It’s hardly surprising that Harsh Modh, the owner of five planned locations in Ontario for QDOBA, a Mexican fast-casual concept, found himself in the franchising world.
Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Modh said Canadian commercial franchise he believes that becoming a business owner was something that was meant for him a long time ago.
After recently securing a location for his franchise in Kingston, Ont., Modh said he will be gearing up quickly to open a second location in the nation’s capital, Ottawa.
Canadian Commercial Franchise: Have you always imagined yourself as an entrepreneur?
Modh hard (HM): I always had a passion to be an entrepreneur and I knew it would be my destiny. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so it was just in my blood to take this next career step. Before joining QDOBA, I held various management positions until I was able to take the right steps towards being a business owner, because I knew clearly what my future held for me.
FCB: Why did you choose the franchise?
SM: After seeing how a franchise concept worked, I knew it would be the best step towards realizing my entrepreneurial dream. Knowing that I could get the support of a franchisor, dedicated development and marketing teams, and the brand recognition that comes with opening a fan-favorite brand was a huge selling point.
Rather than having to create my own concept from scratch, I was able to join a proven brand with dedicated teams that would support me every step of the way, from signing the franchise agreement to site selection, and on the road at my opening. Their support has been incredible. Opening a franchise is a road that has been traveled before, and there are clear instructions, guidelines and structure to follow and people to guide you through any obstacles in the road.
FCB: How did you find out about this franchise opportunity?
SM: I looked at a lot of franchise opportunities. I researched breakfast, pizza, Mexican and other QSR concepts before landing on QDOBA. What particularly sets the company apart is the quality of their food – it’s amazing. I knew I should like what I was eventually going to sell, and QDOBA’s food was everything to me.
There are many Mexican fast food concepts similar to QDOBA, but none of them have the same quality – it’s second to none at QDOBA, there’s not even a comparison. Along with the amazing food, the corporate support that such a proven brand has to offer was important to me. The help I have already had is tremendous.
FCB: When did you buy your franchise?
SM: I signed my franchise contract with QDOBA at the end of 2021. Since then, I have been researching sites and formulating my development plans for my locations. I have just secured a site for my first location in Kingston, and I am in the process of finalizing my lease agreement before letting the architect get to work on the next steps.
The site selection process was very long, which I know is a result of the pandemic. Despite this challenge, everyone at QDOBA was extremely supportive and helped guide me through the process and laid out the specific steps I should follow for site criteria and selection. When I had questions or encountered obstacles, they were there to help me.
FCB: What happened in the opening of your franchise?
SM: The operations contact for Canada was phenomenal! With the team, he realized that the market is not the same as in the United States. I needed someone to help me who had in-depth knowledge of my specific markets and who was always available. The customer diversity of the locations is also something I needed help navigating, and that process was streamlined with their team. They guide me so I know I’m on the path to success as an entrepreneur.
FCB: Do you think your education helps you with your daily tasks and overall business decisions?
SM: I believe that all my past experiences help me in my daily tasks and business decisions. Even my past work as an assistant manager for a notable pharmacy concept helped me learn the steps I needed to operate and start a successful business. The experience I have, along with the support of my family and partners, is a guiding force.
FCB: What have been the highlights and challenges of running your franchise?
SM: The real estate market in Kingston, where my first location will be, has been a little tough. There are not many spaces available for me to develop a successful business. When a place I like is listed, it’s quickly picked up, leaving little to no time for decision making. Although it was difficult to find a location, the support provided by the company team made the process manageable.
FCB: Is there anything unique in your market?
SM: Kingston is an extremely unique market. This is where Queens University is located, so students and young professionals run businesses during the school year, but once they’re on vacation, it can be a drastic change. Similarly, Kingston also has a Royal Canadian Air Force base, again resulting in a lot of changing customers. The city has a strong federal government presence, mixed with students and university staff, so it’s a unique space and not what a normal city would usually see. There’s a lot of movement out there, and while that may cause concern for some operators due to the constant departure of loyal customers, I love the opportunity to share the flavors of QDOBA with a wide variety of people.
FCB: What are your future plans?
SM: I am currently looking for my second site in Ottawa. Once construction begins at the Kingston location, my plan is to have Ottawa in the works right after. Once I have seen how the site selection is going in a new market with a different atmosphere and have the site plans approved, my goal is to start construction as soon as possible.