Hotels dominate lists of the most expensive franchises to start. Outside of that industry, though, what are the most expensive franchises to start?
Entrepreneur Magazine published their list of the Top 500 franchises in their most recent issue, and I thumbed through the full list to pull out the Top 10 most expensive franchises to start. This list excludes hotels as there are more than a dozen hotel franchises that require an investment of more than $1 million. Indeed, the single most expensive franchise on Entrepreneur’s list is the Doubletree hotel, which requires an initial investment of at least $33.9 million. Here’s a list of the Top 10 most expensive franchises to start outside of the hotel and motel industries:
1) Amazing Spaces, Franchise Startup Costs: $2.2-$7.2 million, plus a 6 percent franchise royalty.
A self-storage company, Amazing Spaces claims the industry pulls in $22 billion in sales every year. The company stresses convenience and security over low costs, and all of its units come with monitored door alarms and covered unloading areas. www.amazingspacesfranchise.com.
2) Golden Corral, Franchise Startup Costs: $2.1-6.4 million, plus a 4 percent franchise royalty.
The largest grill-buffet chain in the country, a new Golden Corral opened every 17 business days on average in 2009. The company requires $500,000 liquid capital and $2,500,000 in net worth. www.goldencorralfranchise.com.
3) ampm, Franchise Startup Costs: $1.8-7.6 million, plus a 5 percent franchise royalty.
A BP company, ampm has the sort of experience that will help ensure your startup is successful. They’ve got the location requirements down to an exact science. You need access to a hard corner, for instance, with a 40,000-60,000 square foot pad, 30,000+ cars going through the nearest intersection every day and a daytime population of 18,000 or more people within a two-mile radius of the unit. www.ampm.com.
4) Culver’s Custard, Franchise Startup Costs: $1.7-2.8 million, plus a 4 percent franchise royalty.
More than 400 Culver’s restaurants serve up frozen custard across the country. After paying the $55,000 franchise fee, the company will put you through 16 weeks of training. That includes 12 weeks of classroom training and “on-the-job training at a family-owned Culver’s in Wisconsin.” You’ll also spend an additional four weeks assisting during the opening process at other new Culver’s restaurants across the country. www.culvers.com/franchise.
5) Buffalo Wild Wings, Franchise Startup Costs: $1.4-3.2 million, plus a 5 percent franchise royalty.
Started by two New Yorkers from Buffalo who were shocked to find they couldn’t get Buffalo-style wings when they moved to Kent, Ohio, Buffalo Wild Wings has grown to operate more than 600 restaurants in 41 states. The restaurant’s powerful branding makes it one of the top locations to watch sporting events in high-traffic, high-visibility areas. franchiseinfo.buffalowildwings.com.
6) KFC Corp., Franchise Startup Costs: $1.3-2.5 million, plus a 5 percent franchise royalty.
Serving food to more than 12 million customers a day in 109 countries, KFC Corp. offers a great pool of knowledge and business know-how for you to draw on. The company claims they control 42 percent of the “chicken quick serve restaurant (QSR)” market in the U.S. with more than 80 percent of its stateside outlets being operated by franchisees. www.kfcfranchise.com.
7) Carl’s Jr., Franchise Startup Costs: $1.3-1.8 million, plus a 4 percent franchise royalty.
Carl’s Jr. operates more than 1,100 restaurants worldwide, more than 300 of which are dual-branded as Carl’s Jr./Green Burrito restaurants. They’re predominantly located on the West Coast, and the company’s pushing hard into the following states: Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Texas and Washington. Franchisees must agree to a three restaurant minimum, which pushes the startup costs over $1.3 million. www.ckefranchise.com.
8) Hardees, Franchise Startup Costs: $1.2-1.6 million, plus a 4 percent franchise royalty.
Predominantly based on the East Coast and in the Midwest, Hardees operates 1,925 restaurants worldwide. Like Carl’s Jr. (also a CKE Franchise), Hardees requires a three restaurant minimum, which drives up startup costs. The company’s currently focused on expansion into Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. www.ckefranchise.com.
9) Denny’s Inc., Franchise Startup Costs: $1.1-2.4 million, plus a 4 percent franchise royalty.
After slumping sales during the 1990s, Denny’s has reinvented itself by improving its food quality and giving more control of the chain over to franchisees. The company has also leveraged social media marketing and a brilliant “free breakfast” Superbowl advertising campaign that drove in some two million new customers to the restaurants outlets. A lot of those new customers started coming back and Denny’s added 126 new restaurants in 2010. www.dennys.com.
10) McDonald’s, Franchise Startup Costs: $1.1-1.9 million, plus a 0 percent franchise royalty.
With more than 2,400 Owner/Operators, McDonald’s is one of the world’s most successful and well-known franchises. The company’s training program for franchisees sets the standard for other companies, and it draws on world class business experience. New McDonald’s franchisees typically get started by purchasing an existing McDonald’s location. www.aboutmcdonalds.com.