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From Dunkin’ Donuts to Simply Dunkin’, A Look at Business Process Reengineering

December 18, 2018

After successfully operating the Industrial Luncheon Service, which served factory workers during World War II from mobile carts, William Rosenberg opened the first Dunkin’ Donuts store 10 miles outside Boston in Quincy, MA, in 1950[1].  From the beginning, the organization’s image reflected that of its founder…a hustler and street fighter.  Of interest, Rosenberg had little use for formal education, dropping out of school in the 8th grade.

An early storefront was situated across the street from a Ford assembly plant in Somerville, MA, guaranteeing him hundreds of local factory workers.  It was Rosenberg’s plan to cater to construction workers, firemen, policemen, machinists, and others in trade occupations.  While the coffee was hot, cheap, and served in seconds, it was the arsenal of baked goods and Fred the Baker’s famous “Time to Make the Donuts” television spots that put Dunkin’ Donuts on the map.  Following the lead of Howard Johnson’s 28 flavors of ice cream and Einstein’s and other bagel houses, Rosenberg responded with “52 flavors of donuts” and bagels in glass cases.  With a focus on baked goods and the blue-collar workers of New England and the mid-Atlantic, Dunkin’ Donuts built a business model that fueled positive growth for decades.

But the looming specter of the Seattle-based Starbucks and Rosenberg’s retirement in 1988 heralded a new era for the doughnut house[2].  One cup at a time, Dunkin’ Donuts began to reengineer itself with the goal of shedding its blue-collar trappings.  “Time to make donuts” was pink-slipped in 1997.  And the 50-year-old “dunkin’ donut,” which came with a handle for dipping in coffee, had disappeared by 2003.  As this was the emblem of its working-class patronage, the process of transformation was evident.

By 2006, Dunkin’ Donuts had a serious choice to make.  It could become more like Starbucks, or, in true New England fashion, redefine coffee.  It chose the latter, and since then, has been one of the largest distributors in the country.  The process of reinventing itself was based upon a focus away from the doldrums of doughnuts and toward the exciting world of beverage innovation.  This culture shift was based on research that divided consumers into two distinct groups – those who choose where they will buy breakfast based on food, and those who will decide based on beverage selection.

As Dunkin’ Donuts expands its roots west, its coffee and other drinks now account for more than 60 percent of its sales.  While the chain still boasts some guilty pleasures such as the double chocolate cake doughnut, it is now reengineering itself to become an upstairs-downstairs coffee house that attracts white collar, health-conscious customers who prefer low-fat blueberry muffins and yogurt-based smoothies.  In 2016, the iconic “America Runs on Dunkin’” tagline was replaced with a more modern jingle that is meant to build on an emotional connection with customers.  “Keep On” is a celebration of the perseverance of both the customer and the brand.  The most recent reengineering step occurred in September of 2018 when Dunkin’ Donuts announced a name change. The word donut was to be dropped from the name. Going forth, the company will be referred to simply as Dunkin’. Dunkin’ Donuts is a wonderful example of an organization that seized the opportunity to reengineer, reinvent, and transform itself.

Business Process Reengineering

So, what is business process reengineering?  And why is it so important to you and your agency?

First introduced by field expert Michael Hammer in a 1990 article in Harvard Business Review, the term “business process reengineering” (BPR) involves the examination and redesign of business processes and workflow in an organization.  A business process is a set of related work activities that are performed by employees to achieve business goals.  In simplistic terms, a business process is the way you and your team perform your work, while BPR is the process of changing the way you do your work to better accomplish the goals of your business.

The intent of process reengineering is to make your agency more flexible, responsive, efficient, and effective for your customers, carriers, employees, and other stakeholders.  Business process reengineering[3] requires fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in critical, contemporary measures of performance that support client acquisition, retention, and cross-sell success.

Editor’s Note: No doubt business process reengineering is critical in order to adapt, survive and grow. In part 2 of our series, we look at several other case studies of businesses that reengineered and 5 essential steps for you to complete your own business process reengineering.

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.” Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.

[1] Contois, Emily. “The Dunkin’ Donuts Origin Story: A Meaningful Beginning.”  https://emilycontois.com/2013/01/14/the-dunkin-donuts-origin-story-a-meaningful-beginning/

[2] Curtis, Bryan. “Dunkin’ Donuts. A more perfect pastry.”  http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_middlebrow/2005/03/dunkin_donuts.html

[3] “Business Process Reengineering.  Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_process_reengineering

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