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Building a social network at Brown’s Socialhouse

My preferred franchise footprint is about 3,000 to 3,500 square feet with a patio, which is the case for the Maple Ridge restaurant.

Dreaming big
Having joined Browns near its beginning, I’ve seen how it has changed over the years. The franchisor, Browns Restaurant Group (BRG), is much more structured now, with very detailed systems in place. We pay a six per cent royalty for our support and branding, including purchasing, menu development, social media platforms and gift card programs.

We have regional operations consultants who audit the locations. They do so in a positive way, treating each audit as a learning opportunity. It certainly helps give me a more technical perspective of the business.

This opportunity has been way larger than I ever imagined. As a chain, we’re at 58 locations now, including Eastern Canada’s first corporate store, near Erin Mills Town Centre in Mississauga, Ont., plus franchises in the U.S. that operate under the ‘Scotty Browns’ name. Scotty dreams big!

I foresaw adding one new franchise every two to three years. Instead, Peter and I ended up with three within the first three years. In 2016, the franchisor named us franchisees of the year.

I used to think taking over an existing location is the option I’d like best, rather than a new buildout, but now I don’t know which I prefer. In some cases, with an existing store, you have to go in and change the work culture. And it can take longer to turn an older restaurant around than to open a new one and make
it succeed.

There are still many more market development opportunities within British Columbia, let alone across Western Canada and Ontario. One of the keys to Browns’ success is the franchisor only recruits new franchisees who (a) have a proven track record and experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry and (b) are passionate and highly motivated about running a business.

The constant need for change
Scotty always has very interesting new ideas and designs for the pubs. That’s especially important now with more competitors emerging, including already-popular restaurant brands that are adapting to become more like us, as well as pubs that are upping their game.

As Scotty puts it, “there’s no finish line.” Browns is ever-evolving, particularly in terms of design, and the locations aren’t cookie-cutter.

I get all sorts of questions from new franchisees because of this. They want to buy into a proven system, yet Scotty is always trying to challenge and stretch that system. This can be hard for them to understand, but old brands become stale and die, so it is beneficial to us that he will continue to try new things.

Javed Mufti is a multi-unit Browns Socialhouse franchisee based in Vancouver. For more information, contact
him via e-mail at jmufti@brownssocialhouse.com.

Established: 2004

Date of first franchise: 2004
Franchised/corporate units in Canada: 60
Investment range: $2 million to $2.5 million
Initial franchise fee: $50,000
Website: www.brownsrestaurantgroup.com
E-mail: franchising@brownsrestaurantgroup.com

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