Franchise Success Is All about Reaching the Franchisee’s Goals



I was excited to have the opportunity to interview Dave Haglund, founder and CEO of Kitchen Tune-Up. In some ways he is responsible for this study on Franchise Success. I had been thinking about this project for a while, but it wasn’t until the last IFA Convention when I heard Kitchen Tune-Up’s Sr. Vice President of Operations, Jeff Dorn’s comments about franchise relationships in his organization that I decided this was something I needed to do. He said: “We look forward to our annual National Reunions. There is no complaining that takes place there; we are all happy to see each other and get some training and social time. At our 20th Anniversary celebration in 2008, our franchisees even gifted our founder and his wife with an all-expense paid cruise to Norway.” To be honest I was more than intrigued, I was fascinated with the idea that someone had created what I believe franchising is all about: impeccable franchise relations. So, I was honored when Dave Haglund accepted my invitation to participate in this study.

For Dave franchise success is “all about helping to reach the franchisee’s goals whatever they are; and, they are all different.” Franchise success is “hearing the owners say they are living the life they didn’t think they could have, hearing them say they love going to work every day and some even that they will work in their businesses until they die.” Being able to provide this opportunity to people is franchise success for Dave.

Dave is a born leader; his compassion and approachability are evident the first time you speak with him. His dedication to the people around him is reciprocated in the most real way I have ever witnessed. “I don’t understand myself,” he says. “I started with a paper route when I was 8 years old and by the time I was 10 I was training other paperboys. Then I started working as a busboy when I was 16 and when I was 17 I was promoted to be the head busboy and managed people who were going to college.” He may not understand himself, but the more I learn about Dave, the more evident his natural management and leadership talents are to me.

Paradoxically only on the surface, Dave’s humility goes hand in hand with his profound personal pride for what he has built, and most importantly, for his team. He takes care of the owners – as he calls his franchisees; he is dedicated to his employees at their Home Office in ways that are unique in this day and age; and he has a strong commitment to vendor relations. What I observed is that it is not what Dave does that is so different; it is just the way he goes about it. No wonder he won award after award during his 20-year tenure as manager and district manager with Montgomery Wards. “I am not really motivated by money; instead it is being able to put people into business, to give them opportunities so they can enjoy life. I have worked hard; family life and the ability to enjoy it drive me,” Dave shared.

Kitchen Tune-Up’s greatest challenge is faced by most franchisors. Regardless of the success of the concept, training, support, demand for their services, etc., there are still franchisees that decide not to follow the system and don’t do what they need to do to be successful. These people don’t respond to the normal methods that work for the rest of the franchisees. “Some years ago we found that the only way to ‘save’ these owners was through coaching. We have a strong business coaching program headed by my daughter, Heidi Morrissey who is our VP of Sales & Marketing.  A lot of patience, innovative coaching techniques, new technology and strong marketing have helped us deal with this challenge,” Dave responds. “Our coaching programs include money management training that ensures our owners have an understanding of their financial situation and can avert trouble,” he adds.

In response to my question about what’s the secret to replicate franchise success, Dave has an important point to share: “It is not sufficient to have a good product; the key is to create successful vendor relationships. We have stayed with our vendors since the beginning so our owners and their clients can always expect and receive the same level of quality. Consistency is key; and, it is only achieved if your vendors can provide consistent quality.”

If Dave Haglund were to do it all over again, he would change only one thing and that is to require a greater financial strength of franchise owners before they join. “Owners who come into the system with more money tend to do better quicker. They can last through the time it takes to get established and can better survive any slowdowns in the economy. We try to help them see that they must have a line of credit available that is double their monthly sales. Those who can heed this advice do much better,” Dave explains.

It was no surprise to me to hear the tips that Dave has for those people who are considering franchising their businesses:

  • “Make sure to be flexible and compassionate with your franchisees. Hear their problems and help them when you can.”
  • “A dictatorial approach never works.”
  • “Franchising is all about the relationships, the hugs, the caring, the team, the family.”
  •  “Celebrate your team’s successes and be there for them in times of trouble.”
  •  “Always remember: it is all about the owners’ needs, not yours.”
  • “Take care of your employees, your franchise owners and your vendors, and you’ll do well.”

After thanking Dave for his time, I put the phone down and was reminded of a quote by Henry David Thoreau: “Only he is successful in his business who makes that pursuit which affords him the highest pleasure sustain him.” Dave Haglund’s highest pleasure comes from giving people the opportunity to have the life of their dreams and in doing so he lives his own dream. This is the epitome of franchise success.


  1. He sounds like someone who cares if you succeed or not. I would love to do business with someone like that. Thank you for the interesting article!