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TGI Fridays names Aslam Khan CEO

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-04-27 18:46

TGI Fridays has named industry veteran Aslam Khan as CEO, the company said Thursday.

Khan, who founded and most recently served as chairman of multi-brand franchise company Falcon Holdings LLC, in Westlake, Texas, succeeds John Antioco in the role at the Dallas-based casual-dining brand. 

“I believe this is an iconic brand,” Khan said in an interview at TGI Fridays headquarters. “It has a lot of legs in its history and heritage.”

Khan founded Falcon Holdings in 1999, in partnership with Sentinel Capital Partners, which is the majority shareholder in TGI Fridays. Falcon grew to become Church’s Chicken largest franchisee and also operates Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr., Long John Silver’s and Piccadilly Cafeterias.

Khan remains an owner of Falcon, which has 350 restaurants and manages another 150 units. Khan said a seasoned executive team has taken over at Falcon. He brought Giovanna Koning, chief financial officer at Falcon, to assume the same role at TGI Fridays.

“Our strategy will be people first,” Khan said when asked about challenges in the casual-dining segment. “That’s No. 1.”

Khan said his background as a franchisee will help as he takes on the role as a franchisor executive. About 80 percent of TGI Fridays’ 470 domestic restaurants are now franchised, the result of a refranchising program started after the chain was sold in 2014.

“I manage by consent,” Kahn said. “I talk to the franchisees and sell the ideas to them. My job is to help them understand where we are coming from.”

TGI Fridays has 900 restaurants, with about 430 locations abroad. 

“Overseas, American food is very popular,” Khan said, which gives TGI Fridays, a pioneer in taking its brand international, an advantage. 

He said he will work with Stephanie Perdue, who joined TGI Fridays as chief marketing officer from Taco Bell in February, to hone the menu and marketing message.

“I think Fridays has great food. It could be better,” Khan said. “Stephanie has already come in with some new food products. We can upgrade the food quality. My focus will be on quality of food and quality of service. Service is everywhere a problem, whether you are fast food or casual dining.”

With Khan’s arrival, Antioco returns to his position on TGI Fridays’ board of directors.

“Aslam brings to Fridays more than three decades of enormously successful and highly relevant restaurant operations and franchising experience,” Antioco said in a statement. 

Antioco had served as interim CEO before and after Robert Palleschi, who left late last year.

Khan said the move to a franchisor role means he will be required to listen more.

“I’ve been on the other side as the franchisee,” he said. “I know their pain.”

He said he is setting up franchisee committees to work on all aspects of the business, from marketing to purchasing. 

Khan has received a number of awards as a franchisee, including the International Franchise Association’s Ronald E. Harrison award for his commitment to diversity in his operations in 2011, and IFA Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014. 

John McCormack, co-founder and senior partner for Sentinel Capital partners, added in a statement that he had worked with Khan for more than 20 years and was confident because he had “successfully managed and grown branded franchise systems and has a deep understanding of how to work with private-equity ownership.”

Contact Ron Ruggless at

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

How to Strengthen Customer Relationships When Time is at a Premium

Small Business Trends - Thu, 2017-04-27 17:30

As a small business owner, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of your business. And while the things that go on behind the scenes certainly matter, you can’t focus on them at the expense of your relationships with customers.

Small Businesses Are Built on Relationships

When people think about small businesses, a certain image is conjured up in their minds. They picture a quaint storefront on a main street in a small town. They see friendly storeowners who know customers by their first names and interact with them as they walk in. They picture handshakes, smiles, and promises that are always honored.

See, small businesses are all about interpersonal relations. They thrive on connections and conversations. But somewhere along the way, companies moved away from the heart of small business. With so many different forces and distractions competing for attention, small businesses have started spending less time focusing on relationships and more time dealing with “important” administrative tasks and responsibilities.

The problem with this shift in small business management is that nothing is more important than customer relationships. While payroll, accounting, digital marketing, website analytics, paid media, hiring, and training matter, they can’t take away from the focus on customer relationships. As soon as relationships erode, the business follows closely behind.

Do yourself a favor and conduct a quick analysis on your small business. Are you so wrapped up in the day-to-day tasks and managerial responsibilities that you’re no longer fostering healthy relationships with new and existing customers?

If this is the case, you aren’t alone. It’s an epidemic in the business world and you’ll find thousands of other business owners in the same boat. However, at some point, you have to make the conscious decision to get out of the boat and return to what made you successful: relationships.

4 Ways to Strengthen Customer Relationships

You can’t snap your fingers and wish your way into stronger customer relationships. What you need is a customer relations strategy that targets particular weaknesses in your business and builds on the strengths that you already have. And while every business will have different needs and action steps, the following tips should provide you with a solid footing on which you can build for the future.

1. Use CRM Software

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a term used to describe the handy tools small businesses utilize to streamline the management and nurturing of customer relationships.

“It’s usually a cloud-based system that stores information about your clients, potential clients and contacts in one central safe place that everyone in your team can access and update wherever they are,” small business expert Nadia Finer says. “A CRM can also help you grow your business and keep customers happy by keeping track of interactions and tasks, and giving you a clear view of your sales pipeline.”

What Finer is really getting at is this: CRM makes it easier to manage customer relationships when you don’t have the time to manually handle every task.

As a general principle, most businesses extract 70-80 percent of their profits from 20-30 percent of their customers. One way to maximize the value of your CRM system is to use the built-in analytics tools to keep track of who your most valuable customers are.

As marketing manager Christopher Meloni explains it, “This sort of tracking, with the help of your CRM software, will in-turn enable you to allocate your resources in such a manner that those 20-30% of your customers get the best customer service, always. This is called target-based allocation, and it can prove wonders for you and your business organization.”

CRM can also be used to help you handle customer complaints in a swift manner. By delivering fast responses, you can deal with problems as they arise (instead of letting them fester). Other valuable uses – depending on the CRM system you use – include the ability to analyze customer buying patterns, send out automatic updates, and keep track of who customers are and how they’re likely to respond in certain situations.

2. Invest in Business Intelligence

Are you currently invested in business intelligence? This is the fastest developing trend in small business and you have to make it a priority if you stand any chance of acquiring and maintaining a base of loyal customers that continue to come back time after time.

“Business intelligence for small business helps to gather data about your customers’ behavior and structure it in a clear form so that it can be analyzed fast and easy,” explains Heiko Troster of datapine. “With insights about your customers’ behavior you can make effective business decisions.”

Data is the ammunition of your communicative efforts. When you understand who your customers are and what they want, you can effectively forecast needs and satisfy their desires. You still have to strategically act on the information you have, but at least business intelligence tools can provide you with valuable data that you’d otherwise miss out on.

3. Gather More Information on Customers

Customers want to be known as more than an invoice number or receipt. They want to be seen as individuals with personal lives, needs, and sensitivities. When you have advanced CRM and business intelligence tools in place, you can tactfully gather more information on your customers and gain a fuller picture of who they are and what their needs are. This will benefit you in the long run by allowing you to interact with customers on an individual basis.

4. Reshape Your Social Media Strategy

What does your current social media strategy look like? If you haven’t made a conscious effort over the years to make your social media presence about your followers, then your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles are probably self-serving. All of the content you post is about your brand and you aren’t adding any real value to your customers. Sound familiar?

If the goal is to strengthen customer relationships, you’ll need to reshape your social media strategy and make it less about you and more about them. Make it an avenue for two-way conversations to take place.

“Unlike a one-way conversation where a company typically dominates the narrative and doesn’t really acknowledge or interact with visitors/followers , a two-way conversation directly connects brands and consumers,” says Carolyn Edgecomb of IMPACT. “A two-conversation is a dialogue, where brands speak and listen to their audience, responding directly to their wants and needs.”

The classic rule of thumb is that 80 percent of your social media posts should add value to your brand without directly promoting your products and services. Try your best to meet this goal.

Make More Time for Customers

Forging strong relationships with customers takes effort. But thanks to the technologies you now have available to you – such as CRM systems, business intelligence tools, and social media – it doesn’t have to require a ton of time.

Now’s the time to create a game plan for success. How are you going to handle the many needs of your company without compromising on the customer relationship front? It’ll take some trial and error, but you can find a solution.

Business Woman Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "How to Strengthen Customer Relationships When Time is at a Premium" was first published on Small Business Trends

Domino’s same-store sales growth marches on

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-04-27 17:14

Domino’s Pizza Inc.’s U.S. same-store sales increased 10.2 percent in the first quarter, the company said on Thursday.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is: The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based chain has reported double-digit same-store sales growth in nine of the past 11 quarters.

On a three-year basis, Domino’s same-store sales have risen 31 percent. And that was a slowdown from the fourth quarter, when the three-year figure exceeded 34 percent, according to Nation’s Restaurant News analysis.

That’s a remarkable run for an established chain, especially one that has now seen 24 straight quarters of domestic same-store sales growth. The strength of the results surprised investors, who expected an eventual slowdown.

Domino’s stock rose 3 percent and is nearing an all-time high of $192.01.

“Franchisees and operators worldwide continued stepping up to the challenge of sustained success,” Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle said during an earnings call Thursday. “Our performance is the result of many years reshaping our brand by improving the food, reinvesting in our digital capabilities and improving our stores.”

Revenue increased 15.8 percent in the first quarter, to $624.2 million, from $539.2 million in the same period a year ago. Net income surged 37.4 percent, to $62.5 million, or $1.26 per share, from $45.5 million, or 89 cents per share the previous year.

But Domino’s same-store sales run in the U.S. might not even be the most remarkable thing about the company right now. 

Same-store sales at international locations increased 4.3 percent in the quarter ended March 26. That was the 93rd straight same-store sales increase outside the U.S.

To put it in perspective, Bill Clinton was in his first term as president of the United States the last time Domino’s international same-store sales declined.

Domino’s strategies to generate strong same-store sales performances didn’t come recently. Doyle said it can be traced to the company’s long-term focus.

“Our story is one of a true long-game approach,” he said, noting that the chain took “smart risks” years ago. “While they took time to bear fruit, they eventually reshaped our brand and system.”

That includes moves like improving the pizza recipe and a decision years ago to develop Domino’s own point-of-sale system and manage it in-house, which has helped the company more easily expand technology offerings. 

“We know the cumulative effect of a lot of long-term decisions over many years is what is ultimately driving our success,” Doyle said, adding that sales results now are due to “investments made three, five, 10 years ago by franchisees and the company.”

Doyle is also confident that competitors will struggle to keep pace, in part because they don’t take the long-term view.

“A lot of competition out there frankly doesn’t look at things that way,” he said.

To be sure, Domino’s doesn’t expect its run to continue — double-digit same-store sales growth can only last so long, after all. The chain’s medium-term guidance is for same-store sales increases of 3 percent to 6 percent.

Doyle noted that Domino’s strategy is not focused on innovative new products, which many restaurant chains are using in a bid to capture consumers’ attention.

“Our typical customer orders their favorite pizza on an ongoing basis,” he said. “If somebody is a pepperoni pizza customer, we’re working on how to make that pepperoni pizza experience for them better next year than this year.” 

Some analysts have speculated that Domino’s could start losing sales as more restaurants add delivery. For instance, the online restaurant aggregator and delivery company Grubhub reported 39-percent revenue growth in its first quarter. And a number of chains are working on delivery, from Buffalo Wild Wings to McDonald’s.

But competition isn’t impacting Domino’s yet. The company said same-store sales increased 14.1 percent at company locations — primarily located in urban areas where delivery is most popular. Franchised same-store sales rose 9.8 percent.

“To date, we have certainly not seen any evidence that the growth of aggregators on the digital side, or the increase in delivery activity, has had any effect on our business,” Doyle said. 

Would Domino’s consider selling its expertise in those areas to take part in the trend? No, he said.

“The competitive advantage we’ve created in digital and delivery is something we’re going to use to grow the Domino’s brand,” Doyle said. “When you’re selling one in six or one in seven pizzas in the U.S., there’s an awful lot of growth for us in sticking to our knitting.

“The potential distraction of doing it for others is not a risk worth taking.”

Contact Jonathan Maze at

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

KFC is opening up its kitchens to show what really happens when chicken buckets are made

Topix - Thu, 2017-04-27 17:05

The general manager of the food chain said they want to show that the only secret at KFC is the recipe People taking part will be able to see exactly what goes on behind the scenes before chicken is sold at the counter - and may even get an insight into what could be part of the fast food chain's 'secret recipe.' In a UK first, KFC will give dozens of members of the public the chance to see for themselves what happens in their kitchens.

Categories: Today's Food News

10 Most Commonly Observed Food Safety Challenges - QSR Edition - Thu, 2017-04-27 16:49
In 2016, outbreaks of norovirus, E. coli, Salmonella and even hepatitis A hit quick service restaurant locations, indicating there’s still much to be done in the area of food safety.

AutoNews Now: Kia's new marketing chief is imported from FCA

AutoNews - Thu, 2017-04-27 16:45
Kia's new marketing chief is imported from FCA; Ford's Fields sees 'opportunities' in Europe; 4th-straight U.S. sales drop predicted; A Calif. self-driving wish list.
Categories: Latest News

Retailers welcome Congress’ renewed online sales tax push

Store Front Talk Back - Thu, 2017-04-27 16:40
Retailers welcome Congress’ renewed online sales tax push jacquelinerose55 Thu, 04/27/2017 - 16:40

10 Most Commonly Observed Food Safety Challenges - Thu, 2017-04-27 16:39
In today’s competitive restaurant market, casual dining restaurants are struggling with filling open positions. High turnover and lackluster training may be putting food safety at risk.

4 Components of an Integrated Food Safety Management System - Thu, 2017-04-27 16:34
In today's highly competitive market, your customers have more choices than ever before. Customers visit your foodservice establishment because they desire a certain brand experience, but they wouldn’t step foot in the door if the food was considered unsafe.

Suggested Best Practices & Policies In-Use Utensils - Thu, 2017-04-27 16:23
Utensils are important tools in busy kitchens and foodservice environments. Knowing how to properly handle these tools is just as important as knowing how to use them.

Say No to Norovirus - Thu, 2017-04-27 16:12
Important information to keep your customers safe from foodborne illness.

Buffalo Wild Wings faces challenging chicken wing costs

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-04-27 16:04

Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. faces a sizable challenge in 2017 as it looks to generate sales and traffic while protecting margins: Chicken wing costs. 

The Minneapolis-based chicken-wing chain ended a streak of declining same-store sales, with an increase of 0.5 percent at corporate restaurants in the first quarter ended March 26.

The company said its Half-Price Wing Tuesdays drove “significant traffic” in the period.

But Buffalo Wild Wings faces pressure from investors to improve margins. And chicken wing prices are forecast to increase 8 percent to 10 percent this year, the opposite of what was expected. 

When the promotion was announced, chicken wing prices were $1.70 a pound, and were expected to decline by 10 percent this year, executives said.

“As such, we’re aggressively evaluating other offers for Half-Price Wing Tuesdays that still offer a value to our fans but help protect our margins,” Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith said during an earnings call Wednesday.

The challenge illustrates the tightrope many operators are walking as they work to lure customers in a highly competitive environment, but face pressure from shareholders to maintain profits. 

Buffalo Wild Wings is doing battle with activist shareholder Marcato Capital Management, which has nominated four people to the company’s board of directors. Marcato has been critical of the company and its management, and called for Smith to resign. 

One issue Marcato has raised is margins, especially at company-operated restaurants.

Buffalo Wild Wings said this week it will cut costs by as much as $50 million, in addition to refranchising 13 percent of company locations, or 80 units.

One of the cuts: “Guest Experience Captains” who work at 90 percent of company-operated locations. Alexander Ware, Buffalo Wild Wings’ chief financial officer, said their responsibilities would be shifted to other employees.

Buffalo Wild Wings introduced the position in 2015, in a bid to improve customer service. However, that did not translate into higher sales: Same-store sales fell in 2016. 

Marcato was especially critical of the program. In a presentation filed earlier this month, the investor quoted a corporate employee who said the role “has shown negligible positive impact on store experience.”

Buffalo Wild Wings said it can save $15 million to $17 million in the second half of the year, and $24 million to $28 million in 2018, by making changes at the unit level to improve margins. Eliminating the captain position is one such savings.

Savings would also come from a streamlined management structure at lower-volume units, food waste improvements and changes in procurement. In addition, the company said it would develop a new “activity-based labor model,” as well as improved sales forecasting and labor scheduling tools.

Buffalo Wild Wings is also working to save on general and administrative costs, and expects to save $3 million this year and another $3 million next year. 

“By controlling what we can, the net impact of these savings and the [refranchising] will enable us to offset slowing consumer traffic in the sector, greater promotional activity, higher wing costs and labor headwinds, and still deliver 20-percent restaurant-level margins” by 2018, Ware said.

The company expects that “industry softness” will continue to impact sales in 2017. Buffalo Wild Wings said same-store sales this year would be about 1 percent, at the lower end of its predicted range. 

While the company is “pleased” with its performance, given industry challenges in the first quarter, “the underlying casual-dining environment is weaker than expected,” Ware said.

Buffalo Wild Wings is also one of several restaurant chains working to quickly expand delivery. 

Third-party delivery generated $2.7 million at 180 restaurants in the quarter, and take-out as a whole represented 18.2 percent of company-owned restaurant revenue, an increase from 16.6 percent in the same period a year ago. The company wants to expand delivery to 250 restaurants by the end of the year.

“Delivery is incremental to the business, as we’ve seen take-out continue to grow in restaurants that offer delivery,” chief operating officer Jim Schmidt said. 

Contact Jonathan Maze at

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

White Paper: Guidelines for Response to Vomiting and Diarrheal Incidents in Foodservice Establishments - Thu, 2017-04-27 15:58
It only takes a few enteric virus particles to infect an individual.

Preparation & Recovery for Flood Situations - Thu, 2017-04-27 15:53
Flooding can occur after heavy rains or when rivers and streams rise quickly. Large areas can flood in a short time, interrupting power and damaging property. The resulting floodwater may damage records, equipment, and food inventory, as well as cause structural damage.

Entrepreneur Launches Global Business in Her Kitchen with Less Than $500

Small Business Trends - Thu, 2017-04-27 15:30

Not all new innovations need to be expensive, high-tech products. As one entrepreneur recently showed, you can solve some seemingly complicated problems with a more simplified approach.

Example of a Simple Innovation

Kavita Shukla is the founder of FreshPaper, a product that is intended to help food stay fresh longer. But it’s not a complicated, technical gadget. It’s simply a piece of paper infused with spices that you can put anywhere you store produce.

And although this business aims to take on a pretty serious world problem, Shukla didn’t need to put much into the product initially. She started with less than $500 and created the product in the kitchen of her studio apartment. And now, FreshPaper ships to farmers and families in 35 different countries around the world.

Food waste due to spoilage is a huge problem in many parts of the world. And organizations and startups have spent tons of money trying to innovate new ways to keep food from going to waste. But this product shows that sometimes answers to big problems can be solved simply — by entrepreneurs with a flash of inspiration.

In fact, FreshPaper was inspired by a home remedy from Shukla’s grandmother. So even when your business is trying to solve a seemingly insurmountable problem, remember the lesson from this example of a simple innovation: the answer might actually be simpler than you think.

Image: Fenugreen

This article, "Entrepreneur Launches Global Business in Her Kitchen with Less Than $500" was first published on Small Business Trends

Macy’s leverages RFIDs to prevent inventory distortion

Store Front Talk Back - Thu, 2017-04-27 14:47
Macy’s leverages RFIDs to prevent inventory distortion jacquelinerose55 Thu, 04/27/2017 - 14:47

LinkedIn Reaches 500 Million User Mark; 9 Million Businesses Use Site

Small Business Trends - Thu, 2017-04-27 13:30


LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) has hit a major milestone. The social media site just hit the half-billion user mark.

That’s right — 500 million users. Further, there are now 9 million businesses actively on the site.

The power of this community benefits a global audience, allowing businesses and their perspective employees and clients to connect like never before.

LinkedIn Reaches the 500 Million User Mark

“We now have half a billion members in 200 countries connecting, and engaging with one another in professional conversations and finding opportunities through these connections on LinkedIn,” the company says in a statement.

LinkedIn continues to lead the professional sector of social media. Since being acquired by Microsoft in 2016 for $26.2 billion, LinkedIn has added features that are tailored to businesses. For instance, the LinkedIn Small Business area of the site provides resources in three key areas: branding, marketing, sales, and hiring.


The vast network of users creates an audience for business to tell their unique story. Considered the Facebook of business, LinkedIn creates a platform to showcase your business model as well as the faces behind the scene.


With a pool of 500 million users and more than 9 million business, the marketing potential within LinkedIn is huge. Marketing campaigns have the potential to create more meaningful relationships when compared to standard methods.


The LinkedIn space creates an unspoken environment of trust. Transactions are initiated on an even playing field with direct access to customers and decision makers.

Your business can use the LinkedIn Sales Navigator to create filters and reach your chosen prospects.


Recruiting is where LinkedIn shines and the basis of its platform. With the new milestone of half a billion users, you’re guaranteed to find the right candidate.

LinkedIn’s blog publishes more than 100,000 articles every week, making it a one-stop resource worthy for small businesses to visit.

These are just some of the services available to small businesses on LinkedIn. Are you one of the half-billion active users on LinkedIn? When is the last time you logged in to the site? And is your small business or brand active on the site?

Image: LinkedIn

This article, "LinkedIn Reaches 500 Million User Mark; 9 Million Businesses Use Site" was first published on Small Business Trends

Retail Roundup—J. Crew reorganizes, Black Tux expands at Nordstrom

Store Front Talk Back - Thu, 2017-04-27 13:14
Retail Roundup—J. Crew reorganizes, Black Tux expands at Nordstrom jacquelinerose55 Thu, 04/27/2017 - 13:14

Home2 Suites By Hilton Open Newest Hotel In Dania Beach

Hotel Interactive - Thu, 2017-04-27 13:04
DANIA BEACH, FL––Home2 Suites by Hilton, part of Hilton's (NYSE: HLT) industry-first All Suites portfolio, announced today its newest property, Home2 ...