Patti Parente is A&W’s Vice President of Real Estate & Franchising and joined the company in 1999 as the Director of Shopping Centres following a career with a western based development company in commercial real estate development.
BeTheBoss.ca: Tell us about the A&W Franchise Concept.
Patti Parente: A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. is a privately owned company that franchises A&W restaurants across Canada. A&W was Canada’s first hamburger quick service restaurant and remains one of its best known. The company began operations in Winnipeg Manitoba in 1956.
Today, with over 830 restaurants from Vancouver to Newfoundland, A&W is the second largest hamburger restaurant chain in Canada and is one of Canada’s leading franchisors. Over its 59 year history, A&W has established a strong brand name and a reputation as a leader in the hamburger segment of the quick service restaurant market.
BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a A&W franchisee?
PP: As an A&W franchisee you have the chance to partner with a top tier restaurant brand. Moreover, you can have the confidence of being associated with a company that is committed to the ongoing strategic renewal of the business.
A key element of A&W’s current strategy is repositioning and differentiating A&W as a “better burger” quick service restaurant. This strategy includes differentiating A&W with simple, great tasting ingredients farmed with care. A&W became the first national quick service restaurant to serve beef without hormones or steroids. This was followed by the introduction of chickens raised without the use of antibiotics and eggs from hens fed a fully vegetarian diet.
BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that A&W would be a great franchise opportunity for someone?
PP: At A&W we are committed to achieving our mission “together, to make A&W Canada’s only authentic better burger restaurants for time-crunched adults, delighting them on every single visit”. We don’t talk about selling franchises – we talk about “awarding” them to people that are equally committed to our mission and passionate about actively participating in the business.
BTB: Tell us a little about the food service market?
PP: The quick service restaurant (QSR) market is the 2nd largest generator of traffic in the Commercial Food Service Industry in Canada generating sales of over $23 billion for the 12 month period ending November 2014 (source NDP Group Canada). Chain brands dominate the QSR market in Canada accounting for about 91% of all traffic (source NDP Group Canada).
The QSR burger market in Canada generated sales of approximately $7 billion dollars in the 12 months ended November 2014, representing about 30% of the total QSR market. (Source: NPD Group Canada. Total QSR sales are forecasted to increase by 4.1% in 2015. (Source: CRFA's Foodservice Forecast).
BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
PP: For someone looking to acquire a Franchise I would say “do your homework”. One of the things that we insist upon with our potential franchise candidates is that they speak to some of the franchisees operating in the system – this allows them to get a first-hand look at what it’s like to be in the business.
At the appropriate time, before committing to the business, we also provide 2 days of restaurant orientation for folks to “test-drive” the business. This is an excellent opportunity for both franchisee and franchisor to see if it is a good fit. Finally, getting good legal advice is not only critical but very helpful too.