November/December 2017

Canadian Franchises Abroad

For many franchises, becoming a well-recognized global brand is an important goal. These four Canadian franchises are well on their way to that status with new expansion into international markets, while maintaining and growing their success here at home.


At Driverseat, Co-founder Brian Bazely is taking the road to international expansion wherever it may lead. As the vehicle chauffeur service seeks its first franchisees in U.S. markets, more interest in the franchise is coming from all over. “There is a lot of exciting interest there. We’re also talking to people in other countries about becoming a master franchisee there. A lot of this interest comes through LinkedIn, from people in places like Peru, Australia, and South Korea.”

Bazely says Driverseat holds many advantages when it comes to expansion. “It’s a home-based business – the franchisee employs coachmen and uses our software and tools to schedule clients,” he explains. “It’s very scalable. We have a low start-up cost, and the franchisee’s work is in managing client requests and driver schedules.”

Bazely adds that people use the service for many reasons, including as a designated driver after a night out, or helping an elderly person get to and from appointments. “It’s fulfilling that we provide an alternative to drinking and driving, and allow the elderly to keep some independence.”

Franchisees come from many different backgrounds, but tend to be effective communicators who have a passion for customer service. Bazely says that from that base, the company can teach other skills franchisees will need through the 70 hours of pragmatic training it offers.

The company is looking east and west and internationally from its growing base in Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. “We predict that in another three years, we’ll be completely sold out in Canada, so we’re being proactive.”

Adding new international franchisees is “a real positive” for the system, says Bazely. “Our marketing takes place online, and whenever a new location opens, all of our franchisees see an uptick in interest. Going international, that brand awareness will just increase, and the growth allows us to reinvest additional finances back into the brand.”

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Fox & Fiddle

As the franchise approaches its 30th anniversary, Fox & Fiddle is looking, well, fit as a fiddle. “Fox & Fiddle is a traditional British pub with a newly-elevated brand – everything from the logo to the food,” says Chief Development Officer Jeff Young. While the cozy atmosphere and authentic food remain the same, “there’s a new streamlined logo, crisp, modern design elements, and refreshed culinary elements, with 98 per cent of the food now made from scratch.”

From one location in Mississauga in 1989 to 14 locations in Ontario, British Columbia, and, as of early 2017, in California. “With the new look and feel of our new ‘den,’ Palm Springs, California was the perfect market for our entry into the U.S.,” Young says.

No matter the market, says Young, franchisees receive comprehensive support services. “Everything from financing assistance to site selection and real estate to training, supply chain, and marketing, we have a dedicated team providing initial and ongoing support.”

Young sees a lot of potential for expansion throughout North America. “In Canada, we’ll be refreshing our ‘legacy’ stores over a period of time, and developing new locations with the reinvigorated brand. By adding more units, our franchise partners will benefit from heightened brand recognition, greater marketing spend, and more purchasing power.”

Franchisees should be prepared to step into the fun, competitive, and fast-paced food service industry. “We are looking for individuals who are business savvy and have a passion for the hospitality industry. People who are customer-centric and enjoy working with people, whether it’s staff, guests, suppliers, or the franchisor. And obviously they have to have the desire to own their own business,” explains Young. “They also need to embrace our vision for the future. For Fox & Fiddle, it’s not really about where we’ve been or even where we are, but where we’re going. It’s an exciting time to get involved.”

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When looking at real estate markets worldwide, a few stuck out to President and CEO Ken LeBlanc. “Australia is similar in terms of population, with many coastal communities, metro cities, and smaller growing cities,” he says. “We have a master franchisor there, ready to rock. This is going to take us to another level with our brand.”

It’s also going to inspire new ideas to try back home. “Already, during the set-up process, we have come across fresh things that are not seen here. The financial gain will provide more funds to invest in products and services, and our international brand will boost franchisees’ clout as they meet with potential partners and clients,” LeBlanc adds.

Australia is not the only place where the private sale real estate network plans to head by the end of 2017. “We’re looking at the U.S. next, which is a huge target for us,” says LeBlanc.

No matter the market, franchising will always be central. “Franchising works for us, because real estate is local and always needs that local person on the ground, that face at the kitchen table. We leverage things like technology, but it stills comes back to helping people with a personal touch. It helps us take our proven system across the country and around the world.”

At home, the New Brunswick-based company has mostly sold out territories on the East Coast, and is looking west to fill in places like Ontario and British Columbia. In all franchisees, “we look for a ‘structured entrepreneur,’ someone who can take our established systems and tweak them for success in their particular market. They need to have a sweet tooth for change, and want to be part of a disruptor brand,” says LeBlanc.

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When he was a college painter, Spray-Net Founder Carmelo Marsala was always reluctant to paint vinyl windows, siding, and doors. “With regular paint, the finish just wouldn’t last. I got thinking about how a factory can paint siding and it lasts forever, so why can’t we?”

He custom formulated coatings specifically tailored for each exterior surface they renew. These coatings can be adjusted to real-time weather parameters such as wind, heat, and humidity, and from here, Spray-Net’s innovative exterior painting service was created.

Expanding the concept through franchising was an obvious choice, given Marsala’s background as a student painter franchisee. With new franchisees, experience building, managing, and leading teams is essential. “It’s less about the sales side – the product pretty much sells itself. It’s about keeping up with those sales and keeping the team motivated to produce.” Marsala also looks at how well someone would fit with the company’s fast-paced and candid culture, and how passionate they are.

Franchising has helped the company scale quickly, to the point where international expansion is on the horizon. “I always envisioned global domination,” says Marsala. “Our service is not right for every country, but the U.S. and Australia were two obvious choices. We filled our Canadian territories in three years, particularly after we were on Dragons’ Den. We can’t stay flat. We are always looking to grow.”

Spray-Net’s rapid growth in Canada has given Marsala and his team a wealth of knowledge to take into new markets. “Our Canadian expansion has taught us a lot, and I’m sure our first few years in the United States will, too. Year one, we’re looking at 10 to 15 territories in the U.S., then in the second year, we’ll move into new states and double the numbers.”

These plans, he adds, are “a great thing for our brand. It’s going to make us stronger. More dollars coming in means more research and development, which means more products. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

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By Lauren d’Entremont

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