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How Dickey’s Develops Successful Multi-Unit Franchise Operators

Becoming a restaurant franchise owner and operator has its challenges. It takes a dedicated, passionate individual with attention to detail and an effective management style to succeed in the industry. But what extra skills does it take to make the jump from owning a single unit to multiple franchise locations? Single-unit success with the best franchise business does not always translate to multi-unit success. How does a franchisor know if they’re ready for the transition?


The Dickey’s Barbecue Pit brand boasts an impressive track record of multi-unit operators. Apart from the financial qualifications, multi-unit operators require vision, planning, and foresight to grow their portfolio. The legacy barbecue brand provides tools to its Owner/Operators such as assistance accessing financing options, group purchasing power, ready-made marketing materials, and ongoing training. But  both franchisor and franchisee must maintain the right work ethic and a diligent mentality to pursue an impressive multi-unit operation.


“As an 81-year-old brand, we have seen great success over the years, and we’re proud to continue to grow and be profitable for our Owner/Operators,” said Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. CEO Laura Rea Dickey. “We’re always thrilled when our single-unit franchisees want to make the jump to multi-unit operators, and we are sure to walk them through what is needed to successfully run multiple locations. We encourage all franchisees to consider transforming into multi-unit operators, but it isn’t for everyone.”


One of Dickey’s many successful multi-unit operators, Bobby Rusnak (Colorado), answered a few questions about what it takes to be a high performing Owner/Operator for the world’s largest barbecue franchise:


Can you provide a few things you believe contributed to your success as a multi-unit operator?

When I first started, I focused on being diligent in working with the community. I made sure to establish a relationship with the people I would be serving, so I could better meet their needs and form a connection with them. I also focused on being highly selective in the hiring process, to ensure we had a great team built around us. On the business side, I took advantage of Dickey’s marketing resources in all the traditional channels like radio, television, and direct mail.


What are the benefits of being a multi-unit operator compared to a single store?

In my experience, the best benefit of being a multi-unit operator is that you are building a larger, more profitable business. It is incredibly fulfilling to always be working toward increased growth and further developing your portfolio. You also get the benefit of sharing employees among stores, better establishing the brand and spreading out costs over multiple units.


What are the benefits of offering Dickey’s Restaurant Brands’ new virtual concepts in addition to Dickey’s Barbecue menu?

The virtual concepts that Dickey’s created, such as Wing Boss and Trailer Birds, are a huge bonus for Owner/Operators. Owners can benefit from these virtual brands because they boost revenue, without requiring much additional equipment or investment. With little increased overhead, owners can general additional revenue streams to boost their bottom lines.


In your opinion, what keeps Dickey’s successful, growing and profitable for its Owner/Operators after all these years?

I think that the size and scale of the brand plays a major factor in Dickey’s continued success. With such an established prevalent brand and over 80 years of history, you will already be recognized before even opening your new location! Plus, Dickey’s core values and business model encourages local operators to build relationships with their communities, which ultimately leads to a more successful franchise.


To hear more stories from other successful franchise Owner/Operators, visit To learn more about franchising with Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, visit