Sometimes You Just Have to Make the Donuts

Following a recent Florida speaking gig, I flew home next to a retiree, and with limited computer battery life took the opportunity to ask him about his former career and present retirement lifestyle.

My seat mate owned three Dunkin Donuts franchises in the Orlando area, but now he and his wife were headed to Alaska for a cruise and then a three-week drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. Sounds perfect.

The retirement conversation shifted quickly to business ownership and the associated challenges. He said about four years ago a foreign investor came into the area and bought up five new stores. This set his sales back by nearly 25 percent. And, while he could have complained, he just kept making the donuts.

Yep: making the donuts. Fresh donuts. Everyday. Apparently, many franchise owners don’t make donuts anymore. They either purchase them frozen from the warehouse and then bake them, or they just buy ready-made donuts and have them delivered.

His market was steeped in a commoditized mindset, and he chose another route. He was a working owner focused on quality and customer service. Even while there could have been much less work by simply letting someone else supply the donuts. Even within the confines of franchise requirements. He was able to differentiate his stores. And, within one year of focused effort, his stores had made up for the 25 percent loss and went even further with an additional 15 percent gain! It turns out that people prefer fresh donuts.

Oh, and he gave a donut hole to every dog that went thru the drive thru! Talk about an instant way to win the hearts of his customers. (Much like how my neighborhood Starbucks drive thru gives my dog, aBoo, a puppuccino–a cup of whipped cream–each morning. (Check out the video of her waiting for her early morning treat.) They aren’t just selling me coffee–they’re selling me a relationship.)

How are you going the tiny extra mile to create an unforgettable offering? Hit me up on Twitter, LinkedIn, or email and tell me. I would love to learn about your success.

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