The Intersection of Marketing and Operations in Franchising

Play Video

In our latest podcast interview, we had the pleasure of speaking with Dustin Tremellen, former Chief Marketing & Operations Officer of Pieology Pizzeria. Dustin’s insights reveal how marketing and operations in franchising is crucial to achieving robust portfolio growth in the franchise space. 

Highlights of this post: 

From Marketing to Operations: Dustin’s Seamless Transition 

Dustin began his career in marketing at Burger King (owned by Restaurant Brands International) after earning his MBA. During this initial phase of his career, Dustin coordinated local marketing efforts in the field and then led new product launches from the corporate support center at Burger King.

Dustin’s career journey took a turn when he realized that traditional marketing roles did not align with his broader ambitions. This propelled him into the worldof operations, a shift that broadened his perspective and enriched his professional growth.

Dustin’s operational journey, marked by his roles as a Director for Franchise Performance and later as Divisional Vice President at Tim Horton’s (another brand under the RBI umbrella), was transformative. His hands-on experience with franchisees deepened his understanding of the business’s heartbeat: operational efficiency.

Building off his extensive marketing experience at Burger King, Dustin ventured into a new chapter with Popeyes (another RBI brand). Dustin’s move to Popeyes came at a defining time for the brand with the launch of the chicken sandwich. This period marked a significant chapter in the fast-food industry, highlighting the intersection of clever marketing and operational efficiency. Dustin, armed with a unique set of abilities, played a crucial role during this viral growth period. 

All of this culminated in him joining the Pieology team as Chief Marketing and Operations Officer where he headed a campaign to revamp the brand.

Critical Synergies between Marketing & Operational Data

Dustin brings a unique perspective to the franchising world, merging insights from marketing with operational excellence. His journey reveals a crucial lesson: success in franchising hinges on the ability to align marketing with operations. 

Dustin’s experiences show how data-driven insights can align marketing strategies with operational capabilities, ensuring promotions are practical and do not strain resources. By adopting a unified approach to data, franchises can ensure marketing efforts are grounded, operations run smoothly, and customer satisfaction remains high.

One example that illustrates this point is Dustin’s experience in Baton Rouge, one of the territories that he oversaw at Popeyes. They were 

introducing the original chicken sandwich onto the “two for five” lineup, an effort Dustin anticipated would lead to major revenue boosts. However, despite meticulous planning and analytics predicting a sales increase between five to ten percent, the sales outcome was a sobering break-even. After doing a deep dive into the analytics, Dustin quickly realized that operations had fallen behind when it came to executing the sandwich. At the end of the day, even though the promotion was interesting to customers, the chicken sandwich failed to meet customer expectations, and repeat business suffered.

This experience underscores a fundamental truth in franchising: operations are not just background metrics; it is the linchpin of customer retention and satisfaction. Operations and operational metrics compel us to recognize that while marketing may open the door to new customers, operational excellence ensures they return and become advocates of the brand.


The Franchisee Perspective: Empowerment Through Data 

For franchisees, Dustin believes that their success is ultimately driven by their ability to understand and effectively apply data. He underscores the transformative power of data for franchisees by urging them to take ownership of their data narratives. Beyond traditional metrics of focus to the franchisor, Dustin advocates for franchisees to harness their unique resources and leverage auxiliary, local-level data. These data points could include local labor trends, weather patterns, and community events.

Understanding local market dynamics enables franchisees to anticipate fluctuations in customer demand, adjust marketing efforts, and optimize operations. Moreover, Dustin points out the importance of franchisees contributing to the broader data pool with their unique insights. By sharing their front-line experiences and data with franchisors, they foster a more integrated and responsive franchising model. This collaborative method not only boosts the performance of individual franchisees but also bolsters the entire system.

Building Customer Loyalty with Purpose and Precision

Dustin firmly believes that the significance of a robust data strategy becomes evident when dissecting customer loyalty programs. These programs, he notes, have evolved significantly over the years and reflect a deeper understanding of customer loyalty as well as the behaviors, preferences, and feedback that drive it. Giants like Starbucks exemplify how data from these programs can inform strategic decisions, leading to sustained growth and deeper customer relationships.

However, Dustin points out a critical oversight many franchisors make: not fully grasping the purpose of their loyalty program. The essence of any customer loyalty program lies in its ability to gather rich, actionable data. This goes beyond tracking transactional metrics to understanding the why behind customer choices. A well-structured data strategy is paramount, ensuring businesses can measure the success of loyalty initiatives effectively. It involves collecting data and analyzing it to tailor offerings that resonate with customer needs and anticipate future trends.

Therefore, the development of any business or operational initiative, including loyalty programs, should begin with a clear plan for data collection and analysis. Ultimately, the power of a data-driven approach lies in its capacity to uncover the depth of customer loyalty, turning every interaction into an opportunity for growth and innovation.

Navigating Success in Franchising with Dustin Tremellen

In summary, Dustin Tremellen’s insights shed light on the critical intersection between marketing and operations in franchising. As we have explored, data and technology are instrumental in bridging gaps, enhancing decision-making, and fostering fruitful collaborations between franchisors and franchisees. 

The journey ahead is ripe with technological advancements that promise to elevate the franchising model further. Franchisees empowered with data and cutting-edge tools are set to redefine success in this dynamic industry.

FDS provides robust analytics that have helped multi-location businesses achieve remarkable results: on average, 5 new openings per year, a 6% increase in profitability, and 15+ hours saved weekly.