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Taking Charge

A new generation of franchisors works to renew the faith of their franchisees.

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This story appears in the July 1996 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When Stephen McManus entered a Hardee's restaurant with his wife on their way to a football game in the fall of 1995, he realized it was, quite frankly, in a shambles. While other company executives might have disgustedly scribbled notes for their next management meeting and sent the issue through layers of bureaucracy, McManus, the new president and CEO of Hardee's Food Systems Inc., closed the restaurant on the spot, put an employee outside to distribute free meal coupons to arriving customers, and got to work cleaning the bathrooms while his wife cleaned the dining room.

The image of the boss scrubbing toilets is far from the perception most franchisees have of their franchisors. Indeed, as franchising has become a mammoth industry, franchisors have come to be viewed as distant dictators whose fancy offices are far removed from franchisees' real-world concerns.

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