Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: Q&A with Multi-Brand Franchisee Dustin King
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Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: Q&A with Multi-Brand Franchisee Dustin King

Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: Q&A with Multi-Brand Franchisee Dustin King

As part of our ongoing coverage of Covid-19 and its effects on franchising, we’re asking franchisees what they’re doing to get through the crisis and come out the other side. If you’re a franchisee with a story to tell about what you’re doing to survive, help your employees, or inspire hope in other operators, please email us at

Dustin King is a 32-year-old third-generation operator steering his family’s snack empire through the Covid-19 crisis. He grew up in the business, which now includes Auntie Anne’s, Häagen-Dazs, Cinnabon, Planet Smoothie, Jamba, Nestle Toll House Cookies, and Carvel. All told, the company operates just shy of 60 locations and is still growing.

How has Covid-19 affected your business?

In the two to three weeks leading up to the governor’s shelter in place, we were down about 50% to 60%. It began at about a 20% decrease and continued to drop from there.

What are you doing right now to get through this?

We are applying for all the government assistance we can and working with our vendors to negotiate extended terms and other payment options.

Are your franchisors helping keep you afloat? How?

Our franchisors have worked to try to reduce monthly fees with partners like our POS provider, digital menu boards, and other vendors who have recurring monthly fees. We have seven different franchisors, and they all are working hard to do everything they can to help. We also have reduced royalties and/or marketing fees.

How are you working with your suppliers?

We have great relationships with our suppliers. We have contacted them and they’ve offered discounts and extended terms to try to help us keep as much of our cash reserve in place for reopenings.

What are you doing to help your employees through this?

We are doing weekly group employee filings for three of the four states we’re in. We are doing the legwork to ensure they can get the benefits they are eligible to receive. 

What are you doing for your customers?

We are taking catering orders, but most of our malls are closed, and we closed all our locations on March 21st. Sales were so low it was actually costing us more money to stay open.

What are you doing about cash flow?

We have applied for PPP and – like many – are still waiting to hear back. We have worked with our lenders to pay interest for a period of time, as well.

What else would you like to see from your franchisor or government?

I’d like to see the government work with the insurance companies and require them to cover Covid-19 under the business interruption policy. We pay a lot of money for insurance. There are many things covered under these policies and Covid-19 should not be an exception.

How are you planning to reopen and rebuild your business post–Covid-19?

We are working with our partner zignyl on a two-week back-to-open syllabus to ensure our staff gets extra training, is aware of the new processes and procedures for sanitation and cleaning, and to make sure we are doing our best to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. 


Published: May 1st, 2020

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