The International Franchise Association (IFA) has named Travis and Kirsten Hibbert, owners of two Donatos Pizza stores in Knoxville, Tennessee, as 2023 Franchisees of the Year. The couple was honored at the IFA’s annual convention in Phoenix for being outstanding franchise establishment owner-operators.

“Franchisees of the Year exemplify what franchising is all about—providing opportunity, serving others, and fulfilling the American dream,” said Matthew Haller, the IFA’s president and CEO. He added that the Hibberts’ work “is changing lives and making a lasting community impact.”

According to a press release, IFA’s Franchisee of the Year awards recognize 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.”

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The Hibberts were awarded the honor for their “exceptional contributions to the Donatos Pizza brand,” the press release stated. “Since opening their first franchise location in Knoxville in August 2021, the Hibberts have displayed a remarkable commitment to both the product and the culture of Donatos Pizza.”

The Hibberts opened their second location in June 2023, “showcasing exceptional sales performance from the outset,” Donatos Pizza said. “This launch saw an outstanding opening week in sales and has consistently outperformed the franchise average.”

The brand said the Hibberts’ 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.”

The Hibberts 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.

Donatos President Kevin King said Travis and Kirsten “exemplify what it means to be Donatos franchise partners. 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.”

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