Convenience stores have been a lifesaver in communities where residents may not own cars. Wawa Stores are known as a one stop shop for personal care items, food, snacks, beverages, and of course gas. The company is a major player in convenience store / gas station industry with a reported $13 billion in annual revenue. The company has more than 900 stores in the United States and have been in business more than 50 years.
How much does it cost to open a Wawa franchise? I’ve got bad news. Franchising a Wawa Store not possible since the brand doesn’t allow franchising at the moment. Wawa is a privately company and it’s not clear when or if they’ll ever accept applicants from prospective franchisees. Bummer!
But that doesn’t mean you should give up hope on operating a successful convenience store. Read on below to know more about Wawa, what they do, what the advantages and challenges so if you are able to apply in the future you’ll be ready. I also share alternatives to the Wawa franchise if you’re looking for a convenience store chain to run under a different banner. One simple way to find an alternative franchise opportunity is to take our 7-minute franchise business quiz.
- Financial Requirements and Fees
- Average Sales / Revenue per Year
- Wawa Franchise Facts
- How Much Does Wawa Make in Profit?
- Advantages of a Wawa Franchise
- Challenges of a Wawa Franchise
- Is the Wawa Franchise Right For You?
Financial Requirements and Fees
Wawa does not allow franchising of their stores. Since the company is privately held, not as much is known about the financial requirements to open a company. There aren’t any specific fees to note as well.
However, there was an article from 2015 that claims that the average cost to put up a Wawa store is around $5.4 million. It may or may not be true but it doesn’t harm anyone to be financially prepared if you are to franchise Wawa in the future, especially since this convenience store is big and comes with gasoline stations too. This ball-park estimate seems right considering the cost to install a grocery area, gas pumps, signage and build a structure. As you might imagine, opening a gas station / convenience store requires significant investment since you’ve usually got to buy the land and build the structure on top of it.
Average Sales / Revenue per Year
Wawa is known to generate about $13 Billion in 2020. They’re also number 23 in Forbes list of America’s largest private companies. According to Statista, they rank 3rd on the privately owned convenience stores and gas stations in the United States among those who earn by the billions. The number one spot goes to Pilot Flying J and the 2nd spot goes to Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores. You are likely familiar with these chains if you’ve ever driven through the Midwest.
According to PhillyMag in 2018, Wawa needs to bring in $19 billion in revenue if they want to catch up to 7-Eleven, another global big named chain which is owned by Seven & I Holdings Co., Ltd, a Tokyo-based company.
Wawa Franchise Facts
|Total Units||More than 900|
|Incorporated Name||Wawa Inc.|
|Franchising Since||Does Not Allow Franchising|
|Subsector||Food and Beverage; Gasoline Stations|
Wawa’s roots can be traced back to 1803 as a company that dealt with iron foundry. By 1902, the owner of the company, George Wood, shifted his interest to dairy farming particularly in supplying milk. The company went on to become a success due to the way they were able to assure customers of cleanliness and quality since pasteurization did not exist then.
Their milk was certified by doctors so as to avoid sickness when children drank from it. When home deliveries declined, Wood’s grandson Grahame opened an outlet so that they can sell their dairy products. This outlet was the first Wawa Food Market.
Wawa comes from the Native American word used for Canada Goose. More 100 years ago, geese were found in Delaware Valley. The dairy farm that the Woods’ built on was also located in Wawa, a rural area of Pennsylvania. The Woods used the name and a goose in flight as their logo today.
Today, Wawa is a convenience store with over 900 locations in the United States specifically in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Florida, and Virginia. They sell fresh items such as food, beverages, and essentials. Wawa is also known for providing services such as offering surcharge-free ATMs and functioning as a gas station.
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The products that Wawa carries are their own along with other brands. This includes the meals and snacks that they serve such as their famous hoagies, sandwiches, salads, and soups with most of these items built to order. They’re so popular that Wawa sells more than 60 million hoagies a year. They even have their own bottled beverages such as fruit juices and teas. Wawa even carries their own brand of beer. To this day, they still sell their own brand of milk by the gallon which they proudly claim as rBST free.
Wawa is also known for their coffee being 100% sustainably sourced too. They are Rainforest Alliance (RFA) Certified meaning the farms where these coffee beans were sourced help promote environmental, economic, and social sustainability.
Wawa’s store hours are open 24/7. When the pandemic hit, stores had to close between 2 a.m. – 3 a.m. for cleaning. However, stores are already back to twenty four hour, seven days a week service at the time of writing. Some stores even operate on holidays.
The company is very active in giving back to the community. The Wawa Foundation Inc. is a non-profit corporation that helps support charities and other philanthropic activities. The non-profit helps provide funding for health research and provide grants to hospitals. They also provide food donations to aid hunger relief. Wawa also supports veterans, first responders, the military, and other heroes.
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While you can’t become a Wawa franchisee, you can work closely with these stores. Wawa sells vacant stores and excess land located nearby their Wawa store locations. You can do so by check on the real estate that’s currently up for sale here. No doubt this is a company owned by a savvy group of investors that understand the full value of their stores.
Currently, Wawa employs over 35,000 employees. The Chief Executive Officer of Wawa is Chris Gheysens. Their headquarters is also located at Baltimore Pike, Wawa, Pennsylvania. To encourage Wawa to open in your area, you may contact them here.
How Much Does Wawa Make in Profit?
Since Wawa is a privately owned company, there’s not much information we can get on how much do they make in profit. But to refresh, Wawa’s sales this 2020 was $13 billion.
The company is also looking into expanding their stores with drive-thru accessibility this year so sales and profit should continue to increase for the concept.
Advantages of a Wawa Franchise
All businesses have their own distinct set of advantages and challenges. As a guide to help you choose which business is the right for you, I’ve listed some of the competitive advantages of the business.
Wawa is quick to expand their stores. As seen on their Coming Soon page on their website, Wawa has plans to open more stores in Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia in 2021. They also planning to put up drive-thru units and curbside pickup services. With expansions like this, if you’re ever able to franchise with them, you know you’re in good hands with a company that’s looking ahead to the future.
Wawa may be known as a convenience store but their food is what’s made them famous. Their hoagies are a big deal along with company branded beverage line. With that said people who come to Wawa know that they can get delicious food and drinks that are healthy, filling, and affordable.
They don’t seem to be stopping with just their current lineup either. Wawa has started to sell hamburgers and pasta recently on their dinner menu. The dinner menu offers convenient meals that families can pick up on the way home. With the knowledge that Wawa will continue releasing new items and innovating, you can feel more confident that Wawa will adapt with the times.
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Up to Date
Wawa seems up to date with all the latest business trends which shows that the people running this company make an effort to do their research. Wawa has a rewards program for their customers. They also have a delivery service you can access online. They even offer a mobile app to place orders easily. It’s convenient to shop at Wawa which is why they continue to have a loyal following.
What’s great about Wawa is they have their own products to sell like milk, beer, ice cream, and bottled juice. It helps market who they are and will continue to get their name out there. Hopefully, they release more products so they can expand faster.
Challenges of a Wawa Franchise
Wawa is not perfect which brings us to the topic of what the challenges of franchising this business could possibly be. Below are some disadvantages you could expect.
You have to admit, even if Wawa is already big, they have bigger competitors. There’s still 7-Eleven to take note of and Speedway and Casey’s General Stores. Either Wawa Inc. needs to speed up in opening more stores to compete with the likes of these big names or they open up franchising capabilities to allow more stores to pop up. Whatever the case, if Wawa’s goal is to become a top convenience store, they have to catch up to the other ones fast and expand into new territories like the Western United States where the brand is not as well known.
Wawa may have over 900 locations but all these locations are spread out in just a handful of states. To be better well-known, they should consider putting up more locations in areas they still haven’t covered. For successful expansion, a national marketing campaign to raise broader awareness for the company would be a requirement.
There has been news of Wawa being entangled in a lawsuit with over 1,200 employees. The lawsuit was about Wawa supposedly sharing their stocks with their employees until retirement. But that didn’t happen.
This paints Wawa in a bad light. And if you were a franchise operator for this chain, you might get inquiries about this and people might be hesitant to want to apply to your store.
Is the Wawa Franchise Right For You?
If you’ve set your sights on franchising Wawa looks like a profitable business to operate. Unfortunately, I have no idea if this company will ever accept franchisees. Wawa is also a big store that the financial requirements would reach into the millions of dollars so you might want to start saving while you wait for a change in corporate policy.
If you do want own a slice of the Wawa business, you can become an employee and join their Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). According to the company website, 40% of all company stock is employee owned. This can be a great way to get a piece of the upside growth and profitability of the company even if you can’t get a franchise.
What is an alternative Wawa franchise?
If it’s a convenience store you’re looking for, why not try 7-Eleven? This convenience store is known globally and has 9,522 stores in the United States alone.
The total investment to run a 7-Eleven franchise is $37,200 to $1,635,200. To know more about this mega chain, check out our financial guide on franchising 7-Eleven here.
I hope you were able to learn a lot from this guide. If Wawa opens up for franchising, you’ll know what to do and what to expect when it comes to running this business. Just be prepared financially so you can be eligible to join the Wawa Convenience Store family.