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Are you ready to be the boss of your own restaurant franchise? Before you fire up the grill and get that saucepan heated up, take a moment and browse through this checklist to determine if you’ve crossed all of your t’s and dotted all of your i’s. Then you’ll truly be on your way to making your restaurant ownership dreams come true.
Put in the research?
Franchising your way to restaurant ownership has many advantages over starting your own commercial kitchen from scratch. You won’t need to come up with an on-brand concept, plan a menu full of items, nor establish a network of local vendors and suppliers to serve your needs. With a franchised operation, that’s all included — but that doesn’t mean you’re excused from doing your due diligence in researching different restaurant concepts. Before you’re ready to don a chef’s hat and begin directing kitchen-related operations, you have to investigate restaurant concepts that match well with your own stated goals, income preference and lifestyle. According to FTC guidelines for the franchising industry, you’re required to request, receive and review the franchisor’s franchise disclosure document (FDD). At this point, you should have participated in multiple validation sessions, where you get to ask the difficult questions from the brand’s representatives and other franchisees in the system. There should have been a Discovery Day, in which you paid a visit to the franchisor’s headquarters and spent an action-packed day in final meetings, tours, and interviews. And hopefully by this point, you’ll have reviewed your franchise agreement with an attorney and an accountant — just to be sure you’ve found the best opportunity.
Found your funding?
Thanks to the variety of the thousands of franchise concepts, you should have reviewed restaurant brands that fit within your financial tolerances. Hopefully, you were prequalified to investigate a specific concept or two. If you haven’t secured your own funding from your commercial bank or credit union, hopefully you had the opportunity to look into alternate financing options. You should have shopped for the best deal and interest rate you could find, whether that was through the SBA, one of the franchisor’s approved lenders or even crowdsourced funds from peers, friends and family. Before you’re ready for your grand opening, you’ll owe an initial franchise fee and be ready to make your scheduled monthly royalty payments.
Been thoroughly trained?
You may think you know a thing or two about running a restaurant of your own, but with franchising you don’t get to have it your way. Franchises require strict adherence to their proven business models and subsequent operations manuals. Following their instructions begins with your training as a franchisee in the system. Corporate training is your opportunity to learn how to do things the right way — their way. Under the watchful eye of their trainers, you’ll learn everything there is to know about how to run the day-to-day kitchen operations, order supplies, access vendors, prepare the brand’s savory dishes, all while providing your patrons with the brand’s version of the ultimate customer experience.
When it’s finally time for your VIP soft-opening for special guests — and then on to your official grand opening as a restaurant owner, you’ll take with you some final assurances. You can be assured that as a franchisee, you’re in business for yourself, but never by yourself. That’s because the franchisor has your back, something you probably experienced in the run-up to opening your establishment. It’s likely you had assistance in scouting the location of your restaurant thanks to their site selection help. You were probably paid a visit by their field representative team, who probably participated in a walk-through inspection of your eatery, quality control just to make sure everything was ship-shape and ready for diners. And when you cut that ribbon, under the watchful eye of your local Chamber of Commerce members, you know in your heart that even if things get challenging, you’ve got ongoing support in various forms that you can count on. That’s the beauty of the franchising model — everything that happens from the moment you selected their concept to investigate, right up through your first year in business. Are you ready to be the boss of your own restaurant franchise? Under the turnkey system of franchising, of course you are!
Related: So You Want to Open a Restaurant?