Dairy Queen

From the pages of Restaurant Franchising
70 Years in the business and still going—and growing—strong

Dairy Queen franchise

One of Dairy Queen’s strengths lies in its presence throughout several generations. “Dairy Queen is a tradition,” says Jim Kerr, vice president, franchise development at Dairy Queen. “When I mentioned that I was going to work for Dairy Queen, people wouldn’t ask me about my new job. They would tell me about their favorite Dairy Queen memory, about their favorite treat.”

Those years of familiarity and the fact that Dairy Queen has been franchising for 70 years appeal to potential franchisees. “We are a Berkshire Hathaway company, and that ownership provides us with significant stability,” says Kerr.

Even with 5767 stores world-wide, 4539 of them in the U.S. (70 stores are corporate-owned), Kerr wants readers to know “We are actively recruiting new franchisees in the U.S. I’d encourage interested franchisees to get to know us a bit, do their research,” and get in touch.

In general, says Kerr, ideal franchisees have already been successful in business. If they’ve been successful in a retail or restaurant business, then that is a plus, but the company also pays attention to people with an ability to prepare a business plan and provide a management plan for the business.

DQ has two levels of financial qualifications. Liquidity requirements begin at $175,000 for the treat-only stores, which is the Dairy Queen Orange Julius, and at $400,000 for the food and treat concept, Dairy Queen Grill & Chill. They encourage multi-unit growth, which results in increased liquidity requirements from the $175,000 and $400,000 figures.

If there’s strong interest on both sides, “then we will have a face-to-face meeting with them and listen to their plans and expectations.” They are encouraged to continue their research while being assisted on real estate selection. Approval is reviewed by a cross functional Development Review Committee, says Kerr.

“Dairy Queen is selective on markets and trade areas we build in, which helps even before a franchisee builds. We have a sales and real estate field group that consults with the franchisees from the initial call all the way through store opening,” says Kerr.

The company offers franchisees access to design and construction advice, as well as access to prototypical store plans.

A development operations group provides a significant amount of help along the way, including being on site through the store opening and on site for a full week after opening, in fact. “That group remains engaged with the franchisee for six months after the store opening,” says Kerr, “and that group bridges the gap from store opening until the store is handed over to an ongoing operations business consultant.” After the six-month mark, stores then get regular support visits from the operations group.

Franchisees remain engaged with corporate through the franchisee advisory council, which holds ongoing meetings to keep communications open.

Community involvement is a long-standing tradition with DQ. From team sponsorships to school visits to providing treats for functions all the way to the company’s involvement with Children’s Miracle Network, there’s an active culture of giving back to the community.

During the more difficult recent economy, Dairy Queen has been able to “stay the course,” says Kerr, when it came to marketing and growth. “I believe our stable background has assisted us in getting financing for new projects. We have also provided new-build incentives to our franchisees to assist in establishing their new location. But, the incentives were being offered before the economy changed.”

Dairy Queen plans on building nearly 300 stores worldwide this year, but Kerr reiterates the fact that the company is actively recruiting U.S. franchisees, which paints a good outlook for interested investors.

For more information about franchising opportunities with Dairy Queen, visit www.dairyqueen.com/us-en/own-a-dq/