Home-Grown and Locally-Owned: Right at Home Canada, Rolltation, SupperWorks

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Where there’s a demand there’s an opportunity. Canadians’ wants and needs could be new and on-trend in one part of the market, or they could be well developed in an already established business sector. Either way, as long as the system delivers – and home grown franchises do deliver – it has a bright future as these franchise systems demonstrate.

Right at Home Canada

Canada’s population is getting older. The country’s baby boomers, those aged 44 to 65, account for about 30 per cent of the population, and those who are 66 and older make up a further 15 per cent of all Canadians.

It’s small wonder then that the demand for care and support for them is growing. That’s where Right at Home Canada comes in. A leader in providing services such as in-home nursing, personal care, light housekeeping and more, whether in a client’s house, condo or even in hospital, Right at Home Canada was started in 2012 by Michael Martino – at age 70 – and began franchising the following year. Right at Home now has 29 franchises – two corporate – in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario. The first franchise to open was in Burling­ton, Ont., where Right at Home has its head office. Dani DePetrillo, the system’s Chief Operating Officer, says, “We plan to expand coast-to-coast, but for the time being we’ll concentrate heavily on those four provinces.”

Right at Home has American origins, but DePetrillo is careful and thorough when she explains that operations here have been fully Canadianized. She says that fran­chisees are known as “care office owners” in the Right at Home system, and as owners they are responsible for hiring their own staff. When she’s meeting potential investors, DePetrillo says a paramedical background is definitely helpful, but not necessary. However, the number one thing she looks for is a passion to serve the public, and DePetrillo asks would-be franchisees how passionate they are about their own families. Initial training lasts for two weeks in Burlington, and there is further field training. A franchise costs about $100,000 to $150,000. Care office owners are expected to work hard, says DePetrillo. “It (ownership) can be very gruelling that way.” To lessen some of that burden Right at Home has a program to shelter them from the demands of a 24-hour a day business, and to provide some work-life balance.

The benefits of investing with Right at Home are substantial: “The demographics are undeniable,” says DePetrillo. “We call it a silver tsunami for a reason.” But beyond the demands – and opportunities – created by an older population, she goes on to say that there’s a very well established organization standing behind her fran­chisees, whose approach is local and grassroots.

“We treat clients as we would treat our own family,” she continues, explaining that there is nothing of the assembly line, the cooking cutter about Right at Home and its services.

Rolltation

Fusion is common in music, with the blend of Latino rhythms and jazz being one prominent example. Another area where fusion is widespread is in food with Rolltation’s baked sushi burritos. “Imagine a giant sushi roll,” says Day Wong, Rolltation’s Fran­chise Director and Co- Founder, who’s based in Toronto.

Although the system’s concept began in the U.S., Wong says he immediately recognized that it would be a great addition to the fast casual restaurant scene in Toronto. Wong’s impression was right. The first Rolltation store opened in Canada’s largest city in 2016 with franchis­ing beginning the following year. Now, there are four locations in Toronto, two of them franchises and two of them corporately owned. Wong plans to open another store in the city’s financial district next year.

The majority of his customers are young profession­als aged 18 to 35, and the student market is also impor­tant to Rolltation. The average cost of a burrito at one of the restaurants is $9.99. His system has three or four rivals, says Wong, but says it’s important to note that his business was the first to hit the market with a bricks and mortar store.

The cost of a turnkey franchise is between $280,000 and $400,000 depending on location and unit size. Rolltation stores range from 700 to 1,200 square feet. Training is conducted in-house at a corporate store and lasts three to six weeks, and Wong says his system is easy to operate. His investors tend to be younger, Wong continues, and a lot of them are women. One quality he looks for among potential inves­tors is how they deal with others. “What matters is how to manage people,” he says. And a restaurant background, while not required, will help franchisees to better understand their Rolltation fran­chise’s day-to-day operations.

Among the system’s benefits are its in-house reci­pes. Along with its trademark sushi burritos, Rolltation also offers Poké bowls such as Wasabi Tuna and Curried Chicken, salads and other items. There is also full sup­port from head office to make sure franchisees know the system inside and out so every customer has the same experience at every location. As Wong says, “Quality means a lot.”

SupperWorks

Joni Lien says she’s been a “kitchen nerd” for a long time. So when she read a magazine article about the meal assembly business in the U.S. she set off to find out what it was all about. But the big American player didn’t want to come to Canada, so Lien decided to go it alone and opened for business in 2005 in Oakville, Ont.

The first SupperWorks franchise started in Newmar­ket, Ont. in 2006. Now, there are 10 in the system, three of them corporate. All are either in Ottawa or south­ern Ontario in communities like London, Waterloo, Ancaster, and the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke. Supper­Works Co-Founder Lien says she is now expanding to Whitby and Barrie, again both in southern Ontario, and would look at a master franchise arrangement for other parts of Canada. The cost of a franchise is $250,000. Some of the stores are in strip malls and others in light industrial plazas.

SupperWorks offers a range of mealtime solutions, whether it’s meals for one, meal packages for big holi­days such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, space for her customers to assemble their own meals from already prepared ingredients, pick up, delivery and more.

Her system attracts more women than men as inves­tors, says Lien. “Business exposure helps, financial liter­acy helps,” she explains about the sort of experience she looks for. “We found out that it’s really helpful to have some food service experience [too].”

Lien also looks for those who are detail-oriented, show good judgment, and have a commitment to food hygiene. Training lasts three weeks, two of them in Oakville and the third at the franchisee’s actual location, and support from head office is ongoing.

As for the benefits of investing with her, Lien says franchisees have the satisfaction of making life easier for their customers, an opportunity to work for them­selves, and strong marketing and corporate support from head office.


By David Chilton Saggers