Four Questions Dan Rowe: How to win at the restaurant franchise game

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Dan Rowe is known in the restaurant industry as The Chainmaker. He takes emerging restaurant brands and, along with the team at Fransmart, turns those brands into successful national restaurant chains. It’s a formula he used for Five Guys, Qdoba Mexican Grill and, more recently, Halal Guys – a thriving chain that started from a food cart in New York City. 

Dan was also a recent guest on our food, beverage and restaurant podcast, Forktales. Here’s a look at four questions from that episode. Check out the full interview with Dan here

WHAT MAKES A GOOD FRANCHISEE? 

A good franchisee wants to follow somebody else’s system a bad franchisee buys a franchise and then tries to do everything different or argues with the company. 

WHAT ROLE DOES REAL ESTATE OR LOCATION PLAY IN WHAT YOU DO? 

I want to be relentless about getting the right site (for a new restaurant). For any concept, there’s 10 or 15 or 20 potential sites. But there’s really only three or four first sites. You have to be very careful when you’re building a brand in a brand new market. There’s something very strategic about using real estate and real estate’s role in marketing.” 

YOU’VE BUILT RESTAURANTS IN EACH OF THE TOP 150 MEDIA MARKETS IN THE UNITED STATES. HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO DO THAT? 

In every market, we know where the best operators are, we know where the best intersections are, where the best projects are, the best architects, contractors, food distributors, so we just sort of developed this knack for understanding the best way to do everything in these markets.

ONE OF YOUR SUCCESS STORIES IS HALAL GUYS. THEY STARTED WITH THREE FOOD CARTS IN NEW YORK CITY AND NOW THEY’RE AN INTERNATIONAL CHAIN. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? 

I’m not the reason that they’re successful. They’re successful because they care about that plate of food tasting the way it tastes. My job is to not screw it up. It took a year from the time I first met them to the time that they finally said ‘let’s go’ and it was mainly me convincing them that I wasn’t going to screw it up.

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