Franchises are so ubiquitous we often don’t realize we’re shopping at one. From McDonald’s to Hampton Inns and doggie day cares to campgrounds, they’re literally everywhere. All told, franchises account for 10.5 percent of all businesses in the U.S, and they employ 7.9 million workers in a work force of 59 million, according to Entrepreneur magazine.
Here’s a short list of five cheap franchises to start with less than $10,000:
1) Travel Leaders, $2,845. As a “direct descendant” of “Ask Mr. Foster,” founded in 1888 in St. Augustine, Florida, Travel Leaders claims to be the oldest travel agent network in the country. The agency serves two sectors: business travel and vacation travel. Counting sales volume from franchisees, the company eclipsed the $6 billion mark last year. Once a franchise has been established and demonstrated success, it can graduate to a lower-fee franchise that would be operated under the brand name Results! Travel. Franchise royalties for both brands are a flat monthly fee between $450 and $995 month.
2) Fiesta Insurance Franchise Corp., $3,400. An auto insurance and tax preparation company might not be the easiest franchise to start from scratch, but it can be lucrative – particularly if you use the franchise as a starting point for additional services the company offers such as Refund Anticipation Loans. Fiesta makes up for its low barrier to entry with an extremely high royalty fee that ranges from 15 percent to 25 percent.
3) Mojo Photo Booth, $6,495. Not a franchise, per say, but Mojo Photo Booth takes a simple idea and helps you build your own business around it. They provide you with a photo booth for use at weddings, and you do all the marketing, branding, billing and legwork.
Here’s how it works: Set up a portable enclosure where wedding guests can pose for shots with props, then print out two sets of photos: one for the bride and groom and one for the guests themselves. The bridge and groom then get a nice scrapbook filled with goofy pics of all the wedding guests they invited, and the guests get a nice memento to take home from the wedding. The average photo booth rental fee is $1,027, according to Mojo, and the industry generates some $42 billion a year by servicing more than 2.2 million weddings. The turnkey model Mojo offers is particularly appealing as it doesn’t require royalties or fees beyond your initial investment in the photo booth.
4) Vanguard Cleaning Systems, $8,200. Started in 1984, Vanguard now has more than 2,000 franchises cleaning more than 9,000 offices in the U.S. and Canada. The company’s selective in picking the right franchisees, though, with their strong emphasis on customer service and low cost (two things that rarely go hand in hand). Still, the rewards can be large if you make the grade. Vanguard’s franchising fee is just 5 percent.
5) SuperGlass Windshield Repair, $9,910. A company that focuses solely on glass repair, SuperGlass argues that too many automotive companies urge consumers to replace windshields that could otherwise be repaired. The company offers franchisees the means and training to fix scratches, cracks and chips from home or a brick-and-mortar-based retail outlet. At 4 percent, SuperGlass has the lowest percentage-based franchise royalty fee on our list.
“We still reject more (franchisees) than we accept,” one of the founders of SuperGlass, Bill Costello, tells Entrepreneur. “Not everyone is cut out to be a franchise owner. We give them the correct information, but it’s still a huge, emotional decision for them and their family.”
Want more? Check out our updated post: Five MORE cheap franchises to start with less than $10,000.
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