Franchise companies, initially reluctant to embrace social media, are finding ways to turn “likes” and “tweets” into dollars and cents.

Houlihan’s, an 83-unit restaurant chain based in Leawood, Kansas, says its stores will see an extra 20 to 40 tables because of one last-minute mobile deal shared via Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter. “You can easily see how quickly it can pay off,” says Jennifer Guvlik, vice president of marketing.

Toppers Pizza, a 40-unit franchise in Whitewater, Wis., has begun special Facebook offers on Tuesdays — traditionally its worst day — and seen more than 70 redemptions in a single day at some locations. And in Marlboro, N.J., Let’s YO Yogurt built its Facebook page before opening its first location six months ago — and managed to get 1,000 likes — in an effort to appeal to tweens and teens. Read on…