Building your small business from the ground up can be a daunting prospect since you must create your brand, build your business model, and set out to attract an audience in your field. Franchising leads you through all of these steps to business success, so it’s no wonder many small business owners are eager to partner with larger brands to open new businesses.
Why Franchising is a Good Option for Small Businesses
Many companies suffer more than their share of setbacks and delays on the road to success, and franchising allows you to jump ahead and reap the rewards of a proven and successful business plan. For a fee, you will be able to open a new business under the umbrella of a larger company, like a location of a restaurant chain. You will be provided with resources, such as training materials and marketing plans, and the franchiser will provide you with a sense of direction, offering advice and support to aim you down their proven route to business success. In return, as a franchisee you will follow their guidelines for how to offer the services and products the franchisor would like you to provide in your location of operation.
Many franchises offer additional support, frequently in the financial discounts, to veterans. This is a practice that benefits both parties, as the franchise is able to support and give back to veterans, and veteran’s military experience often prepares them to be among the most effective franchisees. Franchise Help reports that 1 in every 7 franchise businesses in the US is owned by a veteran.
Franchising isn’t for everyone. As with any business investment, it’s important you look at the numbers and make sure your decision makes sense financially before you sign anything. Some entrepreneurs find the commitments and structure of running a franchise constricting and prefer to forge ahead on their own terms. It would be wrong to suggest that your small business needs to partner with a franchisor to be successful, just as it it would be wrong to suggest that opening a franchise assures success. But the foundation and direction franchises provide can give entrepreneurs a leg up in the marketplace, and we recommend everyone investigate what franchise options might be available to them in their chosen field.
The 10 Best Franchises For Small Business Owners
Many people will first think of fast-food when franchising is brought up, and with good reason, because restaurant chains are among the most popular franchise options, but food service is far from the only industry to offer franchising opportunities. Fields from advertising to tutoring are available to small business owners interested in partnering with a franchise.
We’ve listed ten of the best-rated franchises in ten different fields by order of investment range to give an idea of the options available to you. These franchises were drawn from Entrepreneur magazine’s 2018 Franchise 500 list. Every year, Entrepreneur weighs factors like costs, size, growth, brand strength, financial stability, and a network of support to determine the 500 best franchises to work with. Entrepreneur also lists more franchise rankings on their website, like Fastest Growing and the Top Franchises for Veterans.
Franchise Comparison Table
|Company||Business Type||Investment Range||Franchise 500 Rank|
|JAN-PRO Cleaning Systems||Commercial Cleaning||$4K – $51K||#51|
|Property Management Inc.||Property Management||$20K – $87K||#152|
|H&R Block||Tax Services||$32K – $149K||#286|
|7-Eleven||Convenience Stores||$38K – $1.1M||#2|
|Kumon Math & Reading Center||Tutoring||$70K – $141K||#20|
|Valpak Direct Marketing Systems||Advertising Services||$81K – $201K||#128|
|Great Clips||Hair Care||$137K – $258K||#7|
|The UPS Store||Postal Services||$178K – $403K||#4|
|McDonald’s||Fast Food||$1M – $2.2M||#1|
|Hampton by Hilton||Hotels||$6.9M – $17.1M||#29|
1. Jan Pro Franchising International
The most prominent janitorial services provider in the world, JAN-PRO Cleaning Systems uses state-of-the-art cleaning supplies and techniques to bring business locations of all kinds the highest standards of cleaning service. Their efficient, customizable cleaning programs give clients the opportunity to select a cleaning schedule and itinerary that’s right for them.
JAN-PRO is noteworthy for having the most affordable range of franchise fees on our list, as well as specializing in aiding and training franchisees who are not only new to the commercial cleaning sphere but have never owned a small business before. Franchisees can keep a small contained cleaning service team, or expand if the opportunity arises. For these reasons, small business owners and entrepreneurs with limited financial resources or who are engaged in other business projects, franchised or otherwise, may find JAN-Pro especially worth considering. JAN-PRO does not offer its franchisees exclusive territories, which allows more freedom in areas of operation but also may result in more competition with other cleaning service providers.
2. Property Management Inc.
Property managers oversee real estate and coordinate rent payments, lease agreements, maintenance, and more, bridging the gap between property owners and renters. Property Management Inc., or PMI, Entrepreneur magazine’s highest rated property management franchisor, oversees franchises across the united states, offering commercial, residential, association, and, as of early 2018, vacation rental management programs.
Many PMI franchises are pre-existing property management businesses that have decided to step under the PMI umbrella to take advantage of their resources, but PMI offers a robust training program that gives franchisees new to the property management game a running start. PMI is one of the more economical franchise choices on this list, and the property management field is currently experiencing a lot of growth, so small business owners have a real opportunity to generate success with PMI.
3. H&R Block
H&R Block is a tax preparation service company dedicating to employing their considerable tax expertise to help patrons compile and file their taxes as accurately and effectively as possible and guarantee their customers receive their maximum tax returns. They provide options to file taxes online or in person.
As a franchisor, H&R Block focuses on converting existing tax service businesses into branches, although prospective franchisees will have the opportunity to purchase existing locations that are up for sale. H&R Block is also in the market to purchase tax service businesses wholesale. They excel at providing short and long-term exit plans so owners can sell their business to H&R Block and work with the new franchise for a period of time as they build towards retirement. H&R Block strives for a small scale and intimate vibe for its branches, which can make for a good fit for entrepreneurs with small business expertise and sensibilities.
It’s been a while since 7-Eleven expanded their operating hours from 7:00 AM-11:00 PM to 24/7, and 7-Eleven’s success has only grown as they’ve consistently rated among the top five franchises in the world, with franchises in 13 different countries. 7-Eleven is constantly innovating in the convenience industry, whether it’s to provide a wider variety of food, including healthier options, or by using mobile apps to build relationships with customers through loyalty programs and even to make 7-Eleven a financial service destination with a new bill pay app.
7-Eleven is one of the fastest routes from application to franchise ownership on our list, 3-6 months. Franchisees can start with just one store, or jump right into a multiple store franchise if they are more ambitious and have strong management and retail experience. There is also a conversion program for small business owners to add the 7-Eleven touch to existing convenience stores and benefit from the company’s strong marketing and brand power.
5. Kumon Math & Reading Center
A strong educational foundation can give young people an advantage in our competitive society. With Kumon Learning Centers children can get the tools they need to excel even before grade school with a tried and perfected curriculum and teaching method that helps kids grow at their own pace. Early assistance with math and reading helps kids build the communication and critical thinking skills that will help them later in life, whatever career they pursue.
A background in education is not required for prospective Kumon franchisees (although a four-year college degree is required), but an interest in mentorship and early education is a real plus. Like any franchise and other business for that matter, it will become a handicap if you don’t have a degree of passion for or belief in what you’re doing and the field your working in. Kumon offers regular seminars, both online and in person, to give entrepreneurs a chance to see what franchising with Kumon might be like, network, and get their questions about the tutoring sphere answered.
6. Valpak Direct Marketing Systems
Advertising is essential for any small business. If marketing is an area where you shine you might want to consider partnering with franchiser Valpak Direct Marketing Systems and making your advertising and marketing skills the forefront of your small business efforts. Valpak provides print, online, and mobile advertising services from more than 150 locations through North America. Valpak may be most well known for the diverse lineup of coupons they offer on their website, which is worth checking out even if you have no interest in franchising with Valpak or using their other services.
Valpak is a great choice for aspiring franchisees with keen business sense, strong management skills, and a love of sales. Valpak offers robust training programs and powerful support tools to help you land on your feet and excel in your field. Valpak marketing consultants work closely with local small businesses and succeed when they succeed. We especially recommend Valpak if this kind of teamwork, networking, and small business mentorship appeals to you.
7. Great Clips
The largest hair care name brand in North America, Great Clips is a walk-in hair care salon that provides an array of high-quality and convenient haircuts or other services like shampoos and conditioning treatments. Great Clips also offers hair care products customers can purchase to use themselves.
All Great Clips locations are owned by franchisees, so Great Clips corporate can keep their full attention helping your franchise succeed, rather than running any corporate owned salons. Don’t worry if cutting hair is not your expertise, Great Clips is looking for franchisees with a talent for management, and if you partner with them they will help you scout out and select a team of haircutting experts to help your franchise shine. Many owners run multiple franchises, and it’s possible to run your Great Clips franchise on the side while working another job, like leading your small business. Great Clips has franchise opportunities in the United States and Canada but is not always looking to open new franchises in every state and province so make sure and check their website to see what locations Great Clips is interested in expanding to.
8. The UPS Store
Begun as a humble alternative to the post office, The UPS Store has not only become Entrepreneur magazine’s highest postal service franchise but one of the magazine’s top franchises overall. The UPS Store provides the postal services almost every small business entrepreneur needs like professional printing and direct mail services. Trained staff help customers package and ship small and large items.
The UPS Store is currently expanding in all 50 states, and just over half of UPS Store franchisees own multiple locations, so there’s room for growth and expansion. The UPS Store frequently offers reduced fees and additional specialty training for multi-store franchisees. The UPS Store’s franchisee application process is smooth and streamlined and applicants who are accepted can be in charge of their own franchise within 60 to 100 days.
We’ll begin to close out this list with the first type of franchise we introduced, fast food. McDonald’s is Entrepreneur magazine’s #1 pick on the 2018 franchise 500. The training and support network provided to small business owners looking to serve food under the golden arches is among the best in the industry. Over 80% of McDonald’s restaurants are operated by franchisees and McDonald’s has a presence is over 100 countries around the world.
Although McDonald’s does open new stores, most McDonald’s franchisees will join the family by purchasing an existing McDonald’s location. Multiple location franchises are encouraged, especially for franchisees with strong management and business experience. McDonald’s is also interested in real estate, and if you own property that might be a good site for a McDonald’s, they’d like to hear about and might purchase it and build a new restaurant. This goes to show that even if you do not become a franchisee yourself, there are opportunities for small business owners to profit by entering mutually beneficial deals with bigger companies, even massive corporations like McDonald’s.
10. Hampton by Hilton
With over 5,000 properties in over 100 territories, Hilton is one of the world’s largest and most successful hospitality companies in the world. Hilton began with a small 40-room hotel in Texas in 1919, so like many of the companies on this list they are an example how small businesses have the potential to take hold and grow to rule the market. Hilton offers multiple hotel models and systems in order to fulfill different patrons needs. Hampton, one of their most well-known hotel brands, offers high-quality rooms at a moderate cost and is available as a franchising option.
Franchisees with Hampton are licensed to use the Hampton Inn hotel system, with information, procedures, and policies for running a Hampton Inn or Hampton Inn & Suites hotel that offers standard guest rooms and, in the latter’s case, some number of studio guest suites. Hampton does not provide exclusive territory to franchises and requires several training courses for orientation and certification to make sure you have the knowledge and skills you need to run your Hampton effectively.
The Smart Hack
Partnering with a larger company, like one of the companies on our list, to open a franchise can provide an invaluable support network of resources for your small business and put accomplished business experts in your corner to help you succeed. Forging your own path free of an established business has the incentive of greater flexibility and room to experiment and can reap just as many rewards as franchising, but the brand recognition franchising provides can make franchising a sound investment that business owners should not be hasty to rule out.
We recommend you investigate the most successful businesses in your field of choice and see which companies provide services you enjoy or have business models you admire. They may offer you the chance to open a franchise. Check out our article on new business mistakes that many entrepreneurs do when they first start their franchise.
Davis Pratt is the Public Relations Specialist for Property Management Inc., where he has the opportunity to help small business owners aim their franchises towards success. He has contributed more than twenty articles to Smart Business Hacks.