Diners enjoy a rich history across the U.S., so it’s not surprising that a number of popular local diners have franchised their winning formula and grown into successful chains. In this article, we’re focusing on how to choose a diner franchise that’s going to work for you as a business owner, and the mechanics of becoming a diner franchisee.
In most respects, running your new diner day-to-day will be the same whether you start or buy an independent diner or go with a franchise, so we won’t get too deep into that.
As a business owner, you’re looking for the best chance of quick and substantial return on your investment and a reasonable level of work/life balance. So, we’ll be spending the most time on whether a franchise diner is the best choice for you, and choosing the best diner franchise to buy into, based on your unique circumstances.
Is buying a franchise diner the best choice for you?
First, it’s important to decide if buying a franchise is the best option for attaining your business goals. The other options available to you include starting a diner from scratch or investing in an existing diner as an active or “silent” partner.
Generally speaking, starting up a brand new diner is going to require the most time and money upfront. It also carries significant risk, (although any business venture includes some risk). On the other hand, it gives you essentially complete freedom to handle your business any way you see fit. The diner’s future is completely in your hands, for better or worse.
Becoming a partner in an existing diner can offer some attractive advantages as far as time and labor are concerned, especially if the diner is already successful and doesn’t require any major operational changes. However, any business partnership includes the potential for personality conflicts, financial debates, and other complications stemming from working with your partner(s). It’s not for everyone or every situation.
Buying a diner franchise can potentially be the best option because it offers the thrill of opening a brand new restaurant while generally costing quite a bit less to get started. And, the risk is significantly reduced since you’ll be following a proven blueprint from day one. Finally, you’ll have the beneficial input of a kind of “partner” without necessarily dealing with the one-on-one personality conflicts.
The tradeoff, however, is freedom. If you’re buying into a franchise, you’re agreeing to do things exactly as instructed by the parent company in the franchise agreement. Also, you’ll need to factor franchise fees into the ongoing cost of doing business — a debt you can never pay off.
So, which method is best for you? Only you can answer that question, based on your own goals and experience, attitude toward risk, and how much money you’re willing and able to invest upfront. Speak to trusted local advisors (an attorney, accountant, and business broker) who are familiar with the restaurant market in your area, then pursue the option that aligns best with your business goals.
If you choose to buy a diner franchise
Since their success depends largely on supporting successful franchisees, reputable diner franchises will make the process of buying and opening your diner as easy and painless as possible.
Of course, you and your lawyer need to thoroughly review the franchise agreement and make sure you understand everything that’s required of you. Some new franchisees are surprised by rules or requirements that come to light after they’ve already signed on the dotted line. If any part of the agreement will negatively impact your personal and professional goals, the time to address it is before you sign.
Once you’re comfortable with signing the agreement, the rest of the process should be simple. That's because successful franchises are built on duplicatable systems. Every aspect of the business — from settling on a new location to sourcing your supplies — is planned out and documented using methods that have worked well in the past. Franchisees can often tap into a pre-established supply chain as well, which should save you money and reduce startup time.
In fact, if you’ve done your due diligence ahead of time and the parent company holds up its end of the agreement, you almost can’t fail since the same plans and guidelines have worked so many times before. You’re still running a business, however, so don’t think it’s not going to take work, no matter how well you’re set up for success.
Like any other restaurant (or any other business, for that matter), your diner’s success will depend primarily on the quality of your product, the skill and personality of your staff, the speed and convenience of your service, and the way you make customers feel about what you’re offering.
If you’re interested in seeing what restaurant franchise opportunities are available in your area, take a look at the franchise restaurants for sale in your area.