Open a QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) Franchise: Have You Got What It Takes?

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quick service restaurant

Everyone loves eating out. Food with friends with no washing up is the perfect evening for many Brits. Consumer spending in restaurants and cafes came close to £88 billion in 2017 with households splashing out an average of £19 a week, according to Statista.

The quick service restaurant (QSR) sector is a considerable contributor to this spending, with 44% of consumers visiting a QSR at least once a week.

But what is a QSR and do you have what it takes to own and operate one?

QSR meaning

A quick service restaurant does what it says on the tin. It aims to provide customers with food as quickly and efficiently as possible. This tends to mean that there is no table service and the food is cooked and served within minutes of the order being placed. The term QSR is often considered to be the same as fast food, but the former is being used increasingly as the sector tries to lose its unhealthy image.

QSR restaurant industry

The UK QSR market is growing despite the challenging economic conditions. This may be due to people choosing to eat quick, inexpensive food rather than dining out in a more traditional restaurant setting.

QSRs are also changing to accommodate customer demand and trends. Rather than just focusing on burgers and fried chicken, most chains are updating their menus to include healthier options too. The ability of QSR brands to innovate and adapt ensures that they will remain a firm favourite with customers.

QSR brands

A large number of QSRs operate using the franchise model. This is because the franchise model lends itself perfectly to rapid expansion over large areas. The expense of setting up each restaurant is also shared between franchisee and franchisor making it a cost-effective way to grow.

Some of the worlds most recognised restaurant brands are QSRs which operate using the franchise model. Global QSR brands including McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, KFC, Dominos Pizza Hut and Pizza Hut are all franchises.

In recent years there has also been an increase in lesser-known QSR brands offering a range of different cuisines and an affordable alternative to fries and pizzas. Wok to Walk is one such brand which was founded in 2004 and has quickly developed into an international business. With around 100 franchises all over the world in cities such as London, Barcelona, Los Angeles, and New York, this is an exciting, rapidly growing opportunity for investors. Wok to Walk offers potential franchisees an attractive alternative to the traditional fast food restaurant.

Wolf is another relatively new franchise that has taken Italian street food and adapted it to the needs of UK customers. Founded in 2015, Wolf has a total of four operational franchises, with at least another 10 in the development stage. The innovative franchise offers a unique concept, providing fast, convenient, healthy Italian food to customers.

Worryingly, around 29 percent of the adult population is currently obese in Scotland and England (Sky) and NHS campaigns have highlighted the importance of healthy eating, and so the QSR industry is responding accordingly. Increasingly salads and other low-fat options are being added to menus of big brands, and more health-focused alternative QSRs are flooding the market.

What does it take to become a QSR franchisee?

If you're interested in becoming a franchisee of a quick service restaurant, then you should be aware that it takes a specific set of skills and a lot of hard work. Here are three of the skills needed to run a successful QSR:


Opening any restaurant requires drive and determination on a whole other level than you have experienced before. You should be willing to invest blood, sweat and tears to make it work. Particularly in the first couple of years, your restaurant will take up most of your time and effort, leaving little time for friends and family. This is a sacrifice that you and your loved ones need to be prepared to make.


For your restaurant to run effectively, you'll need a team of employees who share your vision for the business. To make this happen, you'll have to demonstrate excellent communication skills, be good at problem-solving, with the ability to inspire those around you.

When it comes to recruitment, make sure that you take advice from the franchisor so that you hire the best team to support you. The service that your customers experience when they visit your QSR franchise is key to yours and the brands success.

By hiring the right people and communicating with them openly, youll create the foundation you need to operate a profitable restaurant.

Rule follower

Consistency is key to the success of a franchise, and this is undoubtedly true for a QSR. Customers need to be confident that the food they enjoyed in one restaurant will taste exactly the same as in any other location. Its this uniformity that creates brand loyalty and keeps customers coming back for more.

However, this does require franchisees to adhere to the franchise system which has been developed and improved by the franchisor. The model will have been tried and tested by many franchisees before you and will have a proven track record of success. This suits many aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to benefit from training and support structure that the franchise model provides.

If youre happy to conform to the rulebook, then buying a QSR franchise offers an excellent opportunity to become your own boss with the support of an established brand. On the other hand, if you prefer to do things your way and find it difficult to stick to the rules, then starting an independent restaurant from scratch may be a better idea.


The popularity of quick-service restaurants makes them a good investment choice for prospective franchisees. They do require significant investment compared to other franchise opportunities, but they can also be extremely lucrative if operated successfully.

Franchise Opportunities

Lets now take a look at two more exciting franchise opportunities operating in the QSR market.


Subway has the title of the number one restaurant chain based on the number of outlets in the QSR industry. So, what better franchise to kick things off with?

The sandwich brand also adapts to changing customer tastes and needs, and in line with what we mentioned earlier, values the importance of offering healthy alternatives. As well as offering fresh tasty sandwiches and salads, Subway ensures to always offer exceptional customer service. Combined with its delicious food, this consistently positive customer experience that keeps people coming back for more.

As Subway has experienced such success both nationally and globally, you might expect an established training and support programme from them. And youre right. There is a comprehensive two-week training course based at one of its training centres. Then, once your business is up and running this will take between two months and a year- you will remain in close contact with the franchisor. You can also refresh your knowledge and keep up to date with developments in the business through e-courses.

If you think youve got what it takes, and you want to be part of a global company with over 22,000 franchisees and a presence in 112 countries, why not apply today? Subway encourages applicants who are passionate about the brand, have knowledge of the market, and can manage their time well to get in touch. It is also essential to be able to demonstrate times when you have used communication skills efficiently.

The minimum investment for this franchise is around £100,000. Subway has partnerships with financial institutions who can provide candidates with a good credit history up to 70 percent of this cost.

Papa Johns

Similar to Subway, Papa Johns has a strong presence in numerous markets around the world. So much so, that it now serves its delicious pizzas from over 5,000 stores. In terms of the UK, there is upwards of 400 locations, so no matter where you live, you cant be too far from the irresistible smell of fresh dough.

The ambitious pizza brand is keen to reach 600 units soon and the UK is leading its plans for growth. There are so many great aspects to this franchise deal, including a free oven, bespoke marketing support and a royalty reduction programme.

Prospective franchisees will head to the companys international training centre in Milton Keynes for a six week initial training programme. As well as classroom training at the centre, you will go to the nearest restaurant for practical training.

Even after this, a franchise business manager will help with recruitment and training of staff, product control, implementing marketing strategies, pricing, and any other necessary areas.

Depending on the site you choose and how build refitting will cost, the investment typically costs £170,000 to £225,00. £100,000 of this should be in liquid funds. The agreement is for 10 years, and the agreement can be renewed by the franchisee for no additional charge. For more details on the franchise costs and fees, head to the Papa Johns client page here.

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