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Engaged Franchisees is the Key to Success [ Interview ]

Recently, I was featured in an interview on Blue Maumau. A link to the article, and an exceprt are below.

CARPINTERIA, Calif. – Andrew F. Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants Inc. and the recipient of numerous leadership awards, speaks with Blue MauMau on the art of leading franchise owners. No stranger to being plunged into a firestorm, the former attorney led the about-face of the troubled CKE Restaurants and Hardee’s brand nearly a dozen years ago as a new CEO. In a Wall Street conference over two years ago, I listened for two days to CEOs of some the largest quick service restaurant chains making presentations to analysts and reporters. The word franchisee was hardly heard. While many of the speakers treated their chains as if they were wholly company-owned, Mr. Puzder mentioned franchisees over and over again in his presentation, speaking about how he was working with them to carry out strategy. Franchisees seemed central to CKE Restaurant’s focus. Twenty years ago Puzder was hired to be the personal attorney for Carl Karcher, the founder of Carl’s Jr, after Karcher was fined $690k by the SEC for insider trading. The case was settled. Puzder rose up the ranks. In 1997 he became general counsel for CKE Restaurants as the company bought Hardee’s, a distressed brand that burdened CKE with $700 million in debt after its acquisition. The board appointed Puzder as president and CEO of the struggling company in 2000. In July of 2010, the private-equity firm Apollo Management took CKE private in a transaction valued at $1 billion. Apollo retained CKE’s management team, including Puzder, who remains as CEO. The company has 3,219 Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants, generating $1.4 billion in annual revenue. In a tough year for the QSR sector, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s saw a solid same-store sales increase of 3.4% year to date in December of 2011. The franchisor’s EBITDA margin was 16.9%, down 30 basis points compared to the prior year. This is part of Blue MauMau’s ongoing series seeking to understand what sort of leadership and environment it takes for franchise owners to flourish.

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