(Ambrosio’s note: Welcome to Fro-Yo Files, an exclusive, new bonus series for Platinum subscribers of Franchise Chatter. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article tomorrow, and a new Fro-Yo Files post every week.)
Fro-Yo Files: Interview with Michael Mudd, Franchise Development Director for Menchie’s
With 200 stores and 250 more in development, Menchie’s has grown at breakneck speed since its founding in 2007. I talked to Michael Mudd — just after he’d performed a nine-hour marathon of conference calls — about how the company manages its franchise empire.
Back to School: Menchie’s U
Mudd is a Senior Consultant at Franchise Performance Group (FPG), founded by Joe Mathews, which “intercepts small emerging brands” to see if they can be franchised and raised to a national profile. For Menchie’s, where Mudd has been Franchise Development Director for the past three years, FPG has developed a truly comprehensive — even exhaustive — franchisee program, which Mudd describes as “best-in-class.” He says the kind of success Menchie’s has enjoyed “all boils down to two things”: the franchisor-franchisee relationship and a continuing return on investment, aka, the bottom line. “At the end of the day, you have to sustain the lifestyle of your partners.”
The franchise information page on Menchie’s website states that its franchisees have “high moral fiber.” What that means, essentially, is that prospective franchisees have to be aligned with the company’s “core values” of family values, community involvement, and charity. Menchie’s “screens out” franchisees who “won’t be a good fit.” In one case, they actually said no to a franchisee who was about to sign the big check because he “was not about friends, relationships, community. He was actually anti-friends, anti-relationships, anti-community.”
Menchie’s franchisees are the usual suspects: “The Empire Builder, The Diversifying Business Owner, and The Owner/Operator/Family-Run Unit.” Regardless of whether a franchisee is a seasoned, multi-unit operator or a first-time novice, all are enrolled in “Menchie’s University.” The University is a state-of-the-art facility with an auditorium that can accommodate up to 62 franchisees at any given time.
The University offers a range of programs for individuals at every level of their franchisee career. The initial 14-day program goes over the basics: culture, operations, marketing, and accounting. Franchisees attend classes and seminars to learn everything about yogurt — not only how it’s made but the science of “bacteria strands, dairy culture, and pasteurization.” At the company’s flagship store, they must work every position, every shift. “When they leave, they’ll have a full understanding and a great platform” to develop their own franchises.