their success with SoLoMo is not all about the technology but about people and keeping them happy.  Happy customers will share your story.  Jeff Fromm, EVP & Author “Marketing to Millennials” of Barkley, Inc. reinforced this point through his research of millennials which shows many of their purchasing decisions are based on the recommendations from their peers.  Brian Little, Director of Corporate Communications of Krispy Kreme explain how they implemented their SoLoMo strategy, which every aspect had to embrace Krispy Kreme’s vision; “To touch and enhance lives through the joy that is Krispy Kreme.”  While technology is important, this summit show us that the decisions of what to implement and when should be based on one thing, people. The full presentation from the technology summit can be accessed through IFA convention mobile app.

Grabbing a bite at taste of franchising


Great time at the taste of franchising last night. The hall was packed. Here’s some pictures. You can also follow this link to an album that includes highlights from the other events so far.

A big thanks to our sponsors who help make the event such a success.


Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop is a rapidly expanding 70-plus restaurant chain serving award-winning sandwiches in 11 states. Growing primarily via multi-unit franchising, the franchise serves “Extraordinary Food for Those Unwilling to Settle!” and was voted America’s Greatest Sandwich by AOL Online/Lemondrop in 2009 and No. 1 in Overall Customer Excellence! by a Sandelman & Associates 2009 survey released in 2010.


CiCi’s Pizza

Declared America’s Favorite Pizza Chain, CiCi’s Pizza is the nation’s largest pizza buffet concept with more than 500 restaurants in 34 states. Franchisees benefit from 27 years of brand heritage, a 2-to-1 sales-to-investment ratio, four distinct revenue streams and no significant direct competitors in the pizza buffet segment. CiCi’s was ranked No. 1 in 2012 Market Force consumer study.


Great American Cookies

Founded in 1977 on the strength of an old family chocolate chip cookie recipe, Great American Cookies has set the standard for gourmet cookie sales in a fun, celebratory environment. Great American Cookies is known for its signature Cookie Cakes, trademark flavors and menu of delectable products baked fresh in store.


Jersey Mike’s

Since 1956, Jersey Mike’s has had one recipe for success. In strong and weak economies, Jersey Mike’s has thrived and continued to grow because the brand won’t sacrifice the quality of its product. No one does what it does to ensure that its customers get the freshest, best tasting, authentic subs. This simple formula has helped the company to grow to more than 600 locations in 34 states, and has earned Jersey Mike’s “Best Sub” awards in virtually every market they serve.

1302-marcos-pizza-webMarco’s Pizza

Marco’s Franchising, LLC is the 34-year-old franchisor of the 350-unit Marco’s Pizza chain. Operating in 20 states, Marco’s also has more than 1,200 stores sold in its area representative development program. Marco’s Pizza stores sell “Authentic Italian” pizza, fresh oven-baked subs, cheesy bread and chicken wings.


Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt

Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt creates lasting memories by being the friendliest place on earth with a mission to make guests smile. Guests can choose from rotating flavors and a variety of toppings to make the perfect mix. With an unparalleled guest experience that is welcoming and fun, there is happiness in every cup.


Nothing Bundt Cakes

Nothing Bundt Cakes began franchising in 2006 and is a unique celebration concept that offers the best cake you will ever taste, share or give. Nothing Bundt Cakes has 65 bakeries open from the West Coast to the Mississippi River; Northeast to open summer of 2013. The company delivers heartfelt yum.


PepsiCo Foodservice

The PepsiCo Foodservice Division integrates the relevant units of Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay together with Quaker, Tropicana and Gatorade in the United States and Canada. Rooted in PepsiCo’s “Power of One” principles, PepsiCo Foodservice leverages the scale and breadth of the corporation’s brands to provide a unified voice to its customers and deliver competitive advantage in the fast-growing foodservice and vending channels.


Port of Subs

Guests have been enjoying the great taste of Port of Subs sandwiches for 40 years. Currently Port of Subs has over 140 units open in seven Western states. Entrepreneur magazine’s “Franchise 500” and Restaurants and Institutions “Top 400” have recognized Port of Subs as one of the top franchise opportunities.


Romacorp, Inc., Parent Company For Tony Roma’s

Tony Roma’s is one of the largest casual theme restaurant chains specializing in ribs in the world. Forty years and nearly 200 restaurant locations, Tony Roma’s is one of the most globally recognizable names in the industry. Now, the chain offers the most unique, extensive selections of steak and seafood entrées in its segment today.


Sweet Arleen’s

Sweet Arleen’s bakes on-site daily a fresh selection of boutique-style cupcakes and bread puddings, bringing comfort food to a whole new level. Sweet Arleen’s award-winning cupcakes are perfect for birthday parties, weddings or even an inspiring treat for your next business meeting. Its bread puddings, savory or sweet, are paired with individual sauces to create a unique tasting experience. As the Undefeated Champion of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, Sweet Arleen’s is pleasing you with its cupcakes and bread puddings, which is a privilege. Enjoy. ⎯



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