These top franchise leaders are taking their brands to new levels of success.
Franchise leaders who raise the bar when it comes to the direction of their brands ensure that competition doesn’t get an edge and strive to build a group of successful franchisees over making quick money. Under their direction, the corporate office and franchisees operate as a partnership, or a smooth-working team, that is unified in building and increasing the value of their brand.
The franchise executives below are featured on Franchise Business Review’s 2017 Top Franchise Leaders list as a result of the franchisees at their brands providing positive feedback regarding their leadership during a recent franchisee satisfaction survey. Each has proven they are successfully facing the unique challenges franchise leaders face – that of meeting the demands of traditional corporate leadership while leading groups of independent business owners – their franchisees – to success.
To identify this year’s top franchise leaders, Franchise Business Review analyzed 18 months worth of data from approximately 30,000 franchisees representing 334 brands regarding their brands’ leadership and culture as well as their overall satisfaction with their brands and their likelihood to recommend them to others.
THE LIST: 2017 Top Franchise Leaders
Since starting 9Round in 2008, Shannon “The Cannon” Hudson has created a vibrant company that now operates more than 500 locations worldwide. His company’s vision and sustained growth is a direct result of his forward-thinking ability and desire to always be 10 steps ahead of the competition. It’s naturally what he does!
Angie Fairbanks is a highly motivated and respected leader within the ActionCOACH community. She is consistently rated highly for her leadership and management. Overseeing communications for franchisees in 73 countries is no small task but Angie ensures the overall success of ActionCOACH by making sure everyone is kept on target regarding business strategy, systems and changes and products. All of these are necessary to ensure proper operational controls, administration, reporting procedures and systems in place to effectively grow, maintain financial strength and efficiency.
APA’s membership and global reach have soared since she took the helm in 1995. Lyle’s experience in different areas of the business gave her a strong foundation for success. That foundation, coupled with her vision for the organization, has led to APA being consistently recognized as a top franchise opportunity.
Sherry Chris, CEO and President, Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate, is truly an inspirational leader with an unwavering vision for the lifestyle real estate brand. Known for her stellar leadership and innovative thinking, Sherry established the brand’s core values, P.A.I.G.E (Passion, Authenticity, Inclusion, Growth, Excellence), instilling the framework for strategic growth and superior customer service each and every day.
When David Miller and Michael Miller started Brightway Insurance in 2008, they asked what consumers should expect from an insurance agency and built a franchise company to deliver that experience. Using their Win-Win- Win mandate requiring every decision be a win for franchisees, customers and employees, Brightway is today one of the largest property/casualty independent insurance agencies in the country.
Michael Arrowsmith, an industry veteran with over 25 years of experience, joined Captain D’s in 2013. Under his leadership, the brand’s franchise development pipeline has increased from zero with no openings, to over 100 with double-digit openings. This year, Captain D’s is to open 25 new restaurants, after achieving its sixth consecutive year of same store sales increases and fourth successive year of record high system-wide AUV in 2016.
Mike was appointed president of CertaPro Painters® in March 2015. Mike is a devoted believer of the CertaPro Painters® mission, "Providing opportunities for great people to build big, profitable painting operations that consistently grow market share through extraordinary experiences". Mike is steeped in the CertaPro Painters® culture and enthusiastic (not unusual for a University of Iowa Hawkeye) to lead CertaPro Painters®, North America’s largest and most widely recognized company for residential and commercial painting services.
Enrique “Rick” Silva, President & CEO of Checkers/Rally’s, is a transformative leader whose passion for people and process has driven the brand’s growth to more than 850 restaurants. Rick realized that in order to move forward, we needed to make sure we had the right resources in place to help us focus on profitability, while simultaneously developing the innovations that will fuel our sales and profit growth in the future.
As CEO/Founder of Christian Brothers Automotive, Mark Carr sets the example of being a light in the automotive repair industry through a people-first mindset. Under his leadership, the CBA system gives 10% of gross profits to people in need. Mark’s favorite verse: "love your neighbor as yourself" drives our franchisees to touch as many lives as possible in their local communities.
Michelle Fee is CEO of the nation’s largest home-based travel franchise organization, Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative. She started her career as a full-service travel agent and believes one of the best ways travel agents learn is by traveling. In order to enable its travel agents to run their business from anywhere in the world so they can travel or work from wherever they please, Cruise Planners, under Michelle’s direction, has created some of the most innovative technology tools in the industry. The Cruise Planners Family of Agents consists of over 1,700 agents in all 50 states.
Debbie Fiorino singlehandedly changed our culture, instilling the mindset that the franchisees’ success is our only business. Her emphasis on transparency and relationships has trickled down to staff, positively impacting growth. We are on pace for a record-breaking 2017. Valuing input from franchisees, she has an open-door policy and launched the Dream Vacations brand based on franchisee feedback.
Tom Krouse’s career has spanned over three decades in leadership roles in the restaurant industry. Tom is President and Chief Executive Officer of Donatos Pizza to oversee the company’s restaurant business as well as Jane’s Dough Foods, the consumer products division of Donatos.
Prior to his current position, Tom held various positions at Donatos including President-Expansion Brands, Chief Concept & Strategy Officer and Senior Vice President of Marketing.
Catherine became CEO of FASTSIGNS International, Inc. in 2009, bringing over 30 years of franchising experience. In 2009, she received the IFA Bonny LeVine Award for her contributions to franchising’s growth. In 2012, Catherine appeared on TV series Undercover Boss. In 2015, she received the IFA’s first Franchise Action Network FAN of the Year award for her advocacy work in franchising. Catherine currently is Secretary of the IFA Board of Directors.
Since joining Fazoli’s in 2008, Carl Howard has spearheaded the company’s transition from a QSR to a fast casual service model. As part of its brand refresh, Howard has elevated Fazoli’s menu by removing all artificial ingredients and unveiling a new restaurant design. Today, Fazoli’s is America’s largest Italian fast casual franchise with 17 quarters of same-store sales growth.
Jeff is a profound, high integrity franchise executive. In a very short time, he has pioneered FirstLight HomeCare into a leadership position in the franchise industry. Under Jeff’s leadership, FirstLight HomeCare provides extensive training, support, tools and vision for our franchisees. Annually, FirstLight HomeCare’s franchise partners rank Jeff and its management team exceptional in the areas of integrity, honesty, trust and leadership
Lily Sarafan, Chief Executive Officer of Home Care Assistance, is incredibly passionate and devoted in providing the best quality of care to individuals worldwide. Under her leadership, Home Care Assistance has experienced exponential growth and success. Lily has found success by thoroughly understanding the importance of investing time into proper development of each employee to ensure team cohesiveness and cooperation.
For her role at the helm of Home Care Assistance, Lily has been honored as Women Health Care Executives 2016 Woman of the Year and Ernst and Young‘s 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year.
Jeff Huber is President and Chief Executive Officer of Home Instead Senior Care, the leading global provider of home care services for older adults. Under Huber’s leadership, Home Instead is dedicated to addressing the challenges of the aging global population by promoting consumer choice in care. Huber has also increased the organization’s commitment to leadership development and training to empower CAREGivers and families and to advance the organization’s mission: To enhance the lives of aging adults and their families.
When David Hicks took over at HomeVestors of America®, known as the “We Buy Ugly Houses People®”, the real estate market was reeling from the 2008 financial crisis. David acted swiftly to stabilize the company, instill confidence in his employees and poise the company for growth. Since that time, David and his team have grown from 150 franchises to over 800. For the 12 th consecutive year, HomeVestors® was among Franchise Business Review’s Top Franchises”.
Kathleen’s intense desire to stay ahead of challenges and opportunities has helped HouseMaster thrive. She strives to creates a culture of trust and satisfaction with HouseMaster’s owners and inspires confidence by making herself accessible to her team and owners. HouseMaster says its franchisees gross almost a 1/3 more than any of its franchise competitors. HouseMaster ranks number one in franchisee satisfaction in its category from Franchise Business Review.
My strength in leadership comes from two sources: my team and my faith. I believe in surrounding myself with smart people, creating win/win scenarios, and expecting the best from others. Just Between Friends continues to grow as we utilize everyone’s strengths to shape a brand that helps over a million families across America whom we are privileged to serve.
Pat has led KOA since 2009. His strength comes from longevity (36 years with KOA) and the fact that he’s put that time to use familiarizing himself with every aspect of the camping industry, working his way through every department. Pat is also an empowering leader, giving all KOA Home Office employees the ability to make decisions, and backs those decisions with our franchises.
Company culture begins at the top, and Tony Lamb, Founder and CEO, Kona Ice is an exceptional leader. He not only believes in his corporate staff, made up of 35 individuals, but also in the franchisees who manage Kona Ice’s 900+ franchise units across the U.S. His faith in the team has inspired the more than $40 million given back to local communities Kona Ice serves.
We use a friendly and flexible system to help our franchisees find success. We don’t follow the typical franchise methodology, instead, we have created one that’s unique to MaidPro. Business isn’t one-size- fits-all and our technical nature allows us to continually improve so we can always give our franchisees the best support. We value our community and believe that MaidPro is more than just a business, it’s a family.
Widely respected as a humble, passionate leader with the unique ability to communicate transparently and connect with people at every level, Todd Hopkins puts people first. His faith-based core values, which he built Office Pride upon, permeate every aspect of his personal and professional life, rendering him a role model and inspiration to his employees, franchisees and peers.
Under the leadership of CEO Dave Long, who founded the company alongside two partners in 2010, Orangetheory Fitness has experienced explosive growth with more than 700 studios worldwide. Long was instrumental in numerous pivotal achievements, including the development of proprietary heart rate technology and mobile app launch, which helped establish Orangetheory as one of the world’s top fitness franchises.
The key to any great relationship is communication. With our franchisees, they intimately understand they might not get the answer they want, but they’ll get honestly, candor, and transparently. They know the brand’s best interest will be key, not self-interest. Our open door policy means we can discuss tough topics immediately and resolve issues timely, thereby not simply protecting, but also enhancing our great relationships.
Pinch A Penny Pool Patio and Spa CEO John Thomas has fostered a company culture based on integrity, work ethic, and values. Recognized for its industry knowledge and expertise, Thomas has led the brand’s national expansion to 230+ locations across the Southeast. After 40+ years in business, Pinch A Penny has become the world’s largest retail pool supply and service franchise.
Craig is a founding member and CEO of Pinot’s Palette. As a pioneer in the newly developed and rapidly expanding paint and sip industry, Craig has directed an innovative start-up business with one location to a concept which is now being developed nationwide. His contributions at Pinot’s Palette have involved strategy, financing, architecting proprietary technology, developing and standardizing operations, fundraising, building a team-based culture and a purpose-driven brand.
Brian and the rest of the leadership team at Right at Home set themselves apart by utilizing their broad knowledge of both franchising and healthcare. By leveraging experience in both areas Right at Home has built a strong network of over 500 locations that preserve independence and dignity for thousands of families every week.
Dave Mattson is a charismatic and visionary CEO/President of a global training organization of 265+ locations in 30 countries. He is a servant leader who encourages collaboration to maximize creativity and productivity, resulting in a driven and highly productive team that is passionate about furthering Sandler’s Mission. Dave is also a best-selling author, sales and management thought leader, keynote speaker, and sought-after presenter.
As a leader, I think my key role is to cast vision, then empower the team to get us there. I’m proud of the culture that we’ve developed here, with an intentional focus on our core values. We see the results of those efforts as we continue to attract great people to join our team.
Since being founded in 1993, Gordon Logan has guided the Sport Clips brand to more than 1,600 locations across the U.S. and five provinces in Canada. Under his leadership, Sport Clips has seen rapid yet controlled growth as a result of innovative haircutting systems, operating procedures and marketing programs designed to focus on the men’s and boys’ haircare market.
Shirin Behzadi, CEO of Tailored Living and Home Franchise Concepts, is passionate about providing an opportunity for people from all walks of life and backgrounds to own their own business and their own lives. She actively provides our franchisees with superior training, support and high-quality products to position Tailored Living as the “go-to” consumer brand, while also engaging with staff at the home office to become as successful as they want to be.
Under Mike Rotondo’s leadership, Tropical Smoothie Cafe has grown from a regional 200-unit chain to the fastest-growing concept in its segment with 600 locations nationwide. Through his unwavering commitment to supporting franchisees, Mike has helped foster a positive company culture and fueled growth internally, with more than half of the 160 franchise agreements signed last year coming from existing franchisees.
Jeff brings a level of determination and leadership that align perfectly with the core values of our brand. His ability to stay focused on the company vision while showing care to each level of the organization speaks to his outstanding character, and shows why he’s the right leader for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®.
Larry Meigs, President and CEO of Visiting Angels, established the franchised system in 1998. Less than twenty years later, there are over 600 franchises operating throughout the world. To Larry’s credit, he still owns and operates the first franchise. The system Larry built has impacted millions of family members who needed homecare and thousands of caregivers simply known as Angels.
Jennifer Lemcke, C.O.O., began her career with Weed Man in 1993 and has worked in every position from marketing to field technician. She has run some of the largest Weed Man operations to date, which has given her the unique ability to support franchisees from start-up to million dollar operations. She has built incredible partnerships, training and supporting Weed Man’s U.S. sub-franchisors and over 100 licensed dealers, now covering 500+ territories.
Bill’s high-energy, drive to succeed, team mentality and courage to try new things consistently energize the Weichert franchise team and its affiliates to push the envelope and reach new heights. He’s driven improvements to training, recruiting and management systems, among other business tools, helping to modernize the brand and make it more attractive and dynamic to brokers and agents.
Jim Carpenter, founder/ CEO of Wild Birds Unlimited, lives the brand’s mission of “We bring People and Nature Together” through his leadership style and practice. Jim’s belief in training, empowering, motivating and holding his franchisees and franchise support staff accountable for results creates a culture of success. That culture translates into satisfied franchisees, customers and birds across North America.
Rik leads by example and coaches from a place of first-hand experience. Whether it’s how he approaches the day-to-day operations of the business, marketing, or another important aspect of the Window Genie system, Rik takes ownership and responsibility for his business. Window Genie’s franchisees respect Rik and appreciate that he has been in their shoes.