When you look at the success of food franchises like McDonald’s, Papa John’s and Zac’s Burgers, it might seem like owning a food franchise is a surefire way to make lots of money. What you have to remember is that while some food franchise owners do really well, there are no guarantees. Preparation, hard work and skill all play a big role.
To ensure that your food franchise survives that first year, avoid these 8 common mistakes new food franchises make:
1. Not Standing Out Enough
While joining an already established franchise program does comes with the benefit of a lot of support and the power of a recognized brand, it’s a mistake to think that you don’t have to do any work to make yourself stand out from the competition. Don’t assume the customers will just flock to your particular location just because people have heard of your brand. You need to show why they should come to your particular place. Whether it is a staff that feels like family or strong community relationships with fun events each weekend, show what makes you feel special.
Here are some examples:
- Don’t Be Afraid to Tailor the Menu A Little. Especially when franchises are spread all over the country, you know that the locals in each area are going to have slightly different taste buds, but surprisingly, you will also find that what sells on a college campus is also going to be different than what might be the hot items at the franchise unit in the heart of the downtown area. Because of all of this, it is a smart idea to tweak the basic menu of all franchises in your program to fit your specific customers. Maybe you need more family-friendly fare or more vegan options. Let your customers tell you what they are craving. Or if you are certain fresh fruits and vegetables that are popular in your area then you might want to play them up more.
- Provide the Ultimate Customer Experience. Probably the simplest but easiest way to add the personal touch to your restaurant franchise is to provide top notch customer service. When your staff takes the time to get to know each customer and develops a strong rapport with the regulars, people will always prefer going to your location than any of the others.
- Get Involved In Community Events. Partnering with other local businesses on special community events is also a great way to show a little personal touch to a franchise. Your place will be the one people will travel to if they know they are getting local bands playing and special events.
2. Relying on Your Cooking Talent
A love of cooking is often what draws people into the food franchise or burger franchise, but it is not enough to secure success. You need to have a lot more skills and knowledge. As food franchise owner, besides knowing food, you need to understand inventory systems, marketing and management principles.
3. Standing Out Too Much
Joining a franchise program can be a little tricky, you want to stand out against your competition, but you can’t stand out too much because you have to follow all the criteria of the franchisor. It is a bit of a balancing act, but it can be done as long as you keep in mind what the franchisor expects from you. If you like to have complete control of your business, you are better off opening an independent restaurant than become a good food franchise owner.
4. Thinking Your Franchisor Needs You to Succeed
Some franchisees feel a false sense of confidence thinking that their franchisor needs their franchisees to do well in order for them to make their money. But that is not necessarily the case. You are expected to give them their percentage of your gross sales, whether you have good sales or not. And many of them mark up the equipment, products and supplies you are required to purchase from them.
This is doesn’t mean however, that your franchisor doesn’t want you to succeed. If you find the right food franchise to join, they will want your business thrive and will help you achieve all your goals.
5. Not Saving Enough Money Before Opening
Some food franchises fail because they didn’t anticipate how much money is needed to keep your restaurant afloat. That first year is especially hard because you are spending a lot of money before you start making it. And it takes even longer until what you earn is more than what you spend. Experts recommend you should have six-figures in the bank before you open. If you need a loan, consider getting a loan through the Small Business Administration.
6. Assuming Location Doesn’t Matter
Location is important for any business, but especially for food franchises. If you do not have enough prospective customers living or working in the area, you will not get enough foot traffic. It can take time to find the right location with the right demographics so don’t let the franchisor rush you into picking a less ideal location. It can really have a negative impact on your fast food franchise.
7. Ignoring Franchisor Program
The franchisor has spent a lot of time working out the kinks of running your type of food franchise, whether it is a burger franchise or another kind, so you don’t have to. Don’t let your ego get in the way of following the franchise program to the T. That is why you joined a franchise program instead of going the independent route, to take advantage of the expertise of the franchisor.
You should also stay connected to other franchisees so you can swap war stories and learn from each other experiences.
8. Assume You Don’t Have to Market
Most franchisors as part of their program will offer you help with advertising and marketing, but you shouldn’t rely just on what they provide. Make sure you or someone on your team knows how to implement some marketing strategies on your own. Just make sure it complements the franchisor campaigns.
For more information about food franchises and the common mistakes new food franchises make, contact Zac’s Burgers.