October 28th & 29th, 2019

At 6.7 million square feet, Foxwoods Resort and Casino is larger than the Pentagon. Since it opened – first as a high-stakes bingo hall in 1986 and then as a full-fledged casino in 1992 – Foxwoods has raked in billions of dollars in revenue. This year, Foxwoods again plays host to the DDIFO National Conference, but it comes at a time of heightened competition in the gambling industry and a realization that customers demand a diverse array of entertainment options to go along with a whirl at the slots or blackjack table.

From the U.S. Chess Grand Prix to the World Series of Fighting to the final auditions for the 2019 New England Patriots Cheerleading squad, Foxwoods is offering entertainment options to appeal to customers from across the Northeast. The massive complex also features five different ballrooms – and additional meeting rooms – for groups of all sizes. This year’s DDIFO National Conference will be held inside the Grand Pequot Ballroom, kicking off at 11:00 a.m. on October 28 and wrapping up after the Hall of Fame luncheon on Tuesday October 29.

DDIFO is happy to announce Alfredo Ortiz, president & CEO of the Job Creators Network, will deliver the opening keynote address and Northern Bank will once again host the Welcome Reception at the High Rollers Lounge Monday beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Customer Service Surveys

This year, DDIFO is offering franchisees a behind the scenes look at the vitally important Guest Satisfaction Surveys (GSS) that are used to help evaluate your performance as an owner/operator. Service Management Group (SMG) is a new DDIFO business member and will be presenting an important primer on how franchisees can best take advantage of survey metrics to improve their operations, revenue and profits. The company’s approach is to “combine technology and services to collect, analyze, and share feedback and behavioral data—so it’s easier for you to deliver and activate customer insights across your enterprise,” according to the SMG website.

SMG provides customer experience surveys for the restaurant, retail, grocery, c-store, travel, entertainment and healthcare industries. Based on its industry research, SMG says 65 percent of customers will cut ties with a brand over one poor customer service experience.”

Turning a Complaint into a Win

If you are looking for ideas on how to handle customer complaints, DDIFO is offering a unique perspective at this year’s National Conference. Bill Greider, who has been a college football referee since the early 1990s, has fielded more complaints than most people ever will. When he’s not in uniform, he shares what he’s learned flagging penalties and resolving disputes for his company called P4 Executive Lean Strategy Coaching. Aside from dispute resolution, Greider talks about continuous improvement and respect for people.

As he writes in his blog, “In officiating, we win as a crew and we lose as a crew. (Same with our businesses). For football, our goal is to show up at a game, work the game, and go unnoticed for 3 1/2 hours. Complaints are considered learning opportunities, and will be discussed as a crew when we get the game film the next day. In your business, complaints are the best type of learning opportunity to help us get better and better.”

Cannabis Industry Opportunities

As more states legalize marijuana and more foodservice companies look at infusing cannabis or CBD into their food and drink options this year, experts are pegging the “canna-beverages” to become a $1.4 billion market by 2023, according to Zenith Global. Beverage brands like Dunkin’ and Starbucks are not planning any cannabis offerings in the near future, according to brand spokespeople, but opportunities abound for franchise owners who are interested in investing in the fast-growing legal weed business.

DDIFO will have a deep dive on cannabis industry opportunities – and pitfalls – at the upcoming National Conference. More than 30 states now allow the use of marijuana for legal or medicinal purposes and a proliferation of pot shops is now on the drawing board in cities, suburbs and rural communities. Retail operators are looking for investors and locations for their growing enterprises, but because pot is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government, business relationships can be complicated.

Vicente Sederberg LLP has emerged as a leader among law firms in the cannabis industry, earning a designation as “the country’s first powerhouse marijuana law firm,” according to Rolling Stone magazine. The firm operates in five cities, including Boston, where attorney Brandon Kurtzman is a senior associate. Kurtzman will share his firm’s knowledge of the industry, giving franchisees a big picture view of the rules governing different states and how legal marijuana is impacting your workforce.

Kurtzman will be joined by Jason Sidman and James Alex of the firm Sanctuary ATC, which holds cannabis licenses for medical and adult marijuana use in several states. Sidman, the firm’s CEO, will address the tremendous growth and financial opportunities within this new industry. Alex, a former partner at the real estate firm Atlantic Retail Properties, will share his expertise on getting into the business and navigating the hurdles involved with leasing your land to a cannabis company.

DNKN and its Competitors

Once again this past quarter, Dunkin’ over-delivered its expectations, posting quarterly earnings of $0.86 per share. Dunkin’ Brands’ revenue has risen from $1.25 billion in 2016 to $1.32 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach $1.38 billion this year. The company’s beverage-led strategy, continued new store openings and enthusiastic embrace of technology are all helping fuel the growth. Competition for coffee sales is hotter than ever. Even as Dunkin’ has strengthened its espresso offerings with new brewers, major coffee chains and convenience stores are also stepping up their game, offering customers more options at more price points. So, what lies ahead?

DDIFO will present a high-powered panel discussion, “Dunkin’, its Competitors and Wall Street,” examining how investors view the brand’s strong earnings and strategic direction under the leadership of CEO Dave Hoffmann and slipping guest traffic. Panelists include Stephen Anderson, senior vice president and equity research analyst at Maxim Group; Michael Kelter, managing director at First Manhattan Co.; and John Gordon, founder of Pacific Management Consulting Group and DDIFO’s restaurant analyst. Anderson studies 19 different restaurant chains, including Denny’s, Domino’s and Dunkin’, while Kelter’s fund is the sixth largest investor in DNKN stock.

Bridging the Generation Gap

Today’s generation gap, fueled by technology and a changing world order, presents a challenge for business owners of all sizes. What are the best methods to motivate and manage different generations in the workforce? How can those strategies help franchisees connect with customers of all ages?

For insight, DDIFO will turn to generational expert Meagan Johnson for guidance on how to deal with today’s employees and tomorrow’s customers. Johnson is the author of the best-selling book, “Generations Inc.” and a former employee of Quaker Oats, Kraft Foods and Xerox. A Gen Xer herself, Johnson will share her secrets for navigating generational challenges, debunking myths and avoiding misunderstandings in personal and professional settings. Her highly anticipated talk promises to inform and entertain.

Hall of Fame

Again this year, DDIFO is pleased to honor franchise owners who have made lasting impact on the Dunkin’ brand. The 2019 Hall of Fame Luncheon will be held at 12:00 p.m. on October 29 and will recognize Barkat Gillani, Peter Marcovich and Tony Salema. The luncheon is a wonderful opportunity to stop and reflect on how hard-working men and women have built Dunkin’ into one of the most powerhouse brands in the world. This year, the luncheon will also feature a different kind of hall of famer, former New England Patriots lineman Matt Light (Purdue University Athletic Hall of Fame and Patriots Hall of Fame), as a guest speaker. We all look forward to hearing his thoughts on what it means to be a champion recognized for greatness by his peers.