Each year Franchise Times, a leading voice in the world of everything franchising, through their sister publication, the Restaurant Finance Monitor, surveys the largest restaurant franchisees in the country and pores over publicly available data to prepare a ranking of the top 200 franchised restaurant owners in the United States. Some of the key points of interest from this review are summarized here…

The list is dominated by what are known as “mega-franchisees”, companies who own multiple locations of multiple brands. As an example, the largest restaurant operator on the list is Flynn Restaurant Group who reported $1.8 billion from 485 Applebee’s, 232 Taco Bells and 97 Panera Bread restaurants within their portfolio.

The Restaurant 200 is roughly 5 percent of the overall restaurant industry revenue. While that seems a small sliver, the group is beating the industry in growth. Revenue among the 200 operators has grown at a compound annual rate of 8 percent since 2009, compared to 4 percent for the overall industry. Few, if any, operators are on the Restaurant 200 today that built all their restaurants.

There have been four key things that have propelled these massive operations to such astonishing heights – refranchising, capital, technology and culture. Post-recession refranchising (resales) was propelled by historically low interest rates and banks willingness to lend to superior brands. Regarding technology, the internet has transformed restaurant operations. End-to-end digital infrastructure and sophisticated point of sale systems have made it easy to track sales, ticket times, labor and food costs in nearly real time from anywhere with a cell signal. Regarding culture, The key to a strong culture is keeping it like it was when it was small, but with systems. To get big, huge franchise systems need to maintain an owner-operator mentality in each unit.

Legacy brands are the favorite for the Franchise Times Restaurant 200, and large operators are the favorites of legacy brands. This table shows a breakdown of the most popular brands by the number of companies in the top brands, the number of locations operated by the Restaurant 200 and the relative percentage of those locations to the franchised locations.

To download the complete report visit http://www.franchisetimes.com/Resources/Restaurant-200/