According to the “2013 Guide to Today’s Top Franchises,” published annually by market research firm Franchise Business Review, franchisee satisfaction in foodservice is up over recent years.
“I think that, especially in the food sector, brands are seeing that there’s been a lot of locations that have closed through the recession, but we’re seeing it’s growing again,” says Michelle Rowan, president of Franchise Business Review. “I think it is a great time to open and franchise new locations because you can now get cheaper real estate, you can get the bank loans and the funding that you need, [and] you can find employees that are looking for jobs.”
The annual study analyzed more than 350 brands in franchise sectors such as senior care, travel, pet care, fitness, and foodservice, and sent a list of 33 benchmark questions and 16 additional questions to current franchisees. The questions included topics such as training and support, general satisfaction, financial opportunity, core values, and leadership.
Firehouse Subs, Culver’s, Auntie Anne’s, East Coast Wings & Grill, and LaRosa’s Pizzeria, ranked highest in satisfaction among foodservice franchises.
Though foodservice as a whole did not rank among the top five sectors for 2013, Rowan believes it is the nature of the business that explains why.
“Food is really a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week type of business for owners and operators. It’s definitely not for people who are just looking for investment,” she says. “It’s a competitive landscape … [and] it’s tough to run the day-to-day operations in a food business.”
Rowan says it is the passion or love for the food industry that attracts most franchisees.
“They are really passionate about food in general or specifically that brand, or [they are] people who grew up in the industry,” Rowan says. “So I think that there are food people who are still doing well in those franchises because they are so passionate about the industry. It’s kind of in their blood.”
Rowan says anyone looking to buy into a particular brand should speak with its franchisees beforehand.
“It’s important for candidates to talk directly with as many franchisees as they can,” Rowan says. “For each candidate, what’s important to them is different. So it’s really, what do they care about most. … I think that [potential franchisees] can easily pick up on what’s most important.”
By Laurel Nakkas