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Talent Scouts

Passports with multiple stamps a must for development pros


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Here’s an HR tip from a pro: When you’re hiring an international development director, ask to see his or her passport. “You need one all stamped up,” said Stephen Dunn, senior vice president of global development for Denny’s. 

If people haven’t been around the world enough to get a significant number of stamps on their passport, they may not have the sophistication needed for this complex position. Dunn spoke on a panel at the Franchise Finance & Growth Conference in April.

International development can be a strategy for someone who got into the chain-building game late. Jeff Sinelli, founder and CEO of sandwich chain Which Wich, recalled when he sat down with a successful multi-unit operator in Eastern Europe, to talk about the future of Which Wich. Sinelli said, “I looked at the timing and we were 20 years too late to develop a sandwich brand in the U.S.,” he said. “That tattooed something on my brain. I saw we could be the No. 1 sandwich brand in emerging countries.”

Since that time he’s gone on trade missions to India and South America looking for country developers. His first foreign franchise opened in Panama and he has deals in the works in Mexico and Qatar. “I’m still the new guy on the international front,” he said. 

While he’s been preparing his domestic team to work on international, it threw them for a loop. “You need a paradigm shift to go from domestic to international,” he contended. Which Wich, based in Dallas, has 230 stores open.

One market Sinelli is eager to dominate is India. “I like the challenge of India,” he said. “It’s the closest thing we have to Mars.” But “I can’t convince my wife to move there. If we had feet on the ground, I think we could crack the code” to the market. Dunn added this advice:

• Perfect your systems —from your supply chain to safety. Then think about the changes you’ll have to make to those systems before you can take them overseas. 

• Everything can’t be sourced from the United States. Governments sometimes require indigenous products used in the restaurant or business.

• Ensure partners are making economic decisions, not investing only because they like your brand. 

 

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