Famous businesses like McDonald's, Subway, Hilton Hotels, and Marriott all operate on the franchise model. Franchisees own the individual locations, but the franchisees are given permission to operate by the franchiser. This means that franchisees must conform to their brand's corporate standards.

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How to Start a Franchise:

$35,000.00 USD
6 Months
How to Start a Franchise:

Whether it's McDonald's, Subway, Hilton, or some other instantly recognizable brand, every franchise has a slightly different process, but they generally follow steps that include a formal application and an in-person interview. Use our guide to help you as you navigate the exciting prospect of becoming a franchisee.


Choose a franchise.


Identify your passion.

Identify your passion.

Franchise owners put a lot of hard work into making their business a success, so don't try to do something that doesn't interest you.


Talk to other franchise owners.

Talk to other franchise owners.

Ask other owners what their experience has been like. In particular, find out what kind of relationship they have with the franchisor and what level of personal involvement is required in their business.


Look into fees.

Look into fees.

Find out how much the franchise fee is and what additional costs may be part of your upfront investment. Franchise fees vary from a few thousand dollars to $1M, so make sure you pick a franchise model that you can realistically finance.


Evaluate the local competition.

Evaluate the local competition.

Is there too much competition? Has anyone else started a franchise that is similar to the one that you want to open? It will be difficult for you to make money in a saturated market, no matter how good the franchise model is.


Write a business plan.


Do your research.

Do your research.

Lenders and franchisers will be very interested in the details of your plan, so take lots of time to create a budget and research the market in your area.


Include all of the relevant sections.

Include all of the relevant sections.

A franchise business plan should include the following sections:

  • Executive Summary.
  • Business Description.
  • Management Summary.
  • Sales/Marketing.
  • Financial Plan.

Some franchises have a business plan laid out for you to work off of, while others will want you to present them with a business plan. If you need to draft your own plan, check out our business plan template.


Choose between a corporation or LLC.

Choose between a corporation or LLC.

Your franchise should be set up as either a corporation or an LLC (Limited Liability Company). Creating a corporation or LLC for your franchise comes with a few distinct advantages:

  • The business assumes liability, instead of you as the owner being held liable.
  • The IRS has a different tax structure for corporations.
  • Franchisors are more likely to work with an LLC or corporation.
  • Your business may be able to qualify for special tax breaks.

File articles of organization.

File articles of organization.

In most states, you need to file Articles of Organization in order to set up a corporation. You can do this by contacting your state's Secretary of State department or small business office.

Get legal counsel.

If you are forming a legal entity for your business with the intent of becoming a franchisee, you should seek counsel from an attorney who can give you legal advice and direction from this point forward.


Secure financing.


Explore franchise-specific options.

Explore franchise-specific options.

Some franchisors offer their own financial assistance programs to franchisees. This means that when you meet with a franchisor, they can present you with a variety of customized loan options to help you secure the money that you need to start your business. Do some research about the franchise you are interested in to find out if this is an option.


Apply for franchise loans.

Apply for franchise loans.

Lenders like OnDeck, Funding Circle, and others offer a special category of loans called franchise loans. These term loans are designed to assist entrepreneurs with franchise fees and startup costs.


Partner with investors.

Partner with investors.

There may be people in your network who would be willing to partner with you by investing their money in your franchise. Share your business plan with potential investors if you want to seek private investment into your business.


Sign a franchise agreement.


Review and sign the agreement.

Review and sign the agreement.

You can think of the franchise agreement as a legally binding contract. This document is usually drawn up by the franchisor. The contents of a standard franchise agreement include:

  • Legal disclosures.
  • Details about franchisee payments.
  • Franchisee obligations.
  • Relationship between the parties.
  • Special provisions.
  • Franchisor services.

Essentially, a franchise agreement outlines exactly how the business relationship between the franchisee and the franchisor will function.


Choose a location.


Consider the type of business you'll be operating.

Consider the type of business you'll be operating.

If you are opening a fast-food franchise, you need a location that can facilitate a drive-thru, customer parking, and full kitchen/dining area. Not only that, but it should be in a busy place.

Beauty salons, real estate agencies, and retail stores may have totally different location requirements, so don't assume that there is a one-size-fits-all solution. The franchisor may be able to tell you which existing locations have been the most successful.


Ask the right questions.

Ask the right questions.

Do your research before you decide on a location. Ask questions like,

  • Are there competitors in the area?
  • Is the property easy for customers to access?
  • What kind of building does the franchisor recommend?
  • Could the building be expanded if necessary?

Hire employees.

Advertise positions.

You can advertise job opportunities at local job fairs, on your website, through social media, or with job posting sites like Indeed. The more exposure your job postings have, the better your chances are of attracting qualified candidates.


Train new employees.

Train new employees.

Some franchises have their own training programs that you can use to train new employees, while others are more hands-off and leave all training initiatives up to the owner. In either case, owners and managers must be familiar with the franchisor's standards and methods of operation before leading their employees.

Franchise Metrics: Revenue Per Hour

Revenue per hour is a measure of how much money your franchise is generating per hour of operation in comparison to the amount that you are spending on labor.

To calculate revenue per hour, you first need to find out what your franchise's total revenue was for a given period. You can find this number by looking at one of your income statements.

Next, add up the total number of hours that your employees worked during the same period.

Finally, divide total revenue by total labor hours. The result is your revenue per hour or revenue per labor hour.


Franchise Fee





Pizza Hut



$100,000 - $1,000,000

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts


Dunkin' Donuts

$40,000 - $90,000


$12,500 - $25,000

Century 21

$0 - $25,000

The UPS Store


Gold's Gym

$32,000 - $40,000


How much money do you make owning a franchise?

The average franchisee earns $66,000 per year, according to our research. However, franchisee earnings vary widely across industries.

How can I start a franchise with no money?

Simply put, it is impossible to start a franchise with no money. If you do not personally have money to pay the franchise fee, you can try to borrow money from a bank or a private investor.

What is the most profitable franchise to own?

  • RE/MAX.
  • Dairy Queen.
  • Jimmy Johns.
  • The UPS Store.
  • Ace Hardware.
  • McDonald's.
  • 7-Eleven.

What is the cheapest franchise to start?

One of the most affordable franchises is Umbrella Tax Solutions, which has a franchise fee of only $199.00. Many other franchises have a franchise fee of $10,000 or less.

What is the best franchise to own?

It all depends on what your personal interests are and what industry you would like to be involved in. The best franchise to own is one that resonates with your passions and industry experience, as this combination will give you the most likely chance of being a successful franchise owner.

How much do you make if you own a McDonald's?

Studies have shown that McDonald's franchisees earn an average of $150,000 per year in net profits. Earnings may increase or decrease based on the location and size of the restaurant.

How much do Chick-Fil-A franchise owners make?

Chick-Fil-A franchise owners earn between 5% and 7% of their location's gross sales. In 2018, the average Chick-Fil-A location made $4.1 million in sales.

Which fast food franchise is the most profitable?

McDonald's continues to be the most profitable fast-food franchise due to its widespread popularity.

Is owning a franchise a good idea?

If you have the right financial backing and can buy into a popular brand, owning a franchise can be very profitable. However, you will not have the same level of independence as you would if you owned your own business.

How does owning a franchise work?

After being formally approved by the franchisor, the franchisee typically pays a franchise fee and fronts any other costs associated with opening a location. The franchisor gives them the right to sell their products/services under their brand name and supplies the location with products, marketing materials, and any other assets that may be required.

Is a cleaning franchise worth it?

Cleaning franchises typically have much lower franchise fees than major chains, making them easier to start. However, earnings are generally much lower as well. The average cleaning franchise owner earns just $36,000 per year.

How do you create a franchise business plan?

Some franchises have a business plan laid out for you to work off of, while others will want you to present them with a business plan. If you need to draft your own plan, first create a budget and perform extensive research on the market in your area. You should include an executive summary, business description, management summary, sales or marketing plan, and a financial plan in your franchise business plan.

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