Food franchises are everywhere – at every highway exit, near hotels, at airports, on college campuses, in hospitals. Sure, franchises exist for just about every facet of modern day life; there are disaster cleanup franchises, professional coaching, window cleaning and educational franchises. These are good franchises but you don’t see those at every highway exit. You will, however, find McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Subway, Panera Bread, Chick-fil-A and – well, you get the idea.
Which means that if you’re thinking of buying into a franchise, you’re probably giving some thought to owning a restaurant. It certainly makes sense as those franchises are so intertwined with our culture and lifestyles. Although most people find restaurant franchises intriguing, restaurants come with interesting challenges including cost, HR, inventory, customer service, and more. At the same time, restaurant ownership can be rewarding if it’s a fit for you, your skills and your lifestyle.
So, how do you know if you’re a fit? Well…a food industry franchise may be a good fit for you if…
You don’t mind working evenings and weekends.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, Look, I’m going to be the boss. I won’t be working weekends or evenings. My staff will do that. Here’s the problem. Most people eat dinner at the same time you eat dinner. Same with breakfast and lunch. As an owner, being available when the business is busiest is important. Even if you are using a manager, they are most likely to call you when the restaurant is busy, not when it is empty.
Staffing is always a challenge in the restaurant business. You always build the staffing model for contingencies but what happens if your manager is sick. You may need to step in to keep an eye on things. Obviously these challenges are most difficult when you only have one location. The more locations you have the more levels of management you can build to insulate yourself.
I don’t want to be too negative. As your restaurant(s) becomes more successful, chances are, managers may be able to fill those gaps, and you may get to the point where you never have to work hours you don’t want to work. But, you do want to ask yourself if you’re prepared to have to possibly fill in for your staff during some inconvenient hours for several years while your business ramps up.
You like high-pressure environments.
You’ve seen busy kitchens at fast food and sit-down restaurants. Managing one can feel like being an air-traffic controller. Still, the way some people react when they don’t get their burger done just so, or if you give them a cappuccino instead of an espresso, you would think a customer thinks his or her life hangs in the balance. Some entrepreneurs thrive under that kind of consistent pressure; others, don’t.
You’re comfortable handling countless moving parts.
Every business, to some degree, has a lot of moving parts – managing employee turnover, handling inventory and keeping customers happy all at once. Every business has their own pressure points. If you run a preschool franchise, for instance, you’re going to deal with some high-strung parents – and their little kids – so, safety is going to be paramount. As a restaurant owner, unlike most jobs or entrepreneurial ventures, the fires you must put out aren’t restricted to the weekdays or the “9-5” grind. Countless problems can arise simultaneously at any time, and great owners (and managers) can handle them calmly and effectively.
So, running a food related franchise is much more than just opening the doors and watching the money pour in. There are six essential traits that all successful franchise owners need to possess:
- Having a clear vision
- Confidently communicating the vision
- Setting a timetable for achievement
- Viewing setbacks as learning opportunities
- Standing apart from the crowd
- Focusing on continual learning
If you don’t have these traits, or know you don’t have the interest in mastering them, you really shouldn’t own any business, much less a restaurant that requires more pre-launch planning and investments than most franchise opportunities.
But even if you have all of them, it doesn’t mean you should own a food-related franchise. Maybe you should own a pet supply store or run a maid service franchise. You could own a fitness center or a car service franchise. You might want to own a tax preparation service. There’s a wide variety of franchises out there, and you don’t want to necessarily select the most popular option.
Because while some people are natural born restaurant owners, others were born to be restaurant customers. If you can figure out who you are before buying into a restaurant franchise, you’ll save yourself a lot of heartburn and financial indigestion.
Rick Bisio recently published the third edition of his Amazon-bestselling author of The Educated Franchisee. Bisio is a leading franchise coach with FranChoice, the creator of the FDD Exchange and the Franchise Glossary and the co-host of Rick Bisio’s Franchise Focus. Since becoming a franchise coach in 2002, Bisio has assisted thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs nationwide explore the dream of business ownership. Prior to joining FranChoice, he was the Director of International Development at AFC Enterprises, the parent company of Popeye’s Chicken, Church’s Chicken, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Cinnabon, establishing locations in more than 30 countries. To learn more about Rick Bisio and The Educated Franchisee resource center, please visit http://www.afranchisecoach.com/the-coach/