(A): How do you look at the competition? How has it benefited you?
(J): “Our competitors are really the ‘mom and pops’ which represent a large percentage of the pizza industry. I believe this is because people are loyal to the ‘owners’ that they know, who live down the street and are working hard to serve their community. Just like us, which is why we believe in franchising. We started as a mom and pop and are now a father/daughter, so we respect the businesses of our local owners. I don’t believe competitors are a threat. I believe they make us better by making sure that we are doing our best every day to deliver on Our Promise to our customers. Competition is healthy and we believe there is a share of stomach for pizza that is beyond each one of us. As long as we are all doing business with the right intentions, we all contribute to the greater well-being of our neighbors.”
(A): What do you think is the reason behind the success of Donatos?
(J): “I believe our people are the contributing factor to our success. They have continued to live out Our Mission and Our Promise even in the most uncertain times. The foundation of our growth continues to be traditional restaurants developed by new and existing franchise partners. We are also expanding across the US with several non-traditional offerings including our partnership with Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, sports venues, airports, other hosted facilities, and a new partnership involving REEF ghost kitchens. Our core product has not changed since the inception, but we have expanded our offerings to be more health-conscious with cauliflower crust and plant-based toppings.”
(A): What was the most challenging aspect of franchising Donatos? How did you handle it?
(J): “Originally, the hardest part of turning the business over was allowing someone else to use the name Donatos. We dealt with it by creating solid processes, which gave us confidence that the product would be consistent. To support new franchise partners, we provide them and their management teams an extensive training process in a current Donatos restaurant before ever opening their own location. Then, a Promise Team of current Donatos associates helps train the rest of the new staff before and during the first weeks of opening at a new location. The franchise partner also has a franchise business consultant and a field marketing manager assigned to them to help support them from the beginning and then ongoing through daily operations. We have a great financial model with systems and processes that allow our franchise partners to spend time building the business and ultimately giving back. We look for people who believe in Agape Capitalism – doing business based on love, servant leadership, and giving back to the community. We believe it is bigger than the pizza – it is the people, our neighbors, and our community. We believe in prosperity for the franchise partner, the associates, and the community in which we do business.”
(A): What qualities do you seek in a franchise partner?
(J): “We spend a lot of time in the selection process to make sure that we are selecting the right people to become franchise partners. It has been imperative that we select franchise partners who are aligned with our values. We refer to our franchise system as partners instead of franchisees because we believe in a partnership for prosperity. Qualified candidates have business acumen and previous business or management experience, a commitment to treating guests and associates with the highest ethical standards, a desire to be involved with the local community, a passion for the foodservice industry, and a desire to be involved in daily operations. Our expectation of our franchise partners is that they will run the play by using the playbook and tools we’ve developed with proven results to help drive their business. We expect them to be visible and heavily involved in the daily operations and that they will help instill the Donatos culture in the restaurant and with their associates. We also expect them to be involved in giving back to their community.”
(A): Finally, where does Donatos go from here?
(J): “Our growth is really our most exciting project. Our partnership with Red Robin just recently surpassed the number of traditional restaurants that we have as we have doubled our reach in just two years. This allows us to offer franchising opportunities across the country for the first time in our history. We are excited about the potential to bring our pizza to more and more people and communities coast to coast.”
For more information about franchising with Donatos, visit donatospizzafranchise.com.