It cannot really be a surprise that Harsh Modh, the owner of five planned locations in Ontario for QDOBA, a Mexican fast-casual concept, ended up in the world of franchising.
Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Modh told Canadian Business Franchise he believes becoming a business owner was something destined for him long ago.
After just recently finding a location for his franchise in Kingston, Ont., Modh said he will be gearing up quickly to open a second spot in the nation’s capital of Ottawa.
Canadian Business Franchise: Did you always envision yourself as an entrepreneur?
Harsh Modh (HM): I have always had a passion for being an entrepreneur, and I knew it would be my destiny. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so it was just in my blood to take this next career step. Prior to joining QDOBA, I worked in a variety of management positions until I was able to make the proper steps towards business owner, as I knew clearly what my future held.
CBF: Why did you choose franchising?
HM: After seeing how a franchise concept worked, I knew it would be the best step towards fulfilling my entrepreneurial dream. Knowing I could garner the support of a franchisor, dedicated development, and marketing teams, and the brand recognition that comes with opening a fan-favourite brand was a huge selling point.
Rather than having to start my own concept from the ground up, I was able to join a proven brand with dedicated teams that would support me through every step—from signing the franchise agreement to site selection, and down the road at my opening. Their support has been amazing. Opening a franchise is a path that already has been walked down, and there are clear instructions, guidelines, and structure to follow and people to guide you through any potential road bumps.
CBF: How did you discover this franchising opportunity?
HM: I looked at a lot of franchise opportunities. I researched the breakfast, pizza, Mexican, and other QSR concepts before landing on QDOBA. What made the company specifically stand out was the quality of its food—it’s amazing. I knew I would have to love what I was going to eventually sell, and QDOBA’s food was it for me.
There are many similar Mexican fast-casual concepts to QDOBA, but none of them have the same quality—it is second to none at QDOBA, there isn’t even a comparison. On top of the amazing food, the corporate support that such a proven brand has to offer was important to me. The assistance I have had already is terrific.
CBF: When did you buy your franchise?
HM: I signed my franchise deal with QDOBA in late 2021. Since then, I have been seeking sites and formulating my development plans for my locations. I just found a site for my first location in Kingston, and I am in the process of finalizing my lease agreement before letting the architect get to work on next steps.
The site selection process was very long, which I know is a result of the pandemic. Despite that challenge, everyone at QDOBA was extremely supportive and helped guide me through the entire process and laid out specific steps I should follow for site criteria and selection. When I had questions or encountered obstacles, they were there to help me.
CBF: What was involved in opening your franchise?
HM: The operations resource contact for Canada has been phenomenal! He, along with the team, realized that the market is not the same as in the U.S. I needed someone to help who had ample knowledge of my specific markets, and were always available. The customer diversity of the locations is also something I needed help navigating, and that process was made simple with their team. They guide me so I know I am on the path to success as an entrepreneur.
CBF: Do you feel your educational background helps in your day-to-day tasks and overall business decisions?
HM: I believe all my past experiences help with my day-to-day tasks and business decisions. Even my past work as an assistant manager for a notable pharmacy concept helped me learn the steps I needed to to operate and start up a successful business. The background I have, along with the support of my family and partners, is a guiding force.
CBF: What have been the highlights and challenges of running your franchise?
HM: The real estate market in Kingston, where my first location will be, has been a bit of challenge. There are not a lot of available spaces for me to grow a thriving business in. When a place I love gets listed, it is quickly spoken for, leaving little to no time for decision making. Though finding a location was difficult, the support the corporate team provided made the process manageable.
CBF: Is there anything unique about your market?
HM: Kingston is an extremely unique market. It is home to Queens University, so students and young professionals drive businesses during the school year, but once they are away on breaks, it can be an abrupt change. Similarly, Kingston also has a Royal Canadian Air Force base, which again results in a lot of changing customers. The town has a heavy federal government presence, mixed with the students and university staff, so it is a unique space and not what a normal town would usually see. There is a lot of movement there, and while that may create worry in some operators due to loyal customers consistently leaving, I love the opportunity to share QDOBA’s flavours with a large variety of people.
CBF: What are your future plans?
HM: I am currently scouting my second site location in Ottawa. Once the construction starts at the Kingston location, my plan is to have Ottawa in the works right there after. Once I see how the site selection goes in a new market with a different atmosphere and getting site plans approved, my goal is to get construction started as soon as possible.