Sam Mustafa, CEO of Charleston Hospitality Group shares his advice and tips for success.
As the owner of Charleston Hospitality Group in Charleston, SC, I understand that when it comes to finding the perfect franchise to partner with in the Hospitality Industry, you are inundated with options. You can choose the big national name brands or opt for popular regional favorites. Last August, after years of preparation, I was able to franchise my restaurant concept, “Toast All Day” nationwide in 2020, a year when our industry crumbled. Since franchising in August 2020, we are on the lookout for the perfect franchise partners who believe in our vision and possess the same growth mindset.
Finding the perfect franchise to partner with takes a lot more energy and effort than throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks, or in a Restaurateur’s case, generates substantial ROI. I bet you’re wondering, okay, but how do I choose? How do I choose the perfect business to partner with?
First, make sure that the prospective brand aligns with your “dream”. Ask yourself, “What is your long term plan? Do you want to build relationships with your brand or is this solely for venture gain? How does this brand fit your ideology and character?” If you are able to answer all of these questions without hesitation, it is now time to dive into more defining components.
According to Restaurant Business Online Magazine, the top 4 characteristics franchisees should look for when choosing a franchise include differentiation, the brand’s aesthetic, quality ingredients, employee loyalty and good work culture. While I agree with these characteristics, I also would like to add the importance of choosing a location.
Let’s get into it!
The Top 5 Things Franchisees Need To Look For In A Restaurant Brand
Differentiation, Brand Aesthetic, Quality Ingredients, Work Culture and Location.
1) Differentiation: What Makes Your Franchise Different?1
When thinking in terms of choosing a restaurant brand, what is your restaurant’s competitive advantage?For example, Charleston Hospitality Group’s restaurant concept, Toast! All Day’s competitive advantage is serving sweet southern comfort dishes and specialty mimosas all day long in a fast-casual restaurant environment. Our core values include loyalty, spirit of service, integrity, accountability, and camaraderie. We are seen as a place to, “Celebrate the Possibilities” and our branding and marketing behind the restaurant encompass these differentiating features.
When comparing our concept geographically, our model stands out. As we reach more regions, our model will be even more differentiating. In regions, such as the NorthEast, they have limited options for authentic southern foods. Fried Green Tomatoes, Biscuits and Gravy and Chicken and Waffles served all day? With specialty mimosas? To get the full franchise experience, it does add to your experience to like the menu too!
2) The Brand’s Aesthetic: Is It In-Line With Your Core Values?1
Take a minute to think about your core values. What are some of your ethics, interests, and inspirations? When looking to become a business partner some things you will want to consider are what you are looking to represent. What in a business are you looking to grow and become an asset to?
Toast! All Day offers a lively atmosphere, delicious southern food and focuses equally on our customer service. We now operate in 6, almost 7 locations in the SouthEast and our goal is to have 100 locations nationwide in the next 10 years.
3) Quality Ingredients1
What is the number one reason that keeps people coming back to your restaurant? Good food. Skimping on low quality food will hurt your brand, as exceptional customer service will only rectify the first negative experience. By knowing where the food is sourced from and the brand’s protocols for ensuring they maintain a standard across all locations, you can easily check another box off your “needs” list during your search!
Now, for privacy reasons, we are not allowed to tell you where we source our food publicly, we save this information for consultations. We can assure you that all our products we carry meet a Grade A requirement and we do our best to source locally to support our community.
4) Employee Loyalty and Work Culture1
What is the next crucial indicator you are on the right path in your franchise search? Employee loyalty, employee morale and a work culture that encompasses core values that you believe in. These characteristics are all intrinsically linked. Having employees that are on board with the brand’s mission is crucial to success. Be sure to ask questions such as their employee turnover rates. Do they offer on-the-job training or team building practices? By doing your due diligence when researching a brand to open a franchise under, operators set themselves up for success, and avoid a lot of headaches. Find a brand that excites you, not one you have to redesign their operational structure.
5) Location, Location, Location
Aside from good-quality food, marketing and a supportive work culture- having a restaurant in the right location, you will find is really what will drive foot traffic and offer a higher return. Think of it this way, you’re in an area that is highly populated, the greater the traffer, whether pedestrian or car traffic, the more opportunity there will be to attract people to your business.
In our Toast! All Day models, all of our current and projected locations are in the area where we receive the highest traffic and repeat guests. Some are located in residential areas, and others are located in the heart of downtown. This offers us the opportunity to diversify and understand our market and niche better.
So Who Will Be The Perfect Franchise To Partner With?
That is something you will have to decide for yourself and let your intuition guide you. What I can assure you is that when you collectively find a franchise partner that incorporates all of these characteristics, you are setting yourself up for success and lots of excitement!
Have We Sparked Your Interest?
Be the Toast! Of your town! Inquire for a future franchise partnership here.
Sam Mustafa is the the CEO of Charleston Hospitality Group and Toast! All Day Franchise. Named one of the nation’s 100 most influential CEOs by Nation’s Restaurant News and frequent speaker on Joe Pardavila’s Podcast on ForbesBooks Radio. Sam is one of the leading voices in the Restaurant Industry.
1. Snob, Wing. “What to Look for in a Franchise Brand.” Restaurant Business, Restaurant Business, 13 July 2021, www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/operations/what-look-franchise-brand?utm_source=What+to+look+for+in+a+franchise+brand&utm_medium=rb-feed&utm_campaign=RSS-Feeds.