When daniel del prete decided to purchase a Dunkin' Donuts franchise in 1972, his sole intention was to find a way to pay the rent and put some food on the table. He never suspected that almost 25 years later he would attain such success that he's come to symbolize franchising's latest trend: the multiunit franchisee.
What turned the tide for Del Prete, who now commands a virtual empire of 18 Dunkin' Donuts locations and three Blimpie restaurants? "I saw the potential growth and opportunity," says Del Prete, who has since witnessed many others forge similar paths. "Today, franchisors are definitely looking for multiunit franchisees. I think this is the way it's going to be from now on."
Many industry insiders agree. Brace yourself for a new breed of franchisee--more sophisticated, with bigger goals, privy to more resources, and partakers of all the benefits and the trappings that accompany corporate status.
"Over the past decade, we've seen the emergence of the sophisticated franchisee," says David J. Kaufmann, senior partner at Kaufmann, Feiner, Yamin, Gildin & Robbins LLC, a New York City law firm that counsels franchisors. "Whereas franchising has its roots in, and today still largely depends on, the mom and pop franchisees, today we're seeing skilled, educated businesspeople whose abilities extend beyond the operation of a single unit. It is a more sophisticated population in every respect: in education, in financial resources, in dealings with their franchisors, and in their political acumen."