If you are thinking of opening a restaurant in Ontario, you may want to consider a franchise. Restaurant franchises in Canada tend to be much more popular and successful than independent or standalone restaurants.

Some of them are so popular that they have started to expand into the United States! Tim Hortons, Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s and Pizza Pizza are just some of the popular Canadian chains and fast food places that follow the franchise model.

There are many advantages to consider when it comes to owning a franchise vs. an independent restaurant.

  • Franchises are proven business models that are turnkey ready, all set up for your success.
  • Franchise units have established brand recognition within the community.
  • Franchise opportunities offer relatively lower risk and comparatively low start-up costs with a proven track record of success.
  • Franchise models allow you the ability to sell your franchise to another investor should you choose to go a different route.

When you build a restaurant business from the ground up, you’re faced with tons of key business decisions. You’ll need to start from the very beginning, and you’ll need to do everything on your own, without the support and guidance of a parent company.

There are several things to consider before you can even open your doors to the public.

First off, you’ll have to think about creating a business plan which will include several details from your restaurant concept to your financials, and you’ll need to write it in such a way to prove to potential investors that your venture will be successful. If you’re unfamiliar with business plans and how they are written, this can become a stumbling block right from the start.

Of course, you’ll have to think of a name and concept for your food business. Depending on your province, there will be different requirements and restrictions for choosing your business name.

Another step to opening a restaurant in Ontario is deciding on what type of restaurant you’d like the business to be – QSR / Fast food restaurant, Fast casual or Full service restaurant (FSR).  You also need to choose a business structure and register your business for sole proprietorship if you want to own the business by yourself. If you want to protect your personal assets, then you’ll need to incorporate your business.

You will have to look into what permits and licences you may need.  This will vary depending on your province and municipality. Some of the most important licences required include:

  • Business LicenseAll restaurants require a business licence to operate in Canada. The type of business licence you’ll need, the cost and how often you need to renew varies by province and municipality.
  • Employee Identification Number You’ll need this to hire employees and set up payroll for your staff.
  • Food Service LicenceYou’ll have to pass a health inspection before you open to the public in order to show that your building and your kitchen complies with Ontario Food Premises Regulations.
  • Liquor LicenseYou’ll need this if you plan to serve alcoholic beverages, and the process of obtaining one can be lengthy and costly.

Part of the creative process of opening your own restaurant from scratch is deciding what type of food and beverages you will serve to customers and determining how to price menu items. As you build out your menu, you’ll need to choose the type of equipment you’ll need, the skills you should look for in your staff, and find a supplier for food, disposables, and all the items you’ll need to bulk order on a regular basis.

On top of all these, you need to think about hiring staff and giving them the proper training, while at the same time work on branding, marketing and advertising and how you can build a loyal customer base and cement a solid reputation in the market.

Whether you choose to franchise or start from scratch, opening a restaurant in Ontario is no easy task.  But with a franchise, much of the work has been done for you. You don’t need to break a sweat deciding on what products to sell, what equipment to use or what kind of media messaging and company branding you need to reach your target audience.

This is the primary reason why franchising is so popular. It’s a ready-made business that has branding and processes already in place. From the moment you sign the agreement, you have full access to the brand, trademark, name, systems and materials you need to manage and run the business successfully.

In addition, you also get coaching and support from a larger venture that has established its reputation as a leader among competitors. For example, when choosing a location, a good franchisor can provide valuable advice on real estate and help determine suitable locations with growth and expansion in mind while looking out for issues on market saturation or potential cannibalization. As a new business owner, having this knowledge and resources in place is extremely beneficial for success especially in the early years of operating the restaurant franchise.

Owning a franchise allows you to be your own boss without so much of the headaches that starting a business from scratch can give. As a franchisee you’re an independent owner-operator. You’re not employed by the franchisor. You do lose some creative control by following the brand’s standards, but you will be largely self-directed. Outside of the provision given in your contract, you can follow your own flexible schedule, work from your restaurant, your home, or an office, make decisions about hiring and firing staff and basically run your franchise business the way you want.

As they say in the franchising industry, “You’re in business for yourself, not by yourself.” You have a support structure to rely on when you need it most, and that’s a big advantage to have in a competitive industry.

If you have always dreamed of opening a restaurant in Ontario or you are interested in getting involved in the food retail industry, Iron Skillet can help you find the perfect franchise opportunity. Contact us today for more information.