It is in the best interest of a company to do what will help them make the most money. When that company is a national franchise, like Applebee’s, it might seem a little surprising that a large portion of their success comes from one franchisee: Zane Tankel.
He had been a serial entrepreneur since the 1980s, starting and selling a small commercial printing company and then a share of a drug-testing business. After buying and selling real estate for a few years, he decided to try franchising. Although he feared the role might be constraining, Mr. Tankel had heard that Applebeeâ€™s was an entrepreneurial restaurant chain, and he went to its headquarters in suburban Kansas City, Kan., to meet with its chief executive.
Sixteen years later, Mr. Tankel owns 34 Applebeeâ€™s. He has repeatedly challenged the corporation to accept changes to its formula â€” from its uniforms to its menus. His first restaurant on Staten Island took in $3.5 million the year it opened, 1995 â€” a time when the average Applebeeâ€™s was taking in $2.2 million.
Today, his Times Square location has the highest annual revenue, about $13.5 million, of any Applebeeâ€™s in the world. His 34 locations average $4.25 million in revenue, double Applebeeâ€™s nationwide average.
Photo by Mrs. Flinger