The Contenders

Though Subway claims the No. 1 spot on the Franchise 500®, there are other sandwich-makers climbing up the ranking. Assuming these franchisors would like to win the great submarine crown, we asked each of them what they're doing to compete.

The Quizno's Corporation, ranked no. 6

Thanks to an explosion of franchise locations, Quizno's jumped from No. 47 in 2000 to No. 6 this year. With 868 franchises open, Quizno's has a strong presence in the Southwest--especially in its home state, Colorado. The year 2000 also brought the introduction of some popular menu additions--like the Black Angus Steak Sandwich (so popular as a limited-time offer, it was added as a permanent menu item). "We've always felt our product was very distinctive, primarily because we toast all our sandwiches--that really sets us apart from our competitors," says Sue Hoover, executive vice president of corporate communications. "It's really our product that sells [our franchisees]."

Blimpie International Inc., ranked no. 28

In addition to a new franchisee training program called Blimpie University, Blimpie's Kelly Gray says the company is also differentiating itself in the use of its advertising dollars--half the ad budget is spent nationally; half is spent regionally. "We have a new advertising strategy that's more focused on our products," says Gray. The company's new slogan: "Simply Blimpie." What Blimpie is offering its more than 2,100 franchises worldwide is simply growth: It hopes to raise store sales volumes 20 percent over the next five years.

Jersey Mike's Subs, ranked no. 90

Jersey Mike's Subs has seen its numbers grow to almost 200 this year. It boasts a strong presence east of the Mississippi--franchises can be found in states including Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and, of course, New Jersey--with an eye on expanding internationally. "We're authentic subs," says president Peter Cancro. "We differentiate ourselves by the quality and quantity of our product. No one else is doing what we're doing. We cut our bread all the way through, so [we] have to put a lot more meat on."

Cousins Subs Systems Inc., ranked no. 147

A focus on building out existing markets has been Cousins Subs' plan of attack this year. With a strong presence in the Midwest, Cousins' growth strategy involves creating local markets of 10 or more franchises under area developers. "Our business model provides for a higher reward to our area developers. We split the royalties 50/50 with [them] as they build out these markets," says executive vice president Dave Kilby. "That's probably one of the best reward systems in all of franchising."

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This article was originally published in the January 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Sub-Liminable.

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