California Donuts is one of countless donut shops across America that is finding success.
All across America, donut shops are flourishing.
“The only thing that slows us down is when people can’t get here because of the weather,” notes Bob Kenny, owner of Doughboy Donuts, which has two locations in Reno, Nevada.
Russ DiGilio, founder and owner of Duck Donuts Franchising Company LLC, recently announced the expansion of his donut franchise to the college town of Knoxville, Tennessee. The Knoxville location is the first of several franchises slated to open in the Volunteer State.
The Knoxville store opened in January, offering “warm, delicious & made to order” donuts,” inside a 1,200-square foot Duck Donuts store. There is indoor and outdoor seating with the franchise’s iconic beach theme, and a family-friendly atmosphere.
“We are thrilled to kick off our venture in Knoxville and bring the Duck Donuts experience to college students, residents, visitors, and donut lovers,” says Baker Bell, one of the franchise owners. “The Knoxville business community has welcomed us with open arms, and we are excited to support them with our Chamber membership and community investments.”
In Kansas, longtime downtown restaurant owner Nick Wysong is leading a group that will open Wake the Dead: Chicken, Whiskey, Donuts in downtown Lawrence, Kansas, a college town and home of the University of Kansas. Wysong is the co-founder and owner of the popular downtown restaurant Ingredient and also the former owner of Harolds Fried Chicken & Donuts. That was the short-lived restaurant that operated out of the Miller Mart gas station in Lawrence. Wysong told the Lawrence Journal-World that the concept of fried chicken served with a donut developed a bit of a cult following during the year that Harolds was open.
Wysong said his new restaurant will be a fully functioning donut shop, as well as offer a large selection of “top shelf whiskeys.” It also, obviously, will have evening hours. Wysong said he expects to try about 60 donut recipes, although he plans to start with about a dozen varieties available daily. “We’re going to do this right and do it well,” Wysong told the Journal-World. “But the donut element is going to be huge. We’re super stoked about that.”
In Oklahoma, Belle Kitchen recently landed on Travel Channel's list of the "Best Doughnut Shops in America." The Oklahoma City-based bakery, which recently expanded into the Deep Deuce area in Oklahoma City, has been creating their highly acclaimed fresh, square doughnuts by hand for just over a year.
"Fresh, beautiful and huge best describes our doughnuts," says Cheryl Davenport, the founder of Belle Kitchen. "We use only the very best ingredients. Our dough takes about 24 hours to produce and results in a light and fluffy doughnut that is perfectly complimented with fresh, seasonal, super flavorful glazes like roasted strawberry lime, vegan hibiscus, bacon maple, gluten free mixed berry and black cocoa powder old fashioned douuts."
Originally from Canada and then Seattle, Davenport saw a need in the marketplace and developed the idea for gourmet donuts in Oklahoma City. She took months to perfect the recipe and built two locations to serve her Oklahoma customers.
"Having worked for Microsoft and Hitachi taught me that innovation and creation are cornerstones of great ideas, but owning a small business marketing agency taught me about the importance of the customer. We want our customers to be to delighted with visit, finding new and beautiful treats as well as their favorites in the case," says Davenport.
California Donuts is adept at using social media to build interest.
Along with Instagram and Snapchat, California Donuts utilizes social media sites like Facebook to generate excitement about its brand and monitor customer demand and activity. One new Facebook feature that helps accomplish this mission is called Popular Hours, which shows when the bakery is busiest. For example, Popular Hours reveals that walk-in traffic at California Donuts in Los Angeles peaks between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. every Friday night.
According to Merchant Centric, Facebook’s Popular Hours works similar to Google’s Popular Times feature, showing when a merchant is busiest. While Facebook hasn’t released any official documentation about this feature, the site likely collects the information in a way that is similar to Google, by tapping into the mobile phone data of customers who allow Facebook to track their location.
Another thing that may increase the reliability of Facebook’s Popular Hours, is the potential for incorporating data that comes from user check-ins and comments on the site. Many of the people who don’t turn on mobile location services will still check-in or mention businesses in a post. Such users can be tracked over time to determine their habits regarding visits to specific businesses, according to Merchant Centric. The benefits include the ability to adjust staffing to your bakery’s peak demand or run special promotions when traffic is slow.
If you know you are going to be busy on specific days and times, then special offers are unnecessary during those times. The trick is to find your slowest times, and then offer special discounts to encourage people to come in when they normally would not. For example, bakeries could offer an afternoon cookie or donut promotion if they expected business to be slow on, say, a Tuesday or Wednesday.
Other donut shops have used new technology to their competitive advantage. Opening in Durham, North Carolina, in 2012, Rise Biscuits and Donuts had a simple plan to create delicious food at an affordable price.
“We started as a chef-run local store with no intention of franchising” says Sylvia Steere, director of technology at Rise Biscuits and Donuts. “In the beginning, we changed our menu every couple of days, and didn’t even take inventory.”
Once Rise was approached about franchising, the brand quickly began to grow, as Steere pointed out: “With so many new stores opening in such a short time frame, we really needed to find a way to use technology to ensure quality and consistency in all of our locations.”
Rise implemented Ctuit RADAR into both their corporate and franchise locations in order to get a better view into each store’s data trends. “It is helpful to be able to view and compare all of the stores’ data and data history weekly, monthly, quarterly at any given time from any location. Before RADAR, we didn’t have a way to compare metrics. We drove from store to store to keep in touch. With our growth taking us to so many new states that is just no longer possible,” Steere says.
Currently with 10 locations (with expansion plans in Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky), Rise serves biscuits and donuts from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. every day. The donut menu features an assortment of old school, new school, and specialty donuts with interesting and unusual flavors like pineapple basil with pistachios. They also make a hybrid called a “donnoli,” which is half donut and half cannoli that is filled. Their biscuit menu features everyday favorite fillings like country ham, bacon, sausage, fried chicken, and fried eggplant “bacon,” as well as a variety of cheeses, spreads, and eggs.