Location, location, location

In her second column for Elite Franchise, Subway franchisee Rachel Shaw discusses the challenges of opening a new franchise outlet


The first thing I did when considering opening my own franchise was to decide on the location. There are many things to consider. I picked the location for my new store by looking in detail at the demographics of the area, including information on how many schools there were, the pedestrian footfall, passing traffic and availability of parking. I also considered the locations of businesses such as offices, estate agents, banks and hospitals and researched other competitors in the area, even checking how far away the nearest Subway store was.

I was looking for an area that needed a quick-service restaurant and where there was evidence to support morning, lunchtime and evening trade. It can be quite challenging to find a location that ticks all of these boxes and once you have, you also have to evaluate the breakeven factor and the rent and rates in the area. It is also useful to review any local up-and-coming developments and whether or not these will impact your business in either a positive or negative way.

Once you have decided on your chosen site, you then submit your preferred location to the brand, which in turns does its own analysis of the area. It looks at the viability of your location using its own formulas and also sends a field consultant out to visit the area and meet with you at your preferred location.

The next thing you need to think about is recruitment: how many members of staff do you need? What skills should they have? Where will you find new staff? How will you work out who suits your needs best? I always advertise for jobs locally with a poster in the soon-to-open store, along with setting up an interview day at the local Jobcentre. I really enjoy meeting people so, for me, interviewing candidates is an exciting part of the recruitment process and one that I look forward to. It’s always nice to meet new members of your team and know that they are just the right person for the job.

The time from picking the location, recruiting and training staff through to the actual opening day could be anywhere from three to six months, depending on legal requirements and the amount of building work or refurbishment needed for the store. The franchisor will usually support you with details of approved contractors. I have always used the same firm from this list for my stores – they are extremely reliable and turn around a build within four weeks, taking care of required certification and building controls.

My newest store in West Wickham, Kent, has been received very well since it opened at the end of 2013. I believe this was down to the amount of work that we did prior to the opening within the community, such as taster days, getting involved with the local Christmas Fair and holding regular meetings with other businesses in the area.

Having the support of your franchisor is very important, especially when the opening day gets close, and this is why I like the tried-and-tested concept of franchising. You know that you’re not on your own, and that there are plenty of people who can help you out and provide reassurance that you’re doing just fine.”

As a Subway franchisee I was fortunate to have regular meetings with a field consultant in the build-up to my store opening and had their support for the first few days when I began trading. I can’t tell you how important that was to me.

Being a franchisee isn’t about working by yourself, it’s about working with an established and well-recognised brand, which is there to support you every step of the way.”

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