Of all the possible restaurant franchising opportunities you could invest in, the burger franchise is one of the most iconic; perhaps rivalled only by a pizza franchise or fried chicken restaurant.
Brands like Wayback Burgers are built entirely around the legacy and popularity of the burger segment, for example. Intended to deliver an experience that harkens to “back in the day”, Wayback Burgers is a perfect example of how the sheer popularity and nostalgia that consumers have for their local burger restaurant can be turned into a successful franchise concept – one that exemplifies the American dream.
Despite the very American image that burger franchises portray, however – popularized by the likes of the Burger King franchise or U.S.-centric names like Liberty Burger – burger concepts have a strong international appeal; making this segment of the food and beverage industry perfect for franchisees with sights set on overseas growth.
Five Guys, for example, announced it would be entering the Australian market in 2021 in partnership with a local master franchisee. FAT Brands Inc., meanwhile, announced plans last year to broaden its co-branded Fatburger and Buffalo’s Express presence in Singapore.
But what kind of burger franchise opportunities are available to prospective franchisees? How do you open a burger restaurant, and what kind of initial investment and other fees are needed? To find out this and much more, continue reading our comprehensive guide to hamburger franchises.
The history of burger franchises
Many of the iconic burger restaurant franchises that we know today began in the U.S. in the 1950s, thanks to the entrepreneurial drive of a select group of restaurateurs. McDonald’s, for example, was started in 1948 by two brothers: Maurice and Richard McDonald in San Bernardino, California. This inspired competition, with the predecessor to Burger King founded in 1953.
The burger industry has been rife with competition ever since, but only the best offerings catch the attention of hungry consumers: fresh ingredients, quality food, and a wide menu containing the likes of veggie burgers or chicken burgers are just some of the ways that today’s biggest burger franchises have stayed on top.
Today, many burger brands built around the idea of offering a ‘better burger’ have been seeing continuous demand. The burger movement is an exciting one, and entrepreneurs are lining up in their hundreds to partner with the most innovative operators.
BurgerFi, a fast-casual restaurant operating in this better burger space, is one such burger joint that has its sights set on growth. At the end of 2020 it announced over 30 new locations in development, with the majority situated in its home market of Florida.
In Europe, brands like Shiso Burger have also carved a niche for themselves by offering a fresh spin on this culinary classic. Shiso Burger, launched in Berlin, offers an urban Asian fusion concept with fresh-made burgers and quality ingredients.
And even celebrities are getting on board the burger train. Lewis Hamilton, international Formula One icon and PETA’s 2018 Person of the Year launched Neat Burger in 2019 to appeal to vegan burger fans with meatless burgers and fresh food items. The first Neat Burger site opened on Regent Street in London, with several others planned over the coming years.
“I’m very passionate about being kinder to our world and also really respect Neat Burger’s commitment to more ethical practices and supporting small businesses, so this is something I’m also really proud to support,” Hamilton said at the time of the brand’s launch. “As someone who follows a plant-based diet, I believe we need a healthier high street option that tastes amazing, but also offers something exciting to those who want to be meat-free every now and again.”
Actor Mark Wahlberg has also been in the burger franchising game for over a decade, having launched Wahlburgers in 2011 with his two brothers. Just this year, Wahlburgers announced development Down Under with at least 15 Wahlburgers restaurants opening in Australia through an agreement with Aussie-based United Cinemas.
Which burger franchise restaurant is best?
It can be very tricky narrowing down which burger restaurant is best for you, because there’s so many competitors in the market today; each offering potential franchise owners the opportunity to serve quality burgers while building a sustainable, successful business.
MOOYAH Burger, for example, sits within the better burger space and sets out to offer the kind of burger you’d expect in a fine-dining establishment, served in a family-friendly environment. It aims to keep initial investment costs low, with the total franchise investment sitting between $551,918 – $715,161.
This figure isn’t too dissimilar from Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, which reports an investment cost of $332,000 – $788,000, including a franchise fee of $25,000 and a net worth requirement of $850,000.
Even some of the biggest players in this space position their fees around this level, with the Burger King franchise fee sitting at $40,000. Unless potential franchisees are looking at an especially niche or luxurious offering, many burger franchises can appear financially similar on paper.
Where they really differ is in the burger menu on offer; whether there’s particular speciality burgers that draw in the crowds, or whether a brand has really nailed classic burgers, creating lines around the block.
How to open a burger franchise
Once you’ve settled on which of the many burger options you’d like to open a franchise location under, the next step is reviewing the financial requirements and making sure that you can produce a firm business plan that outlines your strategy and growth.
The cost of entry can vary for burger restaurants, with upfront costs often being associated with the build-out of your specific location. A hamburger stand or pop-up burger hut would differ to a brick-and-mortar location, for example, and working out what kind of business owner you’d like to be is an important step toward franchise ownership.
But whether you’re looking to sell onion rings or turkey burgers, Angus beef or chicken sandwiches, having prior experience of restaurant ownership isn’t always a must.
Elevation Burger, for instance, provides a whole host of franchise, marketing, and operational support to prospective franchisees so that they can run their location to the high standards set by the rest of the network. Caliburger, meanwhile, looks for franchisees with business experience and knowledge of real estate, alongside an enthusiasm for bringing its distinct Cali-style burgers to the global masses.
For the right kind of prospective franchisee, the burger franchise market can be a truly lucrative space, and your mouth-watering recipe for success.