Multi-Unit Franchising Conference: Multi-unit Franchisees Bring Spirit of Optimism to Las Vegas
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Multi-Unit Franchising Conference: Multi-unit Franchisees Bring Spirit of Optimism to Las Vegas

Themes of resiliency and optimism within the franchise community permeated the air at this year’s Multi-Unit Franchising Conference at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, March 27-29. As the event’s theme implied, these individuals are not only driven but believe the best is still ahead.

There were more than 1,200 conference attendees this year – several hundred of them franchisees. They represented food, service, and other retail concepts. They came seeking knowledge, networking opportunities, and looking for additional brands.

General sessions at this year’s event featured heavy hitters like Hollywood mogul Peter Guber, who has served as studio chief at Columbia Pictures and co-chairman of Casablanca Records, and today heads up Mandalay Entertainment, and Mark Kelly, former astronaut, Navy pilot, and husband of US Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Both men discussed the road to success and the importance of overcoming obstacles to reach goals and objectives.

But one of the cornerstones of every Multi-Unit Franchising Conference is the educational component. That was readily available again this year. Multi-unit operators explored topics as diverse as employee hiring and retention, upselling strategies, and maintaining brand culture during growth to closing units and working more closely with franchisors. Elsewhere, franchisees dug into topics like how to select additional brands, building customer loyalty, and succession planning and exit strategies, and much more.

The expo hall is the place where everybody comes together. Suppliers, vendors and dozens of franchise brands were on hand to rub elbows with franchisees, offer their pitches, and answer questions. It’s become a real focal point of the conference because of the sheer number of brands and franchisees together in one place. This year saw record numbers as the hall sold out early.

The conference also provided a great platform for announcing and recognizing this year’s Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine MVP Award winners. These individuals exhibit the kinds of characteristics that make successful operators as well as caring and involved citizens. This year’s winners were:

  • Noble Cause – William Ray Bruce, COO at Abundant Brands; franchisee of Subway, Costa Vida, Roxberry Juice, and Big Al’s BBQ.
  • Noble Cause – Hurricane Sandy –  Steve Baliva, partner, of Metz Culinary; franchisee of TGI Friday's, Ruth's Chris Steak House and Wolfgang Puck Express.
  • Influencer – Samantha Goldsmith, founder of Goldsmith Companies; franchisee of Red Mango.
  • Innovation – Joe Hertzman, founder of the Radcliff Group; franchisee of Rally’s.
  • American Dream – Guillermo Perales, founder of Sun Holdings; franchisee of Burger King, Popeyes, Arby’s Golden Corral, and CiCi’s.
  • Role Model – Spencer Smith, founder of the Smith Group; franchisee of Aaron’s.
  • Spirit of Franchising – Danny Sonenshine, founder of Far West Restaurant Group; franchisee of Wingstop.
  • Veteran – Kevin and Laurel Wilkerson, franchisees of Marco’s Pizza.

Driving profitability requires a steady hand and a foot on the accelerator. Those who succeed in franchising do so through dedication, hard work, smarts, and being in the right place at the right time. That’s just the kind of franchisee who attends the annual Multi-Unit Franchising Conference. Based on the buzz, the talk of deals in the making, operating tips, and record attendance, these franchisees are crossing the checkered flag as winners.

Find out more about this year’s event online at and watch for details of next year’s conference to be announced soon.

Published: April 24th, 2013

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