Outside Insights | December 2015 | By Guest Author

Four Tips for Franchising Your Restaurant

The journey from a few local units to a large franchise starts with solid systems and strong branding.

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When a quick-service restaurant is successful, the next step is usually to open up franchising opportunities to aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners—a critical part in the growth of the business. When you go to well-known quick serve, more than likely you are eating at an establishment that is operated by the franchisee. When it comes to franchising a concept, costs for the franchisee can vary depending on location, materials, and necessary resources. Franchising can make your company extremely successful, but it can be disastrous if you don’t have things properly set up on your end.

With this being said, here are the top tips to expanding and franchising your limited-service brand:


In the food business, cleanliness is next to “godly sales” and is one of the main factors that determines your growth potential. Many customers head to the restroom shortly after entering a restaurant, where they judge how clean the business is based on bathroom conditions. Keeping your whole restaurant clean allows for comfortability and retains customers for a longer period of time.


Your ability to scale hinges on a keen eye for expenses and cost management in your corporate and franchised stores.

It’s time to think big picture with your business’s growth in mind. Unfortunately, great restaurant operators who are meticulous, specific, and very engineering-minded are sometimes the worst marketers on the planet. This works when you are operating a single location business and provide great food and service, but branding is what will carry a business forward into larger, more significant growth. It is about creating something that is bigger than the founder and means more than just the owners name on the front of the building. Branding means a lot of things, but if you don’t have these elements in place already, it might be time to start the process in order to franchise your restaurant. First, get a good logo that represents the values and message of the business. There are many options for logo development online. Second, get a color scheme and “look” that are modern and effective in conveying who you are and what you do. Once you have this look and feel for your business, it will be more conducive to franchising or scaling your business. Third, make sure the branding transitions to your materials, menus, and advertising so that everything you put in front of the consumer looks the same, presents well, and conveys a professional brand.

Profit-Driven Menus

As restauranteurs and foodservice entrepreneurs, it can be easy to get caught up in the emotional side of what’s on your menu. Don’t fall into the trap of keeping duds on the menu that are there because it’s Grandma’s recipe. Take a hard look at what moves and what the customer wants, then make sure it’s profitable. After you understand what makes you the most profit and where your bottom line comes from, advertise and promote those items above ones that do not. With this mindset will come your ability to know, understand, and control food costs, labor costs, and overhead as you look to increase profitability for each item on your menu and push the high profit drivers for your restaurant. Ultimately, this requires that you have a fantastic grasp of the numbers. A solid leader of a quick-service brand will be able to look at a simple POS report and be able to understand how well that location is doing. Your ability to scale hinges on a keen eye for expenses and cost management in your corporate and franchised stores. Understand the financial implications of your menu, and you will be poised for growth through franchising.

Amazing systems in place

There are countless examples of restaurant and foodservice businesses out there with great success stories in single instances. Good restaurant operators can “work” their way through bad brands and a micromanaged system. Think of that 50-year-old hot dog stand in Los Angeles or the 70-year-old breakfast spot in Chicago, there are many cases where good operators have passed businesses down to their children and their children’s children, but the business never grew beyond a single unit. If a second was ever opened, it closed in many cases because the management couldn’t keep their hands on every part of the business in more than one location. If you haven’t already, invest in systems and technology for your restaurant business and you will realize the potential of scale. This means POS systems, inventory management systems, and online ordering systems—all of which can be integrated with one another to manage your daily business. These systems should not manage your day-to-day business, but also provide enterprise capabilities for managing multiple units on a single dashboard. As your business grows, you will be able to provide new locations with the tools that made you successful and also have the information needed to manage multiple outlets at one time.

Chris Conner is a consultant with Franchise Marketing Systems in Atlanta. He has spent the last decade in the franchise industry working with several hundred different franchise systems in management, franchise sales and franchise development work.


I'm always impressed by clean. It's the gold standard of any good business. Sound simple but it's high standard.

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