How A&W Restaurants appeals to multi-unit investors

Our franchisee-owned, operations-focused restaurant franchise has a century of experience and years of upward sales trends

The exterior of an A&W Restaurant

A&W Restaurants, in business for nearly a century, is an ever-more attractive franchise opportunity as sales continue to increase.

A&W Restaurants has more than 625 locations across the U.S., and nearly a century in business. As a franchise brand that is truly owned by franchisees – they bought the brand in 2011 – every decision we make is determined by the people who are actually operating the restaurants.

It’s a strategy that has paid off. We’re a resurgent brand with a great growth strategy, and we’re looking for experienced operators to help us grow. See why more and more people are excited about our multi-unit investment opportunity.

Operations-based culture

One of the biggest complaints multi-unit operators have is that the people making the decisions don’t know their way around the kitchen. That’s just not the case at A&W. President and CEO Kevin Bazner started in the restaurant industry by washing dishes at the age of 14. Chairman Dale Mulder has been in the business for nearly 60 years as an operator. You’ll find similar stories among almost everyone on the A&W leadership team.

“A lot of the positive feedback we get, both from prospective franchisees and from existing operators, is around how we’re getting operational input and how we are operators ourselves,” Bazner says. “Everything we do gets funneled through that common sense operations filter.”

We pride ourselves on our operations-based culture. Franchisees assumed ownership in 2011. Since then, every move we make is based on the collective decisions of our franchisees, and as a result we’ve experienced same-store sales increases, on average, of 33%.

Transparency

Buying a franchise in 2018 is not like buying a franchise in 1998, or even 2008. With the internet at everyone’s fingertips, much of the discovery process is in the hands of the investor. Savvy franchise buyers do as much research as possible on their own before engaging in conversations with brand representatives.

That’s why we owe it to you to be as transparent as possible so you can make the most informed decision. We’re proud of our franchise and our performance.

And this year, we’ve added an Item 19 Financial Performance Representation to our Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). We want to share with qualified candidates up front what we know about our revenue picture from the most recent 12-month period. While we can’t predict or guarantee financial performance, we can provide you with as much data as possible so you can thoroughly vet our brand and make an informed decision before you invest. Prospective candidates will receive a copy of our FDD as soon as we’ve determined that they’re qualified to own an A&W franchise.

And what does it take to qualify, you might ask? We look for candidates with a minimum liquidity of $150,000 and a net worth of at least $350,000.

The total startup investment ranges from $266,500 to $1.2 million. You can see a line-item breakdown of startup costs here.

Ease of scalability

A woman and man on either side of an A&W bear statue pose with their four boys in front of the statue. The boys and father are wearing orange A&W-branded T-shirts. Branded merchandise can be seen in the background.

Julie and Jeremy Glenz and their children love running their two Minnesota A&W Restaurants, and they’re already on the lookout for the opportunity to open more.

Julie Glenz, who owns two units in Albany and Richmond, MN, with husband Jeremy, knows a good opportunity when she sees it.

“A&W is so prompt at getting us what we need when we need it. When we opened our second store, they sent people to our store to help train all the new employees we hired,” Glenz says. “They stayed for a couple of weeks to get everybody familiar with everything. When you’re opening a new business, you have so many things to get figured out. Just having them there to help was great. “

With that kind of support and a lot of unclaimed territory available, she’s game for more growth in the future.

“There’s been talk about adding more,” she says. “If the right spot comes up, we’ll definitely consider it.”

Learn more about A&W Restaurants

If you’d like to know more about the multi-unit franchise opportunity with A&W Restaurants, please fill out the short, no-obligation form on this page to start a conversation. You can also learn more about our brand by exploring our research pages.

How A&W Restaurants help boost small communities

Far-reaching supplier makes small towns more accessible for our burger franchise, allowing franchisees to succeed while reinvesting in their hometowns

In late September 2017 in Bemidji, MN, the town of about 14,500 celebrated the opening of a new A&W restaurant with free Root Beer Floats. A&W was a thriving business in the Minnesota town in the 1950s and 1960s, but had been gone for many years. Its return was welcomed with open arms by local fans.

The Bemidji location is one of 18 new A&W Restaurants opened in 2017, with several more in development. Many of our 625+ U.S. locations are in smaller communities, where franchise buyers can take advantage of lower real estate prices and fewer competing brands.

“Current and new franchisees are expressing their confidence in the A&W brand by signing development agreements, opening restaurants across the country and participating in our system remodeling program,” says Kevin Bazner, President and CEO. “It is gratifying that many of our new restaurants are being opened by current franchise partners.”

Crew members at the new A&W Restaurant in Bemidji, MN, stand behind the counter and smile as they prepare for the grand opening of the store.

Whether you’re seeking a sit-down eatery for your hometown or looking for a smart, scalable investment to diversify your portfolio, A&W is a great franchise for small towns.

A small-town franchise with big-brand resources

Bemidji was a perfect opportunity for a new location, not only because of its history with A&W Restaurants but because the town is situated at the junction of two major highways and a little over an hour away from Grand Rapids, MI. We anticipate our new franchise will not only create loyal brand fans locally, it will also capture outdoorsmen and road-trippers looking for something more comforting than a drive-thru as they pass by on the highway.

A&W is positioned to help franchisees succeed thanks to our vendor relationship with Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions. Because they have existing relationships with Yum! Brands, we can leverage that reach and buying power for A&W locations in even the most out-of-the-way places.

How A&W gives back

Small towns are the type of community where A&W excels. Jim Brajdic owns units in several small towns in the Fox Valley area near Appleton, WI, and one reason his restaurants thrive is because they all give back to their communities.

“There are a lot of people who come into our restaurants because of what we do and what we represent,” says Brajdic, who is also a member of the National A&W Franchisee Association board, which co-owns the A&W brand and collaborates on all decisions. “We get involved with the Cancer Society Walk, the Salvation Army. We donate grocery bags full of food to be delivered to the needy in our community.”

When schools or non-profit organizations are seeking help with fundraisers, they often turn to Brajdic, whose restaurants might, for example, donate sales from Root Beer Floats. A small-town franchise is more likely to plug into the interconnectedness of a tight-knit community. “We won an award from United Way for Small Business of the Year,” Brajdic noted.

Two Root Beer Floats are pictured in frosty mugs with A&W logos.

A&W Restaurants are known for our signature Root Beer Floats, made from Root Beer mixed fresh daily in every restaurant and served in frosty mugs.

In a recent interview with Franchise Times magazine, which describes A&W as “the Norman Rockwell of American QSR,” Bazner noted the advantages of lower real estate costs and said A&W’s “sweet spot” is communities with populations between 5,000 and 25,000 that are located near major highways.

“This allows us to capitalize on major traffic patterns, but doesn’t marry us to being downtown,” Bazner told the magazine.

He also pointed out the labor pool is easier to access in small communities, and it’s easier to make connections with community partnerships, local media and civic organizations.

Learn more

If you’d like to discover more about why A&W is such a great franchise for small towns, please explore our research pages. To start a conversation, just fill out the short, no-obligation form on this page and someone from our Franchise Development team will be in touch. We look forward to hearing from you!