By Amanda C. Kooser
On Tuesday nights throughout the summer, chrome bumpers gleam and motors purr in the parking lot of a Middletown, New Jersey, Dairy Queen. Brian McMullin and his wife, Michelle, own and operate two Middletown Dairy Queens that have hosted "cruise nights" for the past three years. More than just a way for people to show off their restored older cars and hot rods, Brian sees this as the perfect marketing vehicle for his family-oriented franchise.
"It definitely brings in families. A lot of parents come with little kids," says Brian. "It gives them a night out and it's good for business."
The couple gets just as much enjoyment from cruise nights as the customers do. "We like dealing with our customers on a day-to-day basis," says Brian, a former executive with Hershey and L'Oreal who sold his house to finance his first restaurant six years ago.
Cruise night is Brian and Michelle's own idea, not Dairy Queen's, but the company doesn't discourage it. "What they encourage us to do is represent kids and families," says Brian. "[They want you to do] whatever is going to be beneficial to the Dairy Queen name and to your store."
AMRESCO Business Lending Group, (800) 307-5363, http://www.amresco.com
Dairy Queen, 447 Hwy. 35, Redbank, NJ 07701
Drip, (212) 665-1110
Franchise Recruiters Ltd., (708) 757-5595
Midas Inc., (800) 621-0144, http://www.midasinc.com