Cookies, Ice Cream and Pretzels Make a Perfect Trio

Global Franchise Group’s (GFG) John Barber, chief development officer, embodies enthusiasm for its brands—Great American Cookies, Marble Slab Creamery, MaggieMoo’s Ice Cream & Treatery, and Pretzelmaker—when describing a story he heard recently. “One franchise partner recounted how one of her employees stepped up as interim manager while the company searched for a new manager. That employee, a young woman, opened and closed on two separate shifts for three months, walking two miles each way, twice a day. When the franchise partner learned about it, the employee just said she was grateful for the job and loved Great American Cookies. That was all the franchisee needed to hear; she knew that young woman was her next manager, and she gave her the opportunity. That manager is still with Great American Cookies, 13 years later, and she tells us the company changed her life. She was recently named the number two employee responsible for sales increases in 2012 within her multiunit franchise. Hearing stories like this is why I do what I do,” says Barber.

Barber’s passion is exactly what GFG looks for in its franchisees. “We want experience and passion, great interpersonal skills and business acumen,” says Barber. “We want operators who can follow systems—our systems. They work.”

“We have targeted open multiunit domestic territories, and they are selling fast. Anyone interested should schedule a consultation now.”

The outlook at GFG is bright. “60 percent of our new agreements were with existing franchisees, and 40 percent were with new franchisees in 2012. That is a perfect developmental growth mix,” says Barber. “We have targeted open multiunit domestic territories, and they are selling fast. Anyone interested should schedule a consultation now.”

The company keeps its brands current by keeping up with the times. Most recently, corporate-owned food trucks (the latest trend in the food world) hit the streets. “We have two corporate food trucks with Great American Cookies and Pretzelmaker and now have Marble Slab Creamery trucks with franchise partners. We are testing the Cookie and Pretzel trucks at corporate first to prove the business case before we ‘roll’ out the concept to our franchisees,” Barber says.

GFG encourages co-branding in certain locations. “Because we are a portfolio of brands,” says Barber, “we can mix and match brands based on needs and available space. It’s about optimizing sales space.” Franchisees who co-brand get all the benefits of that new brand without having to find a new site or pay additional rent. GFG recently opened a co-branded Marble Slab Creamery and Great American Cookies location at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and early results have exceeded company expectations.

Global Franchise Group uses technology, Simms by Forum Analytics, to find the right sites, which can be 200 to 1000 square feet. “The program identifies sites and demographics for supporting new franchise locations. We don’t just ‘slam and jam’ the deals. We want the right location with all the potential to be successful,” says Barber.

Once on board, franchisees get support from GFG’s franchise business consultants and franchise advisory councils. Franchisees advise and mentor other franchisees and work closely with corporate employees.

Barber sees challenges only in things outside the company’s control—things like government legislation and leases. But the things within the company’s control give him comfort. “I sleep at night knowing we have a great team of associates. Our number one goal is our franchisees’ success and improving their unit level economics,” he says.

At Global Franchise Group, we champion our franchise brands and the people who build them. Our core values are that we are hardworking, inclusive, respectful, enthusiastic and real. That is why we are here 35 years after our start and why our longest franchisee has been with us for 32 years. Our brands can weather the storm better than many others.”

For more information about franchising opportunities with Global Franchise Group,