Donatos Operator Travis Hibbert Named IFA Franchisee of the Year

This article was originally published in QSR Magazine on February 20th, 2024 

The International Franchise Association (IFA) named Travis Hibbert, owner of Donatos Pizza in Knoxville, TN, as a 2023 Franchisee of the Year. Hibbert was honored at the 64th IFA Annual Convention in Phoenix, Ariz., for being an outstanding franchise establishment owner-operator.

“Franchisees of the Year exemplify what franchising is all about – providing opportunity, serving others, and fulfilling the American Dream,” says Matthew Haller, President and CEO of the International Franchise Association. “We are proud to recognize Travis Hibbert with the highest honor IFA awards to individual franchisees, and I have no doubt his work is changing lives and making a lasting community impact.”

The Franchisee of the Year Award recognizes leading franchise owners from IFA member brands whose outstanding performance and contributions help protect, enhance, and promote the franchise business model. Nominated by their parent company, individuals are selected for their involvement in their communities, embodying the entrepreneurial spirit, fostering a strong and healthy culture with their workforce, and assisting their fellow franchisees when called upon.

Travis Hibbert and his wife, Kirsten, have been awarded this esteemed honor for their exceptional contributions to the Donatos Pizza brand. Since opening their first franchise location in Knoxville, TN in August 2021, the Hibberts have displayed a remarkable commitment to both the product and the culture of Donatos Pizza. The Hibberts quickly expanded, opening their second location by June 2023, showcasing exceptional sales performance from the outset. This launch saw an outstanding opening week in sales and has consistently outperformed the franchise average.

Travis and Kirsten’s dedication to maintaining high standards and fostering a supportive team culture has been instrumental in their success. They actively engage with their staff and customers, embodying Donatos Pizza’s mission of promoting goodwill through product and service, principles, and people. By prioritizing individual development and personalized training, they have cultivated a workforce that consistently delivers excellent customer service, reflected in their impressive sales growth and high customer satisfaction ratings.

“Travis and Kirsten Hibbert exemplify what it means to be Donatos franchise partners,” says Kevin King, President of Donatos Pizza. “Their unwavering commitment to our brand’s values, exceptional leadership, and dedication to serving their community make them truly deserving of the Franchisee of the Year award. We’re proud to honor their outstanding achievements, and we’re grateful for the positive impact they’ve made on our brand and the Knoxville community.”

The Hibberts’ impact extends beyond the walls of their stores, as they have become integral members of the Knoxville community. Through their involvement in local schools, businesses, and nonprofit organizations, as well as participation in community events like blood drives and fundraisers, they have demonstrated a commitment to giving back. Travis and Kirsten Hibbert stand as shining examples of franchise partners who not only excel in business, but also enrich the lives of those around them through their dedication, integrity, and service-oriented approach.

There are over 800,000 franchised businesses across the U.S., providing over 8.7 million direct jobs and generating over $850 billion in economic output. According to Oxford Economics, franchising on average provides higher wages and better benefits than non-franchised businesses, as well as greater entrepreneurial opportunities to minorities, women, veterans, and other underrepresented communities. 

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