A Franchise That Never Forgets Its Roots
Insight We chatted with Balwinder Sandhu from Barrie, ON, about his journey from corporate manager to business owner as a MR.SUB franchisee.
The iconic red-and-white MR.SUB sign is proof positive that good ideas are born locally. With over 250 locations coast-to-coast and a 51-year track record, the company is now the largest, entirely Canadian-owned submarine franchise in the nation. If that surprises you, it shouldn’t. For Barrie, ON franchisee Balwinder Sandhu, the restaurant’s success is an open secret.
Mediaplanet: What inspired you to become a franchisee?
Balwinder Sandhu: After working for six years as a corporate manager for RG Logistics, a liquidation company, I wanted to work for myself. To be honest, I’ve always wanted to build a business that I could leave to my teenage son.
Were there any gaps between your perception of starting or running a franchise and reality?
"I’ve always wanted to build a business that I could leave to my teenage son."
I initially thought I would hire someone to manage my first store, but quickly decided that it was important for an owner to be behind the counter because not only did I get to know my customers, I learned what they liked and didn’t. For the first 18 months, I chose to work seven days a week from open to close.
How did you realize that owning a franchise was a good fit for your ideal lifestyle?
I wanted the freedom to make my own schedule and be my own boss. A franchise allowed me to be in business for myself, but never by myself.
How has owning a franchise impacted your life?
It’s been simply incredible and is a decision I definitely don’t regret making. I am able to enjoy my family while working extremely hard with my staff. I have so much fun motivating my team — at our daily 7:30 a.m. meetings, I love telling them to bring their smiling faces and their best personality to behind the counter. I’m really enjoying life to the fullest.
Why did you choose MR.SUB?
I knew that I wanted to be in the food industry so my wife, my son, and I tried a variety of food franchises across Ontario. We went to various locations of the same franchise in different cities, looking for consistency in service and product. Every MR.SUB location we visited served fresh, high-quality, food quickly — that sealed the deal for me.
How has MR.SUB supported you throughout the development of your franchise unit?
The corporate office has been amazing. They have been, and continue to be, a great support system and I have never felt micro managed. Their training gave me the ability to truly understand the business. When I opened my fourth location last month, head office was there every step of the way, helping me with the design, training, and advertising.
What advice do you have for aspiring franchisees?
Do your homework — compare what it takes to run each type of franchise that you’re interested in and look at the required down payment and working capital needed to be successful. But most of all, talk to your family. Ultimately, for me, it came down to the question of whether it was right for my family.