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Top Franchise Influencers: 90–81

After reviewing more than 100 nominations, 1851 Franchise and SeoSamba have broken down our list of franchise influencers you should know.

Franchising is tough. Good thing there are so many professionals who have been fighting the good franchise fight to figure out the best practices for franchisors and ‘zees in every industry.

Whether buying a franchise, franchising your business, growing your franchise, or looking for general information on franchising, tapping into the franchise world’s thriving community is vital to your journey. So, with the help of SeoSamba we’ve curated a list of the most influential people in franchising.

No, these are not rankings, simply our collection of 100 influencers you should know, and frankly, who you should be connected to (good thing we’ve provided their LinkedIn links).

Throughout February, we will release the entire list so you can get busy getting connected.

Randy Shacka

Moving people forward is my primary focus. Driving our brand forward and bringing value through franchise relationships, executing upon our vision and helping provide a world-class customer experience.

Sean Fitzgerald

Sean Fitzgerald, CFE is a c-level franchise executive with 25 years of experience working with brands ranging from startup franchise concepts to large developed franchise systems. This level of experience provides unique insight and perspective in growing, operating and building franchise brands. His expertise includes franchise sales, development, marketing, lead generation, digital marketing, content marketing, lead flow management, candidate journey mapping, PR, web design, SEO/SEM, CRM, franchise operations, multi-unit development, franchise compliance, training and franchisor/franchisee relations. Currently, Fitzgerald is the Chief Development Strategist for No Limit Agency* and 1851 Franchise, providing strategy for many well-known brands including DQ, Great Clips*, Buffalo Wings and Rings*, and Two Men and a Truck. His experience also covers a wide range of industries including retail, restaurant, hospitality, service, healthcare and technology. No Limit Agency is a Chicago-based PR and marketing agency that establishes and elevates brands by delivering their message to the masses with fresh thinking and boundless creativity. 1851 Franchise is both a leading industry publication and content marketing platform creating a digital newsroom for brands.


Formerly Executive Vice President for BrightStar Care, Senior VP of Quiznos and National Vice President of Franchise Development for Wireless Zone, a Verizon Wireless retail chain, Fitzgerald has helped steer brands to impressive growth. In two years, he led the growth of Wireless Zone from under 200 locations to over 480 stores. Prior to his role with Wireless Zone, he was COO of a startup women's fitness franchise that grew to over 100 franchisees and 250 locations in three years. Fitzgerald also was the co-founder and COO of an automotive accessory retail chain out of Cincinnati, Ohio, which grew to become a national franchise and eventual IPO trading on the NASDAQ-QTC.

Scott Gittrich

My unwavering affection for pizza became a full-fledged love affair when I decided to drop out of college to focus on a career in restaurants after getting hooked at Domino’s after only two weeks on the job. The gamble paid off as I worked my way up through the company’s system eventually managing all operations for an ass-kicking franchisee in Charlotte, NC. In 1991 I created a pizza concept called Toppers Pizza, which delivers unique, fresh food that’s made-from-scratch and rivals anything available.


Pizza is the best food in the world, there’s nothing that’s as celebratory and fun as pizza. It brings people together like no other product on earth. Next to family and friends and stars on a dark night, I say give me a pizza.

Glenn Lunde

Over 15 years in successful Chief Concept/Marketing Officer roles leading consumer-facing retail companies of various sizes through turn-around situations, rapid market expansion and accelerated revenue growth. A continuous learner with the ability to partner across all functions in the organization. I am inspired by the opportunity to champion company culture, develop cohesive teams, and drive profitable growth for all stakeholders.

Consistent track record of elevating brand engagement and stature with award-winning innovation and compelling communications across all marketing channels. Proven competency to design each aspect of the customer experience both inside and outside the four walls to increase guest transactions and satisfaction levels. Strong research, operations and financial acumen, in addition to leadership roles in the culinary, supply chain, and quality assurance functions have enabled out of the box ideas to become powerful realities.

Tom Scarda

Do you feel called to serve and have a burning desire to make a positive impact in the lives of others, but you feel stuck? Do you want to build a respectable career and do a great job for your boss, but you're driven by something so much more meaningful?

Do you truly believe that there is a bigger PURPOSE for you in your career - more than just paying bills? Something much bigger than just hitting that next rung on the corporate ladder and making lots of money?


Is your definition of success different than most?


  • Do you want to be remembered by the person that you were during your lifetime, rather than the things that you've accumulated?
  • Are you fueled by faith in your work, but struggle at times with your company's strategies because they aren't in alignment with your personal values and beliefs?

If any of this resonates with you, I want to say welcome home. As Your Personal Franchise Coach, allow me to give you the training and support you need to help you create the purpose-driven business and the life of your dreams.


I have a crazy belief when it comes to business...


I'm persuaded that your potential franchise business is really an assignment from God....that assignment is to help you grow as a person by facing your fears, and in the process discover the true purpose of your life. A business is a vehicle to get you what you need in life so you may serve others - not build someone else's dream.


I believe the God-given purpose of our lives is for us to LOVE, SERVE, and GROW... and there's never been a more powerful vehicle than Franchise ownership to help you live out that purpose.


Those of us that hold this belief call ourselves 'Legacy Leaders.' We are creating a movement inside Franchising that's never been seen before. If you're ready to take your life to the next level, you can learn more about what I do at the link below:


  • Did you know that every time a franchise opens it creates an average of 10 jobs directly and 10 indirectly?
  • Are you aware that in the United States there are more than 4,000 franchise concepts in 90 industries and 89 have nothing to do with fast food?
  • 1 out of every 7 businesses in the US is a franchise?

Let me help you find the right franchise through my training and support, and together, let’s use Franchising to create a better world.

Blake Smith

Michael Haith

Michael has an almost 30-year career successfully building multiple, Inc. 500, global franchise brands. Consulting, serving on Boards, investing and building companies, he has vast experience identifying and franchising strong food and beverage concepts. In 2013, he discovered Teriyaki Madness. A small, seven-unit regional chain with delicious and healthy food, a simple business model, a raving fan base and most importantly, the best margins he'd ever seen in his years in the restaurant industry. He sold all of his current business interests in 2015 to acquire and focus on Teriyaki Madness and what is quickly becoming a recognized success story in the fast casual restaurant industry. Quality, fresh, customizable ingredients made-to-order with large portions of delicious, healthy bowls of fresh vegetables, all-natural grilled chicken and beef, with homemade sauces and served over Calrose rice or noodles. He has assembled a team of seasoned, fast-casual professionals to build the processes and systems to aggressively and intelligently help franchisees expand TMAD on a global scale. Currently more than 70 teriyaki shops with another 40 to open in 2020. TMAD has great momentum into the next decade as satisfied franchisees expand rapidly into additional shops. The TMAD franchise community is aggressively expanding, adding additional units while inviting and supporting new franchisees to expand the brand awareness across the globe.

Susan Valverde

I have been in Executive Leadership roles for 5 years and also have over 15 years of award-winning experience achieving extraordinary results in all aspects of owning and operating my own business. When added to my hands-on experience with Sales, Marketing, Logistics and other functions, this has proven to be a powerful combination – I have catapulted various operations to grow businesses exponentially in challenging markets.

I succeeded through smart strategic planning, the retention of top talent, strong internal controls, industry best practices – and a “never say quit” attitude. I inspire loyal team members and earn the respect of my entire organizational community through open over communication at all levels. As the former owner of a vastly successful service firm, I have built a national reputation on my ability to open, expand and transform businesses into thriving operations.

Guillermo Perales

Guillermo Perales began his journey into the world of franchise ownership with a single store and an ambitious dream in 1997. Crediting a combination of “luck, hard work, and a constant quest to expand,” his Sun Holdings portfolio today features over 1000 locations that employ nearly 22,000 people.

Sun Holdings’ stores include Taco Bueno, Burger King, Popeyes, Arby’s, IHOP, Cici’s, Golden Corral, GNC, McAlister's and T-Mobile, making Perales the third-largest franchise owner, and top Hispanic franchisee, in the country!

Eduardo Abadía

Experiencia con Instituciones de Franquicias en el Mundo.Representando a la Franquicia Española desde el año 1996 por distintos Países siendo el responsable de los Pabellones Españoles Negociador.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.