College towns boast a vibrant culture and thriving economy that makes them optimal locations for long-term business commitments. Scroll down to read the seven reasons why food franchises thrive in college towns.
1. Variety of consumers
College towns never have a shortage of consumers. While students and faculty occupy the campus, college towns also draw an abundance of prospective students, alumni, family/friends of students, attendees of sporting events, and of course residents and families living close by – all of whom have to eat at some point.
2. College students are the primary consumer
Whether the student body outnumbers the local population or only makes up a small percentage of it, students are the ideal target for food franchises in college towns. Their desire for efficient and affordable food fits perfectly with the business model of many QSR and Fast Casual concepts. Students tend to know exactly what they want, when they want it, and how much they want to pay for it – and they tend to be constantly hungry. To top it off, college students are social – they eat with and value the opinion of their friends – making them highly receptive to word of mouth advertising that can be exceptionally beneficial for food concepts.
3. Growing college population
The National Center for Education Statistics projects that over the 11-year period from 2011 to 2022, total enrollment in postsecondary degree-granting institutions will rise 14 percent. This large increase in students translates to a larger target market, meaning more revenue for college town businesses.
4. Brand recognition & loyalty
People come from all over the world to visit campuses, and they recognize food franchises from their hometowns. This brand recognition transforms into brand loyalty for students who decide to attend the school. These students become attached to the brand and remain customers as they enter the “real world.”
5. Abundance of employees
College towns are never in short supply of potential employees. There are always students looking for part-time work to pocket some extra cash. Food concepts located near college campuses tend to have a social atmosphere which make them ideal for student employees.
6. Opportunities for increased profits: late-night, takeout, and delivery
Most restaurants close at a reasonable hour because profits tend to decline later in the evening; however, food concepts near campuses can increase their sales by being strategic with hours. Franchises can be flexible and extend hours during weekends, midterms, or finals (especially when competitors don’t offer similar flexibility). Additionally, many food concepts tend to offer takeout and delivery, which is particularly popular among college students during exam weeks, late night, and cold weather.
7. College town > college campus
A college campus may seem like an ideal location that would reap the same benefits of a college town, but college campuses are in reality more complicated real estate. Building restrictions leave little leeway for space and time, construction and operational preparation is limited to 70 days during the summer, and locations are constrained by university days and hours. While a college campus location does have its perks, a food concept has a better chance to thrive with an expanded customer pool just beyond campus borders.