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4 Qualities Restaurant Franchisors Look For in a Franchisee When it comes to franchising, it's all about the perfect match between franchisor and franchisee, especially in something as fast-paced as restaurant ownership.

By Madeline Garfinkle

This story appears in the September 2022 issue of Start Up.

Restaurant franchising requires a unique match between franchisor and franchisee. The skills required to succeed can be different than those for other industries, and so to stand out, it's best to know exactly what franchisors want. Here's a breakdown of their top four priorities.

Eagerness to learn.

Franchisors don't expect you to know everything right away. (After all, if you did, why wouldn't you just build your own business model instead of following theirs?) But they do expect you to want to learn how they achieve success. "The coachability piece is huge for us, because we know what we're doing now, and if you follow what we're preaching and what we have as a system and brand, we can make you successful," says Jim Tselikis, cofounder of Cousins Maine Lobster. "If a franchisee comes in and says they don't know everything but they're willing to learn and we can train them, they'll be successful. And I think that humility is a really becoming quality."

Related: 6 Tips to Consider When Searching for a Franchise for the First Time

A love of service.

Not every franchise concept requires day in, day out interaction with all kinds of customers. But restaurant franchisees devote their days to making their patrons happy. And so if you don't have a deep desire to serve others, it can be just about impossible to succeed. "You can train anyone to run a restaurant, but it's very hard to coach somebody to be a nice person," says Lauren Fernandez, founder and CEO of Full Course. "You really need to find people who have that service heart and attitude."

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now and take this quiz to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

A belief in the brand.

Sometimes, though, heart is not enough. Restaurant franchisees also have to understand the mission and purpose of the brand. After all, they're the ones who uphold the integrity of the company in the eyes of its customers. As Tselikis puts it: "You need to buy in — not just literally with your dollars." Even when making initial assessments of potential franchise partners, make sure that you believe in the brand's core values and message. It's essential, Fernandez says, "that you have that early stage alignment on what the brand is about."


At its core, franchising is a partnership that requires dedication. This is especially true in the food and beverage industry. Restaurant franchisees need to be ready to dive in and devote themselves to what is often decades of commitment. So if you're interested, be sure to consider the amount of time, effort and financials that are required to ensure the unit succeeds. Only then can you truly be in it for the long haul.

Related: 2022 Top Food Franchises Ranking

Madeline Garfinkle

News Writer

Madeline Garfinkle is a News Writer at She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

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