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Best Fast Food Franchises
The food and drink industry in the UK is booming, with £230bn spent on food and drink each year, and the industry employs over 450,000 in the sector across 10,000 businesses. Those figures are staggering and represent a very profitable and thriving market that can be tapped into with the help of an established, tried-and-tested brand. Below, you will find exciting franchise investment opportunities, as well as some information about the industry and how you can run your own restaurant, cafe, bar, street food truck or any other food and drink-related business.
James Fell -
Best Food Franchises in September
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Favorite Fried Chicken Limited
Food Franchises - What You Need to Know
Why choose a food franchise?
Eating out is big business in the UK, with consumer spending in restaurants and cafés reaching almost £90bn in 2018. From cafés and food trucks to fast-food and sit-down dining, the range of food options available to customers widens year on year, with more international cuisines and food trends being represented on every high street. The food and drink industry has something for everyone’s taste buds - and everyone has to eat!
The food and beverage sector is generally seen as resilient in times of uncertainty, and most businesses offer consistent income throughout the year. However, following years of increasing revenues, recent reports suggest that the restaurant industry overall is set to contract by over 3 per cent in the coming years. The exception to this trend is expected to be branded restaurants, which will achieve continued growth and increasing sales. This spending shift is obviously bad news for independent restaurants and cafes but proves that food franchises provide a relatively safe and reliable business opportunity.
Ideal for anyone with some business experience who enjoys a customer-facing role, entering the food and drink industry is a great way to turn a passion for good food into a rewarding and lucrative venture.
Big names and familiar dishes
Any roundup of the largest and most popular franchises will be dominated by the food sector, with instantly recognisable global brand names notable within almost every top 10 list. Food franchises make up a large percentage of all franchise operations and are one of the most popular business models as they have a strong and well-established record of success.
Consumers seek out branded food chains because of the consistency of experience they provide. Instead of taking a risk and trying an unknown café or restaurant, customers are attracted to more familiar options as they feel they can trust the quality of the food and service before they even walk through the door. They are also influenced by already knowing the menu, prices, opening hours, and in many cases, even the restaurant layout they can expect from a particular brand.
This also makes food franchises a popular option with franchisees, as they come with proven demand. Establishing the reputation and building the customer base of a newly opened independent restaurant can take years, with many failing to ever get off the ground. In contrast, despite a new franchised restaurant being untested, it will be recognised and trusted by an already established customer base from day one, based on the brand’s familiarity and reputation.
Similar models, different tastes
Potential franchisees entering the food and beverage sector have a huge variety of business options to choose from. Food franchising is a diverse sector - from coffee shops, juice bars and ice cream kiosks to fast-food outlets, quick-service restaurants and fine dining establishments, the industry offers a wide range of opportunities to choose from.
The highstreet snack and restaurant options available are becoming increasingly diverse and international, with both healthy and indulgent offerings from every corner of the world. Whilst fast food has been extremely popular for many years, the recent trend for healthier options has inspired a new influx of smoothie and juice bars, and natural, organic and vegan restaurants.
From big brand fast-food restaurants to more niche wholefood cafés, the franchise models offered will be similar, usually comprising a turnkey package. From selecting the right location (which is crucial to the success of food outlets) to designing the site and assisting with planning the grand opening, franchisees are given the keys to their new restaurant and step-by-step instructions to ensure the success of their new business following a tried-and-tested methodology that is known to succeed.
Food businesses operate within a heavily regulated industry, which can be disconcerting for first-time restaurant owners. While the health and safety requirements can seem confusing and off-putting, opening a franchise means you have expert advice from experienced restaurateurs to ensure compliance, all included as part of your franchise package.
Comprehensive training and support
While operating a successful food franchise requires business skills, staff management and practical aptitude, franchisees receive significant support from franchisors in establishing and running their business.
Food industry franchisors offer comprehensive operating systems and manuals covering every aspect of running the business from making the food to hiring the staff, and they also offer in-depth training. This training can last anywhere from days to months, and usually includes hands-on training in another franchise pre-launch, which is a great way for franchisees to really learn the business and be ready to hit the ground running in their own store. For anyone new to the industry, the real-world experience available can also provide peace of mind that entering the food sector is the right choice before launching their own business.
Other aspects of training covered include marketing, advertising and promoting the business effectively – all key skills for anyone entering the food and drink industry for the first time. The support provided does not disappear when the new business opens. Franchisors are available for intensive ongoing support during the first few months of business and continue to offer tools and resources to help with any issues or problems further down the line. Each franchise operation’s success is the franchisor’s success, so it’s in their interest to make sure the new business flourishes.
High investment, high returns
While the initial costs of opening a food franchise can seem relatively high, the rewards make them worthwhile.
Restaurants, fast food outlets and cafés tend to demand a high initial investment due to the equipment and real estate required to start the business. In the case of franchises, the bigger the franchisor’s brand, the higher that investment is likely to be, but that cost is offset by the strong reputation and instant customer base that comes with the name, meaning the business starts earning from the very first day of trading.
While the investment level may be high, franchisees have full knowledge of these costs upfront, which prevents any nasty surprises and allows them to be budgeted for correctly. Margins in the food industry can be relatively low, but franchisees also benefit from the improved buying power that being part of a larger brand can offer, reducing the cost of food and equipment purchases. With the costs and potential revenue clearly presented by the franchisor, food franchisees usually find it relatively easy to secure financing to launch their business, as the franchise model is familiar to lenders and comparative costs and revenue projections can be offered from similar franchise outlets within the brand group.
Food franchises also offer a scalable business opportunity. Many franchisees grow from a single-unit to multi-unit business relatively quickly, shifting from hands-on operation of a single outlet to a purely management role covering several stores. This lucrative growth could theoretically be limited by the availability of additional territories, but most franchisors encourage multi-unit ownership and will actively assist in finding alternative locations to add to the franchisee’s business portfolio.
Is a food franchise right for you?
There is no doubt that launching and managing a food franchise can be a rewarding business that delivers consistent, reliable revenue to the owner within an easily scalable business model to suit the more ambitious entrepreneur. However, food franchises almost always involve a great deal of hands-on management to get up and running, with long hours and complete commitment required to ensure a successful outcome.
High initial investment and high overheads can be off-putting to some potential franchisees, though those who fully commit usually receive equally high returns. The increasing popularity of food franchises over the years means that the current franchise models available are tried and trusted, and the franchisee can weight up the costs and potential returns relatively accurately.
Franchisors offer turnkey packages making the restaurant launch simple and straightforward, and the bigger the brand, the wider the instant customer base provided as soon as the doors open.
If you have a passion for good food, enjoy interacting with both the general public and staff, and have experience of running a business, a food franchise could be the right choice for you. With so many franchise opportunities available within the food and beverage sector, you are sure to find the perfect match for your skills, resources and tastes.