"Dunk’d is the true story of Irwin Barkan’s encounter with the dark side of franchising. He is a serial entrepreneur who buys five franchises from Dunkin’ Donuts – the consumer brand of his dreams – only to find out that the company spies on its franchisees, even their personal lives, and has sued hundreds of them in a scheme to seize their stores. When Dunkin’ Donuts targets him, he fights back, and sets out to find out what is really going on behind the pink and orange logo.
Dunk'd takes the reader through Barkan’s experience with the modern day realities of franchising, which features private investigators, loss prevention agents – who flash badges and shout “FBI” – while conducting raids on franchisees’ stores seeking “ammunition” for “confrontation meetings”, termination notices, coerced settlement agreements and payments, hundreds of federal lawsuits, lost investments, and confidentiality agreements that keep the proceedings secret.
According to Barkan, “While I was an experienced franchisee, nothing could prepare me for what I encountered at Dunkin’ Donuts. This is a story that franchisees understand all too well, but will horrify the rest of America.
Barkan describes how franchisees and franchisors interact and how the small business owners who operate franchises function within the confines of this distribution system that is controlled by global conglomerates and private equity firms. The book examines how the franchising business, built around legal principles from the 19th Century, enables franchisors to treat their franchisees with impunity. Dunkin’ Donuts was once a paragon of franchising. Its founder, Bill Rosenberg, espoused a system where the franchisees were considered partners and built the company into an indelible brand. But its new owners have leveraged the franchise agreement, the most one-sided legal agreement used in business today, and used it to terrorize its franchisees, the small business owners who provide the capital and hard work that make the system work.
Dunk’d is a cautionary tale that will entertain and inform readers as Barkan responds to a business environment that he has never encountered before: where a franchisor exploits its legal and economic dominance to batter its franchisees into submission. The underbelly of the franchise system and its deleterious effects on franchisees are exposed in Dunk’d; along with its built-in opportunities for larceny: by the franchisor, its corporate managers and the franchising lawyers assigned to keeping the rotten edifice intact.
It’s a story Barkan could not fully comprehend while it was occurring. But once he put the pieces together that his story was more representative of the franchising and small business experience than the public could ever begin to imagine and is the reason he has written this book. This is a story all too familiar with franchisees, but one that will horrify the rest of America."