DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT Franchise Complaints

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise opportunity:  Are you considering it?

You should be aware that data released by the Small Business Administration (SBA) indicates that Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise owners who qualified for SBA-backed franchise loans have a very high loan failure rate of 36%.

Dickeys logoThat qualifies Dickey’s Barbecue Pit for inclusion in UnhappyFranchisee.com’s list of WORST FRANCHISES IN AMERICA (by SBA loan defaults)

Are you familiar with the Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise opportunity? If so, please share your experience, opinions or insights with a comment below.

If you are a Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise representative or employee, please leave a comment or email us at UnhappyFranchisee[at]gmail.com.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise owners have a 36% SBA loan default rate.

The inability to repay an SBA-backed loan (or any franchise loan, for that matter) indicates a serious situation for the franchisee.

It’s likely that Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise owners who received SBA loans may have collateralized their franchise loan with their homes or other personal assets, and many were unable to repay those franchise loans… despite the serious incentive to do so.

It’s notable that the number of loan failures may have been obscured by the outward appearance of a growing, failure-free franchise chain.

According to its Entrepreneur franchise listing, between 2008 and 2011, the Dickey’s Barbecue Pit chain grew by 42%, adding a total of 114 franchises.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

U.S. franchises in 2011: 195
Growth in franchise units 2008 – 2011 (#) 114
Growth in franchise units 2008 – 2011 (%): 42%
SBA loans granted since 2001: 83
SBA loan failure rate: 36%
Sources: Entrepreneur (growth), Coleman report (SBA)

However, according to Dickey’s Barbecue Pit’s Franchise Disclosure Document 2011, 60 Dickey’s franchises (30% of the total franchises opened) were either terminated or ceased operation during that same period.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit terminated/closed 60 franchises (30%) between 2009-2011

The relatively high franchise termination rate of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit seems to be a franchise red flag.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Franchises 2008-2011
Franchises open January 2009: 89
Franchises added 2009-2011: 112
Franchises terminated/reaquired 2009-2011 60
Franchises terminated/reaquired (%) 30%
Sources: Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Franchise Disclosure Documents (FDDs)

According to the 2011 FDD, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit would appear to have a termination/closure percentage of 30%, which (we believe) could reasonably be called a failure rate. (The 36% figure is a default on SBA loans since 2001, so it may be that the actual failure rate earlier in the decade was even higher than in recent years.) Perhaps the company can clarify.





What do you think of the Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise?

Are you familiar with the Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise opportunity?

What do you think accounts for the high SBA loan failure rate of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise owners?

What steps should Dickey’s Barbecue Pit be taking to stop further franchise failures?

Has Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. taken serious action to address the problems that led to these loan failures?



Please share a comment (anonymous is fine) or Contact UnhappyFranchisee.com.


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81 thoughts on “DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT Franchise Complaints

  • January 21, 2013 at 1:16 am

    I used to love Dickeys in Cary NC, but now it is shabby and run down, the seats are ripped and torn the place is always a mess. To bad.

  • May 10, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    A Dickeys opened in Kerrville tx a week ago. I got the. Chicken plate and it was delicious even though th e servings were skimpy. I am. Used to the full sized Dickeys in Dallas..I returned toda y and doubled the meat and could hardly swallow the chicken it was so dry I don’t know if I will return. &11.00 was a lot of money for what I got. I was so disappointed.
    Thihank you, Betty Gambrell

  • November 28, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Bought a ham and turkey from Alpharetta GA store. Advertised as smoke turkey and smoked ham – what we got was a butterball precooked turkey in the package and a tyson ham. They charged 117.00 for the pair. Realized what we got when we got home. Went straight to Kroger to find the EXACT same thing (butter ball precooked smoked turkey – same package and ham) for 60.00 total.
    What a total scam. WE will be waiting at the store for the manager return their store bought crap and get our money back.
    Their web site talks about their history of smoking hams and turkeys. Bull.

  • January 22, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    I am a new Dickey’s Franchisee, I was very excited to be a part of the Organization.

    I grew up eating Dickey’s Barbecue in Texas. We moved to another state and wanted to bring good barbecue to the area. Most Franchises have good and bad locations. I was sold on Dickeys because of their “promises”

    Let me tell you my story.

    I first inquired about Dickeys and spoke with Jerrel Denton their salesman. He told me they opened over 100 stores a year. No problems. Could be done with as little as 45k and could be open in 3 to 4 months. When I inquired about the financing he said anyone with my credit score (740) which I found out later was actually 640 would have no problem. He said they work with people with worse credit history than mine and specifically stated if we had the money we said we had we would have no problem getting our store open.

    On several at least 5 conversations with Him he reiterated the fact that they gave us full support and had a team of people to help with our financing and that we would not need a business plan because they had a standard plan they used with their finance companies and they pushed through so many loans they had no problem getting us financing.

    Keep in mind he was made aware of my credit history, personal history and cash etc. He stated this over and over making me feel comfortable about getting financing. I even asked him about getting financing first. He said no Dickeys does not do that. Their system works better and they have a whole team to work on our financing. On two phone conversations with two other Dickeys representatives One was in the finance department and Mr Denton I again asked about the Financing and was again told by the finance department and Denton that it was not necessary, no business plan needed etc.

    We moved forward,signed franchise agreement and was pushed very hurriedly into signing a lease (another disaster in the making) Giving specific instructions on what to buy and when to buy it I have now invested over $60k and need another $155k to get the restaurant opened. I have no financing at this time.

    I was told by the Dickeys finance department (that consist of 2 people to the best of my knowledge) that I was turned down 2 times. They submitted my application to a single company outside of the organization. Then the company required a business plan. I spent over 20 hours preparing one since I have never completed one before. Their explanation was they do not require one but some companies do and they use a standard Dickeys business plan which consisted of an outline that could have been obtained off the internet.

    I have since submitted my business plan and application to three banks that are sba lenders and 3 banks that are not sba lenders and have been turned down by all. Main reasons are:

    1) Lack of funds in personal accounts – i have spent it on following Dickeys plan to the letter.

    2) Low credit score and credit history – Dickeys was given this info up front before we signed and they stated just the opposite, there would be no problem.

    3) Restaurant Startups are too risky and I do not have the expereince – Dickeys has on several occasions told me you do not need experience we train you and our lenders like to see you involved. A lot of BS.

    Long Story Short…..I feel I was misled by someone that was acting like a used car salesman. I should have known better but I felt that the Dickeys name and the people were different, not just a bunch of wealthy, greedy corporate types. I must have been wrong.

    I am over $60k out of pocket and they tell me “You will have to find your own financing” with no job, no money in the bank, they now have pushed me into a corner. My only option is to use my Home and I am reluctant. I am in a binding lease and have purchased a sign, smoker, etc.

    Any one have any suggestions?

    Know a good Lawyer?

  • January 24, 2014 at 12:16 am

    You might consider a partner or selling your location and equipment to someone else. Do you know what other franchisees are making? How did you base your business plan projections? Dickeys is expanding fast.

  • January 24, 2014 at 8:14 am


    Are you missing the point?

    Dickey’s should never have taken James Neighbors money. They sold him a franchise and knew he was not financially qualified.

    Shame on Dickey’s. Sounds like Dickey’s has untrained people doing franchising. who are their sales people?


  • January 25, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    No, I’m not missing the point. I would want to get out now then deal with the rest of it. Clocks ticking on the lease.

  • January 25, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    He’s got nothing to sell.

    Dickey’s should have known better.

  • January 25, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    If what Mr. Neighbors alleges is accurate… it seems to me this is a moment-of-truth for Dickey’s to show what they are really all about.

    First thing they could do is give him his $15K franchise fee back.

    Another thing would be to team him up with a financial partner or another franchisee… Many restaurant franchises operate with a financial partner and an operating partner (often a manager).

    Dickey’s could also take it over as a corporate restaurant and hire Mr. Neighbors as the manager… or make him a JV partner.

    If it’s a lost cause, Dickey’s could have their legal team negotiate to get him out of the lease and make him whole… at their expense.

    Or they could just blow it off and risk a bunch of bad press and/or a lawsuit that would damage their family-oriented brand image and impede their ability to sell franchises.

    Either way, UnhappyFranchisee.Com plans to follow this story through. Hopefully Dickey’s will emerge as the caring franchisor that didn’t let an older gentleman and his family go bankrupt because of their mistake.

  • January 30, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    Neighbors, I feel for ya. These tactics sounds spot on, although my partner and I dealt with another (sales) person, who is no longer with the company. Initially it did not feel like it was a hard sell, but that’s exactly what it was – like a “used car salesman”.

    They rush you along through the process with their own “preferred” architect, equipment supplier, commercial broker, etc and eventually you realize why they charge such a low initial fee which gets you committed. After that, they have all these kick backs or commission from their “preferred” companies, which they claim to have negotiated the best possible rates/deals with. None of which is true after doing our own research.

    With all that being said, my partner and I are in a much better position and still believe we will be successful, opening our store in 2014.

    I hope everything works out for you! Good luck.

  • April 8, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    New franchise. Where is your new franchise opening? I am currently a franchisee of 2 locations and couldn’t even begin to tell you the lies/misleads I have dealt with. Everything neighbors has said is pretty accurate to what myself and other franchisees that I speak to on a regular basis have gone through. Dickey’s could care less about their franchisees. They have many, many litigations going on right now. They are litigation happy. Dickey’s only concern is that the franchisee does not close the doors or they WILL SUE. I have told them that their standards do not work for many of us and the fact that I can get meats and produce from restaurant depot for cheaper than going through US foods, our current food supplier. I hope that you are correct and you are successful with your store. In fact, I would love to give you my stores :). But I have some stories that would make you cringe. Good luck and if you have questions, please feel free to contact me. Same goes for you Neighbors.

  • April 10, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Are you able to keep the running with some profit or are you deep in the hole? Low profit or no profit? Did you have any restaurant experience before opening?

  • May 13, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    i went to dickeys at 1509 wadsworth lakewood colo.I was so displease with the service and the people that work there.They were handling the food with no gloves and hair in their face.the girl kept fondling her hair. It was 6:00pm and they had no ribs but that was there tues.special.wow.I will never go in there again.The gentleman that waited on us has no customer service.He was very rude.

  • June 8, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    I purchased my first Dickeys franchise and opened in January of this year.

    Dickeys got my attention with the low start up cost model. There were many hidden expenses that I did not account for in the grand scheme because I simply went off of what the sales person told me (or didn’t tell me). I was also told I could get open for as little as 60k. Hmmm… Maybe if you went into an old joint and were lucky enough to have some equipment in there that works and you finances the rest of the equipment you may be able to squeeze by for 60k. However, we dropped about 170k into it when it was all said and done.

    However! I opened in an area where Dickeys was unheard of. Maybe 5-10 people knew of the one in the Dallas airport when they flew threw. With this being said I was able to make my own name for Dickeys in the area. I have plans to open more even though I could comfortably live off what I am making off this one store.

    I do agree that the way Dickeys goes about selling the franchises is not ethically correct and would recommend you not sign anything with less than 150k available to you but if you are looking to invest this much money why wouldn’t you be calling at least 20 stores asking to speak with the owner and asking them about the actual startup costs and experience. I have zero restaurant experience or business ownership experience and that’s the first thing I thought about.

    I guess I just don’t take people’s word for it. I talked to multiple Dickeys owners about startup before I signed anything and understood that if struck Gold in converting an old Quiznos, or something like it, I may be able to get in real cheap but if not it’s going to take some cash to tear down and put up some walls. Still no excuse for the lies.

    I hope everything works out and feel for the ones backed into a corner. I does seem to be a trend as one of my classmates in the Dallas training was going to be sunk if his SBA loan didn’t get approved. Old franchisee, where those stores you’re giving away? ;)

  • June 9, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    When you say you can live off what you make on the one opened what’s an estimate of net profit? Is it profitable mostly because you didn’t borrow the start up and you manage it yourself?

  • June 9, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    I have a GM and 3 assistants managers. I am there 50-60 hours a week but when I open the second store I will easily be able to dismiss myself from this store to focus on the new store. I took a full weeks vacation to Florida and had no issues at all. I could be there 10-20 hours a week and have no issues with the staff I have now. However, I am only in my 20’s and want to be involved as much as possible at this point. Also, to address the profit question. I leased all my equipment and took out loans and used some credit cards on 70% of the investment. I pay 5k in debt payments a month and profit anywhere from 10-13k a month (I am able to really put a dent in the debt). Keep in mind I’m only 6 months into this and for the first two months I was still that shiny new toy. I saw a “drop” in late February but I was still doing well over the company average. Now that the summer hit I’m calling employees in left and right just to keep up with the caterings and the flow of traffic in the restaurant. I do believe I have an A++ location, keep that in mind if you are thinking about working with Dickeys. They will pretty much let you put one wherever you want. Don’t sacrifice location for a little less rent.

  • June 10, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks!! I really appreciate it. I am thinking about it but I’ve waited so long that the areas I considered are taken. May partner to get a location going. Thanks for the info.

  • June 14, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    I ate at a Dickey’s this evening and the food was awful. When we
    gave our order I was surprise the server took a round block of
    meat out of a frige and seemed to run it thru a shredder. When

    I saw the food it was pale, sauceless, and didnt look good. Also I
    felt the cost seemed high. Iasked why there wasnt any sauce on
    it and was told they would put some on it or I could put some of
    same on it at the table. I.did put sauce on it and tasted it. It was
    ver bland and the sauce didnt help much. It tasted like plain sam
    wich like youd eat at home. I will not be going back.

  • July 10, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    I think James Neighbors tried to retract that post earlier but was unsuccessful. He followed up on the original post.

    Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise owner James Neighbors writes:
    Dear Sean,
    I want to update you on my issues with Dickey’s and the Franchise itself.
    I have had a few conversations with representatives from Dickey’s and they are working with me to resolve all of my issues that I have previously complained about.
    When I made the post I reacted out of anger, fear and lack of professionalism on my part. We have came to a mutual agreement and understanding and are working out the issues we have between us.
    Our restaurant is open and we are doing Great! Dickey’s has shown interest in us and has made genuine attempts to help us through our troubled times and make up for any misunderstanding or communication issues.
    I would like to remove my post or have this letter added to the post and show that it is resolved.
    Our restaurant is serving “The Best” barbecue in Johnson City, TN and our numbers prove it. Our customers are happy and we are on our way to becoming very successful.
    Dickey’s has shown support for us and is encouraging us in every way with training, advice and recommendations to help us reach our full potential.
    I appreciate their response and hope we have a long lasting and successful relationship.

    James L. Neighbors
    April 18, 2014

  • July 10, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Hi I was wondering if i can speak to any one of the current or former franchisee in this post? I was thinking of opening one up but would like to know you thoughts regarding the franchise. I just received the franchise disclosure from Dickeys and have some questions. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. You can email me. [redacted]

  • July 10, 2014 at 6:30 pm


    Mr. Neighbors wasn’t unsuccessful posting that statement. In fact, we upgraded it to a full post. here:

    DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT Makes an Unhappy Franchisee Happy

    However, it appears his euphoria was short-lived.

    On 6/28/14 he posted on our listing of Forbes Worst franchises:

    “Dickey’s Barbecue Pit should be up there in the top ten as well.

    “They promise so much and deliver so little. They misguide unknowing people with no experience and lead them into bankruptcy. They claim to help with lease negotiation, financing, equipment, construction, management training and what they actually offer is bad advice from inexperienced and uncaring hourly workers.

    “They have such a high turnover of employees that none have the foundation to do the work correctly. They take money from mom and pop and lead them around until they are out of money and leave them high and dry. Then you are in a situation that is uncontrollable and they blame you for being a bad manager even though they promise management training that does not exist.

    “Call me anytime and I will tell you my story.” James Neighbors

    AMERICA’S WORST FRANCHISES… According to Forbes

  • July 11, 2014 at 8:02 am


    Who is the franchise salesman you are dealing with at Dickey’s? Is it Jerrel Denton?

    There are a couple of lawsuits recently filed that claim he made a lot of earnings representations and promises to prospective franchisees that were false or misleading.

    Has anyone else had dealings with Dickey’s sales staff?

  • July 17, 2014 at 9:10 am

    I am currently dealing with Steve Osler. Has anyone dealt with him before. Thanks

  • August 1, 2014 at 9:15 am

    So after having heard the news of Mr. Neighbors situation on Facebook, and his franchise being located where I live, I decided to check this site out. I visited tho location on 2 separate occasions and was disappointed both time. I feel it was no fault of the people who worked there, but the people they were trained by. I am sorry that the location has closed. Unfortunately I sort of saw this coming. I have spent nearly 20 years of my life in the restaurant business. In my experience when you start on a shaky foundation you will fail.
    In our area we have the largest amount of restuarant per capita in the state of Tennessee. You have to establish yourself as a solid place to go. If you dont you wont survive. I feel as though anyone who thinks about doing a franchise of any business needs to consider the market they are entering.
    Im sorry to hear of this closing and I hope that Mr. Neighbors does get some retribution from,what sounds to be, a terrible situation.

  • September 15, 2014 at 6:54 am

    I am a Dickey’s franchise owner and very disappointed. I don’t know who to turn to as I cannot trust anyone at Dickey’s. Everything that I have read here and on Unhappy Franchise web site echo what I have been through. Dickey’s has a slogan that says “we are passionate about the art of great barbecue”. That may have been true at one time but what is true now is that “they are passionate about the art of making money”. Nothing wrong with that per se but its the way you do it.

    I too worked with Jerrel Denton and I have heard everything that others have mentioned here. Overstated earning potential, understated opening cost, understated equipment costs and the list goes on and on. It is even unclear to me now how they can even provide and estimate of opening cost as they have no data to base the estimate on. They don’t know how much it actually cost me or any other franchisee to open. That simply means that the estimates given in the FDD are meaningless.

    That was all before I signed the FA. If that was the last time I ran into unprincipled folks I guess I could overlook it. Salesmen lie and I know it. However, that was not the end of it. When it came to site selection Dickey’s real estate team was a complete disaster. I located 3 acceptable (to me) properties in my area. My expectation was that, based on the FA, the real estate team would make at least one trip (they are obligated to do at least three) to my area to evaluate the properties. I asked three times and was rebuffed each time with the excuse that they had such vast experience (they do this sort of thing 100’s of times a year) and could use Google Maps to see everything they needed to see that trips were not necessary. We did narrow the properties to two. The real estate team became enamored with one of the properties (probably because the owner was a local individual and easier to deal with than a large real estate holding company) and they began to exert considerable pressure on me to sign the lease. There were and remain issues with access to the property that my real estate agent provided advice on. Behind my back, the real estate team exerted GREAT pressure on my agent to get me to sign the lease and to quit asking questions. The real estate team also refused to pursue leases on any other properties. I did sign the lease with reluctance but trusting the “experience” of the real estate team. The cost of renovation exceeded the FDD estimates by at least 50% and were FAR above what was suggested by Mr. Denton. In fact, the cost of renovation was not considered by the real estate team in the evaluation of one property over another. But then how could they, they didn’t come see the properties. The one I leased cost me over $220K, took 6 months to complete and has significant access issues. The one I could have leased would have cost $60K, would have taken 6 weeks to complete (GC’s estimate after completing 25% of the work on my current location), has GREAT visibility and no access limitations or access restrictions.

    Thankfully I have not committed anything other than my name to financing. I believed that they had a financing department that would help if I needed it. They didn’t but they later hired someone to be the finance director. I am not sure what he does but helping is not one them. ran out of money half way through the project and when I informed Dickey’s that I was out of funds they promptly responded with a notice of default and threatened to sue me for over $600K, They did NOT respond with ideas and suggestions on how to deal with the issues that were induced by their failure to perform to the FA. If I have to cease operations at least my house is not tied up in this deal.

    The list of complaints goes on and on. My construction project manager couldn’t read blue prints. Basically, Dickey’s has a lot of well meaning but low skilled people to “help” you out. They all seem to be measured by a quota system which defines their behavior.

    I am seeking legal advice in this matter. I periodically receive a notice from Dickey’s legal team advising me that I non-compliant in some matter (didn’t buy the right bacon bits or sandwich bags – yes it gets that trivial). Dickey’s did fail to honor the FA regrading site selection and I am now suffering the ill effects.

    Is Dickey’s a good franchise? I don’t know the answer to that. Can you do your own just as well? Probably. Good barbecue is not all that difficult. The company that sells the smoker to Dickey’s franchisees offers cooking classes. Do they negotiate the best deal on food and other supplies? Maybe but you can do as well on your own.

    If you decide to go with Dickey’s do understand that they are in it to make money NOT to help you out. Challenge EVERYTHING they tell you at every step. Their numbers are WRONG as they are not based on real data.

  • September 15, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I’m not an expert – so this might sound crazy but if that other location is not too close to your other store, maybe with a partner it could be a second and offset your first. You know what’s good and what’s really bad about the system.

  • September 16, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    The Gunny is quite correct about Dickey’s.

    I used to be an employee and there is indeed a (very harshly enforced) quota system. Salesmen have to sell a certain amount of franchises each month. I’d tell you the number but it goes up every time they meet their goal. Development, real estate, etc. departments all have their goals, too. Real estate has to get a certain number of leases signed every month, and if they don’t, they get written up and eventually fired. So they don’t really care what your location is like — they want you to sign the lease regardless. If it turns out to be a bad location, and you can’t make money there, well, there’s always another sucker that can be tricked into buying your franchise by telling them it’s a great location, but you were terrible at marketing and didn’t follow their system and sales are already going up now that you’re leaving!
    All franchisees have a corporate contact that is supposedly there to help you run your business. Instead, they will convey corporate’s demands to you and pass along threats when you don’t comply. Don’t worry, though! If you don’t like him, he’ll be gone in 6 months or so after being burned out by being under just as much pressure as you are.
    I have plenty of enemies. I don’t know anyone I’d wish a Dickey’s franchise on, though.

  • September 16, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Franchise sales people selling to keep their jobs. Well that means they will do or say anything to get the franchise fee.

    Dickey’s doesn’t have an Item 19 earnings claim in their franchise sales document. So I ask you how can these Dickey’s sales guys sell without telling people how much they can expect to make? What food costs, labor costs and cost per square foot for the lease are?

  • September 17, 2014 at 9:20 am


    There are several references to lawsuits on this site that claim that the salespeople do make some sort of claims about earnings. I don’t know anything about that, personally. They definitely do minimize the startup and building costs. I heard many franchisees complaining that they were spending much more than they were told they would.

  • September 28, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Hello, I am a franchise owner who came to own a Dickeys very differently than most, When Corporate takes over a store, they need to sell it to someone, and I bought a Failed Dickeys. This store was run by a terrible franchise owner who did everything wrong and drove the store into the ground. I had worked at another Dickeys as a minimum wage employee and I got excited about the food and this new franchise opportunity. I took over a failing Dickeys and made it into a prosperous one within a year. People love my location and ive got great employees and Ive got great food and my sales are growing. I wasn’t lied to and I did my homework. Not everything in their franchise model works and to be honest I met a lot of smug ass holes over at their corporate office, its not perfect but its not a complete disaster either. Maybe I just haven’t been screwed yet, but ive been happy with my decision so far.

  • September 28, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Congratulations on your success.

    It’s very different buying a failed location and fixing it than it is to open one from scratch.

  • September 28, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Got to love it when anonymous people get on here and boast about a franchise opportunity. I don’t know if Dickey’s is a good franchise or not but posts from anonymous should not garnish any weight on any forum. If you are a Dickey’s franchise owner and you are as successful as you claim why wouldn’t you leave your real name?

  • October 5, 2014 at 7:55 am

    New store opened in Hillsboro Tx. I love their food and have been there often UNTIL they gave me a card for frequent customers. Then when I to the one with free drink. They would not honor it. The girl said she did not see it. Then refused to talk any further about it to me. I will not be back. I think this was an employee problem and not owner however if she was the best applicant for job they are in real trouble.

  • October 5, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    When I was looking into buying a Dickeys Franchise I was taking my time . I received a call from Bruce telling me that other people were looking into buying in the small town that I was exploring and that I had better make up my mind because once that city was signed it was gone.That gave me the impression that because of the size of that city a second store would not be allowed. Boy was I wrong!! On the day that I opened a nice young couple approached me and told me that they were really excited because they had just signed a contract to open a store five miles from my location. They opened three month later. It would have been better if that had at lease given me a year to build the business without competion from our own brand.

    I like everyone else was given the impression that I could just open a store for under a hundred thousand dollars. Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars later with all of my life savings invested in this business and little time ,energy and desire to keep trying I have decided to just give the store away. I lasted eight month. I have notified all of existing local dickey owners to just take over my leases and they can have it.
    I have spoken with bankrup lawyers and they assure me that when this is over I will not have anything left in my savings accounts personal or
    corp. I am 68 years old and there does not seem to be much of a future . I have to trust in God and maybe Mr.Dickeys Baptist sister that he spoke about. That she will do the right thing but I really doubt it.
    Like one of their field reps. told me. “Nobody forced you to sign”
    what a nightmare!!! I am sure that a couple could make a living at this but they need to be married to it.
    The idea that even if you failed and closed your business you are still responsible
    For the franchise monthly royalties was a warning to me that I failed to heed.
    When I told him that I did not want to that in my contract he told me that he would get back to me as he need to ask someone. A day later he said that he was told that it had to stay in the contract but that it should not be a reason for me not to sign as these business were so successful this clause would never be use. Ha, ha.

    When we were in training I found it strange that when Mr Dickeys came into our classroom for his “presentation” that all question to him were prepared by us and given to him before he came into the classroom. Then his lawyer asked him those prepared question. We were not allowed to ask him anything even tho there were only twelve of us in the classroom.
    Now that I am trying to get out they have sent me a letter to sign. In part it reads that in signing ” I agree that any claims,rights ……you may have in the future against dickeys ……..are and will be deemed to be fully, forever …..irrevocably released, waved and discharged……bla,bla, bla…… I don’t think so, !,, There has got to be a brilliant lawyer out there who can help us. If anyone can help please do. There are more of us out there that are in the same boat I am in.
    By the way, I never met with anyone from corp regarding site selection. No one came out so they did not advise me all all about my site selection

  • October 6, 2014 at 10:35 am

    I’m sorry about your situation but thank you for helping others understand what really happens. I seriously considered this but did’nt follow through.
    I was in a local store last week and it was empty except for me and my friend. The food was good but the store was empty at lunch time and it’s the first of the month when people have more money to spend.
    It’s a new store.

  • October 6, 2014 at 11:46 am

    So with all this complaining is there anyone doing a class action lawsuit against Dickeys?

  • October 6, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    There will be no class action against Dickey’s. It’s not because Dickey’s is smart. It’s because the franchise owners can’t organize. They tried 2 years ago to start an association and they couldn’t get together a couple of thousand dollars in start up money..

    The franchisees at Dickey’s think that an external force will save them. A white knight will ride in.

    Dickey’s franchisees will have to save themselves and it will cost money. Plan on getting 25% of the Zees to join at $1500-$2000 a year in dues.

    They won’t cause they are too cheap.

    Oh and class actions are a pipedreams anyway. You won’t get one approved. Why would you want to?

  • October 8, 2014 at 11:24 am


    Where is your store located at? I would like to visit your store. Thanks

    [Commenters airing grievances should be extremely cautious if asked to disclose their exact locations or identities. This is one of the reasons we do not allow the exchange of personal information in the comments sections. kevin’s inquiry may be innocent or he could be an employee, attorney or other representative of Dickey’s trying to identify anonymous franchisees who are sharing negative experiences they don’t want shared.

    Commenters with a legitimate need to interact can email UnhappyFranchisee[at]gmail.com with mutual requests to exchange email addresses or messages. Thanks, ADMIN]

  • October 8, 2014 at 12:33 pm


    Please do not ask anonymous commenters to disclose identifying details. Usually they have very valid reasons for remaining anonymous.

    Thank you.


  • October 11, 2014 at 11:59 am

    The Gunny wrote:

    The company that sells the smoker to Dickey’s franchisees offers cooking classes.

    What company sells the smoker to Dickey’s?

  • October 21, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    i owned one for a year and a half im out about $175,000 all lies from dickies there closing everywhere i felt raped dickies doesnt have a clue how to run a business dont walk away run call some of them if there still open i ran a business for 20 years theres no money for you. dickies is in the dark ages thats why theres store # 600 but only 200 still open all those stores lost the homes and retirements for all those good people who believed dickies they prey on people like you.

  • October 21, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    What happened? Did you just have a slow restaurant or was it mostly because of the cost to run it?


  • October 22, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Dickey’s 2014 FDD shows 406 units open. 8 ceased operations, 1 reacquired and 1 termination.

    Are you saying that their will be a cascade of closures of Dickey’s franchises?

  • October 28, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    I ate at the first Dickey’s restaurant in Seminole, Texas. The food was fantastic. I had never tasted such wonderful barbecue. I live in Hobbs, NM and was extremely excited to learn a Dickey’s would be built there. I have been through the drive through on several occasions. The service was a little slow but that is understandable within a 2 week opening.

    I have read all of these posts of the individuals that have been lied to time after time and have spent their entire life savings to get screwed by the corporate offices. Most people are looking for a way to make a living….not a way to go broke. I can’t believe that corporate has the gall to threaten lawsuits against these people. These same people should sue Dickey’s corporate. It is not just a coincidence that this many people have been lied to and cheated out of their life savings. I don’t think even Dickey’s attorneys are smart enough to win on that one. Yes, a class action lawsuit is warranted in these situations.

    As I said, I love Dickey’s barbecue but will never step foot into a restaurant that corporate has literally stolen their money and continue to steal from them every month the owner has to write a check for his franchise percentage.

    Dickey’s does not even deserve to be in business. With all of the lies being told, they better look up to the sky and ask for forgiveness for this because at this rate, they will be in a place much warmer than the so called ‘smoker’ they use for their meat. Think long and hard about that Mr. Dickey and recover the good things you had when you began.

  • November 2, 2014 at 10:20 am

    I’m 64 years old and I’ve been an entrepreneur for most of my life. I started my first business at age 12 selling worms and minnows to fishermen at our local marina. I’ve survived failed businesses and enjoyed success at others over the years. I’ve owned two franchises businesses during this journey. One was a success, the other wasn’t. Here’s what I’ve learned, for what it’s worth.
    #1 Do your own leg work. DO NOT depend on anyone else to do this for you. It’s your future at stake.
    #2 Owing your own business, as enticing as it may be, is extremely hard work! You have to wear a lot of hats and be prepared to spend 60 to 70 hours per week, minimum. Your customers will want to see you in your store. They feel better when they “know the owner.” It’s kind of a status symbol for them and for you it’s a chance to build repeat business. If you can’t commit to that kind of work schedule don’t proceed any further.
    #3 You can do everything right and still fail. Yes, that does happen. That’s part of the risk all business owners take.
    #4 When you come up with a set of numbers, doesn’t matter who prepares them, double it when it comes to cost. That’s the kind of capital you need. Maybe your numbers will prove to be accurate, but what you want is a cushion to cover unexpected expenses. Don’t plan everything to the penny and have no money set aside for things you don’t see coming.
    #5 Talk to other business or franchise owners before you sign anything. Once you initiate contact with a franchise company they will be all over you to move forward and to sign their FA. That’s what they are in business for. Most business owners are more than happy to talk to you, unless you’re bugging them during the rush or at other inappropriate times. Make an appointment to see them. Don’t just barge in and expect to get their undivided attention.
    #6 Owning a business is the most exhilarating experience you’ll ever have. It gives you such a sense of pride and accomplishment, and a secure and stable income, if you are willing to invest your time as well as your money.
    #7 One last suggestion. This new business of yours better be something you like doing. To be successful you’re going to be doing it a lot! One of my businesses was a bar/restaurant. I’m here to tell you, it was a lot more fun to be a patron of a bar than an owner. The point is, being a customer of your favorite hangout might not be the best way to decide you’d like to be the owner of that kind of business.

    Work hard, sell your soul to your new venture and most will make it. Good luck to all! Small businesses are the backbone of our country. God bless them all.

  • November 3, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    I have an MBA, ran a successful small company (different industry) before the 2008 recession and really looked up and down at dozens of options before settling on Dickey’s. I am a savvy businessperson but even I got hoodwinked by Dickey’s projections. It’s easy for them to do because each situation is so unique, you have to rely on their numbers to some extent, even if you know they are going to be in a favorable light.

    My total investment was $310K for a new unit in a second-generation space. They make the claim that they are opening units under $100K (one as low as $69K), but I have not located another franchisee that got it done for under $250K. Second- gen space they claim as the big saver is bunk, because to meet the equipment layout requirements, you need to move the gas, electric, water supply and drains to match up with the locations of the equipment. In a concrete floor, that means cutting it, laying all new utilities and putting back the concrete. Electric and gas need to be re-routed within the walls. Because of the smoker and fryers, the hood system is often much more extensive than a regular restaurant, and all these things add up to almost as much cost as taking a vanilla shell out through TI. About the only possible savings is having a grease trap and bathrooms. Otherwise, expect to remove and re-do a big part of what’s there.

    Margins – I have been on successful management teams (in another industry) that knew our costs and tightly managed margins for good profits, and made good money in it when on my own. I understand that aspect of the business forward and backward. Their claim of “13-18 percent net pre-tax” was WAY over the reality. The average store is said to gross $600K-$800K. Our first year we were near the top of that range, but only broke even on the P&L and the cash flow from depreciation only got us to 4.8%. The second year, we lost a little in P&L and depreciation got us to breakeven. I was only doing this store, working actively in it, marketed it and have managed businesses before, so there has to be a problem with the business concept based on my experience and that of others from talking with franchisees in the area.

    I finally listed the business for sale with a well-known local restaurant brokerage and got hardly an inquiry over 4 months. I learned that BBQ is such a niche market that it scares off a lot of buyers. The net result is that I sold out to the Area Developer for 20 cents on the dollar invested, lost all that I put into it and am in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

    Also, look not just at the closure stats but also the fact that they keep selling units but the openings don’t keep pace. Like I did in taking out two units, many franchisees appear to get the first one open, wind up in a bind and don’t open the subsequent units.

    Also, the training and follow-up support is stretched way too thin, so you will be left to your own devices to figure out a lot of the issues that crop up. It’s honestly pretty poor and the “proper procedure” depended on who you talked to. So, if they were to open all those units, how are they going to manage keeping the consistency and quality? The answer is that Dickey’s isn’t getting it done now and would fail even that much worse in trying to deliver on those units, further increasing the odds that the franchisees would be hung out in the process and wind up on the rocks.

    The whole power equation in the deal hinges on two events: when you sign the FA and when you guaranty the lease and/or loans. At those points, all the risk transfers to you and Dickey’s is in the driver’s seat. That is the reason for others’ experience with the various departments trying to strongarm them through the process. My background is in real estate/development/construction, so I could push back on what was a joke of an analysis of the strength of a site and what it would cost to build out. However, I knew others would not be so fortunate and the testimony elsewhere proves it.

    There are plenty of good opportunities out there, but for people looking at Dickey’s today, it is not one of them. If you are going to risk your savings or make an investment, there are better concepts with MUCH better operating records and financial rewards.

  • November 3, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    Tom O.

    Did the Dickey’s or the Area Developer tell you or show you “Their claim of “13-18 percent net pre-tax” was WAY over the reality”?

    Dickey’s doesn’t have an Item 19 earnings claim. If they did they made an illegal earnings claim. The Area Developer has to abide by the law and anything they say goes against the franchisor as well.

    You may be able to sue the franchisor while you are in bankruptcy. Check with an attorney a franchisee lawyer.

  • November 3, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    It’s a sensible expectation that an $600 to $800k gross would net at least $60 to $100k net profit before debt repayment. But even with that you would not be able to pay the bank/finance company for the equipment if you borrowed the $310k. But if the AD buys you out for 20 cents on the dollar and flips your restaurant, he or she will make a killing.

  • November 4, 2014 at 10:31 am

    I am curious as to how Dickey’s has managed to be in the position to re-sell franchisee locations to new franchisees? Are they on the leases or do they work out something with the landlords on a case-by-case basis? Or are the failed/terminated franchisees put in a position to go along with the resale?

    The current FDD shows a substantial number of “transfers” (88) to new owners in the last few years. News stories refer to closed restaurants as “temporarily closed” while Dickey’s searches for a new franchisee.

    7-Eleven does this continuously because the company holds the lease, utility accounts, fixtures, etc. but I’m sure Dickey’s isn’t assuming those costs. How can they assume control of a closed location and re-sell it?


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