DJ and Franny Buell set up Canal Fulton, Ohio’s branch of Peace Love & Little Donuts in 2013. As franchisees of the Pittsburgh chain, the pair insists that donuts aren’t just for breakfast — they’re the perfect snack for any occasion or time of day.
Operating a successful franchise hasn’t been easy. The Buells originally were a part of a partnership, but are now running their franchise on their own. And with the chain gaining popularity and adding locations in Ohio, the uniqueness of their product risks becoming commonplace.
So the couple turned to SCORE for help from everything to human resources to marketing.
DJ cites the “Confidence to continue on” as a major benefit of the Buell’s relationship with SCORE. “Letting go and dividing responsibilities so as to maximize strengths,” has reduced the daily stresses of running the business.
DJ and Franny are focusing on what made their location special in the first place: customer service. “Our business was really founded on making it a pleasant experience,” DJ says. “We had a great product and we have a pleasant cozy place to come for it. We have fun with what we do, so word of mouth sells it for us!”
The business has actively promoted its offerings for weddings and other special occasions as a complement to the fun in-store experience it provides.
“Dump on them,” DJ encourages business owners in light of his own experience working with SCORE mentors. “Anything that’s in your head, pour it out. They really are there to help you and can be tactfully direct in how to make changes. I respect the people we work with and appreciate their professionalism and support tremendously.”
When the Buell’s business partnership was coming to a close, they turned to SCORE for a advice on conflict resolution. “The SCORE team helped me see things more clearly,” DJ said.
The Buell’s knew that additional franchisees of their brand were setting up in nearby locations, so they worked with several SCORE mentors to make sure their location would stand out from the crowd. John Dilworth provided advice regarding human resources; Ed Cook advised the pair on their cash flow and finances; and Mike Johnson served as a marketing sounding board.
After their first few meetings, the couple meet with SCORE every six to eight weeks for an update on their progress and to address new questions.