Two young Maverick’s Donuts franchisees share their recipe for success
By Karen Stevens
Starting work at 4 a.m. isn’t for everyone, but it doesn’t faze Camden Scott and Nichole Lemon, the two franchisees of a new Maverick’s Donuts location in Barrie, Ontario. These two 25-year-olds love their new jelly-filled lifestyle. “We wake up excited to go into the shop and work with our team and meet the members of the public—it’s been really great so far,” says Scott. “I’m really liking the change of pace. I went from working for someone else to working for myself.”
While their franchise location was in the works for more than a year—they signed their agreement at the beginning of 2022 but had to wait for permits and construction to wrap up—it opened for business in March 2023. It’s only been a few months, but they’ve got the routine down. Lemon and a few other staff members start in the wee hours of the morning between 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. to start preparing the yeast-based products (Boston creams and apple fritters). Then, Lemon runs the kitchen until about 2 p.m., when they shut it down for the day.
Scott comes in at around 9 a.m. to do customer service until the rush dies down around 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. They both work six days a week, putting in about 50-70 hours. While this is a lot of hours to pack into a week, they’re just in the startup phase and they expect to be a little more hands-off in the future. “Hopefully in the near future we’ll allow our employees to take more of the reins,” says Scott. “We have a lot of trust at this point with the team that we’ve built.”
The journey to franchise ownership
Before deciding to open a Maverick’s Donuts franchise, the couple considered starting their own business from scratch. Ultimately, they decided against it because of all the added risks and challenges that come with being independent business owners.
They opted to join the Maverick’s family because they were already familiar with the product and the franchise, and they wanted to take advantage of Lemon’s food service experience. “We’ve seen how successful Maverick’s was in Ottawa and Lemon was managing a [Maverick’s] store there, so we figured, ‘Hey, why not?’” recalls Scott.
Before coming on board as a Maverick’s franchisee, Scott worked as an imagery technician, where he honed his people, project management, and marketing skills. His job brought them to Ottawa, where Lemon got a job at the local Maverick’s location.
Scott says that while food industry experience helps, it isn’t a requirement for opening a Maverick’s franchise. “There’s obviously a huge benefit to having that previous experience in the food industry, but I definitely don’t think it is necessary,” he says. “Obviously it took me a little bit longer to get familiar with some of the things that Nichole already knew, but I’ve been able to completely understand it now and we’re only a month in.” He says that the franchise system is built so that someone with no proper food service experience can jump in and run a successful business.
Enjoying their sweet success
Both Lemon and Scott are happy with their new roles. “I do more of the public interactions, as well as more business operations,” Scott says. Lemon brought her experience from the other locations, including hiring employees, and managing stock levels. “Instead of working for somebody else, she’s doing the same job, just working for herself,” Scott explains. He says they have their individual strengths, and that makes them work very well together as a team.
As for what they love about owning the franchise, the couple mentions they love seeing customers enjoy the product, giving back to the community, and working with other local business owners. “We had a person come in who was pretty sick and she was able to tell us delivering her some doughnuts really made her day,” he recalls.
He adds that it’s really rewarding to see small successes, like when a new customer comes in because of word of mouth, especially since Barrie is a new market for the brand. “It’s these little things that really make those long hours quite easy to do, and it’s enjoyable as well. I don’t get up anymore and dread going to work. We’re happy with what we’re doing,” says Scott.
Overall, Lemon and Scott are happy they picked Maverick’s. “It’s a great system to be in. As young business owners, we feel like we’re actually getting ahead by being a part of this franchise system because we have a wealth of knowledge that we can pull from.” Maverick’s franchisees also benefit from initial and ongoing training and support from the franchisor, including a support officer to provide guidance during the franchise opening as well as access to a franchise business coach.
Every new business has its challenges. Scott says one of the day-to-day challenges is knowing how many doughnuts to put out and which kind, since demand differs from day to day. But overall, he says the challenge is just learning how to run the business. “We’re new business owners; we’re young so we’re learning everything as we go,” he says. “Luckily we have a really good team that’s very supportive of that.”
Another challenge, as with any food service or retail franchise, is finding and retaining quality employees. “There’s been a small turnaround rate, but it hasn’t been immense. And as we get further into our operation, we’re building a really solid team around us, that we can rely on to get the job done.”
Being a part of the Maverick’s family
The franchisor offers ongoing support in the form of monthly meetings to discuss everything from sales to product development. Scott is really impressed by the level of support head office offers—whenever he calls, he gets answers to his questions quickly and he is free to contribute ideas. “It’s a two-way system: everyone is benefiting from each other, and you bring different knowledge and skill sets, and it can make the brand as a whole better.”
Scott says joining the Maverick’s franchise family connected them with a supportive network. “We’re really just enjoying being a part of the team, as well as having that freedom to be our own bosses,” he explains. “As much as it is a franchise and you’re using somebody else’s trademarks, you become a part of Maverick’s as well. So, you want to see it do well just as much as the person in Ottawa wants to see their store do well.”
Lemon worked with Maverick’s’ founders in Ottawa, so she’s seen it grow from one store to a national franchise. “The franchise system is growing rapidly,” Scott says. “We want to build the business. We love the product; we love the company.” In fact, the couple plans to contribute to that growth in the next few years with two more locations; one in Midland and a second location in Barrie.
Scott has some advice for potential Maverick’s franchisees; he says they should be resilient and open-minded. This was especially important for the couple, he says, since they’re young and learning as they go. He also mentions that if you have a good staff in place, you should listen to their ideas and be ready to adapt and change when their ideas make sense.
He also points out that “not everything is going to go the way that you necessarily want it to.” In Lemon and Scott’s case, they experienced a lot of construction delays before they could get started. “Being able to adjust to those situations is honestly crucial.”