Buying and operating a franchise: Everything you need to know

From Subway to 7-Eleven to the UPS Store to RE/MAX, franchised companies are throughout us, despite the fact that we could not at all times understand it. Many companies which can be generally regarded as nationwide chains are literally independently owned franchises, and for aspiring entrepreneurs, these manufacturers characterize the chance to personal and function a market-tested enterprise in their very own yard.

Opening a franchise appeals to many entrepreneurs, even those that plan to someday construct their very own enterprise from scratch. By beginning with a franchise, a first-time enterprise proprietor can learn the way a profitable, well-branded enterprise operates from the within out and later combine these insights into the event of their very own firm.

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What is a franchise? Definition and clarification

In a technical sense, a franchise is a contractual settlement between the proprietor of a model (a franchisor) and a enterprise operator (a franchisee) that enables the enterprise operator to personal and run a department of the franchisor’s enterprise utilizing the model’s distinctive id, brand, popularity, advertising and marketing supplies, and proprietary enterprise mannequin to promote the model’s services and products to customers.

In different phrases, a franchise is a mutually useful joint enterprise enterprise by which a model empowers an entrepreneur to personal and function a department of that model’s enterprise in trade for a startup payment and a proportion of the department’s income.

Conversationally talking, nonetheless, the phrase franchise is used most frequently among the many public to explain both a franchised enterprise at massive (e.g., Wendy’s the model) or any given location of a franchised enterprise (e.g., your native Wendy’s restaurant).

Each location of a franchised enterprise is basically an independently operated outlet that advantages from the model recognition, advertising and marketing efforts, and established operational mannequin of the franchisor.

Franchisor vs. Franchisee: What’s the distinction?

A franchisor is the proprietor of a longtime, profitable unique enterprise with some extent of name recognition. This may very well be a comparatively small, regional enterprise run by a single proprietor (like a roofing firm with 12 branches across the Midwest), or a well known, multinational model with tens of hundreds of places (like McDonald’s). In both case, the franchisor represents a longtime model and its services or products.

A franchisee, alternatively, is a person who pays for a license to function a department of a franchisor’s enterprise. A franchisee invests in a franchise by paying a franchisor for the suitable to make use of its enterprise’s identify, model, operational mannequin, and different belongings for a time period outlined within the franchise settlement. In trade, the franchisor receives a one-time franchise cost and ongoing royalty funds from the franchisee. 

Franchisor vs. franchisee at a look

Franchisor Franchisee

Owns model and model belongings 

Owns the suitable to make use of model and belongings for a time period

Exerts affect over all branded places

Owns and operates a number of enterprise places for a set interval

Earns franchise payment and royalties from all franchisees

Pays an preliminary franchise payment and ongoing royalties to the franchisor for the suitable to make use of the model and its mannequin

Provides steering, coaching, supplies, and different belongings to franchisees to assist them succeed

Receives coaching, steering, and different belongings from the franchisor and makes use of them to succeed

How do franchises work? The franchising course of from begin to end

Franchise agreements are primarily funding alternatives, each for the franchisor and the franchisee. The franchisee exchanges cash for a model’s belongings (recognition, merchandise, companies, and technique), whereas the franchisor exchanges model belongings for an preliminary lump-sum cost and an ongoing earnings stream. If the franchisee’s location of the enterprise is profitable of their group, the franchisor not solely receives periodic, dividend-like royalty funds but additionally will get the added bonus of elevated model consciousness and buyer goodwill.

In many circumstances, a potential franchisee should apply and be authorised to open a franchise of their space, however since that isn’t at all times the case, the primary actual step for each events is the signing of a franchise settlement.

The franchise settlement

A franchise settlement is a legally binding doc that, as soon as signed, grants the franchisee the suitable to function their department of the franchise for a sure variety of years. This doc additionally outlines the franchisee’s tasks, which might embody upholding the model’s requirements, producing a specific amount of income, utilizing solely authorised suppliers, and different provisions. If the franchisee violates the phrases of the contract, the franchise settlement could also be revoked by the franchisor.

The franchise settlement additionally particulars the franchise payment and royalties that have to be paid to the franchisor in addition to the sources and assist the franchisor pledges to supply to the franchisee, each throughout the brand new department’s opening and on an ongoing foundation.

The franchise payment and different startup prices

To begin a franchise, a franchisee should sometimes pay a franchisor a one-time franchise cost for the suitable to start doing enterprise underneath the franchisor’s model. Franchise charges range fairly a bit and may depend upon the size of the franchise settlement (how lengthy the franchisor grants the franchisee the suitable to make use of its model system), however most vary between tens of hundreds and tons of of hundreds of {dollars}.

In most circumstances, the franchisee additionally must buy or lease a constructing and equip it to function as a department of the enterprise, which frequently means buying tools and paying for customized renovations to the area. Between a franchise payment and these startup prices, opening a franchise can require a really costly preliminary funding, and since there isn’t a assure of success, this funding may be very dangerous for the franchisee.

That being mentioned, this threat is offset to some extent by the truth that the franchisor’s model has already proved to be worthwhile in different markets and the model’s services or products probably have already got a buyer base. Most new companies fail, however new franchises could also be extra prone to succeed as a result of their model is recognizable, their enterprise mannequin is examined, and demand for his or her merchandise already exists.

Hiring, coaching, and grand opening

Once a franchisee secures and equips their constructing (if relevant) and hires a staff, the franchisor sometimes helps them market their enterprise in the local people, rent and practice employees, host a grand opening, and start working.

In many circumstances, the franchisor (or a member of their staff) may go on-site on the franchisee’s new enterprise for a month or so to be able to assist set up the model’s operational mannequin and supply ongoing steering and assist to the franchisee and their new staff of staff as they start to do enterprise.

Ongoing operation and royalty funds

Once the franchisee and their staff get the dangle of issues, they’re sometimes left to their very own units however can attain out to the franchisor for steering and sources on an ongoing foundation.

As the franchisee operates their new enterprise, they ship periodic royalty funds to the franchisor. Royalty funds are normally a proportion of both revenue or income and could also be paid month-to-month or quarterly — the main points of a franchise’s loyalty funds can range fairly a bit and are outlined intimately within the franchise settlement.

Franchise settlement renewal, modification, or termination

Eventually, the phrases of the franchise settlement come to an finish, and at that time, the franchisor could supply to resume the franchise settlement, suggest a modified franchise settlement (typically with greater royalty percentages), or just terminate the franchisee’s proper to proceed doing enterprise underneath their model.

In most circumstances, profitable franchisees are requested to signal a renewed or up to date franchise settlement and proceed doing enterprise. Those who’re significantly profitable could even be requested in the event that they want to open extra branches in adjoining geographic markets.

Are franchises extra prone to succeed than different new companies? 

Many within the franchising trade declare that franchises have a 95% success charge, citing a Eighties research by the Department of Commerce. The knowledge used to supply this statistic got here from a voluntary survey of two,000 franchisees, solely 5% of whom mentioned their franchises failed inside the first 5 years of operation, indicating a 95% charge of success (in comparison with the 45% five-year survival charge for brand new companies at massive).

The 95% determine has develop into so infamous within the franchising trade that it’s colloquially known as “the Stat,” however it’s extensively thought-about inaccurate because of the truth the info was self-reported, and profitable franchisees could have been extra inclined to submit responses.

Interestingly, no significantly thorough analysis has emerged within the many years because the Department of Commerce research to exchange the 95% statistic. That being mentioned, most take into account it secure to say {that a} new franchise of a well known nationwide model with established demand and company operational coaching (like McDonald’s or Wendy’s) is extra prone to succeed than a brand-new enterprise in the identical trade constructed from scratch.

Chick-fil-A has develop into one of the vital fashionable franchise alternatives for aspiring franchisees, as they are typically fairly profitable, however the model has develop into recognized for its rigorous and selective utility course of and coaching necessities. 

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

How does franchising range between manufacturers?

Every franchise is completely different, and so they range fairly a bit when it comes to startup issue, price, franchisor controls, franchisee assist, website choice, and different particulars. Some franchised companies are very strictly managed by the franchisor to be able to uphold the model’s requirements throughout places, whereas others give the franchisee extra leeway when it comes to how they run their enterprise. These specifics are finest demonstrated utilizing real-world examples.

As far as franchised companies go, Chick-fil-A is thought for sustaining significantly rigorous franchisee choice and coaching processes — not solely do potential franchisees must display their {qualifications}, be chosen from a big group of candidates, full an intensive multi-week coaching, and pledge a $10,000 preliminary funding; in addition they must be keen to work lengthy hours within the restaurant as a hands-on staff member. Chick-fil-A’s management particularly notes that potential franchisees in search of passive earnings by way of a hands-off funding alternative ought to look elsewhere.

Subway, alternatively, solely requires that potential franchisees move a comparatively easy, one-hour abilities check centered on fundamental math and English. This implies that most anybody with the requisite capital ($10,000–$15,000 plus startup prices) can open a Subway of their space with out going by a rigorous utility course of.

Subway can be distinctive in that the model holds the leases for all of its franchised branches after which subleases the places to the franchisees. It additionally requires all franchisees to supply their provides and substances from the model’s authorised distributors to be able to preserve high quality throughout all places.

Many franchised companies, like Subway, are pretty lax about franchisee choice (as long as buyers have sufficient capital to open a department), providing loads of preliminary and ongoing assist when requested by the franchisee however requiring little of them however their preliminary and ongoing monetary investments and adherence to the model’s requirements.

In some circumstances, franchisees of those types of companies can rent an on-site supervisor to run the enterprise’s day-to-day operations in order that they’ll acquire passive earnings with out working on-site all that usually.

12 top-rated U.S. franchises & their franchise charges

Franchise Direct

Company Industry Initial franchise payment


Fast meals


The UPS Store



Ace Hardware




Fast meals



Fast meals


Snap-on Tools

B2B automotive software gross sales


Matco Tools

B2B automotive software gross sales



Real property


Express Employment Professionals

Employment & staffing


Wild Birds Unlimited



Century 21

Real property


Minuteman Press



What different bills do franchisees incur in addition to the franchise payment and royalty funds?

The preliminary franchise payment and periodic royalty funds are simply two of the bills that include working a franchise. Every scenario is completely different, however many different charges and bills can come into play. Some bigger franchisors cost all franchisees a compulsory payment for the model’s ongoing promoting efforts, which can happen on a nationwide scale however profit all franchise places.

Some franchisees buy or lease their very own tools, however in lots of circumstances, particular tools and provides have to be leased instantly from the franchisor for a month-to-month or annual payment. Other frequent bills franchisees could incur embody funds for necessary insurance coverage or IT/community assist offered by the franchisor.

Every franchise alternative is completely different, and the easiest way to get a full sense of the bills related to working a particular franchise is to look the model up on Franchise Direct, which aggregates particular info and knowledge about nearly all frequent franchises.

Frequently requested questions (FAQ)

Below are solutions to a number of the commonest questions buyers and entrepreneurs have about franchises and the franchising course of.

How do present enterprise homeowners franchise their companies?

Turning a longtime enterprise right into a franchise is a sophisticated course of, however a number of the most essential steps embody making a franchise disclosure doc (FDD) for potential franchisees as required by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), distilling the corporate’s enterprise mannequin and proprietary data right into a cohesive and accessible operations handbook, registering the model’s emblems, establishing a brand new franchising firm, and registering the FDD with the states during which the franchisor needs to function.

Can franchised companies be publicly traded?

Many well-known franchises are additionally publicly traded firms, together with McDonald’s  (MCD) – Get Free Report, Wingstop  (WING) – Get Free Report, Domino’s  (DPZ) – Get Free Report, Valvoline  (VVV) – Get Free Report, Goosehead Insurance  (GSHD) – Get Free Report, Planet Fitness  (PLNT) – Get Free Report, The Vitamin Shoppe  (VSI) – Get Free Report, and different well-known nationwide and worldwide manufacturers.

What are the very best franchises for passive earnings?

According to the International Franchise Professionals Group, a networking group utilized by franchisors and franchisees, the very best manufacturers for “semi-absentee franchises” — these the place the franchisee can sometimes rent a supervisor to run day-to-day operations after the startup course of is full — embody the next:

  • Gameday Men’s Health
  • Everline Coatings
  • Temporary Wall Systems
  • DonutNV
  • Fastest Labs

Are there work-from-home franchise alternatives?

According to Franchise Direct, a web based franchise info aggregator, the next franchises characterize the very best alternatives for franchisees who need to do most of their work remotely, from residence or elsewhere:

  • Healthier 4U Vending
  • Ideal Directories
  • Cruise Planners
  • Hommati
  • SiteSwan Website Builder