With more than 3,000 franchise brands to choose from in a variety of sectors – from restaurants to fitness, or business services to in-home care, choosing the right one can be daunting for any aspiring investor. Also, the criteria for what is considered “best” can vary, depending on what’s most important to you and how much you can afford to spend up-front. Whether you are looking at investing in the top low-cost franchises, food franchises, or brands well-received by women or veterans, Franchise Business Review can point you to the companies that were rated among the highest by the people closest to them--their franchisees.
Every year, Franchise Business Review surveys thousands of franchisees from hundreds of leading franchise brands to gauge franchisee satisfaction and performance — and to compile our lists of the top-rated franchise brands. Our independent franchisee satisfaction reviews measure the health of franchise systems that participate in our research based exclusively on the feedback of franchise owners. Here are a few that have risen to the top. Please note that the brands listed below are in no particular order; they simply provide a snapshot of the full list, which you can view by clicking on the link in each section.
1. Kona Ice – Drive the Kona Entertainment Vehicle and power your way to success by selling shaved-ice refreshments in your community. Franchisees enjoy a protected territory and pay only 6% in food costs in an industry that averages food costs of 32%. Ranked highest in Franchisee Satisfaction from 2014-2018 by Franchise Business Review, Kona Ice’s reputation is proclaimed as being one of the most innovative brands and “be your own boss” businesses around.
2. MaidPro — Unlike restaurant or retail franchises, most customers want their cleaning done primarily within normal business hours, which can be a perk for Maid Pro franchise owners. As a Maid Pro franchisee, you will spend most of your time selling your business and managing employees.
3. Cruise Planners – Help your clients plan the land or sea vacation of a lifetime, even if you have no travel agency experience yourself. All you need is a passion for travel and a willingness to create memorable vacations for your customers. Franchisees work from home – or anywhere – and enjoy extremely low overhead and tremendous flexibility. Your clients are not required to pay fees; instead, you receive commissions from travel providers for your services . Franchisees pay Cruise Planners from 1%-3% of gross commissionable sales.
4. Pinch a Penny – The pool industry is a rapidly growing market that's worth an estimated $15 billion. Join the nation’s largest swimming pool retail, service, and repair franchise and provide customers with retail, maintenance, and repair services year-round. Even if you have never owned a pool, you can succeed, thanks to the training support provided by Pinch a Penny. The corporate office also creates nationally targeted advertising campaigns to create brand awareness.
5. Dream Vacations – Plan customized vacations for your clients while you realize your own dream of becoming your own boss. In this home-based business model, franchisees work with clients and travel providers to book exclusive vacations anywhere in the world.
6. Wild Birds Unlimited – Featuring backyard bird food and nature products, Wild Birds Unlimited offers a low investment opportunity and revenue streams from both retail and online stores. With support and training, teach customers how to turn their yards into a bird feeding habitat that not only brings song, color and joy into their lives, but also benefits the wild birds and the environment. Franchisees pay a 4% royalty on gross sales to Wild Birds Unlimited.
7. Sandler Training — Align yourself with a dominating force in the sales and management training industry in a franchise that allows you to coach CEOs, presidents, and entrepreneurs. As a Sandler Training franchisee, you receive training and national marketing and advertising support.
8. Fastsigns – By joining this franchise, you can help provide comprehensive signage and visual graphic solutions to companies of all sizes and across all industries. With business support, national name recognition, and protected territories, franchisees follow a proven business model and enjoy operating during business-to-business hours.
9. Visiting Angels — The senior in-home care sector is experiencing tremendous growth, thanks to aging Baby Boomers and a desire to age at home. As a Visiting Angels franchisee, you build relationships with caregivers, clients and referral sources to provide quality in-home care services to seniors. Franchisees pay a royalty fee of 3 to 3.5% on gross revenues.
10. Precision Concrete Cutting – Help eliminate tripping and liability by repairing uneven sidewalks and walkways. Your initial investment includes a trailer or van to survey and repair sidewalks to ADA standards. You do not need previous experience to become an owner.
1. Two Men and a Truck - Join the first and largest franchised moving company in the world. Schedule moving crews and support residential, business, and office moves. Enjoy an exclusive zip code territory and benefit from national marketing campaigns. Franchises have reported average gross sales of $2.3 million, with the highest-grossing franchise realizing $10.10 million dollars in revenue.
2. HouseMaster – Home Inspections have become an integral part of home sales today, with lenders and real estate agents strongly encouraging their clients to have an inspection before they sink their money into a property. As a HouseMaster franchisee, you’ll help homebuyers with commercial inspections, pre-inspections, foreclosure inspections, radon testing, mold sampling, termite inspections, and swimming pool inspections. Benefit from ongoing technical training and marketing support.
3. Payroll Vault – Operate a full-service payroll company for small businesses, which also includes services such as time keeping, pay-as-you-go workers compensation, human resources services, drug screening and background checks. With no bricks and mortar or accounting experience required, you can enjoy flexibility and a short ramp-up period.
4. Minuteman Press – Boost brand awareness, drive up website traffic and build business for other small businesses through creating business cards, web sites, signage, and promotional products. You don’t need a printing background to help businesses develop their brand identity.
5. ActionCoach – Are you ready to help other businesses achieve success by helping them better market and manage their business? Put your background to use by providing both one on one and group coaching to small business leaders in your community. With flexible hours and a work-from-home option, you can work with clients you choose in just a few weeks after you open for business. (On average, ActionCoach coaches charge from $423 to $1,800 per hour for coaching services.) For more specific revenue and earnings estimate information see Item #19 in the franchise’s 2019 FDD (pages 57-60).
6. Fish Window Cleaning – Help make homes and businesses sparkle by offering window cleaning services in your community. Work normal business hours and scale up as you gain more clients. As a franchise, you are backed by a national company that helps provide marketing presence. Open in as little as five weeks with no industry experience, thanks to a comprehensive training program.
7. Soccer Shots – If developing the character and sharpening the soccer skills of children is your goal, Soccer Shots can help you make a difference in your community while you earn a living. With low overhead and a fun business, you can grow thanks to national marketing support and specialized training. Because you don’t need to own a facility or rent fields, you can quickly offer your services to children at parks, schools and childcare facilities.
8. Our Town America – Connect local businesses with new movers to help them sell their goods and services to your newest community members. In this home-based franchise, owners use their sales skills to build relationships in their territories. Because you are backed with marketing support and training you can spend time meeting with prospective businesses in your community.
9. Right at Home — Own a business that provides in-home care services to allow seniors and people with disabilities to retain as much independence and dignity as possible. You don’t need a medical background to hire caregivers to serve clients in your community. Build your business while Right at Home provides both marketing support and a business coach.
1. Amazing Athletes – Make work play! Invest in a franchise that offers a mobile, year-round, educational sports and fitness program to young children. Introduce them to the basic fundamentals of 10 different sports while helping them master six key areas of motor-development. With low start-up fees, a flat royalty rate of 8%, and little overhead, you can score big as the owner of an Amazing Athletes franchise.
2. Critter Control –If you enjoy the outdoors and solving problems for homeowners, you can help them manage pests and wildlife as a Critter Control franchisee. While you build your business, your technicians provide services to homeowners and businesses, including trapping, exclusion and damage repair, home maintenance, animal transportation, deodorizing, air purification, municipal animal control, and other wildlife management tasks. Thanks to national brand recognition and marketing and training support, you can scale your home-based business up over time.
3. The Goddard School – Also ranked a number one franchise in the education category by Franchise Business Review, The Goddard School gives franchise owners an opportunity to prepare children for social and academic success. You don’t need prior teaching or administration experience to open and operate a Goddard School. Along with your education director, you help attract students and manage school operations.
Mature Goddard Schools reported an average EBITDA of $373,321 in 2018*. *Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization. The average is based on 2018 results of Schools open more than 18 months, as stated in Item 19 of its Franchise Disclosure Document. According to the FDD, 196 of 458 (42.6%) of franchises in this group did as well or better than the average. Your individual results may vary. There is no assurance you’ll earn as much.
4. NaturaLawn of America – Using safe, eco-friendly products, NaturaLawn of America franchisees help their customers grow healthy, green lawns. Investors with sales backgrounds can also make a healthy living. According to Item 19 of its FDD, NaturaLawn franchisees reported an average gross annual revenue of $1,670,297. *Based on 37 owners and the 2018 gross revenue report.
5. Checkers and Rally’s – With bold racing flags flanking their restaurants, Checkers and Rally’s can take you to the finish line when it comes to realizing a good return on your investment. Its menu of burgers and seasoned fries scores high with hungry diners and franchisees alike. Geared toward franchisees with prior restaurant experience, Checkers and Rally’s offers multi-unit opportunities to qualified investors.
Item 19 of Checkers & Rally’s 2019 Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) shows a Statement of Average New Sales for the first 52-week period of operations. (Based on new restaurants per their first 12 months) of the following: Checkers: $1,159,945 and Rally’s:$1,341,060.
6. The Maids — Keeping homes clean in more than 90 major U.S. and Canadian cities, The Maids is a well-known brand that attracts franchisees from all backgrounds. Using safe products and proven methods, your employees tidy residential homes while you build your clientele. Backed by a national call center, marketing support and comprehensive training, franchisees can clean up while earning a good living.
According to Item 19 in its FDD, the median revenue earned in 2019 by 106 franchisees in operation for 12 months was $837,604.
7. DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen - A faith-based, full-service remodeling franchise, DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen is unique in that it offers kitchen, bath and interior design/build remodeling services instead of specializing in one of these. Dream along with our clients while you review bath and kitchen displays or show them beautiful 3-D renderings of what their dream bathroom could look like.
DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen franchise owners had $1.1M in average unit store sales in 2018, according to its 2019 FDD. DreamMaker franchisees also had an average gross profit margin of 47.6% in the top quartile of 2018, its 2019 FDD reports.
8. Sport Clips – Provide men with a championship haircut experience while they catch their favorite teams play on the small screen. You don’t have to give up your day-time job as you transition into entrepreneurship. Your manager can oversee daily operations while your employees provide boys and men great haircuts.
According to Item 19 of its FDD, 1,472 Sport Clips stores had average sales of $407,093 for the entire year of 2018. (The financial performance representations above do not reflect the costs of sales, operating expenses, or other costs or expenses that must be deducted from gross revenue or gross sales figures to obtain your net income or profit.)
9. Brightstar Care – A franchise that provides a bright light to seniors and others who need in-home care, BrightstarCare appeals to investors who have strong management and sales and marketing backgrounds. You don’t need a health care background to build the right team to serve clients in your territory. Not only does Brightstar allow you to serve your own clients, but you may also provide back-up care to other healthcare providers, which gives you another revenue stream and additional income for staff.
10. FirstLight Home Care – Putting people first by providing the very best in-home care to seniors and people with disabilities, you can own a business that improves lives and provides jobs to caregivers. Extensive pre-launch training and a launch specialist guide you along the way, helping you open the business. You also receive support from a business development specialist once you get off the ground.
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1. TSS Photography – Lights, cameras, action! Help bring special moments to life in your community at school, sports, and other local events. This home-based franchise offers flexibility and charges no royalties. Receive sales, business, and photography training: no previous photography experience is required.
2. Office Pride – Provide full-service commercial cleaning and janitorial services in your community, backed by national marketing support. Thanks to ongoing coaching and marketing support, you can build your business while you scale up in your protected geographic territory.
3. 360 Clean – This home-based cleaning business offers a healthy cleaning alternative to tidying office buildings and other commercial clientele. You can grow slowly, investing in new equipment and staff only when you add new clients to support your growth.
4. Mosquito Joe – Climate change has spurred an explosion of pests across the country—from mosquitos to ticks—all with the capacity to ruin someone’s backyard experience or expose them to pest-borne diseases. For entrepreneurs with the itch to improve outdoor experiences for families, the Mosquito Joe model works for owner-operator, semi-absentee owner and investors alike. Owners typically work a Monday through Friday schedule and do not need industry support.
5. 30 Minute Hit – Assist other women in hitting their fitness goals in a subscription-based program that does not require expensive equipment leases or large staffing requirements. Whether you work out with your clients or prefer leading a team, 30 Minute Hit offers training and marketing support programs to help you launch your own fitness studio.
6. HomeWatch Caregivers – The in-home care industry continues to grow, thanks to demographics that reflect a growing aging population with a desire to stay in their homes as long as possible. Recruit caregivers who provide high-touch, non-medical support to seniors in a targeted geographic area. You don’t need health care experience but should be passionate about serving clients and supporting caregivers.
7. Senior Care Authority — Whether families need help with assisted living, dementia care, or independent senior living placements, Senior Care Authority franchisees help identify the right level of care and find the best fit for the seniors they serve. Unlike similar senior care franchises, Senior Care Authority franchisees are directly compensated for placement services by assisted living facilities, not the families in need. This low-overhead franchise provides both training and mentoring and does not require you to have a health care background.
8. Supporting Strategies – Small businesses that need bookkeeping and accounting support rely on experts who can serve as outside experts. As a Supporting Strategies franchisee, you receive the coaching, recruiting and business development support you need to help scale your business. Operate in an exclusive territory and enjoy flexibility in addition to low overhead.
1. A&W—You might associate A&W with its root beer floats, but this fast food pioneer has been credited with inventing the bacon cheeseburger and now operates 1,000 restaurants around the world, with almost 600 in the U.S. Average net sales of its reporting, freestanding restaurants with drive-throughs are more than $950,777, according to its Financial Disclosure Document. Average comp sales are up 33% since 2011 and the company is focused on growing profitable same-store sales.
2. Simple Simons — If you’re looking to lead a restaurant that serves tasty wings along with good pizza, Simple Simon's Pizza might be your slice of pie. Simple Simons offers buffet style, eat in, and carry out options and a menu that includes sandwiches, breadsticks and desserts—in addition to chicken wings and pizza. A lower overhead restaurant option, franchises can be found in 200 locations in 10 states.
3. PJ's Coffee – Based in New Orleans, PJs Coffee offers gourmet coffee drinks. Poised for major growth, the franchise plans to open another 150 locations in 2020, in addition to the 110 it already operates in the United States and internationally. The Average Unit Volume continues to climb year after year and is currently at $670,289.
4. Happy & Healthy Products – Provide stores with tasty treats and snacks, while working full- or part-time from your home. You don’t need to operate a storefront to provide wholesale distribution of Fruitfull frozen bars and other healthy products. With no royalties or capital requirements, you can open up your business quickly and scale up as you grow your account base.
5. Kona Ice: More than a mobile food van, Kona Ice delivers happiness and excitement in the form of flavored, shaved ice to community events, games, and even indoor events. With no real estate expenses and a protected territory, franchisees can choose the type of equipment they want to invest in and get rolling! In fact, roughly 75% of franchisees purchase a second unit within the first two years of ownership.
6. Checkers and Rally’s: For a fun dining atmosphere with a racing theme, look no further than an investment in Checkers & Rally’s restaurants. Serve up hot dogs, hamburgers, and milkshakes in a franchise with a lower investment cost compared to other competitors. This restaurant offers a 62% return on investment, according to recent FDD report data.
7. The Wendy’s Company – While McDonald’s may be the king of burger franchise royalty, Wendy’s reigns supreme as the second most profitable burger franchise in the United States. In 2020 and beyond, Wendy’s has plans to take a bigger bite out of the fast-food sector by debuting new menu items, remodeling stores and investing in digital applications related to sales and delivery.
8. Firehouse Subs - Its tagline is “Enjoy More Subs. Save More Lives.” Founded in 1994 by Chris and Robin Sorenson—two brothers who come from a family of firefighters—this novel, fast casual restaurant has doubled from 500 units to more than 1,100 in the past eight years, according to QSR Magazine. It took years for the fire to spread, but you can now find franchises across the United States and Canada. With lower investment costs, you might find its affordability to be hot, too.
9. East Coast Wings and Grill – If you are looking to invest in an emerging casual dining restaurant that gives guests a taste of everything – including chicken wings, sandwiches, burgers, ribs, and appetizers--East Coast Wings + Grill might be a sizzling lower-overhead restaurant option for you. The North-Carolina-based franchise is small – with only 36 units—but began franchising in 2003.
10. Chicken Salad Chick - While it’s not known for serving buckets of fried chicken, Chicken Salad Chick’s claim to fame is its chicken salad sandwiches. The restaurant franchise now has 140 locations in 16 states, most of them in the Southeast. About 30% of the existing locations are company stores. With a lower initial investment, this emerging restaurant might get you into the industry for less cash compared to the rest of the fast food flock. Also, the restaurant only operates six days a week, allowing for a better work-life balance.
1. Christian Brothers Automotive– Be more than a trusted mechanic, improve the customer experience while you service your clients’ cars. In 2012, Christian Brothers Automotive was named the number one Best Performing Veteran Franchise by USAA Magazine. Its track record and its record repaying SBA loans contributed to the rating, but it also has a great reputation with its franchisees. The top 20% of Christian Brothers Automotive franchises earned more than $295,122 in 2018 based on Total Owner Benefit (TOB) as reported in its 2019 Franchise Disclosure Document.
2. TeamLogicIT – Keep other businesses online with outsourced IT services and support ranging from day-to-day computer repair and upgrades all the way to the installation of IT networks. Earn reoccurring revenues, thanks to monthly subscriptions, and benefit from support programs focused on technology and marketing.
3. Expedia CruiseShipCenters – Operate your own brick and mortar agency and manage vacation consultants who enjoy meeting new people, are passionate about travel, and like to expose travelers to new cultures. With more than 300 locations across Canada and the US, and more than 6,800 vacation consultants, Expedia CruiseShipCenters is a leading seller of cruise travel.
4. Mathnasium – Make math less intimidating for students by operating a learning center that provides math instruction using the Mathnasium system of learning. Children typically attend centers two or more times per week for approximately 60 minutes and receive individual support. Whether you are an engineer, educator, or accountant, or are simply are looking for a solid investment, you can become a Mathnasium franchisee. Veterans make up 7% of all franchisee owners. Also ranked as the #1 tutoring franchise by Franchise Business Review for 2020.
5. Fibrenew — Leather, plastic, and vinyl eventually becomes damaged through normal wear and tear or accidents. Fibrenew franchisees help their clients restore rips, fades, stains, cracks, scratches, and holes on items in homes, vehicles, boats, planes, and businesses. Initial start-up costs and on-going charges are dependent upon region.
6. FirstLight HomeCare – FirstLight believes in putting people first in its in-home care business –from clients, to caregivers, to franchisees. With a national brand, marketing and systems support, and a dedicated launch specialist, you can build a caregiving business that caters to the growing number of seniors who need assistance with personal care. You do not need a health care background to own a franchise. FirstLight is a 5-Star Member of VetFran, an initiative committed to facilitating the transition of veterans into franchising, of which FirstLight co-founder and CEO Jeff Bevis serves as chairman.
7. Amada Senior Care – Extend your compassion in a business that advocates for seniors, providing in-home, non-medical care and assisted living placement consulting services to families. Hire and manage in-home caregivers and file and manage long-term care insurance claims on behalf of policyholders.
8. HomeVestors of America - Since 2000, real estate has outperformed the stock market 2 to 1, boasting 10.17% annual returns between 2000 and 2016, according to Realtyshares. At HomeVestors, you will be trained to see the potential in the most distressed properties and either rehab them for sales or rental. The franchise’s nationally recognized tagline, “WE BUY UGLY HOUSES®,” supports both its brand recognition and commitment to helping homeowners get out of “ugly” situations. You do not need contracting or real estate experience to become an owner.
9. PuroClean – Join a franchise known as the “Paramedics of Property Damage®,” and provide fire and smoke damage remediation, water damage remediation, flood water removal, mold removal, and biohazard cleanup to commercial and residential customers. As an owner, you manage a crew who does the work, focus on marketing your business, and establish relationships with the insurance agencies that drive business to PuroClean. Steve White, PuroClean President & COO, is also a veteran U.S. army captain and member of the International Franchise Association’s VetFran committee.
10. The Glass Guru – Focusing on glass repair and replacement, The Glass Guru offers franchisees the benefit of having operations with a relatively low fixed-cost structure, and little to no inventory requirements. With low overhead and initial investment requirements, you can scale up as you grow. You don’t need prior experience, just a willingness to learn the business.
Owning a franchise gives you the opportunity to be your own boss and earn a healthy profit, but with so many franchise opportunities to choose from, you should understand your own strengths and weaknesses and carefully pursue your own research. Aside from reading our reviews, consider all of the different franchising options, weigh costs relative to profits, ask for feedback from current franchise owners, and be honest with yourself about how much time and money you can ultimately afford to invest.
Name: Cynthia Perthuis, CSA, Senior Care Authority Franchisee Location: Multi-unit owner with territories in the five boroughs of New York City and on the Southwest coast of Florida between Marco Island and Sarasota.