Think Outside the Box for New Franchise Opportunities

Think Outside The Box For New Franchise Opportunities (from the Financial Post)

In traditional bricks-and-mortar franchising, most of the opportunities available to franchisees are generally in malls, strip plazas, power centres or storefronts. The potential for the success of these locations is hard to ignore given the reality of a large prospective customer base isolated in one specific area with a limited number of choices for purchasing products and services. However, opportunities do exist outside of these locations, as franchisors regularly seek new ways to appeal to a captive audience.

Airports, movie theatres, amusement parks, zoos, university or college campuses, hospitals, casinos, sports arenas and highway service centres are just a handful of examples of non-traditional franchise locations. Subway made headlines a few years ago when it announced the opening of a restaurant atop a crane at One World Trade Center in New York City.

It should be noted that many of these non-traditional sites may not be available as opportunities for just any franchisee. Many are operated by large food service companies that are awarded contracts to develop businesses (generally restaurants) within these larger facilities. Companies such as Aramark, Compass Group and HMS Host operate most or all of the restaurants located within many such facilities across Canada.

But that doesn’t mean that non-traditional locations are inaccessible to less institutionalized franchisees. Some non-traditional development may be offered to successful single- or multi-unit operators already working with the franchise system. And those opportunities existing within less commercial spaces (such as a local community centre) may be easily made available to entrepreneurial prospective franchisees who can identify the potential for a location.

Non-traditional franchising, however, does not come without challenges. For example, there will likely be unique leasing issues with a non-traditional landlord, and the concept itself will require some modifications to be adapted to the venue — customized (some might say “limited”) menus and unique (some might say “higher”) prices are to be expected. And, as with any franchise opportunity, a new disclosure document reflecting the terms of the particular venture must be provided by the franchisor in advance.

If you are already a successful franchisee, consider approaching your franchisor about opportunities in non-traditional locations. You may be exactly the type of franchisee they are looking for to serve a specific niche audience.

Chad Finkelstein is a franchise lawyer at Dale & Lessmann LLP ( in Toronto and can be reached at or (416) 369-7883.

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