Sweet success: Dunkin' Brands security focuses on making dough

Aligning corporate security with corporate priorities makes everyone's fortunes rise. A look behind the counter at Dunkin' Donuts' parent company.

Video at the point of sale helps with training as well as loss prevention

It was an industry conference that sparked something inside Jack Sullivan, director of Corporate Security and Loss Prevention for Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin' Brands. At a security conference in Boston several years ago, Sullivan says the speakers on the agenda were largely from Fortune 100 companies. He was expecting the usual presentations, mostly advocating guards and gates. Instead, what he saw was business leaders with security and investigations backgrounds talking about how they use their expertise to drive their businesses.

"For example, instead of a tired presentation about how to conduct a background investigation, they spoke about the economic benefit of hiring the best people because of their thorough background-check procedure," he recalled. "They demonstrated the ROI of having a vigorous background-investigations program and coached us on how we should position our argument to executives to justify an enhanced background-check program. Once I saw how these leaders approached their roles, I completely reimagined how I looked at what I could do for my organization."

Reimagining and rebuilding the security program at Dunkin' Brands, which owns Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins—chains of coffee shops and ice cream stores—and has 13,000 stores in 31 countries worldwide, was Sullivan's vision for the next several years. What was initially a three-person retail-loss-prevention and royalty-assurance department is now a 30-plus-person department that owns global corporate security, loss prevention, due diligence, business continuity, disaster recovery, travel security and a host of other duties. Sullivan's mission from the start has been to move from being perceived as the department that always says "no" to an enterprise risk-management model that is fully integrated in all facets of the business.

Also see The essential retail security reader for a roundup of retail industry security issues and tactics

"Security departments have long been thought of as a place where ideas go to die," notes Sullivan, who has a masters degree in government from Harvard University and who earned a criminal justice degree at Curry College. "I try to encourage my team to think of themselves as business people with security and investigations backgrounds rather than as security and investigative professionals that happen to be working in a business. We need to have business skills similar to those any other corporate employee is expected to have."

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