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Last week, a Dunkin’ Donuts related blog reported that members of the Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee community questioned – “Who is DBI’s target market?”
Being a member of the Dunkin’ Donuts tribe, I was happy to see our DDIFO report on the recent Dunkin’ Donuts IndFA convention. A representative group of Independent Joe’s – from around the world - gathered on September 21st, at the Cabaret Theater, located on the tribal grounds of the Mohegan Sun.
DDIFO addressed 3 primary issues currently being negotiated by the franchisee leadership to be:
1) “new” franchise agreement
2) “new” DCP agreement
Dunkin’ Donut Franchisees, who represent the national footprint, had an open environment and forum to express their views regarding the current state-of-affairs with the Master Servicer – Dunkin’ Brands, Inc. Although each franchisee quoted by DDIFO provided excellent feedback, it was the 3rd generation franchisee from New Jersey that captured the essence of the “Brand”. As highlighted and best described by our DDIFO President, Jim Coen:
Think about it. This young man grew up in the system and has now become a franchisee. His father and grandfather worked and contributed to the brand their entire life. That shows you the commitment that franchisees have. Dunkin’ Donuts is their brand. They built it brick-by-brick for 60 years. They deserve independent representation that enhances, protects and defends their business interests.
Jim Coen gets it right by identifying the “true” value driver(s) within our DD franchise system – it’s about: long term franchisees who give a Damn – frankly speaking. Congratulations are in order for all those who spoke out, supported, and helped organize a successful high profile IndFA convention.
There seems to be a positive transcendental vibe brewing amongst the franchisees.
Are the vibes from the tribe for real? Or, is the tribe on a Desolation Row vibe?
In finding the answers to the above, it is important to listen and understand what others are saying about the current leadership; and especially, the Brand’s CEO – Nigel Travis.
In Nigel, Dunkin’ Brands has found a leader with a proven track record of delivering extraordinary results. His wide-ranging achievements in retail and the foodservice industry will strengthen our overall senior leadership team, further enhancing our ability to execute our long-range strategic plans. Nigel’s ability to develop strong franchisee networks, his understanding of the intensely competitive global marketplace, and his innovative, results-oriented style will build on the powerful momentum already in place at our Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins brands.
We have never pursued litigation against a franchisee without clear cause, nor will we. We share a common goal with our franchisee community — to protect our brand reputation and their investment in the brand.
A lot of franchisees initially joined our local association (the Mid-West Dunkin’ Donuts Franchisee Association [MWDDFA]) because of fear—fear that the Brand wasn’t hearing them, but now many of them feel that fear is gone. They think Nigel’s here, everything is great [emphasis added]. But we’re saying that DDIFO is still valuable, that they’re still negotiating a lot of things and when the company goes public or gets sold, that this association has to be strong and have as many members as possible.
They actually used to have counter service. It was back in the day when guys could sit at the counter and smoke cigarettes and get away with it.
Mr. Blanchette’s comment stands out when piecing together the commentary made last week by Jerry Kakaku - titled, “IFA: Economic Dilemma & Illusion”. Mr. Kakaku believes that there is a long standing relationship between the IFA, Dunkin’ Brands, Inc, and Big Tobacco. His view is that certain franchisors have participated in a grand scheme, as a result of the 1971 Chicken Delight litigation outcome, to bypass US anti-trust regulatory borders by transferring their trademark ownership to various overseas trading companies - primarily based in the UK.
Quite frankly, the truth is disturbing from a frank man’s point of view. Mr. Kakaku says Imperial Tobacco Co. was the 1st wholly owned subsidiary of J Lyons & Co. – a company trading as Dunkin Brands, Inc, today. He goes on to say that the connection between Big Tobacco and Americana fast food stems from the formation of British American Tobacco PLC (BAT) – a joint venture between American Tobacco Co. and Imperial Tobacco Co. To validate Mr. Kakaku’s findings a simple Google search was queried using the search phrase - "nigel travis tobacco".
The Truth Is: Jerry Kakaku is spot on with the connection between fast food and big tobacco:
Nigel Travis’ smoking role within DBI’s scheme of arrangements is supported by every 3rd and 2nd generation franchisee who still remember the Oak image U-shaped counters that our forefathers had built their sweat equity upon. Back then, our loyal and habitual customers would say, “The best part of waking up - is having Dunkin' in my cup - and, a cigarette in my grip.”
Today, the times have changed - most restaurants are smoke free. So, what the hell is Nigel doing accepting a BOD appointment with Lorillard? – going up-in-smoke or simply stoned? - just being frank again. Today, Franchisees - in most parts of the national footprint - own and operate “smoke-free” restaurants. The goals of the “smoke-free” franchisees and their “happy” smoking master servicer – Dunkin’ Brands, Inc - are not aligned. However, the Brand's executive management team seems to be aligned with their "group's" goals: Word on the Street: Imperial Tobacco is making a play on Lorillard. Based on the facts, DBI seems to be nothing more than a House of Cards - with Travis holding the Lorillard match - waiting to set this roof on fire.