BOSS OF JOE: Dunkin’ Brands CEO Nigel Travis spoke to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce yesterday. Photo by Mark Garfinkel

Donna Goodison of the Boston Herald reports that if a company with 1,000 corporate-owned stores wants to cut the price of its $2 bottled water, it simply goes ahead and makes the change.

But a company of 1,000 franchised stores has to first persuade 1,000 entrepreneurs.

And when that company is a coffee and doughnut chain with 9,000-plus franchised restaurants in 31 countries, getting franchisees to buy into company decisions such as installing a uniform point-of-sale system is critical to success, according to Nigel Travis, chief executive officer of Dunkin Brands Inc. and president of Dunkin’ Donuts.

When company profitability is sometimes at odds with franchisee profitability, collaboration backed up with strong communication skills is required, Travis told executives at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce forum this morning in Boston.

Dunkin’ must ensure it fosters an environment in which franchisees have opportunities to share their thoughts and believe they are being taken seriously, he said.

“My favorite expression is that franchisors get the franchisees they deserve,” Travis said.

Travis has put the emphasis on developing stronger Dunkin’ franchisees since joining the Canton company in December 2008.

“We needed to shift the culture from ‘growth, growth’ to operational excellence,” he said. “(Franchisees) are on the front line every day, and they understand what our guests want.”

That required Dunkin’ to “beef up” its communication channels with franchisees, according to Travis, who noted that the company’s brand advisory council of elected franchisees accomplishes the goal of “two-way communication from the brand down.”

“We don’t have to have exactly the same assumptions and objectives, as long as we can bridge the gap,” he said.

Though the Dunkin’ Donuts Independent Franchise Owners group has criticized the company as recently as last year for being excessively litigious with franchisees, Travis said that’s changed.

“I believe in positive, constructive franchisee relationships,” he told the Herald following his speech. “I think we’ve achieved that. We’re getting more and more on the same page.”

Read more at:  Boston Herald