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How to buy a restaurant franchise

How to buy a restaurant franchise

Buying into a restaurant franchise can be fun, exciting, and lucrative. Here’s how to do it right

In a previous article, we discussed how to use franchising to grow a successful restaurant . In this case, we’re looking at the other side of the coin: how to choose a restaurant franchise that’s going to work for you as a business owner, and the mechanics of becoming a restaurant franchisee.

Since, as a business owner investing into this enterprise, you’re looking for the best chance of financial success while also providing a reasonable level of work/life balance, we’ll see that many of the same principles that go into successfully franchising a restaurant also play a role in choosing the best restaurant franchise to buy into:

Is buying a franchise restaurant the best choice for you?

First, it’s important to decide if buying a franchise is the best option for attaining your business goals.

The other options available to you include starting a brand new restaurant from scratch, and investing in an existing restaurant as a partner.

Generally speaking, starting up a brand new restaurant from scratch is going to require the most in terms of upfront cost and time. It also carries with it the most risk. However, in exchange, you have essentially complete freedom to handle your business any way you see fit. The restaurant’s fate is completely in your hands.

Becoming a business partner in an existing restaurant can have many advantages as far as time and labor are concerned, especially if the restaurant is already successful and doesn’t require any major operational changes. However, any business partnership includes the potential for complications working with your partner(s): personality conflicts, financial debates, etc.

Buying a restaurant franchise offers the thrill of opening a brand new restaurant while generally costing quite a bit less to get started, and mitigating risk (since you’ll be following a proven blueprint from day one.) The tradeoff, obviously, is freedom. If you’re buying into a franchise, you’re agreeing to do things exactly as the parent company instructs you, or else you run the risk of violating your franchise agreement. Also, you’ll need to factor the ongoing cost of franchise fees into your financial projections.

So, which method is best for you? Only you can answer that question, based on your own experience, risk avoidance level, and the size of the investment you’re willing and able to make. Speak to trusted local advisors (attorneys, accountants, and business brokers) who are familiar with the restaurant market in the area you’re interested in, then pursue the option that aligns best with your business goals.

If you choose to buy a restaurant franchise

Since their business model depends largely on supporting successful franchisees, most reputable restaurant franchises will make the buying and startup process as easy and painless as possible once you sign on the dotted line. Still, it’s vital to thoroughly review the franchise agreement and verify that you understand everything it entails, and that there aren’t any rules or requirements included that will negatively impact your personal and professional goals.

It’s not a bad idea to involve those advisors you spoke with earlier in this process as well, just to be sure you’re not overlooking or misunderstanding something important.

Check out some great advice from a Firehouse Subs franchisee in Colorado.

Once you’ve done so and you’re comfortable with signing the agreement, the rest of the process should be as simple as 1-2-3. That’s because successful franchises are built on duplicatable systems: every aspect of the business — from initiating the construction of a new location to placing monthly orders for supplies — is planned out and documented for you, using proven methods, a pre-established supply chain, and time-tested standards for quality and accuracy.

That’s the real magic of buying into a franchise as opposed to starting a restaurant from scratch: If you’ve done your due diligence ahead of time, and the parent company holds up its end of the agreement, you almost can’t fail since the same plans and guidelines have worked so many times before.

Don’t let that fact breed overconfidence, however. You’re still running a business, and that’s going to take work, no matter how well you’re set up for success.

Like any other restaurant (or any other business, for that matter), your franchise location will live or die based on the quality of your product, the skill and personality of your staff, the speed and convenience of your service, and the way you make customer feel about what you’re offering.
Even a perfectly-conceived Burger King restaurant, in the perfect location, and serving the most delicious Whopper out there, will fail if all these elements aren’t in place.

If you’re interested in seeing what restaurant franchise opportunities are available in your area, take a look at the franchise restaurants for sale in your area.

Bruce Hakutizwi

About the author

USA and International Manager for, a global online marketplace for buying and selling small medium size businesses. The website has over 60,000 business listings and attracts over 1.5 million buyers to the site every month.