I don’t think any of us associate editors here at Smart Business look forward to that day that rolls around once a month around the 20th. But the best part of deadline day is deadline donuts, which the company kindly provides to fuel us through the crunch. Since I’ve worked here, those donuts (and muffins and bagels and donut holes) have come from Dunkin’ Donuts. Smart Business literally runs on Dunkin’.
So of course I was stoked to hear about this opportunity: Nigel Travis, the CEO of Dunkin’ Donuts/president of Dunkin’ Brands Inc. (which owns both the donut/coffee chain and its icier sister Baskin-Robbins) was coming to town for the opening of a new store. Even better, he was coming with a purpose: to talk about Dunkin’s expansion during otherwise difficult economic times, and why the Cleveland area plays a key role in that growth. Apparently, the rest of Cleveland runs on Dunkin’ too.
Dunkin’ Brands as a whole has been growing – with 2009 system-wide sales totaling $7.2 billion for 15,393 locations in 46 countries, up from $6.9 billion for 14,848 locations in 44 countries the year before. But Cleveland’s 14 franchisees alone have added 27 locations in the last five years, bringing the local total to 47. Plus, they’ve seen comp sales increase every year.
No wonder Travis came here to figure out the magic ingredient of the chain’s local success.
“I think I’ve found it,” he said in his London accent, sitting in a side room of Parma Heights’ new Dunkin’ Donuts and sipping a cup of their coffee. “I think it’s great franchisees who have focused on the community, given great service, given products of value. … That’s the magic difference.”
Travis discussed how to find those magic franchisees and how important it is to listen to their ideas for guiding your brand through tough economic times.
Whether you’re dealing in doughnuts or not, those are both crucial steps. Need other examples? Here’s how Dan Stanowick, Northeast Ohio’s regional director for Robeks Fruit Smoothies & Healthy Eats finds the right franchisees and how Paciugo Franchising LP co-founder, chairman and CEO Ugo Ginatta creates a collaborative environment for ideas.
But while Travis and I were on the topic of growth – which was the whole point of our meeting – he offered some advice on keeping your brand consistent as it expands under multiple franchisees (1,896 in the U.S., in the case of Dunkin’ Brands). That’s relevant advice whether you’re franchised or not. Empowering your employees while keeping them all headed in one direction is a challenge even if you have 10 employees in one office, and that challenge only multiples as you grow. But executives of franchised companies know that best – like Ray Titus, founder and CEO of United Franchise Group, Lee Sanders, CEO of Johnny Rockets, and Dan Kim, founder, president and CEO of Red Mango Inc.
If that’s still not enough advice for you, stay tuned. I had a similar conversation about brand consistency and improvement with Kerry Kramp, president and CEO of Sizzler USA Restaurants Inc. last month and he’ll be the cover story in Smart Business Los Angeles in July.
Brooke Bates is now very hungry for Dunkin' Donuts and Johnny Rockets burgers and Sizzler steak, but she’s hard at work as an associate editor at Smart Business. Follow her business tastes on Twitter at @batesbn.