Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

The Franchise Player: An Interview with Don Larose

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

The Franchise Player: An Interview with Don Larose

Article excerpt

Executive Summary

Donald R. (Don) Larose was born and raised in Rochester, NY. After high school, Don studied economics at the State University of New York in Cortland, where he also played football. Don earned a master's degree in management from Baker University in 1994, and a Certified Franchise Executive designation from the International Franchise Association in 2003.

Over the course of his career, Don has served in leadership roles at companies ranging from large "blue chip" consumer products corporations to small start up restaurant franchise concepts. In 1985, Don joined Hallmark Cards, Inc. as a Sales Manager. By 1996, he was responsible for retail store development within Hallmark's New England region. From 1998 to 2006, Don worked for Dunkin' Brands. In 2002, he became directly responsible for building the Dunkin' Donuts brand in his role as director of franchising. One of Don's major accomplishments as director of franchising was creating nine area development agreements with franchisees that each involved between 25 and 100 stores.

In 2007, Don became president of Gumbo Development. In this position, Don worked with the founders of the J. Gumbo's restaurant concept to advance the concept from its original, nascent model into a polished restaurant brand that offered a fully developed franchising system. In 2009, Don became senior vice president of franchise development for Express Oil Change, LLC. In this position, Don is responsible for expanding the company's size and profits through creating franchised outlets. Don and his wife Colleen currently reside in Boston, MA, and they have three grown children (Jennifer, Brian and Robert). The interview with Don Larose is the first in a continuing series of interviews with successful franchisors and franchisees.

Authors: Was there anything in your background that made being around franchising appealing?

Larose: I've always been involved in team sports, and successful franchising is very much like a team sport in that everybody wins together or can lose together, and it takes everyone to do their part to help compete in the market. The franchisor needs to do its part by providing the concept, training, support, marketing ideas, and continued leadership around the brand initiatives. The franchisees need to be focused on delivering a great experience and value to the customer and making the brand promise a reality every day. When all players are pulling in the same direction, everybody wins.

Authors: The auto repair and maintenance business is a pretty competitive space. How is Express Oil Change being positioned relative to other firms, such as Super Lube, American LubeFast, and Jiffy Lube?

Larose: Every good business sector is competitive. The key to our success is to be more convenient and provide a better overall experience for the customer. Express Oil Change and Service Centers outperform the industry significantly in terms of customer transactions per day and store sales, for a host of reasons.

In terms of customer convenience, Express Oil Change is faster than most of our competitors - we do a 10-minute oil change while the customer stays in the car. Mothers with kids in car seats especially enjoy this feature. We also do mechanical work that other quick lube businesses don't do. We change and rotate tires, do brake repairs, air conditioning, tune ups, and others. There is no appointment necessary for many mechanical services like tire rotation and balancing, and checking brakes. So, overall, we are more convenient than most of our competitors.

In terms of staffing our stores, full-time workers are all that we employ. Full-time workers are better trained and typically have less turnover. They therefore have more experience and do better quality work.

We think incentives are very important. We use a payroll system that provides incentives to the store staff on how many cars are serviced each day and on the total sales of the store, rather than on increasing the average transactions by selling the customer items they did not come in for, which is what most of the industry does. …

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