Top Players in Franchise Development: Dan Doulen
Top Players in Franchise Development: Dan Doulen

Buffalo Wings & Rings’ Director of Franchise Development explains the brand’s plans to dominate the industry through multi-unit development.

Dan Doulen first broke into the franchising industry when he was 15 years old. He started out as an employee in his uncle’s grocery store, and continued to work his way up through the ranks of the competitive food segment at both grocery stores and restaurants. That experience ultimately enabled him to transition into a role on the corporate side of the industry.

After graduating college, Doulen ended up working for a company that sold food products to restaurants. That’s how he learned about a brand successfully making a name for itself in the franchising industry: Buffalo Wings & Rings. As he watched the brand grow and saw its leadership team at work, Doulen became excited about the opportunity to come on board.

Now, he serves as the brand’s director of franchise development, where he oversees lead generation efforts and the leasing processes that secure new locations. Doulen is also the main point of contact for all of Buffalo Wings & Rings’ national franchise consultants, and develops the brand’s growth strategy. 1851 Franchise recently spoke to Doulen to learn more about Buffalo Wings & Rings’ franchise development efforts as well as the brand’s impressive ability to cultivate an environment that successfully encourages multi-unit development.

What makes Buffalo Wings & Rings’ development process tick?

For any brand to experience growth, it’s essential to have a strong base with a network of happy and successful franchisees who are eager to expand their reach. Heightened levels of energy, commitment and passion are contagious, and ultimately attract more quality local business owners in new communities. As soon as we meet a potential candidate, we know that Buffalo Wings & Rings’ proven process will stand out. Through our discovery day in our hometown of Cincinnati, franchisees are able to see for themselves what we’re all about and how we plan to evolve.

What have been some of Buffalo Wings & Rings’ major milestones?

One of the most exciting opportunities we’ve had in the past year is our CEO Nader Masadeh appearing on CBS’ hit show “Undercover Boss.” The episode, which was the season premiere of the show’s seventh season, drew in 7.51 million viewers. That viewership has directly contributed to our successful expansion efforts—we received more than 100 franchise applications on the night of the episode’s premiere alone, and have continued to build on that impressive momentum since.

Another major milestone that Buffalo Wings & Rings has experienced is the continuous evolution of the brand into its current model. We have clearly differentiated ourselves from the competition by offering a club level sports restaurant experience that can’t be found anywhere else. Our VIP views, friendly atmosphere, chef-driven menu, fresh products and Buffalove Service Promise are completely unique in the industry. That’s held true outside of the U.S. too—we have nearly 20 locations in the Middle East and agreements for some European markets as well.

What are you most proud of in terms of Buffalo Wings & Rings’ development efforts?

I’m incredibly proud to say that once our franchisees open their first location, they often sign on to open another. 50-percent of the Buffalo Wings & Rings franchises that we open today are being run by current franchisees who are pursuing multi-unit development. That proves that our system is working, and that we have the corporate support and unit economics to back it up.

What specific steps do your most successful franchisees take in order to build and grow their respective businesses? And what do you do to set them up for success?

Our most successful franchisees are those who follow the system we have in place and remain protective of the brand’s high standards. They also make the most of marketing opportunities and are willing to fund initiatives that build brand awareness whenever possible. At the end of the day, the Buffalo Wings & Rings owners seeing increases in revenues are always building up their team and infrastructure in order to grow store sales and open up their next location. From a corporate standpoint, we continually work with our franchisees to provide them with the best industry practices.

What are your goals for Buffalo Wings & Rings in the next few years and how do you plan to grow the brand?

Our main growth goal is to continuing opening our doors in new communities both domestically and internationally. We want our current franchisees to take on the majority of our new locations, while at the same time welcoming new owners into our ever-growing system. We also want Buffalo Wings & Rings to maintain a growth rate of 20-percent, ensuring that our brand continues to expand not just rapidly, but in a smart way as well.