What We Can Learn About the Long Line at Dunkin’ Donuts

It’s 6:45 a.m., and I’m making an “OJ-like-dash” to catch my United Airlines flight from the Ft. Lauderdale airport. I guess some readers are too young to remember the OJ Simpson commercials in which he runs through the airport, and perhaps given his legal woes, this is probably not the best example. With this said, I think you get the picture of my sprinting to make my flight.

It seems like the flights are always on time when I’m behind schedule.

The long line at Dunkin’ Donuts

Despite my tardiness, I stopped to take a picture of the long line that formed for the Dunkin’ ‘Donuts shop (see actual pic). Why were travelers willing to wait so long for a donut? There were many other shops where breakfast could be fetched.

In fact, there was a self-service line for just Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, and only a few people selected this option. Therefore, the people were in line, not for coffee, but for the bakery delights or breakfast sandwiches offered in the full service shop. Wow!

What can we learn?

From my trips to Boston, I know that Dunkin’ Donuts is well-known. It largely has a monopoly in the Northeast USA. But, I’m not in the Northeast. Ft. Lauderdale is as far Southeast as you can get.

Were these people from Boston or Bangor who were looking for something that reminded them of home? What makes Dunkin’ Donuts this good? Why are 30+ people willing to wait in line to make their purchase? Don’t they have an imminent flight to catch?

From a business standpoint, here are some points:

  • Dunkin’ Donuts has established a reputation for tasty food, and people are willing to wait 15 or 20 minutes to get it. It’s obvious that the donut shop has developed its brand.
  • I visited the company’s website, and it makes you hungry just looking at it. Even though the breakfast sandwiches have a high calorie count, I could be convinced to take a few bites. I also like the mobile phone app, which makes it easy to pay while on the run, such as the airport. Heck, at least the paying process is quick after having to wait so long in line, right?

When I arrived at my gate, which was about 30 feet from the Dunkin’ Donut shop, the United ticket counter agent made an announcement that a flight attendant was running late, and no one could board until she arrived. I thought about going back to Dunkin’ Donuts and waiting it out with everyone else, but I decided against it after a softball team jumped in line.

The key takeaway here is to learn how to create the strong customer demand of Dunkin’ Donut. How can you get customers to value your products and services this much? I’m sure that marketing and reputation are important, but so is providing the customer with value. Dunkin’ Donuts has figured out the recipe to excellent customer service.

Think about it … the leadership team has determined how to make one donut look and taste better than donuts offered by competitors. That’s pretty cool!