Kelly Rhea - Dunkin' Donuts National Operator of the Year.


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“I’m good at assembling a solid team with different strengths – and icing donuts!” said Kelly Rhea, who, after only five years of being a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owner (along with her brother Ryan Broyles), was awarded the Dunkin’ Donuts National Operator of the Year in 2015. 

“Kelly beat out huge franchises, and owners who’ve been doing this a long time,” said Santana Vasquez, the HR and payroll director.  “We have 148 employees in six stores, and the Dunkin’ Donuts corporate representative came and interviewed everyone, asking, ‘do they pay well, do they do what they say, are they honest?’”

Other criteria for the award included performance on the Guest Satisfaction Surveys – the bottom part of the receipts asking for a survey review in exchange for a free donut.  “We give away a lot of free donuts! But we love getting survey responses, the good, the bad and the ugly,” said Kelly.

From Interior Designer to Donut Franchise Owner

In 2010, Kelly was happily working as an interior designer, specializing in commercial and corporate workspaces.  As a co-owner in Roadrunner Markets with her brother Ryan Broyles, she knew Ryan wanted to bring in a new food chain that would be new to the area to complement the convenience stores. 

“I thought, at our final meeting with the Dunkin’ Donuts corporate people, that I was there to sign the papers as a formality.  However, we learned that an owner of the franchise had to attend Dunkin’ School, which was a big time commitment and involved travel all over the country.  Ryan looked at me and said, ‘Looks like you’re going to have a career change!’ and by the next week, I quit my job and was off to Dunkin’ School.”

Reasons for Success

“Our goal for our franchises is to make them good places where people want to come,” said Kelly, “I grew up selling candy bars in c-stores, so customer service was ingrained in me at an early age.”

Kelly monitors inventory, sales, Guest Satisfaction Surveys, and the long-term strategy.  She also interviews all potential employees, from management to drive-thru workers.  “Who we put behind the counter really matters.  It’s a reflection of who we are, and we want our guests treated like they are guests in our homes.  Ryan and I grew up here, and our customers are our friends and family.”

“One of the keys to success is to surround yourself with great people that make you look good!” said Kelly.  “Our managers are amazing, at what has to be one of the hardest jobs ever.  Having people I trust lets me focus on the areas I do well in, hiring and standards. Mike Eddy has been an invaluable part of the team since the beginning.  His experience with Small Business accounting functions has been a tremendous asset to my team.  He provides all my required reporting to Dunkin' on a monthly basis as well as a monthly accounting of our internal books.  Mike has been the perfect partner with us.  He is extremely knowledgeable and professional, and he has our best interest at heart, and that's what matters most to me!" 

“We enjoy being a part of the community and we like to give back through contributions to schools, churches and hospitals.  We’ve partnered with Good Samaritan Ministries and East Tennessee State University, and will hopefully be opening a store on campus.”

“Ryan and our dad go through a drive-thru or go into one of the stores every day.  We’re involved in the business and we want to give our customers a great guest experience and serve them a quality product every time,” said Kelly.

Photos by Peter Nelson Photography.