Moving house, selling coffee, and repairing collision damage don’t seem to have much in common at first glance – and they don’t – except for one thing: the franchise systems behind them, all relatively new, are showing remarkable growth in their respective sectors, proof that Canadian systems are as strong and vital as any other.
In the next two years, Leon Karachun wants to see Metropolitan Movers go from coast to coast in Canada. And in five years, he wants to have 150 franchises here, in the U.S., and as far afield as Europe. Yes, Metropolitan Movers, it should be said, is on the move.
Karachun, a part-owner of Metropolitan Movers and its chief of marketing, says the company began in 2010 and started franchising in 2013. There are now 17 locations altogether, with four of them corporately owned. The majority of these locations are in the Greater Toronto Area, and there are others in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, and two in Ottawa. In a developed market, the cost of a franchise is $55,000 to $75,000, whereas a franchise in a less developed market will cost an investor between $30,000 and $50,000.
Metropolitan Movers specializes in local residential moves and small-to-medium-sized moves for commercial enterprises. “We’re pretty much a one-stop shop,” says Karachun, adding that the cost of a move will vary, but that of a four-bedroom house would be roughly $2,000.
Many Metropolitan Movers franchisees worked within the system before investing in their own business, Karachun explains. He says the franchise is looking for investors who are a good fit for the business, which means, “We’re looking for a person who is determined to develop, and will have the ability to lead and manage,” he says.
On top of these leadership skills, Karachun adds that the most successful franchisees have had some previous exposure to business. About 50 per cent of Metropolitan Movers franchisees are men, and three married couples have also invested with the system. Training lasts for two weeks at head office in Vaughan, just north of Toronto, and after three months in business, franchisees receive another week of training in Vaughan.
As for the benefits of investing with Metropolitan, Karachun says franchisees can expect a good return on their investment. The company gives them a guarantee their franchise will bring in $150,000 in its first year in the developed markets. “They will be busy from day one. They will be profitable from day one,” says Karachun.
Jason Cunningham says Deville Coffee is an emerging local coffee brand in Western Canada. Its stores are owned by franchise partners who live in the community, the coffee is roasted locally, and the pastries it sells come from local bakeries. “We’re the local coffee shop offering something unique and different from the major chains,” says Cunningham, co-founder of 98 Food Co., which is Deville’s franchisor.
Deville Coffee, founded by Paul Brassard and Mark Nolan, began in 2007 in Calgary, and there are now six locations, four of them franchises and two of them corporately owned, all in the city of Calgary. The company hopes to double in size in the next 24 months. “Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver is where our expansion will be,” says Cunningham, noting the company is sticking to larger markets for the time being.
A Deville Coffee location can run between 500 square feet and 1,500 square feet, and can cost up to $375,000. They can be found at street level, in shopping centres, airports, and universities. However, not all locations look the same. “We build stores to suit the neighbourhood, and the building we are located in,” says Cunningham. “It’s not a cookie-cutter approach.”
As for potential franchise partners, Cunningham says, “We’re looking for hands-on operators who have a passion for coffee, and enjoy coffee-house culture.” Some exposure to the food service industry would be an asset, too, he continues, and he’s looking for a “great attitude” from those interested in owning a store. Further, Cunningham emphasizes, franchise partners will need to understand that owning a Deville location is a full-time commitment. Two weeks of training takes place at headquarters in Calgary prior to opening a store, and franchisees receive further instruction during the first week of business.
Deville Coffee customers are “mid-to-upper-income range, are health conscious, work downtown, and frequent hip neighbourhoods where we are located,” says Cunningham, who certainly knows the coffee shop business, having worked as a barista at a well-known American owned chain in the ‘90s.
Cunningham says there are numerous benefits that come with investing in a Deville Coffee franchise. First, he says, great coffee and cafes serving great products. Second, it’s part of a smaller chain that allows investors to get in at ground level, with multi-unit ownership opportunities. Third, Deville’s emphasis on the local brings something new to market, while not being a total reinvention of the wheel. And, he continues, there’s a great team at head office that’s been in the food service industry for more than 20 years, meaning 98 Food Co., which began, appropriately enough, in 1998.
Simplicity Car Care
Simplicity Car Care got its start more than 40 years ago as a family-run business, and in 2017, the collision repair company began franchising. Now, says Paul Prochilo, CEO, the system boasts 27 locations.
Nineteen of the 27 locations are in Ontario, stretching from Windsor to Ottawa, with a heavy concentration in the centre of the Greater Toronto Area. The other eight are in Alberta, in Calgary, Edmonton, and Lethbridge, and Western Canada figures into Simplicity’s expansion strategy, too: by the end of this year, Prochilo plans to add four more franchises in Alberta – two in Edmonton and two in Grand Prairie – and the Saskatchewan market is also under consideration. In 2022, Prochilo intends to expand into the U.S. market.
Most of Simplicity’s business comes from insurance companies, Prochilo explains, saying it can be as high as 85 per cent. The cost of a Simplicity franchise varies. Prochilo explains that a “converted” franchise – a formerly independent collision repair business that joins the system – is between $35,000 and $40,000, which includes IT, tools, signage, uniforms, and more. A new franchise will cost from $250,000 to $300,000. There’s six weeks of in-store training, with more virtual instruction to follow.
With new locations, which Prochilo points out can be challenging because municipalities are no longer issuing licences that permit the use of Volatile Organic Compounds (found in stored fuel, automotive products, paints, and elsewhere), Simplicity helps the franchisee with procuring the site, financing, and any other negotiations, all at no charge.
Whether it’s a new or a converted franchise, Prochilo looks for the same qualities in each franchisee. “We want a high teachability index and a flexible mindset,” he says, as well as a commitment to client satisfaction. And to find franchisees who exhibit an understanding of “positive client experience,” strong leadership and communications skills, Simplicity uses psychometrics – the science of measuring a person’s mental capacity and processes.
Prochilo makes clear the benefits of investing with Simplicity. He says the company has a proven ability to drive sales growth, for one thing, and for another, it provides “unrivalled operational support” to its franchisees. A further benefit is its innovation in the automotive sector, he continues. One example of this innovation is an annual report, as Simplicity is the first privately-owned company in the collision business to issue one. After all, Prochilo reasons, potential franchisees will want information on a system exhibiting such fast growth.
By David Chilton Saggers