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How to Buy a Fast Food Business

The fast food industry has evolved over the last decade with many operators providing healthier, high quality products to keep up with demands.

The increasing demand for fast food that focuses on either a niche cuisine; such as Korean food or a dietary requirement, is giving aspiring entrepreneurs a chance to be successful in the fast food sector when competing against household names such as McDonald's, Subway or Dominos.

A buyer’s profile

Although you don’t need qualifications to own a fast food business, previous knowledge of the industry or experience in managing or owning a business will give you a competitive edge over the larger, fast food franchise conglomerates you’ll be contending with.

To be successful in this industry you need to have great time-management and employee management skills; your staff must be efficient and have great customer service skills.

Workers in the fast food sector may also need incentives to boost their morale - aim to create a dynamic, enjoyable work environment.

Be willing to work evenings and weekends and expect to be on your feet throughout the day.

This industry is not for the faint-hearted - although there is a lot of money to be made, consequently, there is also a lot of competition; persistence and motivation are key.


If you are planning to buy a fast food franchise, you could be more successful in gaining financial backing as franchises are considered a lower-risk investment compared to buying an independent fast food business.

It isn’t impossible however, you can enter the industry for a low upfront fee, some sellers may ask for a deposit so you can start trading before paying the full asking price.

On the other end of the spectrum, you could pay close to £1.5 million for a southern fried chicken shop in London.

There are also owner financed opportunities available, which eliminates the cost of a bank intermediary. This is where buyers can negotiate the payment structure to buy the business.

What to look for in a business

Buying an established, independent fast food business is a different ball game to buying any other type of business; you need to consider a lot of different factors.

The location, footfall, parking and demographics of the area are all factors you can’t change, so make sure you thoroughly consider these aspects before making an offer.

Inspect the equipment and determine any costs in renovating or buying in new machinery.

Also make sure the physical appearance of the shop is appealing to customers, inspect the building, frontage and staff areas to consider any renovation costs.

If the business already has a good manager and employees, consider keeping the staff to see how they work under your ownership. Finding a reliable team can be difficult and time-consuming and, an established workforce is a great asset to your new business.

Licences and permissions

If you’re planning to handle meat, fish, egg or dairy products you will be inspected, and you may require food premises approval from your local council.

All caterers must also have Employers Liability Insurance, which will cover you for the health and safety of your employees.

You should also have Public Liability Insurance, for any on-site injuries, and Product Liability, which will cover you in case a customer gets food poisoning.

You will also need a food rating certificate to show you are compliant with hygiene laws; when you are running your fast food business, you should expect impromptu inspections to oversee how food is handled, stored and kept safe and the physical condition of the building.

Krystena Griffin

About the author

Krystena Griffin writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other industry publications.


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