While there is no single stand-alone benchmark that governs which franchise businesses have reigned the most supreme in 2014, list makers tend to focus on a few chief attributes. In addition to a proven affordable business model, rock solid start-up support, where original business owners (franchisers), helps new owners (franchisees), with site selection, lease negotiation, and financing, goes a long way in stacking the odds in the favor of long-term success. Likewise, national branding and marketing messaging through TV spots, radio ads, direct mail, marketing collateral and digital advertising, also help franchise operations tilt towards viability. And while no business is 100% certain to thrive—even with these advantages, here are ten franchises, with rosy prospects this year.
Anytime Fitness, LLC
Startup costs: $71,599 - $353,900
The 24-hour, co-ed fitness franchise facility relies on proprietary access software, security and surveillance technology to let owners operate safe clubs with reduced on-site personnel. Gym owners can benefit from the growth in the number of people adopting more active lifestyles, stimulated by increasing health insurance incentives and corporate wellness programs.
Startup costs: $113.8K - $233.6K
As families like sticking with the familiar when it comes to haircuts, once a Supercuts franchisees land a client, they tend to keep them around. And as a full service salon, Supercuts offers shampoo and conditioning treatments, coloring, blow drying and styling, as well as waxing and beard trimming. And by stocking products including Paul Mitchell, Redken, and Matrix Biolage, franchisees are able to enjoy a predictable cash flow business.
Jan-Pro Cleaning Systems
Startup Costs: $3,300 - $49,900
Considered “recession resistant;" all businesses need to maintain cleanliness, so Jan-Pro and companies like it have remained profitable throughout the past decade. In the United States, commercial cleaning is a $48 billion fragmented industry, with projections to swell to $58 billion by the end of 2015.
(An American Express Travel Representative)
Startup costs: $1,900 - $10,000
With a projected 34 million Americans planning to cruise over the next three years, becoming a cruise agent is one of the lower cost franchise opportunities. And unlike other travel agency roles, this requires no travel experience. Also, this business can be run out of a franchisee’s home, therefore avoiding retail space construction or rental. Also absent: pesky time clocks, other employees, and monthly fees.
Startup costs: $50,000 - $1,000,000
Already with 53,000 stores worldwide, the global recognition of the convenience store has turnkey approach to the franchise model, where the parent entity provide the store, land and equipment to franchisees. The company has invested in developing a proprietary Retail Information POS scanning system that enables owners to better track and stock products important to customers.
About Kumon Math & Reading Centers
Startup costs: $72,187 - $149,319
Based on principals that Japanese math teacher Toru Kumon developed over 50 years ago, to help his second-grade son with his arithmetic, Kumon Math & Reading Centers now has an international presence with over 23,575 franchise units. The model relies on daily practice and self-paced advancement to children's math and reading skills. Ongoing communication and support via toll-free phone lines, Internet, newsletters and meetings let franchisees stay connected to the mother company and each other.
The UPS Store
Startup Costs: $150,152 - $420,299
As the largest franchisor of postal, printing and business services centers, the company has 30 years of franchising history to draw from. It recently unveiled a program to discount the licensing by $10,000, and knock 50% off the initial application fee to qualified veterans and spouses of active military personnel.
Liberty Tax Service
Startup costs: $57,800 - $71,900
Liberty Tax Service and businesses like it, have the distinct advantages of enjoying seasonal cycles. A franchisee can put their nose to the grindstone for four months of the year, and then pursue other businesses and recreational interests for the remaining two-thirds of the year. Founder John Hewitt has now led Liberty Tax to open more than 4,400 offices over 17 years. Prior tax experience is helpful, but not essential, as franchisees and their employees are comprehensively trained, with continual follow-up.
Startup costs: $154,316 - $279,316
While preparing and delivering fresh fruit arrangements and gifts may not be everyone’s cup of tea, some 700 entrepreneurs in 12 countries have taken the plunge.
Startup costs: $400,000 - $1,100,000
With 4,800 locations worldwide, Ace Hardware Corporation has dominated the retail hardware space for decades. Founded in Chicago in 1924, Ace is currently benefiting from the "do-it-yourself" market, which is poised to continue growing, with data telegraphing that growth in home-improvement sales of 5.2 percent over the next five years.
The Bottom Line
Whether entrepreneurs are looking to invest just a few thousand dollars in startup costs, or a few hundred thousand, the choices of business are as vast. Back up support and brand awareness are key considerations for those looking to hang their own shingle.