Understanding the Difference Between Traditional, Non-traditional, Mobile and Home-Based Franchise Units

A franchise is a franchise is a franchise, right?

Not exactly.

While many franchises have a single format like a physical, standalone store, other franchises have a variety of options to choose from, giving franchisees more flexibility. This is especially helpful for people who may not have enough funds to open a fully operational standalone business. Giving potential franchisees less costly options will allow them to still run a business, but for less of a financial commitment.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of franchise establishments.


As the name implies, these are your typical franchise locations. Standalone stores, retail spaces in malls and any other type of place that houses a usual location for a given franchise.

These franchise locations usually involve the largest investment, as you often have to either pay for leasing a building or pay to have one built from scratch. Most franchises will help you find a location to either lease or build on and will help you negotiate agreements with landowners. Some franchises may even have deals set up to help you with building a store.

When customers visit these franchise locations, they are going there specifically to patronize that franchise business.


These types of franchise locations are smaller than traditional locations, which means they require less of a startup commitment financially. They are locations that are inside other, larger buildings.

For example, non-traditional locations could be inside: 

  • Mall food courts
  • Stadiums and Arenas
  • College campuses
  • Airports

Sometimes nontraditional locations have fewer offerings than their traditional counterparts because they have limited space and sometimes franchises will call them “express” locations so people know not to expect the full range of offerings at them.

While people who visit traditional locations go there specifically for the franchise brand, with nontraditional locations, it’s the larger building they’re housed in that draws in the customers. People don’t go to the airport to eat at a specific franchise restaurant, for example, but since they have to be there, they might eat at that franchise restaurant if they see one there.


Mobile franchises are ones on the go. Food trucks, birthday party video gaming rooms housed in trailers and vans that travel to customers to make repairs are a few examples of mobile franchise units. Some franchises are completely mobile while others just have them as an option for franchisees along with traditional and non-traditional outlets.

A mobile franchise will usually involve less of a financial commitment than a nontraditional location. One potential downside about these franchise units is that they can be seasonal in climates with harsh winters, like Canada. Although, if a franchise operator makes enough money during the nicer months, it may allow them to take winter off or free them up for other working opportunities during the winter months.

Operating a mobile unit comes with its own set of challenges, but for those looking for supreme mobility, they can be a good option.


Lastly, home-based franchises are ones that are meant to be run out of your home. The obvious draw here is that you get to save money on leasing a commercial space and you have no commute. Sometimes, franchisees will start a home-based franchise in their house and when they become established enough, they’ll lease a commercial property to give their business more presence.

The drawbacks of a home-based business are that any in-person meetings you need to have will have to be done in your house or at an agreed upon location, which may not be ideal. Also, you end up bringing your work into your house, which is something you may not want to do.

When you choose to join a franchise, you don’t automatically have to build or lease a building. That franchise might have other options available to potential franchisees. As always, do your homework and research so you can choose the right one for you. Or, better yet, sign up for a free FranNet franchise search and consultation today and let us help you find your perfect franchising match.

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