Over the last decade, UK consumers have developed a real taste for sushi and are now spending considerable amounts of cash in sushi restaurants and on high street lunch sets. This makes launching a sushi restaurant franchise a very appealing investment. In this article, we are going to discuss the popularity of sushi restaurants, what a day in the life of a restaurant owner is like, and then eight questions you need to ask yourself before jumping straight in.
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The popularity of sushi for a lunchtime snack is demonstrated by YO! Sushi’s partnership with Tesco that was established a couple of years back. This in on top of Sainsbury’s shifting around 90,000 packs every week. But, as well as becoming a firm favourite supermarket purchase, its popularity as an eat-out option has drastically increased too. Prime examples of this are that sushi counter service and takeaway chain Itsu’s sales have doubled in the five years up to 2017 (The Guardian) and that the fastest growing restaurant group in the UK is sushi restaurant Sticks ‘n’ Sushi (bighospitality).
So, there’s clearly a lucrative market on the table here, but do you have what it takes to run your own sushi restaurant franchise? To help you figure it out, we’ll start off by providing a rundown of what a standard day would look like.
A day in the life of a sushi restaurant franchise
- The daily activities don’t differ too drastically from that of any restaurant. Time will be spent receiving and preparing food and drink orders, managing staff, providing high-quality service and cleaning up when it’s closing time. Less busy periods can be spent managing social media channels. However, knowledge of Japanese culture can help provide a more authentic experience.
- Staff includes kitchen porters, chefs (itamae – for Japanese restaurants), waiting staff and front of house employees. You’ll act as overseer and make sure all employees are fulfilling their roles to a high standard and are happy in the work environment.
- One of the most stressful aspects of the job can be the smooth running of equipment. For instance, if air conditioning fails on a hot summer’s day or heating doesn’t work when it is cold, you could lose customers.
The 8 questions you need to ask yourself before running a sushi restaurant franchise
Launching your franchise requires a great deal of thought and careful consideration. To give you a brief overview of what you’ll need to think about, we’ve compiled a list of eight questions you’ll need to ask yourself before starting the business.
1. What is the competition like?
As with all business ventures, it’s essential to develop a good understanding of who the competition is before establishing your franchise. If the market is saturated with Japanese restaurant franchises just like yours, it's going to be challenging to stand out from the crowd. If this is the case, you’ll need to have a USP, for instance offering rare Japanese cuisine, to set yourself apart.
If similar businesses are struggling in a particular area, it might be because there's something about the location that makes it ill-suited to that kind of business. Studying the competition allows you to work out what your sushi restaurant must do and what it can't afford to do if it's to succeed.
2. Where should you open?
One of the most important considerations for your Japanese restaurant franchise is where you are going to launch. Location is incredibly important, and business owners need to perform a large amount of market research before making any decisions. Look at what competitors have done in the past and what they're doing now. What worked and what didn't? Where are businesses currently flourishing and where are they struggling?
A good place to start could be in an area with a few Japanese supermarkets, as this should indicate that there is a demand for the cuisine in the area and potential customers can walk past your location on their way there. This is essentially free marketing for your sushi business!
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3. What type of business do you want to operate?
Sushi restaurant franchises come in all shapes and sizes. Some even move. When looking for a franchise or contemplating setting your own business up, it’s important to consider whether you want to run a large, sit-down sushi restaurant, a small kiosk or even a food truck. The size of the location will influence the type and number of different menu items you can offer. The amount of capital you require for each will vary drastically, and the returns you can expect will differ too.
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4. Do you want to serve sushi exclusively?
While there are few franchises that serve sushi exclusively, there are franchises specialising in serving broader Asian cuisine. For instance, Wok&Go and Wok to Walk both offer investors an excellent opportunity to own their own Asian food franchise. But more on these later!
5. Do you want to be the franchisor or the franchisee?
Currently, there aren’t many sushi franchises out there on the market. Yo! Sushi is the biggest name in the business and, beyond it, there are few other opportunities to invest in a sushi franchise. With this in mind, it might be a good idea to ask yourself whether you want to be a franchisee or whether you want to try your hand at being an independent business owner or even a franchisor.
Does starting your own unit of an existing franchise appeal to you? Or would you rather build a business from scratch and launch your own franchise? Consider both options carefully before making your decision.
6. How are you going to finance your venture?
Finance is one of the most significant issues for all business owners. The vast majority of food franchisees have to borrow from large lenders to finance their venture. However, a small minority can find capital from other sources. For instance, it may be possible to completely self-finance a less expensive franchise, or franchisees might be able to rely on friends and family for investment. Either way, it’s necessary to consider your financing carefully, as one wrong step at this stage can hamper your efforts in the long run.
7. How will you market yourself?
There is a diverse array of ways in which you can market your sushi restaurant franchise and introduce the business to a wider audience. In the modern business environment, social media and digital marketing play a significant role.
Some companies have built a recognisable and popular brand on social media platforms alone. Some businesses prefer traditional TV spots or print advertising. Whichever path you choose, you'll need to factor in costs and think about how best to reach your target audience.
You can choose signage that represents the sushi franchise’s values to help connect with customers and encourage them to enter.
8. What is your long-term plan?
Your long-term goals should always influence your short-term behaviour. After all, every little step contributes to the broader journey. If you understand where your business is heading in the long term, it gives you far more opportunities to set up the organisation in a way that maximises the chance of achieving these aims.
For instance, if you want to build a sushi franchise that you can operate part-time, you should try to ensure that the management system and structures required are in place as early as possible.
Japanese restaurant franchise examples
These two franchise opportunities don’t actually include sushi on their menus, but they are still exciting ventures due to the thriving Japanese food market. Let’s explore what they can offer franchisees in more depth below.
Wok to Walk
This food franchise has proudly won itself the title of number one wok kitchen across the whole of Europe. It’s flocked to by customers who crave their nutritious Asian fix on the go. It’s an instantly recognisable brand to noodle fans in London, Barcelona, New York and beyond.
When franchisees join the brand, they will take part in an extensive training programme. When completed, you will be able to manage the franchise to an excellent standard and have all the necessary expertise.
If you want to be the 96th Wok to Walk location, you’ll need to make a minimum investment of £100,000.
The Asian fusion food franchise offers the most delicious recipes from Malaysia, Thailand, China, Indonesia and Japan. Since its launch in 2008, it has established roots across the UK, but it isn’t done yet. Wok&Go is looking for ambitious entrepreneurs with a passion for customer service to join it on its expansion mission.
Want to join the ‘fastest growing noddle bar in the UK’? You’ll need to invest a total of £200,000. In return, you’ll receive training and ongoing support. This includes help with recruiting and training chefs.
Get started with a sushi restaurant franchise
There’s never been a better time to enter the sushi industry, as it only ever seems to increase in popularity. If you do decide to start a sushi restaurant franchise, be sure to consider those eight questions first. We have one other Japanese restaurant franchise on our books at the moment, Marugame Udon. It has a higher total investment requirement of £500,000 but, with 1,004 outlets across the globe, this could be an unmissable opportunity. See more details here.
Becky Martin, Point Franchise ©