Think about maybe a Chick-fil-A franchise as a future business idea. Anyone have any advice on such things?
Also, it's a pretty much given that to own/operate a Chick-Fil-A you have to do some time in the trenches. There are guys here in AL that bust their humps as "managers" but are directing traffic (due to busyness of the parking lot) offering refills to customers, etc. These are the guys that are hoping in a few years they'll get a chance to manage/own their franchise. That's what makes CFA so awesome. You can't just buy your way in. You've got to earn it, therefore care about it and keep the quality and integrity intact.
I wish you best of luck, but just know, it ain't an overnight thing and they definitely dictate where you get your store. We've got one of the busiest if not THE busiest CFA right here in Birmingham, AL on 280. It's efficiency is a true work of genius...
Getting into the business will be the hardest part. Your location will likely be in a smaller town, as current franchisees will likely have dibs on big city locations. In order to afford operating in such an environment, you'll need to take an active role in the business until the city grows enough so that revenues will support the restaurant.
You'll be working all the time the first several years, between being in the restaurant, and doing paperwork. My mother acquired a fast food franchise in the late 90's, and I don't think she's put in less than 80 hours per week since then. I've worked there since before I could reach the microwaves, managed the restaurant full time for a year before going to school, and currently run 3 shifts a week, and help with accounting functions. (finishing an undergrad in accounting presently)
If you're handy, you'll be able to save significantly on plumbing and electrical expenses that tend to eat your earnings in the first few years. Changing burnt out plugs, faucet cartridges, tinkering with equipment to get it running correctly etc
Preventative maintenance that you'll need to do on all of your equipment will break you down physically over time. My parents both have severely arthritic hands, and we all have plenty of scars to show for it. (Oven cleaner is some mean stuff)
knowledge in accounting is important, as your employees will try to rob you blind, and you'll be able to focus in on the issue.
You'll be getting up at 5am when your opener calls because the other opener didn't show.
Your work will come home with you. Your garage will be full of equipment that you don't want to throw out, because you may need it again someday. Similarly, your car will be full of junk from the restaurant.
It's hard work, but it's rewarding. My dad retired before 50 and can squirrel his pension away for when he's actually old, and the restaurant covers its own expenses, our household costs, some toys for the family and new vehicles every few years.
Your objective should be multiple locations, as the earnings will cover each other during bad years or repairs.
I'm hoping to take our restaurant over in a few years once my mom is ready to retire and i've earned a CA designation, but I've realized that the corporate politics in such matters may prohibit it. We've tried to purchase other franchises when the franchisees were retiring. Head office did not allow the sale, purchased the locations for next to nothing, and sold them to a capital holding group at a healthy profit. They've told us we can expand, but suggest locations that will take decades to grow. Essentially, as the little guy with one or two restaurants, you will not get any favors, as they likely have groups who own hundreds of restaurants who they will be catering to (and from a logical standpoint, rightfully so).
I'm sure I'm missing important details, if you have any specific questions just ask!
It is my understanding that CFA doesn't sell franchisees. They are all corporate owned but they allow someone to be an "operator" (read owner) of the store. It is rare, if ever, that someone is hired from outside the company to run a store. The pay for freestanding stores is rumored to be decent six figure income. They are very Christian based and will terminate people for not following their religious business requirements. They have a strange model but it seems to be working well especially since I believe they are a debt free company.