No. 1 With Everything

Make it a combo. Subway is going home with its 10th No. 1 franchise title.

It's gotta be pretty hard to hold your tongue when you find out that the company you co-founded at 17 made it all the way to the top of the Franchise 500® list once again. You have to somehow force the perma-smile into a normal, 180-degree position, and keep the random skipping around the office to a minimum until the January issue hits newsstands. But 53-year-old president and co-founder of Subway Fred DeLuca has had practice, you see. This is Subway's 10th time in the Franchise 500® throne. And, no, the 10th time might not be as exciting as the first time (in 1988). But in a year that hasn't been great for the majority in business, Subway and its franchisees have worked hard for their rewards.

At the time of the interview, DeLuca hadn't even gotten around to reading the most recent good news to hit his desk: Subway's "Eat Fresh" campaign won the Brandweek Marketers of the Year award for 2001. DeLuca rates advertising improvements right alongside food improvements in getting Subway back to the apex of the franchising world. That's why you'll continue to see more of that diet success story Jared Fogle this year, along with more Subway fans who followed in his footsteps. "We keep hearing about more of these people," says DeLuca. "Actually, some great spots have been produced that focus more on friends of Jared. Two of them should be previewing [this month]."

Around springtime, you can expect to see some new products on the menu as well. (That's the same menu that won Subway Nation's Restaurant News' 2001 MenuMasters Award for its Subway Selects gourmet sandwiches, by the by.) It seems that trial runs of new breads, sauces and sandwiches are definitely a hit. "We're sort of embarrassed by a wealth of good news," says DeLuca. "[At press time,] three new breads ranked higher than our best bread in the store, and four new sandwiches ranked better than our best ones."

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This article was originally published in the January 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: No. 1 With Everything.

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