Founded in 1950, Dunkin' Donuts bills itself as "America's favorite everyday, all-day stop for coffee and baked goods." The Canton, Mass.-based brand is the No. 1 retailer of hot and iced regular coffee-by-the-cup in America, and the largest coffee and baked goods chain in the world with more than 7,900 restaurants in 30 countries.

"In today's economy, Dunkin' Donuts is fortunate in that the company does have a resistance and a resiliency based on the value that we offer to consumers and indirectly to franchisees," says Lynette McKee, a certified franchise executive and vice president of franchising for Dunkin' Brands Inc.

McKee says that in tough times, people look for stable, built-to-last concepts.

"Dunkin' Donuts' innovative menu and evolving concept, as well as our flexibility in terms of image and application, allow franchisees to continue to grow and prosper while other less-proven or dynamic brands are stepping back," McKee says, adding that she values franchisees that show concern for customers and build lasting relationships in a fast-paced business world.

Dunkin' Donuts--and by extension its franchisees--enjoys 98 percent brand awareness across the United States. It's the power of the brand that fuels the company's success, McKee says. "We enjoy strong market share because we build customer satisfaction and loyalty and keep Dunkin' Donuts relevant to the taste of its consumers."

McKee says the company, No. 36 in Entrepreneur's 2009 Franchise 500, provides practical solutions for franchisees, ranging from site selection and development processes to ongoing new product training. "Our training and support teams deliver the information and tools that help foster our franchisees' business."

According to McKee, an ideal franchisee has a net worth of $1.5 million and liquid assets of at least $750,000 (for a minimum five-store development). She adds that the franchisee or his management team should have restaurant and/or food service operations experience.

Those potential franchisees who meet the profile have a variety of Dunkin' Donuts franchise investment opportunities available. Individuals and corporate investors can purchase store development agreements for five or more units. They also have the opportunity to own and operate an entire market, which is comprised of a small to mid-range number of units outside a larger metropolitan area.

On a national scale, McKee says the company is searching for large-area developers to develop 20 or more locations including, among other places, Atlanta, Miami and St. Louis, and states like Alabama and Ohio.

McKee says the ultimate goal of Dunkin' Donuts is to provide the most high quality food and beverages when and where the customers want them.

"We look at the needs of the customer base--very busy people on the go, up early in the morning, needing an afternoon lift or a snack at the end of the day," McKee says. "We are fulfilling a growing demand in the marketplace: great coffee and delicious food and beverages that you can enjoy any time of day--fresh, fast and affordably."

Brian Anderson is a Denver-based freelance writer and editor.