Pro tips for buying a franchise in Canada

6 min read
Ashliegh Gehl

What do Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire, Marlin Travel, and Booster Juice have in common? They’re all franchises!  Believe it or not, business owners behind some of Canada’s most notable businesses were once in your shoes, wondering what steps to take when buying a franchise in Canada.

They began their journey by:

  • Searching for available franchises
  • Reviewing their options
  • Narrowing them down to their top choices

When they knew which franchise was the perfect fit, they confidently made their choice.

This handy how-to guide will help you through that very process. But first let’s dive into the meaning of a franchise and what makes it different from other businesses.

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Franchise 101

As you travel through your city, looking at the various businesses, it will become somewhat evident which locally owned gems are one-of-a-kind and which ones are part of a bigger ecosystem. A chain, if you will.

When you walk into Tim Hortons, anywhere in Canada or the US, it’s instantly recognizable.

From the signage and branding to the food and packaging, everything is just as you would expect it. Even the standard of service is consistent.

Tim Horton’s Toronto storefront

The staff are wearing uniforms you recognize, and the order and checkout process are familiar. These business standards are maintained by the business owner.

The parent company grants franchisees the rights to use the brand, products, and/or services.  They provide all the tools you need to operate the business.

Many business owners treat this as an investment. If you’ve always wanted to run a business but have struggled with the kind of company you’d like to run, becoming a franchisee is a great way dive in without having to worry about the bigger picture, such as branding, new products, and so on.

When you’re buying a franchise in Canada, the franchisor is your partner. If you succeed, they succeed.

Franchise forward!

You’re ready to go into business for yourself. Fantastic! With so many wonderful franchises to choose from, getting started may feel a bit intimidating.

Turn your focus to the following questions:

  • Which industry do I want to be in?
  • Where do I want to own a franchise?
  • How much money can I safely invest?

While these questions may be filling your head, they’re questions that you need to ponder. The answers you arrive at will impact your franchise journey.

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Let your franchise search begin

Once you have your answers, head to the Canadian Franchise Association’s (CFA) website. They have a comprehensive directory that makes buying a franchise in Canada easier, as the listings can be filtered by:

  • Location
  • Industry
  • Investment

The very questions you answered above. If you’re still feeling a little unsure, the CFA has a Franchise Fit quiz to aid with your franchise discovery.

On the other hand, there may be a company that you’ve long admired and are eager to partner with. The CFA’s directory can also be filtered by company name! (Yes, getting started is just that easy!)

Racks of children’s clothing

Narrow down your choices

You may find that your list of possible franchises is getting long, and you’re crossing over into different industries. You can visualize what it would be like launching several of them, and in each, can see a successful path ahead.

You’re going to be spending a lot of time building your franchise. You want it to succeed, and the franchisor wants to see you flourish.

Focus on what you’re passionate about.

Is it providing people in your community with top-notch tools for excellent lawn care? Or is it bringing a new pizza place to your hometown?

The goal of this exercise is to take that long list in front of you and arrive at a short, more manageable list.

Weigh your options

Short lists are special! Any franchise on that list could be a winner, but there’s only one that you’ll move forward with.

Selecting it, however, involves a little more investigation into the franchisor. Your gut is always right, but sometimes your gut pulls you in two directions. What do you do then?

Pro Tip: Successful franchisees are backed by strong, supportive franchisors who not only provide them with all the training to launch the company but are there through the first year and provide them with supplemental training as the company further develops.

If you’re teetering between two companies, see which one offers the following services.

Does your potential franchisor assist with or provide the following?

  • A wide inventory selection
  • Ongoing research and development
  • Equipment testing
  • Marketing, advertising, and public relations support
  • Booking, accounting, and financial management
  • Tools for purchasing, inventory control, customer relationship management, and delivery
  • Hiring, training, and performance management of employees

If one company answered ‘yes’ for all of the above, chances are you’ve found a very supportive franchisor that cares about its franchisees.

It’s time to apply!

You’ve landed on your dream franchise. Congrats! This is a big moment.

Where do you go from here? Well, now it’s time to apply.

Closeup of a worker making an espresso drink

If your application is accepted, you’ll be granted an interview. You have nothing to worry about. You’ve done your homework. You know everything there is to know about the company and why they’re the right fit for you.

If you’re feeling a little unprepared, head to your financial institution’s website. They have a lot of resources to assist with buying a franchise in Canada.

Take RBC, for example. This entire guide takes you through sales agreements, terminations, conditions of renewal, points to look out for during the interview process, and so much more.

Pro tips for success

There are several traits successful franchisees have in common. They:

  • Embody what it means to be a leader
  • Put a lot of time and energy into perfecting their communication skills

They know that most mistakes occur when there’s unclear communication, and being excellent communicators often influences their managers and supervisors. They, too, want to lead and communicate with more clarity.

Successful business owners also take risks. With a franchise, you’re taking calculated risks based on an already-proven formula.

They’re also self-aware and know that they have a lot to learn.

Patience and adaptability are key!

As a franchisee, you’re also the point of contact for anything contentious:

  • Unhappy customers
  • Cranky vendors
  • Disgruntled employees

You’re going to be faced with all types of people who provide feedback – for better or worse – about the business. How you handle it is everything.

Wishing you all the best with buying a franchise in Canada!

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Editor’s note: When it's time to start promoting your new franchise location on social, remember GoDaddy Studio. Quickly design high-impact posts — using franchise-approved colors, fonts and logos of course — for social posts, infographics and more.

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