If your franchise is growing and you're looking for opportunities beyond U.S. borders, Canada may be a natural next step. The U.S. and Canada have a lot in common, and economic relations are extensive and friendly. In fact, about half of all new retail businesses in Canada are franchises, so it is reasonable to expect Canadian consumers to welcome your brand.
For Pearle Vision, Canada presents a great opportunity. Pearle Vision currently operates about 60 EyeCare Centers throughout Canada and is in the process of expanding its footprint there because of the growing healthcare sector. In 2018, Canadians spent C$253.5 billion on healthcare, with about 2 percent on vision services, according to the Canadian Institute of Health Information. Just like the U.S., Canada has an aging population and, therefore, an aging workforce for whom clear vision is a priority.
You can't just drive across the border and set up shop, however. Here are four lessons that Pearle Vision has learned through expanding the franchise opportunity in Canada:
Think Globally, Act Locally
You may think about expanding "throughout Canada," but just as people in New York and California have different lifestyles, tastes and cultural preferences, so do residents of Toronto and Manitoba. They are not the same, and neither are their markets or communities.
Interestingly, in the U.S., investors interested in franchising might go to a large expo such as the International Franchise Expo (IFE) to scope out the variety of opportunities available to them, no matter where they are from. In Canada, it's different. Pearle Vision franchise development directors have had strong response at the Canadian Franchise Association's regional expos held in the various provinces throughout the year. So--in Canada, at least--you should attend regional events to recruit new franchisees.
Hire a Local Lawyer
This may seem obvious, but the laws are different in Canada. You'll be subject to federal laws as well as the laws in each of the ten provinces. Canadian employment laws are different from those in the U.S., and they can vary by province also. Quebec could be especially challenging, as its legal system is unique in that contractual agreements are governed by civil law instead of common law.
Also, you can't assume that U.S. documents will suffice across the border. You'll need to file for trademark protection in Canada to protect your brand and brand assets. You also will need a...