Kevin Betts

RE/MAX. Elements Massage. Sola Salons. Camp Bow Wow. Daddy’s Chicken Shack. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

They are just a few of the many Colorado-based franchises that helped the state rank in the top 10 for franchise growth in 2024, according to a recent report from the International Franchise Association.

The ranking comes as no surprise to Kevin Betts, executive director of the Liniger Center on Franchising at the Daniels College of Business.

“Denver has been a franchising hub for many years,” Betts said. “A lot of brands come out of Denver — big brands that are recognizable throughout the country, as well as a lot of new brands. There’s an entrepreneurial business climate in Colorado, and we are also centralized to the rest of the country, so it’s easy to travel in and out of.”

Betts hopes that the Liniger Center—established in 2023 through a gift from David and Gail Liniger, co-founders of RE/MAX International—will help strengthen Colorado’s franchising foothold even more. The center offers education, thought leadership and networking opportunities to the franchise community, as well as a series of courses on franchising offered through Daniels’ Executive Education Program.

“There are very few universities that offer franchise education at any kind of detailed level, in either law school or business school,” Betts said. “Franchising has its own book of law and makes up nearly $9 billion in economic output every year within the U.S. It’s a business model that is so widespread, both throughout the country and throughout the world, and I think that it’s a shame that more people aren’t educated on the topic.”

To remedy that, the Liniger Center launched with a three-class micro-credential sequence, dubbed the Franchise Business Model Mastery Program. The program covers the history and evolution of franchising, starting with its medieval roots, as well as key tenets of the franchise business model. It looks at franchising and the franchise model through the lenses of both a franchisor and a franchisee.

“In those classes, we look at the journey of a franchise system’s growth, from startup through to maturity and eventual exit,” Betts said. “Outside of the micro-credential, we have a fourth class called Franchise Law for Non-Lawyers that teaches the practical aspects of franchise law and the executable components of it. That course will be launching for the first time in July.”

The in-person, on-campus classes have drawn good attendance so far, Betts said, proving the appetite for education around all aspects of franchising. The Liniger Center is finalizing plans to offer a graduate certificate in franchising starting in 2025, which Betts feels will build more synergy between the center and Daniels.

“The majority of people who have been attending have either been franchisors or new franchisees who are buying into a regional development model,” said Betts, noting that many students in the sequence fly in from out of state to attend classes. “But once we launch the graduate certificate program, I expect that we’ll start to get a greater mix of people who are outside the industry and looking to get in. Many business professionals, who have achieved success in their corporate career, end up looking to make a change and find franchising to be a great fit, allowing them to start another venture as a business owner.”

A handful of companies, including Dill Dinkers, Port of Subs and Daddy’s Chicken Shack are using Liniger Center courses as part of their onboarding training for new employees and franchisees.

“This shows tremendous value on the team and a desire to start the relationship off on the right foot,” Betts said.

Offering quality franchising education will not only raise Colorado’s profile in the field even higher, Betts said, but it will elevate DU’s reputation in the worldwide franchising community.

“This allows us to build more recognition for DU and put more focus on franchising the right way, so we can get strong foundations into some of these new brands that are emerging,” Betts said. “More than 300 new franchise concepts start every year, and many of them stall out in their growth. Franchise Education can help navigate some of their challenges.”

Discover More About the Liniger Center on Franchising

The Liniger Center on Franchising at the Daniels College of Business provides guidance, support and resources to those involved in all segments of the franchising industry.
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