Imagine going somewhere and loving your experience so much that you decide to open your very own location. Have you ever felt that strongly about a company?
Andrew Jarusinsky did, and that’s what prompted him and his wife Kate to open a Duck Donuts franchise in Pittsburgh, PA.
“In 2010, we took the family to the Outer Banks for vacation. As we were discussing our upcoming vacation with friends, some mentioned that we had to try Duck Donuts. Soon after we arrived, another friend who lives in the Outer Banks asked if we had tried them yet. We did. And I was completely blown away,” said Andrew.
And he wasn’t just talking about the mouth-watery goodness of the circle-shaped pastries they devoured (though that was part of it).
“It was customized. I had a maple bacon donut which I had never even heard of before. The level of service that I received, the whole theme and concept really was appealing to me. My entire family fell in love with the product. And when we returned to the Outer Banks over the next five years, it was always our first and last stop,” explained Andrew.
Fast forward to 2015 when Jarusinsky saw a sign that said franchise opportunities were available. Knowing that Pittsburgh is a top destination city to the Outer Banks, he was confident that the brand awareness for Duck Donuts would be prominent in the ‘burgh. When he submitted the application, he learned that the company was headquartered outside of Harrisburg, and it further solidified the Pennsylvania connection. This was just the beginning of the makings of a perfect fit.
How can you make sure that your next business opportunity is a perfect fit? Here are a few ways.
Community & values.
In Andrew’s case, he bought into the Duck Donuts brand because he personally had a connection to it and fell in love with it as a consumer. If you can’t buy into the brand or products you’re selling, why even bother? Just buying a franchise because you’re sure it will make money, probably isn’t the best approach. While money is an obvious driving factor with most business opportunities, it’d be hard to sustain motivation for a company whose values don’t align with yours.
“I would stress to anybody who is looking at a franchise to do your best due diligence to determine whether it's a fit for you and what your goals are as an owner or as a business person to make sure that the culture is in line. Determine what you see in terms of the quality and the consistency of the employees that are part of the franchise company, making sure that their mission and your mission are in line,” said Andrew.
For example, Andrew is a huge believer in giving back to the community that you do business in. When he learned of the Duck Donuts Quack Gives Back program, it further solidified his choice in opening the franchise.
“They have a program called Quack Gives Back, which promotes partnering with community groups to raise awareness and funds for their causes. . Every store has some flexibility in how they do this, but essentially it’s a monthly program where we select a charity and donate a portion of our proceeds for the month to that charity,” Andrew explained.
In addition, Andrew’s store supports local sports teams by advertising or donating gift certificates and gift baskets for certain community charities.
Every franchise has certain corporate standards that franchisees must adhere to ensure brand consistency across the board. Makes sense. Andrew totally understood this but was pleased to learn that Duck Donuts also offered the opportunity for some flexibility locally.
“One of the things that I was looking for in researching a franchise was whether there was any flexibility and creativity for me as a business owner. Fortunately, in this case, I did want to have some guidelines, but I also wanted some local flexibility, and Duck Donuts provides that,” said Andrew.
Situated in the heart of Steeler nation, Andrew and his team are working on a plan to promote the black and gold in anticipation of the upcoming season. Consider if this type of flexibility is something that’s truly important to you and be sure you’re on the same page as the franchisor before trying anything.
For some, more enforced rules might be ideal so there’s no pressure for creativity and there are specific guidelines for how to do everything. If that’s the case, then it’d be wise to choose a franchise that doesn’t leave too much room for pushing the boundaries.
Setting you up for success.
Before taking the leap to franchise owner, Andrew spent many years in the HR and talent consulting industry. So it’s safe to say he knew a thing or two about hiring and managing employees. This is proving to be hugely beneficial in his journey of being a business owner thus far – especially when his location grew quickly from one employee to 40.
This experience, coupled with the fact that the training provided by the Duck Donuts brand is so comprehensive, are reasons this company is set up for success. After only being open a few months, his team is already learning ways to work smarter.
“Having that baseline training was so critical just to provide a starting point so then as time went on, we were able to fine tune that and to learn to work together and learn how to work together more effectively and efficiently,” said Andrew.
To maintain a consistent culture that exceeds expectations like that first experience Andrew had at Duck Donuts, he says it all begins with the hiring. He suggested that you look for employees that have all the qualifications and the soft skills that sometimes aren’t immediately identifiable.
“Also, having a good training program in place, training them well, providing support, providing coaching, are all those things that we try to do on a regular basis to make sure that we're living up to the brand standards as well as our own standards,” he said.
Check out your franchise’s training program to ensure it will set you and your employees up for success. Evaluate things like if there’s ongoing training and if the programs are remote or done in-house. The importance of this cannot be underestimated as it’s your employees who are going to help you be the most successful franchise owner you possibly can be.
Evaluate these key factors when making your decision to buy into a franchise, and you’ll be well on your way to being a successful business owner.
To learn more about Duck Donuts, click here.
Follow the Pittsburgh location on Facebook by clicking here.