June 04, 2013
Traditional bricks-and-mortar franchising is generally associated with businesses operating inside of malls, strip plazas, power centres or storefronts. Most of the opportunities that a franchisor makes available to a franchisee are located within these conventional venues. However, franchised businesses do exist beyond the confines of those sites, as franchisors are regularly seeking new ways to appeal to a captive audience. The potential for the success of these locations is hard to ignore given the reality of a large prospective customer base isolated in one specific area with a limited number of choices for purchasing products and services.
Airports, movie theatres, amusement parks, zoos, campuses, hospitals, casinos, sports arenas, highway service centres – these are just a handful of examples of locations for non-traditional franchising. Subway made headlines a few years ago when it announced the opening of a restaurant atop a crane being used for construction at the Freedom Tower in New York City!
It should be noted, of course, that many of these non-traditional sites may not be available as opportunities for just any franchisee. In fact, many of them are operated by large foodservice companies which are awarded contracts to develop businesses (generally restaurants) within these larger facilities. Companies like Aramark, Compass Group and HMS Host operate most or all of the restaurants located within many such facilities across Canada.
But that doesn’t mean that non-traditional locations are inaccessible to less institutionalized franchisees. Some non-traditional development can be offered to successful single- or multi-unit operators already working with the franchise system. And those opportunities existing within less commercial spaces (such as a local community centre) may be easily made available to entrepreneurial prospective franchisees who can identify the potential for a location.
Non-traditional franchising does not come without its challenges – as to be expected, there are likely to be unique leasing issues with a non-traditional landlord, and the concept itself will require some modifications in order to be adapted to the venue – customized (some might say ‘limited’) menus and unique (some might say ‘higher’) prices are to be expected. And, as with any franchise opportunity, a new disclosure document reflecting the terms of the particular venture must be provided by the franchisor in advance.
If you are already a successful franchisee, consider approaching your franchisor to inquire about future possibilities in non-traditional locations. You may be exactly the type of franchisee they are looking for to serve a specific niche audience.