Subway: The Worst Franchise Ever


I was in elementary school the first time I had a Subway sandwich and it was absolutely terrible. I avoided Subway like the plague until I met a certain Monsieur who couldn’t get enough of their steak & cheese sandwiches and dragged me to Subway more often than I care to admit. In Korea, Subway was my little taste of home and even though I will never get the smell of Subway out of my memory, finding a place that will make you a turkey, bacon avocado sandwich was all I could think of while sequestered on the peninsula.

Seeing though as Subway is the self-proclaimed #1 Franchise in the World and the chances are that we will one day own the Subway in town, I had to write about it for Franchise Week. Ugh.

Subway Worst Franchise


Alright, so what can we say about Subway that’s different from a McDonalds franchise? Well, lots. While the two companies have very broad similarities, once you get into the details you start to wonder why people would even think about owning a Subway.

Let’s start at the beginning. The Subway franchise website has very little information on it. I thought this was strange and googled around before finding out why — Subway’s first step in getting a franchise (THE FIRST STEP) is to attend an informative seminar and/or request an informative brochure. Literally the first thing they want you to do is give them your contact information and let them know that you intend to get a Subway franchise. If you, like Le Monsieur, don’t think that’s weird, let me tell you about the time I gave Allied Van Lines my phone number and that called me 47 times in a week.

Next, you can receive information about franchising and the steps required to open or buy a Subway — yes, you always have to be vetted by the franchise company before you buy an existing franchise — along with the contact information for existing Subway owners. The website literally tells you that researching whether or not a Subway franchise is right for you is STEP 2. I usually research and do a business plan before contacting a company and/or giving them my information but that’s just me.

Next comes an English and Math test to make sure you can communicate with your customers, staff and Subway’s head office and that you can calculate their royalty fee of 12.5% of gross sales each month 😉

If you pass the test, you can pay a relatively low franchise fee of $15,000 and get started! What “get started” means is that, unlike with McDonalds, you will go and scout a location which Subway will then lease. You will sublease it from Subway and then solicit bids and hire contractors to renovate it to Subway’s specifications. This isn’t McDonalds where everything is more or less done for you. No, you have to set-up shop alone save for support from the regional Subway franchise guy. The lease is held my Subway for the same reason that McDonalds owns the restaurant’s building — if the location is good, THEY want to own it and avoid you turning your Subway into Metro Sandwiches or something.

Ok, so tra la la, the renovations are complete! Now Subway will send you on a long training period of TWO WHOLE WEEKS (one of which is in another Subway restaurant)! By the time you open your doors you’ll have spent $97-315,000 depending on how big your location is and, if Kijiji Toronto can be trusted, your hours will be low and you can easily be an absentee owner. Well, maybe that’s just the sales pitch to get you to buy one of the numerous franchises for sale in Toronto.