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Buffalo Wild Wings Franchise Costs & Profits [2023]

With more than 1,200 locations across the globe, Buffalo Wild Wings is a popular franchise brand among both consumers and franchisees. The problem for the latter though might be its cost: you would need $2.9 to $4.6 million to buy and open a new Buffallo Wild Wings restaurant as a franchisee.

That’s definitely much higher than the average investment required for similar restaurant franchises ($1.6 million as per our intelligence). So is this is really worth it?

In order to answer that question, we need to look at how much profits you can really generate with a Buffalo Wild Wings franchised restaurant.

In this article we’re looking into the latest Franchise Disclosure Document to find out how much profits you can make with this business, and whether you should invest in a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise. Let’s find out!

Buffalo Wild Wings franchise key figures

Franchise fee$25,000
Royalty fee5.0%
Marketing fee3.25%
Investment (mid-point)$3,546,900
Median annual sales$2,534,148
Investment to sales ratio0.7x
Investment payback*9.3 years (mediocre)
* assuming 15% net profit margin

Buffalo Wild Wings franchise: a brief introduction

Buffalo Wild Wings is an American sports and entertainment-themed dining restaurant headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. 

It serves the US, Mexico, Panama, India, United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Canada. 

Buffalo Wild Wings was founded in 1982 in Columbus, Ohio, by James Disbrow and Scott Lowery and specializes in chicken wings, sandwiches, burgers, sauces, and beer. It began franchising in 1991, long before merging with Inspire Brand

Today, the sports bar brand has 1,258 locations spread across 50 US states and 10 other countries across the globe.

Should you open a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise: pros and cons

Pros

  • Training: the franchisor offers a management training course to help new sports bar owners familiarize themselves with the business model. The in-restaurant training lasts 60-120 days. In addition, franchisees can expect 210 hours of on-the-job training and another 40 hours of classroom training. 
  • Third-party financing: Buffalo Wild Wings does not offer direct or indirect financial support to its franchisees. However, its third-party affiliates can provide funding to cover the cost of equipment, startup costs, accounts receivable, payroll, and inventory. 
  • Global presence: Buffalo Wild Wings is a leading casual dining restaurant, and its good reputation makes it easier for franchisees to tap into new markets. 
  • An innovative menu: the combination of spiced chicken wings in different seasonings with beer and the sports-viewing thrill is unmatched. Also, the sauce varieties entice customers to keep coming back for more. This helps restaurant owners stand out from the competition. 
  • Marketing planning and support: the franchisor provides detailed marketing support and promotional campaigns. These include social media management, ad templates, email marketing, regional advertising, national media, and website development. 
  • Ongoing support: the parent company supports franchisees in every step of the business operation. This includes the grand opening, site selection, propriety software, field operations, security and safety procedures, and online support.

Cons

  • No absentee ownership: the franchisor expects new restaurant owners to participate in the business’s daily operations. It’s almost impossible to pursue other investment opportunities if you own a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise. 
  • Not a home-based franchise: franchisees can only operate their businesses from an active office or retail facility. 
  • 40-60 employee requirement: this is the minimum number of employees to run the franchise business. 
  • No exclusive territories: Buffalo Wild Wings does not give restaurant owners exclusive rights to operate their franchise businesses in the selected regions. You may face fierce competition from similar units and other restaurant chains like Applebee’s, Chili’s, and Wingstop. 
  • The ambiance may not suit everyone: Buffalo Wild Wings is loved for its wings, beer, and sports combination. But the ambiance may not suit customers looking for a serene environment.

How much does a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise cost?

You need to invest around $3,546,900 to open a Buffalo Wild Wings Sports Bar.

The investment amount is an average for both freestanding and non-freestanding Sports Bars. Thus, the amount can change depending on the type of Sports Bar and other factors like location, size, etc. Although, the latest FDD shows that the difference is relatively low ($3.7 vs. $3.3 million).

The amount you would pay as investment covers a range of startup costs.

In addition to the initial franchise fee ($10,000-$25,000), the investment also covers costs like site approval fees, training fees, building costs, equipment, the first 3 months of working capital, etc. Here’s the full breakdown with low and high estimates:

Type of costLowHigh
Initial franchise fee$10,000$25,000
Site approval and training$1,200$83,800
Building, equipment$2,707,900$3,624,500
Grand opening advertising$12,500$12,500
Additional funds*$100,000$150,000
Other pre-opening expenses$79,900$709,000
Total$2,911,500$4,604,800
* 3 months worth of working capital
Source: 2022 Franchise Disclosure Document

What’s the turnover of a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise?

On average, a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise makes $2,534,148 in sales per year. 

This number is the annual median sales of 526 franchised Sports Bars operating in 2020.

As this is average, it can vary based on the type of sports bar you are willing to open. For example, an inline or end cap bar revenue is nearly the same, whereas, a free-standing bar revenue is slightly higher.

Type of barNumber of storesMedian sales
Inline27$2,416,570
Free Standing274$2,651,638
End-Cap225$2,405,180
Total526$2,534,148
Source: 2022 Franchise Disclosure Document

How profitable is a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise?

On average, a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise makes $671,641 in profits per year. This number indicates a 27% adjusted EBITDA margin

The 27% adjusted EBITDA margin is in line compared to similar franchises as per our intelligence (~25-27% industry average). 

Note that Buffalo Wild Wings doesn’t disclose any financial information regarding costs. Instead, we had to use the industry average for COGS (25% sales) and labor costs (29%) to estimate EBITDA.

Profit-and-lossAmount ($)As % of sales
Sales$2,534,148100%
COGS$(633,537)25.0%*
Labor$(734,903)29.0%*
Rent$(285,000)11.2%
Royalty + marketing fees$(209,067)8.3%
Adjusted EBITDA$671,641~27%
Source: 2022 Franchise Disclosure Document

Is a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise a good investment?

So are the $671,641 profits worth the investment cost of $3,546,900?

Well the bad news is that Buffalo Wild Wings may not offer the best return on investment out of all franchises.

Indeed, as we just saw it costs anywhere between $2.9 million and $4.6 million to start a new Buffalo Wild Wings franchise. That’s significantly more than the average investment of $1.6 million required to start a new restaurant franchise in the US as per our analysis.

What’s more is that if we compare the investment to the expected profits, we find that it would take on average 9 years (9.3 years to be exact) for you to recoup your original investment. Not the best investment as we consider a good investment to be in the 5 to 6 years range, and anything below 5 years excellent.

Note that we calculated this payback period using a 15% net profit margin, which makes sense give we found out the average Buffalo Wild Wings has a 27% adjusted EBITDA margin.

Yet, do keep in mind that this 9 years payback period is estimated using the average performance of the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants disclosed in the Franchise Disclosure Document. As such, your restaurant may turn out to be more profitable, and hence a better investment.

Download the Buffalo Wild Wings business plan and get your franchise funded

Including a 5-year financial plan built with the latest Franchise Disclosure Document numbers