If serving quality gourmet subs is your passion, check out Firehouse Subs. They’re in the business of selling premium sub sandwiches with quality meats and cheese. With 1,155 locations, Firehouse Subs is recognized one of the best performing sandwich chains you can invest in.
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How much does it cost to open Firehouse Subs?
The total investment you can expect for this sub sandwich chain is roughly $350,000. If you decide to add a drive-thru (highly recommended), you can expect this investment to be higher. The franchise fee is $20,000 for this sandwich franchise. To start, a minimum liquid capital of $80,000 is required so you can qualify for a loan for the remaining startup funds.
Financial Requirements and Fees
These are the financial requirements and expenses you can expect from Firehouse Subs as stated on their official website:
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|Fees / Expenses
|$350,000 to $ 425,000
Aside from these expenses, Firehouse Subs require royalty fees of 6% and ad royalty fees of 3% to 5%. Firehouse Subs also has a veteran’s incentive wherein there is a 10% off for your first-unit franchise fee. The term of agreement to run a Firehouse Subs franchise is 10 years.
One thing you’ve got to find acceptable before filling out a franchise application is that you’re good with sending 9% – 11% of the total sales to the corporation. This will be a significant business expense you’re handing over on a monthly business. Considering the cost of a lease, food, and labor the overhead adds up.
Average Sales / Revenue per Year
According to Restaurant Business Online, the revenue for Firehouse Subs for 2020 is $840 million. And although they may have lost a few units during this year, their sales did not seem to be negatively impacted as a result of the health crisis. The pandemic was not able to cripple them as well because Firehouse Subs was already known for having customers choose their subs for take-out and pick up rather than dine in.
Records from Statista show that sales for Firehouse Subs have been on a steady rise since 2014. The company is projecting ongoing growth through the next half decade.
Firehouse Subs Franchise Facts
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|Fast Casual Restaurant
|Food and Beverage
Firehouse Subs was founded by brothers Chris and Robin Sorensen in 1994. The brothers were both firefighters in the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. They made a few attempts at other business ventures prior to opening Firehouse Subs like Christmas tree farming and real estate, but the sandwich place was their most successful venture by far.
It’s important to note the founders had less than $100 in their accounts when they started Firehouse Subs. Robin Sorensen said being broke taught them to be patient when it came to running the business. With the help of loans from friends and family, they were able to get the business going. While the brothers founded the company in 1994, it wasn’t until 2004 they were able to take profits from the business. The brothers became officially debt free in 2001.
Firehouse Subs’ menu includes hot specialty subs and local specials that include smoked turkey breasts, Virginia honey ham, and USDA Choice corned beef brisket or pastrami. Firehouse Subs lets customers to build their own subs or have the sandwich served cold instead of toasted. You’ll find salads on the menu too if a sub isn’t what you’re craving.
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One of the things that allowed Firehouse Subs to thrive during lockdowns is the sub sandwich chain was built for take-out and curbside pick-up ready. Some shops even have a drive-thru built in. The franchise also offers catering services that make it easy for customers to pick up platters and box lunches for workmates, friends, or family events.
The sub sandwich chain is also well-known for helping out in communities, particularly in support of first responders. When you buy from Firehouse Subs, a portion of the proceeds are donated to providing equipment that helps the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation in their mission to protect and save lives.
Firehouse Subs has generally positive reviews from franchise operators. Multi-unit franchisees Brandon and Stephanie from Portland, Oregon claim that the support and training provided by Firehouse Subs when they were new business owners helped them become successful. Franchisees Chris and Jennifer from Elizabeth City, North Carolina applaud Firehouse Subs for having a strong brand identity, commitment to the community especially to first responders, and of course, for having “incredible food”.
The overall rating for Firehouse Subs according to review websites is average. There is no specific failure rate for this chain because the success or failure rates do not only depend on the brand alone, but also on the location, local economy, the owner, and competition within the area. But according to Franchise Business Review, they rank the Firehouse Subs franchise system, training and support, and financial opportunities as good while leadership, core values, franchisee community, self-evaluation, and general satisfaction as very good.
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Firehouse Subs is also a reputable franchise as proven by the many awards they’ve won through the years. Some of these are having the 91st rank on Franchise Time’s 2021 Top 400, ranking number 59 on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top Franchise Brands in 2020, and being number 58 on the Top 500 Restaurant Chains of 2020. As for employment, they’re number 30 on Jacksonville Business Journal’s 2021 Largest Employers and number 1 for Top Caterers.
Franchise Subs has 1,155 units at the time of writing. Not surprisingly, most locations are found in the United States with Florida having the biggest number of Firehouse Subs locations. They are also found in Canada.
How Much Does Firehouse Subs Make in Profit?
It is not known exactly how much Firehouse Subs make in profit but as mentioned above, they have earned revenues of $832 million for the year 2020. Based on the 1,155 units, the best average revenue numbers I can provide is $720,346 per store.
If you assume an industry standard 15% profit margin for operating a sandwich shop, you could expect to net $108,051. This is a back of the napkin estimate since we don’t understand the exact costs of a Firehouse Subs.
Advantages of a Firehouse Subs Franchise
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As with all other businesses, Firehouse Subs has advantages and disadvantages. I focus on what the pros of getting involved in this sub sandwich chain below:
Fulfilling Work and Supporting Communities
It’s no secret that Firehouse Subs helps out first responders by donating a portion of their sales.
The chain has a foundation called the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation and ever since it started, Firehouse Subs has given over $62.5 million for first responders’ training and equipment in support.
To be part of a business that helps out communities is something to be proud of and you’ll carry this when you’re one of their franchise operators.
Helping Out Franchise Operators
Aside from helping first-responders, Firehouse Subs also helps out their franchise operators. Take for example what happened during the pandemic in March 2020. Firehouse Subs did not collect royalties from their operators and did not take any ad fees during this time period.
When the chain asked their operators to start paying fees again, it was under deferred payments. Corporate understood how tough the pandemic was for franchise owners and instead of pressuring them, they did the right thing and helped them out. With this kind of business mindset, you can feel more confident you’ll be in good hands in the event of economic challenges.
Firehouse Subs menu offers premium meats and ingredients, assuring customers that they are served a gourmet subs. They also have salads for those who aren’t into sandwiches and in addition to serving soup, chili, and baked desserts.
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The entire menu is well designed for pick-up and take-out so customers can just buy their orders to go easily. The convenience of it all makes this sub sandwich chain popular especially during these times when people are still hesitant to dine in.
Challenges of a Firehouse Subs Franchise
As a future franchise operator, here are some of the challenges you can expect when running a Firehouse Subs.
Limited Global Presence
Firehouse Subs is a big brand now. They’ve been around for over 25 years but they haven’t seemed to branch out outside of the United States. Other than Canada and Puerto Rico, there aren’t any Firehouse Subs located internationally.
If they could have a global presence, there is a chance they could compete head-t0-head against big sub sandwich chains like Subway. On the flip side, Firehouse Subs has plenty of runway for growth and brand awareness nationally and internationally.
It’s great that Firehouse Subs has a simple menu so customers won’t be overwhelmed. But it would even be better if they had more add-ons such as having a variety of soups and sides to go with their meal. Aside from these, they should also consider including wraps and maybe breakfast menus. These add-ons could help bolster system-wide revenues as well.
Firehouse Subs’ marketing presence isn’t as strong as some of the sub sandwich chains in the United States. Likely this is due to a smaller advertising budget with fewer franchisees. The company could benefit from national exposure to reach more customers.
The Wild Card
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Restaurant Brands International (RBI) announced in November, 2021, they are acquiring Firehouse Subs. This is the same parent company of globally recognized food brands like Burger King and Popeyes. A company spokesperson states that RBI sees tremendous US and International growth potential for the brand. Based on this acquisition and comments from corporate leaders, you can expect to see a lot more Firehouse Subs locations in the coming years.
Is the Firehouse Subs Franchise Right For You?
At the end of the day, if it’s a simple but also strong sub sandwich chain you’re looking for, Firehouse Subs could be for you. The overall rating and reviews by other franchisees are positive and they have a business mindset that helps franchise operators out as well as the communities around them. Firehouse Subs is also known through the years which makes it a great chain to bring to your area.
What is an alternative Firehouse Subs franchise?
Another sub sandwich chain you can check out is Subway. Subway has been around since 1965 and has over 43,000 branches worldwide. Just like Firehouse Subs, you can order your sandwiches from a menu or you can customize your own. In addition, they have wraps, salads, and other vegetarian options.
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To franchise a Subway, you will need a liquid capital of $40,000. The franchise fee starts at $15,000. Read more about franchising Subway and the many fees to expect with our guide here.
Are you ready to own a Firehouse Subs near you? I sincerely hope this guide was able to help determine if becoming a Firehouse Subs franchise operator is right for you.