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The quick service restaurant industry has long been dominated by popular franchises that are often household names. One rising brand that’s focused on not only creating delicious meals but also helping communities around the U.S. is the Firehouse Subs franchise.
But what’s been the secret behind this franchise’s fast-rising popularity? Our Firehouse Subs case study explores just that in-depth, looking at the company’s history and accolades, why entrepreneurs franchise with them, and important FDD information to know. Let’s chow down on all the details here!
The Firehouse Subs Story
Brothers Chris and Robin Sorensen didn’t initially plan on being successful entrepreneurs. Their father, a 43-year veteran of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, ignited a fire in the brothers to save lives. While both Chris and Robin did eventually become firefighters like their father, the brothers could not fight the flames of entrepreneurial fervor. Between late 1980s and early 1990s, the firefighters pursued their collective passion of rock ‘n’ roll, real estate, and even Christmas tree farming.
After countless failures, the dynamic duo finally landed on the fast food industry. On October 10th 1994, Firehouse Subs was born in honor of their firefighting roots in Jacksonville, Florida. In a crowded fast-food franchise space, Firehouse Subs has managed to stand out due to its commitment to excellence. The sandwich brand only uses the best meats, cheeses, and toppings. In order to capture the flavor of every ingredient, Firehouse Subs steams their meats and cheeses into every sub.
That commitment to excellence has led the once small-time sub shop to grow into a large franchise chain. Over the last 25 years, Firehouse Subs has opened over 1,100 franchise outlets across 46 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada. Yet, franchising did not come easy to Firehouse Subs. Although the sandwich franchise initially adopted the franchise system in 1995, the Sorensen brothers decided to shy away from the idea in 1998. Firehouse Subs bought back the ten franchised locations and didn’t consider returning to franchising until 2000.
That year, the founders hired franchise consultants to better improve the franchise process. Unlike in the past, Firehouse Subs was able to set up financing options for prospective franchisees, a facet that made franchising with the brand much easier. In 2001, Firehouse Subs began to sell franchises and sold their 50th franchise location in 2002. Just one year later, Firehouse Subs opened its 100th franchise! The Florida-based franchise finally surpassed 1,000 locations in 2016.
Firehouse Subs Franchise Looks Across Oceans
Chris and Robin Sorensen decided to jump on international franchising in 2011 when Carribean Restaurants LLC approached the duo about expanding into the region. Since then, the brand launched locations in Canada in 2015 when it partnered with OnFire Restaurant Group. The restaurant group plans to open 90 Firehouse Subs franchises in Ontario alone.
Accolades Heat Up for Firehouse Subs
When you mix excellence with a never-ending drive for success, accolades are soon to follow. Newsweek ranked Firehouse Subs number one on its 2019 list of America’s Best Customer Service Brands. The fast-food franchise has also received plenty of recognition for its philanthropy. In 2018, Firehouse Subs was named the number one restaurant brand that “Supports Local Community Activities”. Also that year, Forbes recognized the brand as a “Best Franchise to Buy”.
Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation
Firehouse Subs is deeply involved in its surrounding communities, but what else would you expect from a franchise founded by firefighters? The Sorensen brothers founded the none-profit Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation in 2005 during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The brothers personally traveled to Mississippi where they donated food to first responders and survivors. To this day, the foundation provides funding, equipment, and education to first responders. More than 3,800 public safety organizations across the nation receive grants and awards from the foundation.
Why is the Firehouse Subs Franchise So Hot with Entrepreneurs?
Why are entrepreneurs all across the United States hungry for new opportunities with this franchise? Our Firehouse Subs case study examines that next!
1. Rapid Growth
The Firehouse Subs franchise has been growing like wildfire in recent years, aiming to surpass 1,500 locations in the near future. The brand’s strong growth makes it an attractive option for entrepreneurs looking to work for a company that’s become increasingly well-known to consumers across the U.S.
2. Extensive Training and Support
Firehouse Subs franchisees also receive comprehensive training that lasts eight weeks, with the initial six to seven weeks being hands-on training at a designated training restaurant and the final week being an in-depth classroom instruction session at the company’s headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. The company also provides extensive corporate support in many areas, including development and construction, marketing, operation, and more.
3. Strong Marketing Support
The franchise, backed by its catchy “Our Way Beats Their Way” slogan, serves as a powerful tagline, while offering its franchisees dedicated advertising support across various media channels.
4. Positive Reputation
Attesting its strong growth, the franchise has a positive reputation among consumers and has become known for its solid customer service and unique brand identity.
5. A Way to Support Local Communities
Firehouse Subs franchisees can feel good about being a part of the company thanks to the franchise’s well-known philanthropic efforts through its Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.
Initial Franchise Fee: $20,000
Per the Firehouse Subs FDD, the required initial franchise fee to become a franchisee for the company is $20,000. The fee is required to be paid in a lump sum and is nonrefundable.
Monthly Royalty Fee: 6% of gross sales per accounting period
Firehouse Subs also requires a royalty fee of 6% of all gross sales per accounting period. The fee, reduced to 3% of gross sales for the first two years for franchisees who operate unit’s under the company’s Incentive Restaurant initiative, is payable the third day of the accounting period.
Estimated Initial Investment Cost: $57,502 – $862,591
|Name of Fee||Low||High|
|Balance of Initial Franchise Fee (Less any Deposit)||$17,500||$17,500|
|Travel and Living Expenses During Training||$0||$12,000|
|Rental of Site (3 months)||$10,000||$19,500|
|Real Property Improvements||$0||$27,500|
|Deposits and Prepaid Expenses||$0||$30,600|
|Equipment and Fixtures||$14,502||$131,344|
|Miscellaneous Expenses (3 months)||$0||$86,200|
|Additional Funds (Working Capital – 3 months)||$0||$60,000|
|MIS System Fee||$0||$1,200|
|Accounting System Fee||$0||$22,000|
|Estimated Total Cost||$57,502||$862,591|
Average Revenue Per Location: $3,019 – $44,537 Per Week
Average weekly revenue at franchisee-owned Firehouse Subs establishments in 2018 ranged from $3,019 to $44,537.
It’s important to note that these are only weekly sales averages and not in any way indicative of guaranteed revenue for franchisees.
See Why the Firehouse Subs Franchise Has Been on Fire in Recent Years
With its positive brand image, unique identity, and popular product, Firehouse Subs is likely to continue growing in the future, as our Firehouse Subs case study has just shown. For entrepreneurs, this offers a great opportunity to join a franchise with solid brand appeal, a proven business model, and growth across many markets in the United States. See for yourself why the franchise has been on fire!
For more information on Firehouse Subs, visit their client page!