Dunkin’ Donuts Plans to Double its Franchises in the U.S.

Dunkin’ Brands senior director of franchising Jeremy Vitaro spoke to Bret Thorn of Nation’s Restaurant News about the plan of the Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. to increase the number of its units in the U.S. by 100% in the next 20 years. The Dunkin’ Brands include Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins. For the Dunkin’ chain, they are targeting the Southeast and Midwest regions. Vitaro says, “One of the differences in what we’ve done is to get larger multi-unit groups developing simultaneously in adjacent territories. That way we can penetrate the market more quickly.” They are looking for local franchisees with enough funding and experience in quick-service restaurant operations and real estate. Compared to Dunkin’ restaurants, the capital for Baskin-Robbins’ units is lower. Baskin-Robbins is eyeing the Florida, San Diego, Northern California and Phoenix areas for expansion.

Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. recently set a goal of doubling the number of Dunkin’ Donuts units in the United States over the next 20 years.

Dunkin’ Brands senior director of franchising Jeremy Vitaro is charged with leading that push. He has been with Dunkin’ Brands for nine years, and has been at the head of its franchising efforts for the past two years.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ stronghold is in the Northeast. Where does the quick-service chain plan to expand from there?

There’s not a lot of new franchising activity in New York and New Jersey [where many Dunkin’ Donuts already operate]. But there’s really a lot of opportunity in the Southeast and Midwest, and we’re looking farther west as well now.

It’s really about contiguous market expansion, trying to capitalize on the fact that we have resources in one market, and then moving to adjacent markets. We have a pretty disciplined strategy around that.

What does the company look for in a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee?

They need to be well capitalized, that’s almost a given. We also look for operating experience, ideally in quick-service restaurants, that involves some real estate experience as well, because finding the real estate and negotiating leases is a challenge. Doing that while you’re opening restaurants and learning a new system, that’s more of a challenge. We also want them to be local.

What’s the expansion strategy for Baskin-Robbins?

Baskin tends to focus more on smaller franchisees, and we’ll sign one- or two-unit agreements in smaller, more rural areas. And while we do prefer restaurant experience, other factors, such as ability to connect with the community, are more important. So we’re open to more diverse backgrounds, although you need to display experience in running a business, reading a P&L, and leasing real estate. Also, the financial requirements are a little lower. …

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