“I got a call from my husband, and he said, ‘Guess what?’” Gerry recalled. “And all I could think was ‘oh great, what’s wrong? Did something break down?’ But then he tells me we’re going to New Orleans for this conference and Baskin-Robbins wants to honor us for our marketing strategies. I didn’t even believe him. It wasn’t until I received an e-mail from the company that it became real. It was such a surprise to be selected – such an honor.”
Out of the hundreds of Baskin-Robbins shops in the United States, the Dakes’ was selected to share their community-minded marketing strategies at the convention, which was attended by hundreds of global Baskin-Robbins franchisers. Baskin-Robbins flew the Dakes out to the New Orleans convention, where they mingled with franchisers from Japan, Korea and India, sharing “war stories” and swapping ideas.
While many local businesses, even franchises, are struggling during the recession, Gerry said she and her husband are holding their own. Prior to the downturn of the economy, as new ice cream and yogurt shops opened around town, the Dakes were forced to develop creative marketing strategies – strategies that appear to be working.
“You need to go beyond your four walls,” Gerry said. “You need to give people a reason to come to your store. And to do that, you need to know your community and you need to know what they want. So that’s why we do special promotions and give out coupons. We know that’s what the people want. You need to come up with ideas to get people in your store. Why should they choose your store over the competition?”
As franchise owners, the Dakes set their own prices and have the liberty of offering their own special promotions. One of the most successful programs the couple recently created was daily specials. While the Brentwood and Antioch Baskin-Robbins stores have been known for their Tuesday $1 scoop nights, the Dakes began offering daily specials about two years ago. Each day, the Dakes offer a bargain on such items as banana splits, Blasts and soft serve sundaes.
But what truly sets the Dakes apart from other Baskin-Robbins franchises is their unwavering devotion to the community. For years, they have hosted fundraisers to help support local schools and nonprofit organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America, in what Gerry describes as a win-win partnership.
During fundraisers, the Dakes donate 20 percent of the event’s profits to the organization. No fliers or special code words are needed to participate, so everyone can help out, whether they’re purchasing an ice cream cone or an ice cream cake. Gerry said school fundraisers are particularly popular. When teachers get behind the counter to help with ice cream orders, students get a kick out of turning the tables and issuing the orders.
On Wednesday, April 28, all Baskin-Robbins stores across the county will be participating in a fundraiser for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), offering 2½-ounce scoops of ice cream and 3-ounce soft serve cones for just 31 cents. Baskin-Robbins pledges to donate $100,000 to the NFFF, and the Dakes are doing their part to help, hosting fundraisers at both locations from 5 to 10 p.m.
“In past years, we’ve had the Antioch fire chief get behind the counter and serve the customers,” Gerry said. “It’s just a blast. We all have so much fun, and it’s for a great cause.”
Local organizations interested in setting up a fundraiser can call Gerry, preferably three weeks to a month in advance to make sure there’s room in the schedule. “We do as much as we can with what we have,” Gerry said. “We always try to help out when we can. The more you give back, the more the community responds to what you’re doing, and we do our best to be a good neighbor.”
For more information about setting up a fundraiser, contact Gerry at the Brentwood Baskin-Robbins by calling 925-516-0231. The Dakes’ Baskin-Robbins stores are located at 1145 Second St. in Brentwood and 4538 Lone Tree Way in Antioch.