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How to Open a Restaurant Franchise in Canada

Nov 18, 2020 Franchise Information

For any aspiring entrepreneur, the prospect of owning an established, profitable business can be very appealing. But making the first few steps towards owning a franchise can be overwhelming, especially in today’s pandemic-weary climate.


Franchise models tend to appeal to entrepreneurs because many of the operational and marketing aspects of the brand have already been established. In other words, you don’t have to do the heavy lifting of building brand trust with consumers, the franchisor has that covered. However that’s not to say owning a franchise is easy, it’s still a lot of work. But the reality is, some models are more firmly established than others.


These days you may be tempted to lean into industries that are resilient against extreme conditions, such as worldwide pandemics. Food service is one of those resilient industries, because let’s face it, everyone still needs to eat.


Restaurant franchises are some of the most firmly established models to invest in. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the shape of restaurant franchising, as it has with countless other industries, there are still some very convincing reasons to invest in one.


So, where should you begin?


Know Thyself

First, research what restaurant franchise model will be the right fit for you. There are unique differences between owning a Full Service Restaurant versus a Quick Service restaurant. The demands are different, the hours are different, as are the regulations. Which one best suits your lifestyle?


What are you passionate about? You could say “making money”, but that’s more of an effect rather than a cause. Do you love mentoring people? Do you love providing your staff a safe, supportive place to work? Do you love working on the business rather than in the business? What are these core passions and do they align with the restaurant franchise business you are considering?


What is your tolerance for adhering to franchise standards? You’re an entrepreneur at heart, so will you be okay with adopting set standards of brand use, messaging and promotion?


Another major factor: your budget. It pays to know how much you have to invest in your franchise. Luckily, there are several tiers of investment available for prospective restaurant franchisees. It’s important to know your budget, as well as your tolerance for getting things off the ground for the first couple of months as you get established.


Know Your Location

Once you have these fundamental philosophical questions answered, it’s time to look at some more logistical details. As always, a major factor in owning a public-facing business is location. You need to know how visible your location will be, as well as the competitive landscape of the geography.


Here are some example questions to ask:


  • Are there other restaurants similar to your franchise nearby?
  • Can the population sustain your restaurant franchise at that location?
  • How visible will your restaurant be from major roads and highways?
  • Will it realistically get walk-in traffic?
  • Is the surrounding area more residentially focused, or industrial?
  • Are there office buildings nearby?
  • Are there any building conversion opportunities in the area (from businesses that have closed or relocated)?


You need to know all of these aspects. Keep in mind that the team at Recipe is here to help, if you have questions you want to run by us.


Know Your Options

Is the franchise you are researching set up for omnichannel? Can you offer your patrons take out, drive-in, drive-through, delivery and dine-in options?


How about ordering automation? Can patrons order meals through a mobile app, or digital display? Do you have loyalty options for your customers? Are you able to send your dedicated customers push notifications about special offers and discounts?


How about payment processing? Do you have streamlined options for your patrons to pay via mobile app or digital wallets? How frictionless is the payment experience you provide to your customers?


These days especially, having flexibility in your model can accommodate patrons through a variety of challenging scenarios.


Know Your Audience

If there are competitors in the area where you’re considering opening your franchise, are they doing well? What are the demographic characteristics of the surrounding area? Do they often eat out? What kinds of trend information can be inferred from their age/family demographics (do they have young children?) and spending habits? Are they mostly millennials? You want to know that you’re playing to the right crowd and putting your best foot forward.


If the first wave of the COVID pandemic taught us anything in Canada, it’s that people crave normalcy. Established brands create a sense of familiarity and trust. When regulations allow for dine-in or take out, it’s good to know there are franchise brands out there with well-established safety standards that take the worry out of the minds of patrons.


In Recipe’s case, we have launched a franchise-wide campaign to raise awareness about our new safety standards called “Social Safely”. This campaign builds on our already comprehensive safety and cleanliness protocols that have been in place for years, and raises them to a new standard of quality, in line with Canada’s Public Health Officer and regional Public Health Units.


If you’re considering opening a restaurant franchise in Canada, let us know. We can certainly help. The first step is usually the most challenging. That’s why we’re here.


More resources:



Restaurants Canada: Restaurant Outlook Survey reports for 2020: https://members.restaurantscanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Q2-ROS-Final.pdf


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