During his 25 years in the military, George J. Hart used to joke with his military colleagues that after he retired he was going to open a Dunkin ‘at every military base across the country.
“I grew up in New Jersey on Dunkin ‘. Everyone has their favorite flavor profile in coffee, and, for me, that’s it – every other cup of coffee makes it look like I’m waiting for dunkin ‘. They did a great job brewing coffee on the base, but it just wasn’t the same, ”says Hart.
After enlisting and becoming an officer, serving as a reconnaissance helicopter pilot, commanding a total of three different units, and finishing with a final cadet teaching assignment at the Air Force Academy, Hart retired from the army. It didn’t take long for his basic joke to turn into an actual business plan.
Now Hart has 11 stores on military bases in the United States that he has been building since 2016, with six more openings slated for 2020. The end goal? Units at the 44 largest military bases in the country. Each year, Hart and his team seek to ramp up the number of stores open, and Hart says the plan is to increase the number of new stores from eight to 10 by 2021.
“It works because we give grassroots managers the opportunity to bring in a big brand like Dunkin ‘and then the service members get excited about the high quality product. It’s unique to offer something outside of day three and four, ”Hart said.
He says it’s easy to find a plethora of options for lunch and dinner on the base, with a range of sandwich, burgers, pizza and chicken brands available. Breakfast is a poorly served product, making Dunkin ‘a lucrative franchise choice.
The flexibility of the brand is another key characteristic that fuels its grassroots success. Hart is working with the GMs at each base to convert any available space to Dunkin ‘. Its units range from drive-thru-only to 3,000 square foot Dunkin ‘and Baskin-Robbins combos. The menu can also be tailored to suit each location, and the individual bases have their own exclusive dozen made up of the 12 most popular donuts on that specific site. Employees ask customers about their favorite strains, then create a new dozen named after the base in question, allowing customers to drive by or rush in and quickly order the 12-pack from their base.
But, even with the easy assimilation of Hart’s Dunkin ‘units into the day-to-day operation of military bases, challenges specific to opening units on a military installation still arise.
Contracting with government can be a long and tiring process with many legal hitches. Prior to his franchise foray with Dunkin ‘and the Post-Army Service, Hart worked as a consultant to the government, teaching the niche skill of contracting with a governing body. Even though he touts this expertise, he says contracting is always demanding and warns others who are looking to franchise on grounds that it takes determination and research.