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67: How the Former CEO of Dunkin’ Donuts Bridged the Gap Between Franchisor and Franchisee Interests, with Nigel Travis


This week, Brian talks with Nigel Travis, the executive chairman and former CEO of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins.  Prior to Dunkin Brands, Nigel served as President and COO at Blockbuster and President and CEO at Papa John’s. 

Nigel reflects on the unique, results-oriented discipline he’s developed over decades of leadership which provides a blueprint for any organization to achieve prosperity. His book, The Challenge Culture: Why the Most Successful Organizations Run on Pushback, showcases how a culture built on open dialogue and honesty will deliver collective positive outcomes for customers and team members. This same matter-of-fact culture is especially necessary for franchisor/franchisee relationships.  

Nigel says, “I truly believe that the people who believe that franchisors and franchisees will always be on the same page economically are living a falsehood… you need to clearly separate the two economic models, don’t just ignore the separation, find a way to bridge it.”  

In today’s hyper-competitive world, people crave honest feedback, regardless of the type of organization. In 2017, Nigel became the owner of Leyton Orient Football, a troubled professional soccer team that presents a unique opportunity to implement his “challenge culture” strategy. 

Tune in to this week’s value-packed episode to hear more about Nigel’s fascinating story and find out how honest communication and pushback can drive your business onward and upward! 

What we talk about:

  • Nigel’s back story and his career in franchising
  • How Nigel’s background in HR helped in franchising
  • Franchise economics and franchisee relationships
  • The purest franchise model
  • “People should be treated fairly, you should be very transparent with them if they’re not performing or they’re running bad stores or bad tax operations or bad cleaning services, whatever the franchise is, you’ve got to be straightforward and honest with them.” – Nigel Travis
  • The trajectory of the business from locations perspective
  • The similarities between fans and franchisees
  • Keeping the franchisees engaged especially within a big system
  • The importance of two-way communication
  • Ways where it has gotten harder for the franchise (The franchise, the franchisees, and the economy
  • “We pride that we go back to the basics of what is good for franchise economics, and what is good for the relationship and how could we work together to overcome some of the hurdles that franchisees have in operating their business.” – Nigel Travis
  • Recruiting good franchisees
  • Focusing on great training
  • Don’t franchise too early
  • Having a philosophy on how you are going to approach franchisees and system leaders
  • What [Dunkin’] a franchisor is looking for a franchisee
  • Those that will not fit as a franchisee
  • Valuing the lessons learned from past difficult experiences
  • Staying cautious and being prepared as much as possible
  • Giving regular feedback and support

What we mention:



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