Modular Construction Options for Restaurant Franchises


Running a franchised restaurant can be a profitable business, and many restaurant corporations are set up to help new owners every step of the way. From hiring and training staff to marketing, product pricing, promotions and events, opening a franchise can be almost turnkey, depending on the level of investment and the franchisor.
But what keeps a lot of potential franchisees from pulling the trigger on an agreement is the process of site selection and construction of a new or remodeled space for a restaurant. While potential franchisees may have business experience in different areas — finance, marketing, sales, supply chain operations — not everyone has been through the remodeling or new construction process. And the prospect of working with contractors and builders for months at a time or paying to have an owner’s representative assist them can be a franchising deal breaker.

Modular construction can provide a solution to the issues related to franchising construction, making the process easier for all parties involved and saving time and money along the way.

Building on a Template

Major restaurant brands want consistency in the marketplace. Just think of any major fast food or fast casual restaurant you’ve visited — McDonald’s, Subway, Wendy’s, Five Guys — the layout from store to store is generally consistent with little deviation. From the furniture placement and paint to the finishes and architectural details, the same design approach across all locations provides brand continuity and familiarity for consumers.

With modular construction, franchisees can ensure consistency with a templated approach to restaurant building that simplifies the process and provides brand consistency. Design considerations may include codes for a range of states across the country, and a templated approach allows a franchisee to have an inventory of structures available even before the restaurant real estate arrangements have been finalized. Once a design is final, modular construction moves quickly into framing, building and electrical, with multiple units in process at the same time.

Speed to Market

No one wants a construction project to languish, pushing out timelines and increasing overall budgets. Despite all the best intentions, issues such as labor shortages and bad weather can delay a construction project leaving new franchisees with a headache they didn’t expect.

With modular construction, restaurant construction takes on a plug-and-play approach. Because the units are built inside Boxman’s facility safe from the elements, inclement weather delays are never an issue. Inspections take place while the units are under construction. Once the restaurant has made its way through the construction process off site, it is nearly 90 percent complete. The next step is site preparation where the restaurant will operate — mechanical, electrical and plumbing work is connected and the restaurant is complete.

The more quickly a new restaurant is constructed, the more quickly a franchisee can open the doors to customers and begin making money. Additionally, a modular-built restaurant can also be moved to another location easily should the need arise. In all, modular construction saves 50 to 60 percent of the time to market that regular construction requires.

Despite the expedited construction timelines and the ability to get a restaurant into the market more quickly, modular construction shouldn’t take short cuts on quality. Steel, the most durable form of construction that is on-par with any type of permanent construction, has a longer lifespan than wood construction.

Building A New Approach

Over the last several years, restaurants have increasingly been moving towards smaller footprints and drive-through-only models to accommodate people’s busy lifestyles. A modular unit approach is also useful when an existing location has to remodel, which is usually stipulated in a franchising agreement. The modular approach allows for a smaller version of the restaurant to stay open, usually with a reduced menu, to accommodate regular customers who would otherwise drive on down the road to find another restaurant to fulfill their cravings.

A smaller-scale, modular approach cuts down on dining space and reduces labor costs overall. And current economic conditions suggest that this approach will continue, giving restaurant franchisees and franchisors another reason to consider modular construction.