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10 Things to Know Before Franchising a Restaurant

Discover the 10 essential things every entrepreneur should know before franchising a restaurant. There is more to it than you think!

6 mins readAugust 16, 2023

Restaurant Franchise eBook

Venturing into the world of restaurant franchising is akin to stepping onto a well-trodden path of proven success. However, while the allure of operating under an esteemed brand is undeniable, the path is riddled with intricacies awaiting the unprepared entrepreneur.

From understanding the symbiotic relationship with the franchisor to navigating local regulations, every step demands informed decisions. Knowledge about utilizing inbound call center technology to spark relationships with a range of potential business partners is key.

As aspiring franchisees contemplate this promising yet demanding expedition, it's essential to equip oneself with a comprehensive understanding of the landscape. Here, we unravel the pivotal facets to consider before embarking on a franchising journey in the restaurant realm.

10 Things to Know Before Franchising a Restaurant

Note down these 10 gems of knowledge before you open a franchise.

1. Franchise restaurants require significant upfront investment

When we talk about franchising in the restaurant world, we're talking about taking a brand's successful blueprint and allowing others to replicate it. Starting a franchise restaurant sounds fantastic, but it's also pretty expensive. Why's that? Let's dive in.

Consistency: Ever noticed how your favorite burger at a chain tastes the same whether you're in Florida or Alaska? That's not magic; it's careful planning and standards. Ensuring every franchise has the same vibe, food quality, and experience isn't cheap. A chunk of the start-up money ensures every franchise matches the original's feel.

Training Time: Think about the last time you started a new job or hobby. There was a learning curve, right? Every employee, from the kitchen to the front desk, needs solid training. And solid training costs money. That starting cost ensures everyone's on the same page, providing service and food that customers expect.

Location Matters: Remember that popular café downtown everyone loves? Location is a big reason. Franchises spend a good deal of money to secure prime spots. The right location can make or break a restaurant. Part of the starting budget is used to find, rent, or buy that perfect place.

Marketing Moves: Opening a new restaurant is exciting, but it's not enough to just open the doors. You have to shout it from the rooftops. Events, promotions, and ads draw the crowd in. This kind of buzz requires a portion of the initial investment. Options to buy a domain or another that is relevant to your location will gain your additional digital exposure.

Ongoing Support: Once the doors are open, the main brand doesn't just wish them luck and walk away. They're in it for the long haul. Part of the initial cost goes into the continued support each franchise gets. Think of it as a safety net, ensuring each branch continues to shine.

So, wrapping up: Starting a franchise restaurant requires a sizeable chunk of change upfront. But, when you break it down, each penny of that cost is paving the way for a successful restaurant. It's all about setting the stage right from day one, ensuring a smooth journey for both the owner and the customers.

Restaurant Opening

Opening a new restaurant goes beyond getting licenses and permits. Whether you're opening your first eatery, or expanding your food truck into a full-service restaurant, you'll know what to do by the time you're read this.

2. Franchisees pay recurring royalties and fees

When venturing into the world of restaurant franchising, aspiring entrepreneurs quickly realize that the upfront franchise fee is just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the initial investment lies a series of recurring royalties and fees that play a pivotal role in the franchising equation. These ongoing payments are the lifeblood of the franchising model, ensuring mutual growth and success for both the franchisee and franchisor.

What are Recurring Royalties?

Recurring royalties are consistent payments made by the franchisee to the franchisor. Usually calculated as a percentage of the franchise's gross sales, these royalties grant the franchisee continued access to the franchisor's brand, support, and proprietary systems. While rates vary, a typical royalty might range from 4% to 10% of monthly gross sales.

The Rationale Behind Royalties

You might wonder why franchisees have to pay a part of their earnings regularly. The rationale is multifaceted:

Brand Equity: The franchisee is leveraging a well-established brand name, which often results in higher initial customer traction than a new, independent restaurant might achieve. Continuous Support: The franchisor provides ongoing operational, marketing, and administrative support. This is a dynamic relationship, with the franchisor introducing innovations, refining processes, and offering guidance.

Advertising and Promotions: Many franchisors run national advertising campaigns, benefiting the entire franchise network.

Other Recurring Fees: Beyond royalties, franchisees often encounter other periodic fees:

Advertising Fees: Separate from royalties, this fee (usually a percentage of gross sales) is pooled into a collective fund. It's used for national marketing campaigns, promoting the brand on larger platforms that individual outlets might not afford independently.

Technology Fees: In the digital age, many franchisors provide software for point-of-sale systems, inventory management, and online ordering. A tech fee covers updates and support for these tools.

Renewal Fees: When a franchise agreement nears its end, franchisees can often renew their contract, albeit with a renewal fee.

Mutual Growth and Shared Success

While it might initially seem that the franchisee bears the brunt of these expenses, it's crucial to view them within the framework of mutual growth. The franchisor's success is intrinsically tied to that of its franchisees.

The recurring fees fund support systems that, in turn, uplift the entire network. It's a symbiotic relationship: the franchisor continually refines the brand and systems, and the franchisee benefits, driving more sales and, thus, higher royalties.

Restaurant laws

3. A franchise agreement is a legally binding contract

Delving into the restaurant franchising arena introduces prospective business owners to a critical document: the franchise agreement. More than just a mere formality, this document embodies the very essence of the franchising relationship. At its core, the franchise agreement is a legally binding contract, setting clear terms and conditions for both the franchisee and franchisor. Let's decode its significance and intricate nature.

What Exactly is a Franchise Agreement?

A franchise agreement is a detailed, written document that establishes the roles, rights, and responsibilities of both the franchisee (the individual purchasing the rights to open and operate the franchise) and the franchisor (the entity offering the franchise opportunity). Like any other legal contract, once signed, both parties are obligated to adhere to its provisions.

Core Components of the Agreement

This comprehensive document covers a myriad of facets:

  • Duration: How long the franchisee has the right to operate under the brand name.
  • Territorial Rights: Defines the specific area where the franchisee can operate, ensuring they won't face direct competition from another franchise of the same brand within that territory.
  • Royalties: Details the recurring payments the franchisee must make from their revenues.
  • Training & Support: Outlines the extent of training, marketing support, and other assistance the franchisor will provide.
  • Operating Standards: Lists the requirements and standards to maintain brand consistency.
  • Renewal & Termination: Specifies the terms under which the contract can be renewed or terminated.

The Weight of the Agreement

It's imperative for potential franchisees to understand that the franchise agreement is not a 'gentleman's handshake.' It's a legal commitment. Deviations or breaches can lead to severe consequences, including financial penalties, loss of the franchise license, or even legal action.

Navigating the Agreement with Due Diligence

Given its importance, prospective franchisees are advised to:

  • Engage Legal Counsel: Before signing, it's wise to have an attorney, preferably one experienced in franchising, review the document. They can highlight potential red flags or areas that might require negotiation.

  • Understand Every Clause: Franchisees must ensure they comprehend every aspect of the agreement. This prevents unpleasant surprises later on.

  • Negotiation is Possible: While many franchisors have standard agreements, there can be room for negotiation. If certain terms seem unfavorable, they can be discussed and potentially amended.

Legal expenses

4. Success tends to rely heavily on the brand's reputation

In the bustling restaurant industry, franchising offers a shortcut to success. But this success leans heavily on the brand's reputation. A strong brand reputation acts like a magnet, drawing customers based on past positive experiences.

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For franchisees, aligning with a reputed brand means harnessing years, if not decades, of trust and goodwill. They're not just buying into a business model but also into a promise of quality and consistency that patrons recognize and value.

In essence, a brand's stellar reputation can reduce the uphill battle of gaining customer trust. This makes it a linchpin for franchise success.

restaurant chef

5. Franchisors offer training and support to ensure success

One of the most significant benefits of buying into a restaurant franchise is the specialized training and support offered by franchisors. This isn't a mere act of goodwill; it's in the franchisor's best interest that each outlet thrives.

From the nuances of preparing signature dishes to mastering the point-of-sale system, franchisors provide extensive training to ensure consistency.

Beyond initial guidance, ongoing support—covering areas like inventory management, customer service, and marketing strategies—ensures franchisees are equipped to tackle challenges, innovate, and maintain the brand's esteemed reputation.

In the world of restaurant franchises, reputation is everything. Every action, every dish, and every customer interaction reflects on the brand as a whole. This immense responsibility is not to be taken lightly. With the backing of the franchisor's support system, franchisees are empowered to maintain and elevate the brand's esteemed reputation, ensuring that customers' expectations are not just met, but consistently exceeded.

Restaurant franchise

6. Location is critical to a franchise restaurant's success

In the restaurant world, the age-old adage "location, location, location" rings profoundly true. The perfect spot can significantly influence footfall, visibility, and overall profitability, whether it exists solely online as a remote support app to fulfill orders. Or as a fully scaled IRL business.

Franchise restaurants, riding on an established brand's reputation, need prime locations to meet customer expectations. Accessibility, visibility from main roads, parking facilities, and proximity to commercial or residential hubs can make all the difference.

While franchisors often provide guidance in selecting locations, it's crucial for franchisees to ensure that the chosen site aligns with the brand's image and reaches its target audience.

Cropped image of male restauranteur

7. Operational guidelines and standards must be followed

Consistency is the lifeblood of any franchise system, and restaurant franchises are no exception. When a customer walks into a branch, they expect the same quality of food, ambiance, and service they've encountered at any other location of the brand.

To achieve consistency, franchisors set strict operational guidelines and standards. These can cover everything from the ingredients used in dishes to the layout of the restaurant.

Adhering to these standards is non-negotiable for franchisees. It ensures brand integrity, maintains customer trust, and ultimately contributes to the franchise's collective success.

While operational guidelines might sometimes feel restrictive, they are the pillars that uphold the integrity of a franchise brand. For franchisees, these guidelines are both a roadmap to success and a shield against potential challenges.

Aspiring restaurant owners should embrace them not as mere rules, but as tools forged from experience, designed to ensure every outlet's success in the grand tapestry of the franchise network.

Restaurant chef adding garnish

8. Franchisers handle national marketing and advertising

Marketing is crucial for any business, but for franchise restaurants, there's an added layer. While franchisees often handle local promotions, the broader national marketing campaigns are typically orchestrated by the franchisor. This centralized approach ensures a consistent brand image and message.

National campaigns, be it through email marketing, print ads, or digital platforms, you can benefit from economies of scale, reaching a wider audience more effectively.

For franchisees, this translates to brand visibility without the stress of managing extensive campaigns, allowing them to focus on day-to-day operations.

restaurant sales tax

9. Franchisees should plan their exit strategy

Entering a franchise agreement is a substantial commitment, but it's essential for franchisees to remember that this relationship might not be forever. Whether due to evolving personal goals, market shifts, or other factors, there may come a time to exit. Planning an exit strategy from the outset is prudent.

Whether that means selling the franchise back to the franchisor, to another interested party, or transitioning to a family member, having a clear roadmap ensures a smooth transition. A well-thought-out exit strategy safeguards the franchisee's investment and ensures the outlet's continued success.

Having an exit strategy can also be a pivotal negotiating tool when entering a franchise agreement. Financial institutions and potential partners view it as a sign of foresight and sound business acumen.

By anticipating future scenarios, franchisees can negotiate terms that protect their interests, such as securing favorable buy-back rates or setting clear guidelines for franchise transfers. Additionally, it allows franchisees to be proactive rather than reactive, putting them in a position of strength when navigating change.

10. Compliance with local licensing and regulations is essential

Beyond the brand's operational guidelines, franchise restaurants must also navigate the intricate web of local licensing and regulations for restaurants. These can cover a multitude of facets—health and safety standards, employee rights, zoning laws, and alcohol licensing, to name a few.

Non-compliance can result in hefty fines, operational disruptions, or even closure.

Given the potential repercussions, it's paramount for franchisees to remain updated on local regulations. While franchisors often provide guidance, the onus of ensuring compliance typically rests on the franchisee, making it an essential aspect of a successful franchise operation.


  1. Upfront Investment: Starting a franchise restaurant requires significant capital. This covers training, location, marketing, and ensuring consistency across all franchises.

  1. Recurring Costs: Beyond the initial investment, franchisees must pay recurring royalties and fees, which support mutual growth and continuous backing from the franchisor.

  1. Franchise Agreement: This legally binding contract outlines the roles, rights, and responsibilities of both parties. Understand its terms thoroughly and consider seeking legal counsel before signing.

  1. Brand's Reputation: A restaurant franchise's success hinges largely on the brand's reputation. Aligning with a respected brand offers a head start in building customer trust.

  1. Training and Support: Franchisors offer extensive training and ongoing support, ensuring that the brand's reputation is upheld across all outlets.

  1. Location is Crucial: The right location can be a make-or-break factor. Ensure the chosen spot aligns with the brand's image and effectively reaches its target audience.

  1. Consistency is Key: Franchisees must strictly adhere to the franchisor's operational guidelines and standards to maintain brand integrity and customer trust.

  1. Marketing and Advertising: Franchisors handle national campaigns, giving franchisees brand visibility without the responsibility of large-scale promotions.

  1. Plan Your Exit: It's wise to plan an exit strategy from the beginning, whether that's selling the franchise or transitioning it to another party.

  1. Local Compliance: Stay updated on and adhere to local licensing and regulations. Non-compliance can lead to serious consequences, making it vital for a franchise's smooth operation.

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