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What Makes a Great Restaurant Franchisee?

Restaurant concepts, specifically, require a different set of skills. Great restaurant franchisees are typically passionate about their brand and willing to adapt to the unique demands of restaurant concepts.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
Updated 10:10AM 12/16/22

For a franchise network to find great success, it needs to partner with the right franchisees for the concept.

“I recommended that those interested in becoming franchisees speak with other franchisees in the brand so that they have an opportunity to ask questions and really get a look at what they’re getting into,” said Jack Armstrong, president of FranNet.

When a franchisee is fully aware of the future they are choosing for themselves, they are far more likely to be committed to the venture and find success.

Commitment, Resources and Passion Are Crucial

Andrew Sternburg, chief development officer for Gong cha Americas says the top three traits the bubble tea concept looks for in prospective franchisees are 1) Seasoned entrepreneurs with enterprise-level experience, 2) Candidates with a passion for the brand and product, who will serve as Gong cha bubble tea ambassadors and 3) An individual who possesses the financial resources to develop, support, and sustain a large territory, typically across multiple states.

Anchal Lamba, Gong cha’s largest U.S. Master Franchisee who oversees a total of 100 locations, is a shining example of these qualities. 

“I love the brand and believe in it,” she said. “I take everything to heart and really want each franchisee to succeed. It’s special working with first-time franchisees because we get to guide and educate them into this new venture,” Lamba added. “I love visiting locations for grand openings and seeing how proud our franchisees are of what they have accomplished.”

While having a passion for and dedication to the concept is crucial in most franchise concepts, restaurants, specifically, require an extra layer of consideration.

Restaurant models are often seven-day-per-week concepts, with long operational hours. Due to the nature of restaurant operating hours, the model requires special attention to staffing,” Sternburg added. “Food quality and safety are also critical success factors, so attention to detail is a base requirement. Last, being willing to invest in the best locations — high traffic areas, with good visibility and frontage — is a top priority.”

A Great Restaurant Franchisee Seeks a Model With Demands That Align With Their Resources

There are countless models available within the restaurant franchising space, and prospective franchisees should make a concerted effort to consider the realities of each. There are pros and cons to various models, and finding a model with the perks that most closely align with your personal desires lays a great foundation for success.

For example, a concept like Gong cha, which serves a variety of bubble teas, will require a much different set of skills and materials than a more standardized or classic brand.

“Opening a bubble tea franchise is an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a market that’s rising in popularity and is ‘the next big thing’ in the food and beverage industry,” Sternburg explained. “A Gong cha franchisee only needs a small amount of capital but a large amount of energy, excitement and enthusiasm about the brand and a desire to introduce the product to new consumers.”

For a franchisee with tons of excess capital and less available time and passion, a standard, big-box concept may be a better fit. Investing in something with a strong name can be a great way to drive demand.

Though this is not the case for all lower-capital concepts, Lamba had this experience with her first location.

“When we opened our first store in New York, I was surprised to hear about how many of our customers knew of the brand from abroad,” she said. “I knew Gong cha was an international brand, but I didn’t realize the international presence would make such an impact here.”

Some attributes that make a great restaurant franchisee can be applied as a blanket statement. A passion for the brand, the ability to grow and experience with larger, more complex concepts are all important. This equips the owner with the resources they will need to genuinely promote their product, navigate staffing requirements and find success scaling. 

Alternately, there is a more nuanced side to ‘What Makes a Great Restaurant Franchisee?’ Not all restaurants are created equal, and a ‘great’ franchisee often grows from someone who is able to honestly evaluate their own strengths and desires and choose the concept that they know they can be great at.