Veteran franchisee celebrates community through his DQ restaurants
Dairy Queen was a part of Matt Frauenshuh’s life long before he was the brand’s largest franchisee. The now 34-year-old knew the brand well, as his family was responsible for developing the Dairy Queen headquarter office in Edina, MN and owned several of the first DQ Grill & Chill locations.
Matt took over seven locations from his father a decade ago and did not stop there. Through a series of acquisitions, as well as development with the brand, he now owns 180 restaurants in 10 states. Matt said that his love for DQ stems from the customers it attracts and the way that it is able to be part of its fans’ personal celebrations.
Frauenshuh’s company Fourteen Foods is heavily invested in giving back to local communities that it serves. Through organizations including Salvation Army, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals®, Leukemia Lymphoma Society, United Heroes League and youth sports programs, Matt’s team donated around $600,000 just last year. Fourteen Foods will continue to build its presence with 17 additional locations in Tennessee and Alabama in the upcoming year.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I attended St. Olaf College and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. I then attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and earned an MBA in Business Administration. During my time at St. Olaf I also played hockey and golf for the university.
My family worked with International Dairy Queen for many years and played a role in developing real estate for the company’s corporate office and former regional offices. When the DQ Grill & Chill concept was launching, the brand’s leadership asked my family to be one of the first owners of the new type of restaurant. Our family opened three DQ Grill & Chill locations in 2002 while I was in college and I worked as a manager for those restaurants.
In 2006, I took over seven locations from my father and grew the brand through Fourteen Foods. We acquired 33 restaurants in 2008 and 60 restaurants in 2011. Fourteen Foods now owns 180 restaurants in 10 states under my leadership. We have locations in Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida.
Why did you choose to become a franchisee with Dairy Queen?
Aside from my family’s connection to the brand, I was interested in growing the DQ Grill & Chill concept throughout the country because I really enjoy the brand compared to other QSR concepts.
One of the things I appreciate the most are our customers. Our fans come to celebrate with us, rather than just come in for a quick bite on the go like other QSR brands. We get to share in celebrations from a student making honor roll, to a group of kids coming after winning a big sports game, to families coming in for birthday celebrations. For this reason, I believe we attract a higher level of employee and are able to provide a better experience than a typical fast food place.
The other element that I really like about the brand is that we have a strong impact on the community. We’re really able to act as a hub or center of the community where people choose to meet on a daily basis.
Are you involved with any charitable organizations?
We are heavily invested in giving back to local communities through charitable efforts. Fourteen Foods has a marketing department of eight people whose primary role is to work with local partnership in communities where we have locations in order to set up programs and give back a portion of our profits. We work with organizations ranging from youth sports programs, to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals®, Leukemia Lymphoma Society and United Heroes League. Our overarching charity of choice is the Salvation Army. Between the various organizations that we support across the country, we gave back around $600,000 last year.
Do you provide any interesting services or work with any other local businesses, organizations, or prominent individuals in the community?
We work with local chambers of commerce and mayors' offices for most of our grand openings. Because we serve breakfast at many of our locations, we like to invite these local leaders as well as community members out for an egg toss. The winner receives free combo meals for a year. The event proves to be a really fun way to get locals involved with the new business.
Additionally, the first 100 customers that buy a breakfast combo on the opening day get free blizzards for a year. We offer half priced cakes and novelties for the first week and during the second week, the first 100 customers that buy cakes receive free lunch combos for a year. We like to provide these specials during the our first few weeks of operation to show appreciate for our fans and build local loyalty.
Visit the International Franchise Association’s @OurFranchise website for more stories of passionate local franchise owners, employees and their communities.