Quick. When you think of franchising, what comes to mind? McDonald's? KFC? Subway? Sure, they're well known and seem to be on every corner. But they're also expensive to own. Just consider this: To even be looked at as a potential McDonald's franchisee, an individual has to have liquid assets of at least $750,000. Start-up costs for the golden arches, which include construction and equipment expenses, range from $955,000 to around $2.3 million, and franchisees need to provide 40 percent of that total in cash and other non-borrowed assets in order to buy one.
Luckily, there are plenty of other franchises that cost far less and offer buyers the same satisfaction to experience life as a small-business owner. In fact, according to the International Franchise Association, the Washington, D.C., trade group that represents franchisors, there are more than 300 different business formats to choose from across a variety of industries, with some costing as little as $2,000 to get started.
So if you think you have what it takes to be the boss and like the established operating systems that franchising provides, read on. What follows is a look at some low-cost franchises that can have you calling the shots without breaking the bank.
—By Susan Caminiti, special to CNBC.com
Posted 07 July 2015
Long before Jane Fonda urged women to "feel the burn," there was Judi Sheppard Missett, founder of Jazzercise. She created her dance-infused aerobic workouts in 1969 and began franchising the concept in 1983. She's CEO of the Carlsbad, California-based company (her daughter is president) and still teaches and choreographs new routines.
Jazzercise instructors are trained and certified before becoming franchised. There are more than 8,300 Jazzercise locations worldwide in 30 countries. Opening one costs between $9,000 and $38,000, depending on the size and location of the studio. The initial franchise fee is $1,250.
This commercial cleaning service was started in 1991 and began franchising the following year. There are now more than 11,000 units across the U.S. and Canada, responsible for cleaning hospitals, gyms, office buildings, schools and churches. The company has been recognized for using "green" cleaning products that contain fewer harmful chemicals.
Potential franchisees can get started for as little as $3,100, which includes uniforms, starter supplies and equipment and training. The business can be run from home.
This vacation-planning franchise is aimed at folks who want to work from home and have a passion for travel. Franchisees sell full-service vacation packages, including cruises, land-based vacations, trip insurance and car rentals.
The Coral Gables, Florida-based company was started by veteran travel agent Michelle Fee in 1994 and began franchising in 1999. Getting started costs $10,495 and includes a six-day in-person training course in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, ongoing home-office support and $1 million in insurance.
This well-known accounting and tax preparation company was started in 1955 by two brothers, Henry and Richard, who began franchising the concept the following year. There are now more than 11,000 offices across the U.S.
Franchisees pay a $2,500 refundable security deposit to get started. From there the total franchise cost can range from $35,000 to $136,000, depending on the size of the office, location and how much equipment and furniture needs to be purchased. The company states that one in seven Americans has their taxes prepared by H&R Block.
This company was started in 1988 when founder Jean Daum placed an order for lunch in her favorite restaurant and then had nothing to read but a sugar packet while she waited.
Coffee News was created to give diners a mix of quick lighthearted news, horoscopes, trivia and local business advertising. The paper is available for free in restaurants around the world and is supported by ads from local businesses.
Franchise licenses are priced by population. In the U.S., for instance, the cost of the first one is $8,500 and covers a population of 50,000 people. Additional franchises are $6,000 for each additional 40,000 population.
If you drive a car, chances are at one time or another you've had to deal with a chipped or cracked windshield. SuperGlass was started in 1992 as one of the first repair-only franchises for windshields and today has nearly 300 locations in the U.S., South Africa, France, Spain and Germany.
The business can be run from home, with a total investment (including initial franchise fees) of between $9,900 and $31,000, depending on the size of the market and the equipment purchased.
After the birth of her first child in 2001, Kristen Horler was looking for a challenging workout that didn't require her to hire a personal trainer and babysitter or join an expensive gym. That's when she created Baby Boot Camp, a stroller fitness program that lets moms keep their children with them while they work out.
The total franchise investment (including one-time franchise fee) is between $4,800 and $10,200, depending on the location and population of the territory purchased.
With an aging baby boom population, one of the fastest-growing franchise concepts around is elder care. Franchisees of Hallmark Homecare search for and recruit professional caregivers for the elderly, placing them on a direct-hire basis designed to cost clients less than what an agency would charge.
The franchise can be run from home and costs between $13,900 and $26,900, including a $9,900 initial franchise fee.
This franchise is designed as an opportunity for seasonal businesses (landscaping companies, for instance) to make money during the holidays—typically a slow time. Christmas Decor offers holiday decorating services, including outdoor lighting design, installation, maintenance and post-holiday removal for commercial and residential customers.
The total investment to get started is $9,900, including training for design and installation, customer billing support, marketing and wholesale pricing for lighting and other products. In addition, there is a 5 percent royalty fee on gross sales.
This franchise was started in March 2005 by a software engineer—and parent—to help other parents with technology-driven child safety products and education seminars. Franchisees conduct safety education events at day cares, schools and local businesses and give parents the chance to purchase Guard-A-Kid products.
Among its best-selling items is a child ID kit that includes printed and digital identification products that can be quickly uploaded online should a child go missing. The cost to purchase a franchise is between $5,000 and $7,500, depending on the package selected. There are no royalty fees, and the business can be run from home.