The Revival of Food Service Franchise Systems

Food service has long been the foundation of franchising and in most people’s opinion, started what has become the franchise industry. Certainly, McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Subway made generations of consumers realize and begin to understand what franchising was and opened the doors to countless other brands both in food service and outside of the segment. During the great recession, when financing and capital were tight and people were running for their lives, the food service segment of franchising clammed up and slowed it’s incredible growth pattern. People either couldn’t get the money to open their favorite food service brand or were just scared to pull the trigger on a food service brand.

Since 2010, as the economy has improved and people’s excitement for franchising has grown at exponential rates, food service has come back with a vengeance.  Franchise Marketing Systems team of franchise consultants works closely with brands to help launch franchise platforms and develop the necessary systems and processes to scale models.  Chris Conner, Alan George, Zac Bletz and Levi Tran all meet with brands to discuss franchising and help analyze whether franchising could be an effective growth channel.  Over the past ten years, food service brands have increased from 20% of the businesses considering franchising to over 40% of all companies who connect with Franchise Marketing Systems to review the franchise model.  This growth is driven by innovative, fun, simple and duplicable food service brands.

Some of the fun, great brands that have come forward in the franchise market recently include brands in the pizza market, coffee, ice cream, Indian, Mexican and many others.  Sankranti is a brand which has recently launched in the Atlanta market and offers a quick-serve, simple and high-octane Indian menu bringing great Indian food to the masses in a simple QSR platform.  Chicago’s Pizza with a Twist is also an Indian-infused pizza model based in Sacramento which has sold their first 50 franchises since 2017.  SLICES pizza is a new pizza system just coming to market which has redefined the simple food service operation and created a model that maximizes profitability and minimizes labor in the operating unit.  In coffee, the incredible Foxtail Coffee brand is coming to the franchise market offering hot branding, strong operating systems and a great high-margin coffee franchise model.  Green District is knocking it out with healthy product offerings and great branding in the salad franchise segment.  The dessert market is booming with great ideas and awesome new franchise offerings including SMOOSH Ice Cream Cookies, Red Circle Ice Cream and Presotea is a 400+ unit franchise system that has recently entered the U.S.  These brands are just scratching the surface for new ideas and exciting potential ways to capitalize on the food service franchise market.

What should an aspiring food service entrepreneur look for in brands to determine which option might be the best one and how do you analyze which franchise offers the most value?  First, it seems clear that the simpler the model is the more successful the overall franchise system is which makes sense.  Look for strong, well-defined menus which have been “costed” and offer high-margin products which are easy to produce and replicate.  Branding is REALLY important, be critical of the franchise’s color-scheme, logo design, web presence, social media presentation and overall messaging.  Younger people are choosing where to eat based on what the brand means and says to them – make sure that the food service franchise you choose is saying the right things to get people eating more of your product.  People want quick, convenient service, but still with high-quality food.  You want a food service franchise that can drive volume and move people through the location efficiently with a reasonable labor cost.  The growth in food service has been exponential in off-premise, so make sure the franchise has a strong delivery, carry out and web-ordering system in place you can leverage when you invest in the franchise brand.

Christopher Conner is the President of Franchise Marketing Systems and has spent the last decade in the franchise industry working with several hundred different franchise systems in management, franchise sales and franchise development work. His experience ranges across all fields of franchise expertise with a focus in franchise marketing and franchise sales but includes work in franchise strategic planning, franchise research and franchise operations consulting. For more information on food service franchises and how to evaluate the food service market, contact Chris Conner at

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