Anthony Braun, Heartland Restaurant Group’s COO, says his employees’ relationships with the company’s guests is what drives revenue growth.

Tim Schooley of the Pittsburgh Business Times writes, ask Anthony Braun why the Heartland Restaurant Group continues to grow and thrive, and he quickly turns it into a survey question to shoot past some of his staff.

Before Braun, the chief operating officer for Heartland, which operates a growing Dunkin’ Donuts franchise in the Pittsburgh region, wants to tabulate the sales growth in new restaurants, transactions per day or same store sales, he thinks first of his team. He knows how they interact with guests buying coffee and donuts can translate into loyal customers.

“It’s our relationship with our team and their relationship with our guests that results in driving our revenue growth,” said Braun, noting that customers can find coffee and donuts elsewhere. “It’s these individual, one-on-one interactions that really make a difference for us.”

Not that Braun doesn’t have the sales numbers always available. Currently, Heartland Restaurant Group is serving 315,000 guests each month, not bad considering the 350-employee company only started opening franchise locations for Dunkin’ Donuts here in 2008, just as the recession was taking hold. Between 2008 and 2010, company sales grew by 853.97 percent.

The company has 18 locations up and running and at least 10 more in the pipeline. At the same time, Braun said Heartland’s established restaurants are seeing double-digit sales increases from year to year. The company’s Oakland location near the University of Pittsburgh  .. campus has been a boon for Heartland, generating 11,000 guests per week against an average of 5,000.

Heartland’s success has been recognized by Dunkin’ Brands corporate in a way that could generate continued strong growth in the future. Earlier this year, the company named Heartland a Dunkin’ Donuts certified developer, a best-in-class status that comes with more autonomy and the ability to cut the approval times for new locations from 90 days to two weeks, along with corporate financing opportunities, if necessary.

Read More at: Pittsburgh Business Times