Baskin-Robbins: Serving Fun Franchises

Serving over 300 million customers each year worldwide, Baskin-Robbins doesn’t just sell ice cream; it sells fun. As the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty shops, Baskin-Robbins offers a unique franchise opportunity backed by world-class support.

Baskin-Robbins was founded in 1945 in Glendale, California by Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins, two ice cream enthusiasts who shared a passion to create an ice cream shop that would be a neighborhood gathering place for families. Pioneering the franchising model in its early days, today Baskin-Robbins is a globally franchised organization and one of the leading brands for hard scoop ice cream in the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry.

Known for its branded “31,” which is still a part of the modernized logo today, Baskin-Robbins became famous for its 31 flavors, one for each day of the month. Today, the brand’s slogan of “More Flavors. More Fun.®” encompasses how the company has grown to have a flavor library featuring more than 1,000 different flavors, with even more unique and fun flavors being introduced every year.

Baskin-Robbins is dedicated to making every ice cream experience an enjoyable one, where guests of all ages can indulge in their favorite flavors served any way they want. As the largest national ice cream chain offering both hard scoop and soft serve ice cream, as well as creative cones, tasty toppings, customized cakes, specialty desserts, a variety of beverages and take home treats, it’s no wonder Baskin-Robbins has become “America’s Favorite Neighborhood Ice Cream Shop.”

Baskin-Robbins has more than 7,100 operating units in nearly 50 countries; the U.S. is home to nearly 2,500 of its stores. Today, the company is in the midst of a strategic national expansion and is seeking exceptional franchisee candidates to grow the brand and share its irresistible treats to communities nationwide.

To become a Baskin-Robbins franchisee, the company requires liquid assets totaling at least $125,000 per restaurant and a minimum net worth of $250,000 per restaurant. Candidates must also have the ability and willingness to connect the global brand with their local community. Baskin-Robbins provides franchisees with the marketing tools needed to celebrate not just the brand, but also their own towns and cities.

“Our franchisees have a passion for the ice cream business and the ability to bring the brand into their local market through customized products,” said Steve Rafferty, Senior Director of Franchising for Baskin-Robbins. “Baskin-Robbins is all about selling ice cream and creating memorable occasions for our guests, so the nature of the business and our franchisees ought to be fun.”

The franchise process begins with the candidate working alongside the Franchise Sales Manager assigned to the area of interest. This manager will provide orientation, assist in due diligence, and explain the ins and outs of being a Baskin-Robbins franchisee. Next, the candidate will interact with other team members from various departments including operations, development, and construction. Each department is critical in the process of evaluating prospective franchisees.

Approved candidates then participate in a fully comprehensive, four-week training program set in Burbank, California. This in-person training program covers everything from company operations and recruiting team members, to marketing programs and training staff.

“When the new franchise owner returns to his or her location, they need to train their team based on what they have learned. The company has great tools in place so that new team members also benefit from great training,” Rafferty explains. Providing excellent support for new stores, corporate team members or neighboring franchisees attend grand openings to help support the launch of new shops. “We’re not shy about making a splash when we open. It reinforces the fun an ice cream shop should have. Our slogan, ‘More Flavors. More Fun.’ is the attitude and environment we want to create in each of our stores,” Rafferty continues. Along with online support, franchisees are also provided ongoing support from their area operations team and “The Navigator,” a telephone helpline dedicated to franchisees.

While Baskin-Robbins is planning to increase its presence in all areas of the United States, the company’s immediate focus is on the warmer states, in particular California, Texas and Florida. Offering both single and multi-unit store development commitments, as well as opportunities to purchase existing stores throughout the U.S., Baskin-Robbins allows franchisees to choose from a variety of real estate concepts including end caps, in-line sites, kiosks, gas and convenience stores, non-traditional retail environments and combo stores.

Together with its sister company Dunkin’ Donuts, combo stores feature both brands under one roof and experience guest traffic throughout the day with Dunkin’ Donuts’ wide range of all-day food and beverages, and Baskin-Robbins lineup of ice cream flavors and frozen treats. There are over 1,150 combo stores currently in operation,.

“Today the Baskin-Robbins and Dunkin’ Donuts brands are being managed more collaboratively. We’re not just putting two separate brands together, but developing and leveraging common ownership under the Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. system,” said Grant Benson, CFE, Vice President of Global Franchising and Business Development, Dunkin’ Brands. “We’re looking to deploy these combo restaurants in the right locations, with the right franchisees.”

Through combining strong unit economics and operational simplicity, Baskin-Robbins’ business model allows franchisees to enjoy convenient hours of operation, require minimal equipment, produce little waste, and benefit from a majority of inventory with a shelf life of up to one year with proper storage. Additionally, franchisees benefit from the company’s 95 percent brand awareness and multi-million dollar national advertising program that includes integrated online and social media programs and public relations support. With branding everywhere, even in markets without stores, the company continues to explore opportunities to increase brand awareness.

“With more than 65 years of experience in the business, an extensive flavor library, the heritage, legacy, marketing power and expertise that stands behind franchisees; all of this drives the business and are great reasons to sign up with a global brand versus opening an independent ice cream shop,” Rafferty says.

Recently launching a fresh new store design, Baskin-Robbins is putting its focus on ice cream front and center, combining fun, modern visual elements with the brand’s rich history of product innovation. Over the course of the next two and a half years, over 300 new and remodeled franchise locations are expected to debut the new U.S. store design, which feature new menu boards with LCD screens, bright and bold heritage walls, eye-catching “super graphic” artwork, pink spoon accents such as door handles, and an updated brand logo.

Keeping with original hometown philosophies and innovative thinking, executives at Baskin-Robbins continue to focus on franchisee profitability as a main driver of new products and platforms. The company reported total global franchisee-reported sales for year-end 2012 of $1.9 billion. Baskin-Robbins’ marketing programs are broken down into three focus areas: transaction drivers, ticket drivers, and promotions. With ample opportunity in the store layout, the company’s strategic placement and design helps push impulse purchases and engage customers in the Baskin-Robbins traditions.

Creating “a pink spoon sampling culture,” customers are always offered a sample, making the experience fun and memorable.  “Our ‘pink spoon culture’ is what keeps our guests coming back since they love to try new flavors. They look forward to a sample of the Flavor of the Month on a Baskin-Robbins pink spoon; it’s what makes us different from the rest,” Rafferty says.

Speaking to the customized cakes on display, these high margin products are not just fun for customers, but also make a great return for franchisees. “Our ice cream cakes business is an important factor in the shop layout and design. These ticket drivers help increase profitability for our franchisees,” Rafferty continues. “While cups and cones of ice cream are the core of our business, if we can visually remind our guests of an upcoming occasion to buy an ice cream cake as well, that’s even better.”

Selling more than 13 million ice cream cakes in its shops worldwide in 2012, Baskin-Robbins was named the top ice cream and frozen dessert franchise in the U.S. by Entrepreneur Magazine’s 33rd annual Franchise 500® ranking. The Baskin-Robbins concept is unique in that it’s very seldom to find a brand that is iconic, proven, has the legacy and history, and is still offering opportunity and room to grow. “Most well-known big brands are a good investment, but you can’t buy a franchise because they are done expanding, the growth potential doesn’t exist. On the other hand, newer brands with the room to grow don’t have the proven security of being around in years to come,” Benson explains. “With Baskin-Robbins, new candidates can get their piece of the brand in their local market and become an integral part of their local community.”

Dedicated to its franchisees, Baskin-Robbins has very few company-owned stores. “We don’t compete with franchisees for the real estate, employees, or markets. We pour our efforts, innovation and commitment into making things better for them,” Benson says. “Each and every day, we work on how we can make our franchisees more successful. The fact that we’re not competing with franchisee-owned stores shows our intentions are clear, and our focus is solely on our franchisees.”

Baskin-Robbins will be launching its 2014 incentives for franchise development in January. Focusing on new franchisees coming into the system, the company is seeking candidates with experience in the restaurant industry who have a passion for the Baskin-Robbins brand. Interested candidates can become informed of franchise opportunities on the Baskin-Robbins website, through participating in seminars, or online webinars.

Baskin-Robbins creates a fun business opportunity for franchisees to jump into for a reasonable investment and is backed by the great support of a world-class franchisor that’s been in the business for a long time. “The brand equity in the Baskin-Robbins name and support behind its operations, development, and marketing offer a lot of power in the brand, and franchisees have the opportunity to tap into it,” Rafferty says. “The fun of the brand supported by the many years of experience the franchisor brings to the table is a compelling reason to become a Baskin-Robbins franchisee.”

-Jessica Spoto

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