DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT franchiseFast Food franchiseFOOD FRANCHISESLaura Rea DickeyRoland Dickey Jr.

Dickey’s Franchisees Blame CEO Laura Rea Dickey, Roland Dickey Jr. for Franchise Crisis

The 2019 Dickey’s Franchise Owner’s Survey indicates that franchisees have lost confidence & trust in CEO Laura Rea Dickey & Roland Dickey, Jr. and their leadership team.  80% of the franchise owners surveyed don’t believe the leadership team is honest & ethical.  83% don’t believe Dickey’s leadership cares about its franchise owners.  71% don’t believe that CEO Laura Rea Dickey & Roland Dickey have the desire and ability to improve the troubled Dickey’s Barbecue franchise brand.

(UnhappyFranchisee.Com)  Dickey’s franchise owners are praying for a change in ownership and new leadership team completely independent of the Dallas-based Dickey’s family.

In a recent survey, many expressed the opinion that new leadership completely independent of the Dickey’s family is required to save the Dickey’s brand from what some describe as a death spiral.

In our companion post entitled Most Dickey’s Franchises Are Unprofitable, Franchisees Report, we reported that a 2019 Dickey’s Franchisee Survey conducted by the Pit Owners Association (POA) revealed that most Dickey’s franchise owners are fighting for survival:

58% of Dickey’s franchise owners reported that their stores weren’t profitable in 2018.  69% reported that their 2018 financial performance was worse than the previous year.

39% are considering closing their stores.

When asked if they had it to do over again, a resounding 85% said they would NOT invest in a Dickey’s franchise.

Why is the Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise chain suffering from significant ongoing franchise closures and ownership transfers?

Dickey's Franchisee SurveyAccording to the survey results, Dickey’s franchisees blame Roland Dickey, Jr. (the grandson of founder Travis Dickey), Roland’s wife & CEO Laura Rea Dickey, and the leadership team of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. (DBRI).

Only 20% of the respondents believe that DBRI leadership is honest and ethical, and only 17% believe that the Dickey’s franchisor cares about the well-being of its franchise owners.

One Dickey’s franchisee stated: “ the focus of leadership currently is to sign up a franchisee and extract every penny out of them they can.”

Many others repeated this prevailing sentiment:  “They seem very greedy by creating profit centers around every dollar required of franchisees.”

While some characterize Roland Dickey, Jr. (aka RDJ) and his wife Laura Rea Dickey as over-their-heads incompetent, others have a harsher assessment.  One Dickey’s franchise owner stated:

RDJ and Laura are a modern day Bonnie and Clyde.

Robbing everyone along the way and running the brand with reckless abandon.

Grab as much money as you can now because they realize the brand is sinking fast.

Only 17% of Dickey’s Owners Believe Franchisor DBRI Cares About Dickey’s Franchisees

Here are key points from the section of the franchisee survey titled DBRI Leadership – Roland Dickey, Jr. and Laura Rea Dickey.

Question Answer
I believe the DBRI Leadership and Executive team are honest
and ethical.

Overall Score:  1.68 out of 5

80% Disagree/Strongly Disagree

(161 ppl, 264 stores)

4% Agree/Strongly Agree

(8 ppl, 13 stores)

The DBRI Leadership cares about me as franchisee.

Overall Score:  1.61 out of 5

83% Disagree/Strongly Disagree
(167 ppl, 274 stores)

6% Agree/Strongly Agree

(12 ppl, 20 stores)

I believe the DBRI Leadership responds to franchisees with helpful actions in a timely

Overall Score:  1.67 out of 5

80% Disagree/Strongly Disagree

(161 ppl, 264 stores)

3% Agree/Strongly Agree

(6 ppl, 10 stores)

I am confident that the current CEO Laura Rea Dickey and
Roland Dickey Jr. have the desire and ability to improve this brand
over the next 5 years.

Overall Score:  1.81 out of 5

 71% Disagree/Strongly Disagree
(143 ppl, 234 stores)

7% Agree/Strongly Agree
(14 ppl, 23 stores)

Franchise Owners Say Franchisor DBRI is Driven by Greed

80% of Dickey’s franchisees surveyed do not believe that DBRI and its Executive Team are honest and ethical, and 83% don’t believe Dickey’s leadership cares about its franchisees.

Franchisee distrust of DBRI leadership was reflected in the numerous negative comments included in the Dickey’s franchisee survey briefing, such as:

I think the focus of leadership currently is to sign up a franchisee and extract every penny out of them they can.

They seem very greedy by creating profit centers around every dollar required of franchisees.

I believe they are concerned with their own profitability.

They do not care about the franchisee. All they care about is there pockets.

…it is one way business, never been win-win situation

IMO they only have one thing in mind…making more money for their personal bank account, whatever the cost to the O/O.

They don’t care about the franchisees. They are self serving.  They are smooth talkers and will never admit they have lost control of this Brand.

I feel that they only care about the bottom dollar.

I feel it’s about their profit and not brand growth or store profits.

The goal seems to be to create profit centers at every turn.  Who cares about store sales and franchisee profitability?

The leadership of dickey’s appear to be a bunch of scammers, employing harassment tactics to scare small operators into submission. their attitude towards franchisees, even in person, appear to says “you are a bunch of stupid trash”

CEO Laura Rea Dickey & Roland Dickey, Jr. Received Scathing Criticism

The Dickey’s Barbecue Pit website states that Roland Dickey, Jr. (aka RDJ)  is “Chief Executive Officer of Dickey’s Capital Group, the parent company of the Dickey’ Barbecue Pit brand.”

Roland Dickey, Jr. is the grandson of founder Travis Dickey.

Roland’s wife, Laura Rea Dickey, is listed as Chief Executive Officer of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc.

CEO Laura Rea Dickey and Roland Dickey, Jr. were specifically mentioned in many franchisee comments regarding the Dickey’s leadership:

RDJ and Laura are a modern day Bonnie and Clyde.  Robbing everyone along the way and running the brand with reckless abandon.  Grab as much money as you can now because they realize the brand is sinking fast.  Their “us” versus “them”culture is why we receive less than appropriate support.

Either Roland and Laura are truly unethical people or they are blind to the way their organization is being run. Either way we  no longer want to be associated with Leaders that have a such  bad reputation within corporate and franchisees.

Family run business that only cares about their well being. Terrible partners

…it seems like Roland and Laura do not care at all about the well being of current franchisees as long as they still find new idiots to keep opening more locations. This is proven by the churning of locations and also by Roland trying to force owners to sign over their rights and also by suing owners who have no choice but to close because they are gouging money.

The Churn and Burn model these 2 have provided is shameful and I believe Mr. Dickey Sr. and the original founder would be very saddened by how money hungry they have become.

I actually enjoy conversations with Laura Rea and she seems to get it and shows concern for a brighter future as a brand. But the reality of RDJ still remains. He is very tone deaf to the health of the brand and what we are going through. He’s faded out of the picture from what I’ve noticed but I know he’s still behind the scenes not caring about OUR success. For the sake of our business, I really do hope I’m wrong.

I believe Roland Dickey Jr. and Laura Rea Dickey got themselves into a big commitment when they purchased the business from their family and are increasing revenue by exploiting franchisees in order to payoff their loan.

If you look at our track record these past 3 years of declining sales, rising F&P and turnover, no CEO or VP would still have their job, yet Laura, Roland and Jeff still remain in power making decisions and guarding the gate.

Roland Dickey Jr. seems to be running the business into the ground.

Dickey’s Franchisees Yearn for New Leadership & New Owners

Many Dickey’s franchisees stated that they believe it will take new owners and new leadership to save the Dickey’s Barbecue Pit chain and brand.

As long as they’re in charge, we will see more stores close. Our best hope is to sell to a more reputable group.

Praying they sell to a corporation that knows what they are doing

I hope the brand goes public or gets sold.

…confidence is not high that Jr and Laura Rea are the ones best suited to improve the brand in the future

They need to step away. End of story.

…the only way out is to remove Roland and family from the picture.

Until we get a CEO/President that is qualified to run this company, independent of the Dickey family, we will never thrive.

You guys need to resign, you have murdered the legacy of your father. Because of your leadership you have one of the weakest franchises in America.

System needs a change and someone who really has leadership and growth down to a science. Time for change!


Help us finish our special report:

Burnt Ends – Dickey’s Barbecue Franchise Exposed


Dickey’s 2019 Franchisee Survey Excerpt 1:  Demographics, Future & Past

Dickey’s 2019 Franchisee Survey Excerpt 2:  DBRI Leadership, Roland Dickey Jr., Laura Rea Dickey



Most Dickey’s Franchises Are Unprofitable, Franchisees Report

DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT Franchise SBA Loans Investigated by U.S. Senator

DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT Closed Location List

DICKEY’S Franchise Graveyard

DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT Franchise Complaints

DICKEY’S Franchise Owners Share Frustrations & Fears

Roland Dickey Jr. Extracted Millions While Dickey’s Franchise Owners Fought for Survival

DICKEY’S BARBEQUE PIT Franchise Closures, Internal Turmoil Revealed By UnhappyFranchisee.Com

DICKEY’S Franchise Class Action Lawsuit Filed in CA


Contact UnhappyFranchisee.com

TAGS: Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Dickey’s, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise, Dickey’s franchise, DBRI, Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants Incorporated, Dickey’s closed, Laura Rea Dickey, Roland Dickey Jr., Dickey’s Pit Owner’s Association, Dickey’s Franchisee Survey, franchise opportunity, franchise complaints, unhappy franchisee


3 thoughts on “Dickey’s Franchisees Blame CEO Laura Rea Dickey, Roland Dickey Jr. for Franchise Crisis

  • Former Franchisee

    As a former owner, this all appears to be spot on. I was an owner when this survey was taken and then unfortunately had to close my store. When the survey results were sent out system-wide by the Pit Owner’s Association, I could not even identify my comments because it seems as though every franchisee that responded had the exact same issues we did, and mine blended right in.

    DBRI is a sinking ship and I encourage anyone who is considering buying a Dickey’s franchise to read all of the articles on this website. I have found that all of them accurately reflect what the franchisee experience is like. I can see how from the outside it would look like everyone is just here to complain, but the things posted are absolutely accurate reflections of what is happening within the Dickey’s company.

    Owners and their employees are badgered daily by DBRI employees, many times they are calling at lunch time when you are trying to get food out the door for sales that support THEIR paycheck. There seems to be zero common sense within the DBRI entity, and anyone who does get hired with common sense gets out very quickly. One area director once telling us upon his resignation: I wanted to get out with my integrity still intact. That doesn’t speak well of an employer.

    All of this comes from the very top of any company. How presidents and CEOs have their employees treat their business connections defines how well a company works. In this case, the employees and their bosses at all levels couldn’t care less about the franchisee. They just badger and pest when store numbers aren’t exactly within the DBRI prescribed matrix, hoping that Roland can make an extra payment on that new yacht that his employees are so proud to tell new franchisees about at training in Dallas.

  • Anonymouse

    RDJ and Laura Rae are true scam artists. They move people through the ranks at corporate so rapidly so that no one can ever correctly learn how to do the job which in most cases they are unqualified for. This prevents them from ever finding out enough about the inner workings of the company to see how much money is lining Roland’s pockets at the expense of the franchisee. The amount of technology they try to throw at everything to fix declining systemwide sales is laughable. It is as though they are a tech company with a restaurant problem… except the technology doesn’t work either!

    All blame for store failures and declining sales is directed at the franchisee for not doing things “the Dickey’s way”. No consideration is given that “The Dickey’s way” may be inherently flawed. It seems to me that when the entire system has declining sales, perhaps the reason is something that all locations share: the leadership team (or lack there-of)

    At this point they should just give up and sell out to a reputable company who wants to add a barbecue restaurant to their portfolio, except there is way too much money to be made in churning company stores; taking ownership of the franchisee’s items, and selling them at basically 100% margins to the next sucker who comes to the door with the cash to buy it.

    I used to think store count was a good indicator of a business’s success, however, after working with the Dickey’s company, it is very apparent that a business’s ability to succeed long term is actually indicated by the amount of locations that close. These stores were ‘promised’ (of course with all the legal protections for DBRI in place) that their stores would do so well that they would want to open multiple stores. Very few owners that had development agreements are actually executing them. In general they do not want to deal with the headaches of running additional stores.

    In a 2010 article for QSRmagazine (from my understanding, a pay-to-play publication), Roland Dickey Jr stated “Multistore franchisees demonstrate the strength of a concept, because ‘no one buys misery twice.'” In this case, I would say that he is correct: His owners with development agreements are not buying misery twice.
    Source: https://www.qsrmagazine.com/emerging-concepts/dickey-s-barbecue-pit

  • I find it interesting that they have a lot of “senior Vice Presidents” at this company, yet they are that only in name. One would think that a SVP a would be guiding the decisions in the company that fall under their umbrella. Instead, RDJ and Laura have them harassing the franchisees to sell more product. This must be a slap in the face to all SVP members of their staff that their daily work involves micromanaging the franchisees so that Roland can stay open one more day.

    Unfortunately the current SVPs have all drunken too much of the kool aid as they all perpetuate the lies that spew from Laura’s mouth. When a company blames all performance issues on the individual locations and never takes responsibility for decreased sales, it is doomed to fail. I have yet to see a time when anyone at the management level admitted that DBRI made a mistake ( and they make lots of them), but instead the blame is always pushed to the individual store locations. Yet week after week we see more store closings. Yep- that’s definitely the franchisee’s fault and not the inability of corporate to create initiatives that actually benefit the stores. (Sarcasm)

    Instead there are useless promos that give away any profit a store could hope to make.

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