Whether in New York, Miami, or Detroit, consumers can always count on familiar options, be it fast food chains, fast casual dining, ice cream shops, fitness studios, or even hair salons. It is for this reason that rather than open up an independent establishment, tens of thousands of entrepreneurs instead choose the franchise option.
In exchange for an initial fee and ongoing royalties, franchisees effectively buy the rights to operate a franchisor’s business. They also receive training, support, and additional services from their parent company. Franchise-driven employment, according to the International Franchise Association, grew by 3.7% in 2018, compared to U.S. total nonfarm employment growth of 1.9%. The IFA estimates that at the end of 2018, there were 760,000 franchised locations across the country.
Some franchise chains have been extremely successful in the past few years. A few of these success stories are new to franchising, while others opened their first franchise years ago. According to data collected by Entrepreneur Magazine, there are 20 businesses that expanded the number of their U.S.-based franchised locations by over 50% in just the last five years. Several companies have added hundreds of franchises in just a few years.
Every franchising agreement is different, and the potential for success for franchisees depends on their initial startup investment and later fees, the support they receive from their franchisor, brand strength, and the financial stability of their parent company.
To determine the fastest growing franchises, 24/7 Wall St. ranked businesses based on franchise establishment growth in the United States from 2013 to 2018 with data from Entrepreneur magazine. Only companies included in Entrepreneur’s 40th annual Franchise 500 ranking with at least 500 U.S. franchise establishments were considered.
> U.S. franchise growth 2013-2018: +54.7% (1,125 to 1,740)
> Total 2018 global locations: 2,802
> Est. franchise startup cost: $144k – $297k
> Product: Hair salons
Supercuts, the nationwide chain of barbershops, operates in the United States as well as Puerto Rico and four Canadian provinces. Just five years ago, more than half of all Supercuts locations were company owned. Today, nearly than two thirds are franchised, thanks to a 55% increase in U.S. franchises.
> U.S. franchise growth 2013-2018: +54.9% (579 to 897)
> Total 2018 global locations: 1,513
> Est. franchise startup cost: $185k – $331k
> Product: Cinnamon rolls
Cinnabon, a guilty pleasure for millions of Americans on the go, is growing as a franchise. The number of U.S. franchised locations increased from 579 in 2013 to 897 in 2018. Nearly all Cinnabon locations in the United States are franchises. As of 2018, there was only one company-owned location.
18. Firehouse Subs
> U.S. franchise growth 2013-2018: +55.2% (697 to 1,082)
> Total 2018 global locations: 1,135
> Est. franchise startup cost: $92k – $825k
> Product: Sandwiches
Jacksonville, Florida-based Firehouse Subs was founded by two former firefighters in 1994. In a short time, the chain has expanded to well over 1,000 locations, almost all of which are U.S.-based franchises.
17. Carl’s Jr. Restaurants LLC
> U.S. franchise growth 2013-2018: +55.5% (706 to 1,098)
> Total 2018 global locations: 1,641
> Est. franchise startup cost: $1.6m – $2.2m
> Product: Restaurant
Carl’s Jr., known as Hardee’s in the eastern part of the United States, is a popular fast-food franchise with more than 1,000 locations nationwide. The company has consistently expanded its operations over the past five years and is now turning its attention overseas. In 2017, there were 38 Carl’s Jr. restaurants abroad. Now there are nearly 150.
16. Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches
> U.S. franchise growth 2013-2018: +56.9% (1,744 to 2,737)
> Total 2018 global locations: 2,793
> Est. franchise startup cost: $330k – $558k
> Product: Sandwiches
There are about 2,800 Jimmy John’s locations, all but 56 are franchised locations, and all located in the United States. Jimmy John’s has exploded in popularity in a short time, adding nearly 1,000 U.S. locations in just five years.