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Allyson and Brandon Goff are the new Benson DQ owners

Swift County Monitor - Staff Photo - Create Article
Brandon and Allyson Goff were looking for new opportunities and wanted to keep the Benson Dairy locally owned. Daughter Clarke and son Dutton might be helping out.

By Reed Anfinson
Farming, raising goats, a computer business on the side, working for an auction company, and raising two young children you would think would be more than most families could handle.
But Brandon and Allyson Goff were looking for more to do and when the opportunity presented itself, they jumped at the opportunity to buy the Benson Dairy Queen.
“I had worked on Kevin’s (Dairy Queen) computers for probably five or six years at the time, and I was over there one night when he came home,” Brandon said. “I could tell he was a little tired and I asked him, ‘Are you ready to give it up?’” DQ owner Kevin Stevens told him, “Not quite yet.”
Goff asked him when he was ready to retire, to let him know. Five years later Stevens said it was time.
“It wasn’t a whim,” Goff said of his interest in buying the DQ. The idea had been much seeded earlier. His father had talked about buying it from Harold and Lois Ziegler when he was a kid. Dan Ziegler and his wife Cindy later took over the business from his parents. They sold it to Kevin Stevens.
The Goffs are planning on a grand opening in July to mark the 70th anniversary of the DQ in Benson. It opened July 10, 1954, after construction of the building was completed. The July 9, 1954, Swift County Monitor reported that, “Operators of the Dairy Queen are Mr. and Mrs. Gust Berggren, Enderlin, N.D. who have leased the business from James G. Rangaard of Morris, former Benson businessman.”
As a grand opening special in 1954, the Dairy Queen offered a sundae for one cent with the purchase of one sundae for the regular price.
The Goff’s interest in buying the Dairy Queen was also tied to a dedication to the community. “I wanted to keep it active and keep it in town,” Brandon said. It was after he had officially made the offer to buy the Benson DQ that he let his wife know. “She didn’t know about it until later,” he said with a smile as he looked at her sitting beside him with son Dutton, 3, in her lap. Daughter Clarke, 6, reading a book behind them.
While Stevens and the Goffs had agreed on the sale, it was almost two years from the time a verbal agreement was reached until the transfer took place. They took over ownership Jan. 23 and opened the serving windows for the first time April 4. But there was a lot of work that went into the building and business before the first DQ treat was sold.
“Even to get to the point of purchasing, I had to spend 19 days out in New Jersey at training and an additional six days in Las Vegas,” Allyson said. “People, Pride and Profits” is the ethic the Dairy Queen instills in its owners, Brandon and Allyson said.  Dairy Queen is very protective of its brand. It conducted multiple background checks on the Goffs before their purchase of the franchise was finalized.
“Dairy Queen is very thorough on its application a process,” Brandon said.
Brandon farms, has a computer business, and works with Zielsdorf Auction & Real Estate. When asked if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he said, “Idle hands are not good.”
Allyson had been mostly a stay-at-home mom before the Dairy Queen purchase and helps with the goats they raise. However, moving ahead with the purchase of the Dairy Queen added to her responsibilities a year ahead of taking over ownership. Last summer, she worked for Stevens at the Dairy Queen to get a feel for all of what it would entail.
As part of the agreement to buy the Benson Dairy Queen, there were updates required inside the building to meet the company’s standards. Because he had been owner for 29 years, Stevens had been grandfathered into older ways of operating that ended with the Goff’s purchase.
He was able to sell foot-long hot dogs and BBQ sandwiches, but the Goffs had to transition to regular hot dogs and chili dogs, and a pretzel menu, Allyson explained.
A new DQ treat topping cabinet had to be installed. A modern cash register was required. A sandwich cart and boost oven were added. There were other upgrades that also were needed including new electrical and plumbing.
As opening day approached, they really didn’t have a solid idea of what they would face, the Goffs said. They had been given opening day history from past years. Their food distributor and business consultant also gave them advice. All Dairy Queen stores have a business consultant, Allyson said. She also helped them get their prices set and the menu set.
Despite all the advice they weren’t fully prepared for the overwhelming amount of business they experienced on opening day. “I made four trips to Performance Foods in the first week to get more ice cream,” Brandon said. The supplier is in Rice, one hour and 45 minutes away.
Weather has a significant influence on sales, Brandon said. Last week when the weather was cool and windy, sales were down. They are learning a rhythm with the business, but it has to adjust each day.
Still, they opened on a day when the high was 55 degrees and “business was fantastic. We had 400 orders that day,” Brandon said.
For those who love chocolate Dairy Queen ice cream it is back. It hasn’t been sold in Benson for about three years, Brandon said. It is a draw that brings some to the DQ with others tagging along and getting what they want, he said. They are also doing the vanilla-chocolate swirl.
They will be selling Dairy Queen cakes and cupcakes. They won’t be on display because there isn’t enough room for a freezer in the front of the building. The building is just 650-square-feet.
Dairy Queen plans on making some of the Dilly Bar flavors seasonal, but the chocolate one will still be made in-house.
Another new feature they’ve added at the Benson Dairy Queen is online and mobile ordering. You can get a Dairy Queen application that will show the full menu. You place your order online and stop by to pick it up. The ice cream treats will be kept cold in a freezer until a person stops by. You can set the time for when you plan on picking it up and you pay online.
All the existing staff that worked under Stevens has been hired by the Goffs.
The hours are demanding during the Dairy Queen’s season. They are open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Even if the weather isn’t so nice for eating ice cream, the DQ will still be open Allyson and Brandon said.
“We are required to be open eight months for 10 hours a day,” Brandon said. Their goal is to open a little earlier in the spring and a little later in the fall.
Some days Allyson said it feels as if they are getting the operation down and other days it doesn’t feel that way.
“It is a learning experience,” Brandon said. “By the end of the season I think our toes will finally touch the ground and we will figure out where we are at. Having the existing employees helped a lot. The new tills really help in knowing where you are at.” Stevens had been using “pen and paper” to record sales.
Benson’s Dairy Queen is strategically located next to the Benson Golf Course and just down the road from the Benson Family Aquatic Center. A little farther to the west is Ambush Park with its camping sites and walking trails.
“It will be interesting…” when the summer season hits, Brandon said. “It will be fun.”
So far, they are happy with the purchase. “And I will get my winters off for snowmobiling,” Brandon said. “We don’t like being slow. That is just how it is. Her and I both like working. Work is our relaxation.”
The Ziegler family owned the Dairy Queen for 36 years and Stevens for 29 years. Brandon said he and his wife will take it five years at a time.

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