Non-Traditional Franchise Locations: The Convenience of a Captive Audience

Non-Traditional Franchise Locations: The Convenience of a Captive Audience

These days, you can enjoy everything from a simple cup of coffee to nearly a full meal before you even get on a plane. From Toronto’s Air Canada Centre to Pearson International Airport and hotel lobbies across the country, franchises can now be found everywhere in Canada.

While that's definitely a good thing, a franchise location in places like airports, hotels, hospitals, amusement parks, highway service hubs, tourist attractions and college campuses are still considered non-traditional, and sometimes that scares off new franchisees when they're considering what type of business format to invest in and where it should be with the franchisor.

In reality, as outlined in the Franchise Focus section of the Financial Post, there are unique benefits associated with non-traditional franchise spots that every franchisee should consider before eliminating them entirely from the prospect list.

The Power of a Non-Traditional Franchise

No matter where they are, all non-traditional locations tend to have one thing in common: a captive audience. A customer base is essentially built in because the people visiting the main area have nowhere else to go to buy what they want or need. A person visiting a loved one in the hospital, for example, who needs a cup of coffee will usually opt for the shop in the lobby instead of leaving the hospital and going somewhere else to get it.

Of course, that's not to say that non-traditional locations offer inferior products when compared to traditional locations. In fact, many major franchise chains have worked to ensure the goods and services of non-traditional stores meet those of regular stores, as both types of locations are representing the brand to the general public. The edge here is that the franchisee is walking into a situation where both potential and likely customers are walking by on a daily basis right from the start.

The brand awareness bump from a non-traditional spot is another benefit that can't be ignored. Even with the higher costs often seen with non-traditional spots, some franchisees still go that route because they know the brand-strengthening perks of being in a high-profile area that has heavy traffic.

Getting Through the Door

Getting a non-traditional franchise may not be easy, even with a franchisee who fully recognizes the benefits and is willing to handle the investment. The simple fact is that some franchisors struggle to get into these high-profile areas. Larger, more sophisticated food service operators often have contracts with the owner and/or operator of large public facilities to operate and develop all internal food sites. This type of operator may be a bigger company than the franchisor, who is effectively blocked from developing locations in these sites. However, it's worth noting than even a smaller franchise may have non-traditional locations available in a smaller facility, such as a community hockey arena.