While the COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for the industry, it also brought new growth opportunities for franchisees. One such opportunity is Inspire Brands. The second-largest restaurant company in the United States by system sales, Inspire not only opened close to 200 new stores and signed more than 350 new store commitments in 2020 despite the pandemic, but also recently acquired Baskin Robbins and Dunkin’. The two brands join Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Jimmy John’s, SONIC Drive-In, and emerging concept Rusty Taco to create an impressive portfolio poised for long-term success.
“We’ve come into play with a highly differentiated and complementary set of brands that spans the full breadth of dayparts and occasions,” says Don Crocker, chief development officer for Inspire Brands. “While there are still ample growth opportunities for our legacy brands, with the addition of Baskin and Dunkin’, we can now offer even greater geographic reach.”
For example, Crocker says while Dunkin’ has a high concentration of stores in the Northeast, there are significant investment opportunities in the Southwest and Western U.S. for new and existing Inspire franchisees.
In addition to a variety of investment opportunities, Inspire franchisees benefit from the company’s size and scale. Operators at each of the five legacy brands were able to learn new strategies and best practices from the success of peers across the system, which bolstered each brand during the pandemic.
“Had any of our brands been stand-alone during the pandemic, it would have been more difficult to weather the storm,” says Joe Sieve, vice president of franchising at Inspire. “For example, the third-party delivery contracts we negotiated prior to the pandemic allowed emerging brands like Rusty Taco to get the same benefits as larger brands like Sonic and Arby’s.”
Inspire is also making deep investments in robust data and analytics infrastructure to boost the efficiency and personalization of guest experiences. Sieve says, “These capital investments might be difficult for stand-alone brands to justify; however, Inspire’s ability to leverage our scale across the portfolio enables franchisees of each brand to benefit from these industry-leading capabilities.”
The Inspire leadership team plans to continue its momentum in 2021 and seeks franchisees to further its growth. Sieve says that while each brand has differing ideal candidate profiles, multi-unit operators and those with the financial ability to invest across the Inspire portfolio make for strong contenders.
“Great franchisees come in all shapes and sizes,” Crocker says. “They don’t have to be big, but we want franchisees who want to be great operators and who want to grow. This has been an extraordinary time, and our diverse portfolio has helped us navigate the obstacles our industry has faced. As we continue to accelerate growth, we have an opportunity to help franchisees find success this year.”
Learn how to become an Inspire Brands franchisee at inspirebrands.com/franchising.