Special Report

Hottest Businesses to Franchise in America

Samuel Stebbins
Source: southbeachcars / Flickr

5. Tropical Smoothie Cafe
> U.S. franchise growth 2014-2019: +103.9%
> Total 2019 global locations: 784
> Est. franchise startup cost: $247,000 – $581,000
> Product: Smoothies

Tropical Smoothie Cafe is one of two restaurant chains on this list that primarily serve smoothies. Over the last five years, the number of franchisee-owned and operated Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations in the United States has more than doubled. The brand has only one company operated location and no presence outside of the United States. According to the company, store locations report average annual net revenues of $938,500.

Source: bluemaumau / Flickr

4. Kona Ice
> U.S. franchise growth 2014-2019: +111.1%
> Total 2019 global locations: 1,199
> Est. franchise startup cost: $128,000 – $152,000
> Product: Snow-cones

One of the newest companies on this list, Kona Ice was founded in 2007 and became a franchise the following year. Growing rapidly, the brand, which sells shaved ice out of a typical ice cream truck, has expanded its footprint in each of the last five years and more than doubled its total presence since 2014. The vast majority of the company’s 1,199 trucks are operated domestically by franchise owners, and the company now ranks as the largest food truck franchise in the United States.

Source: Courtesy of 9Round

3. 9Round
> U.S. franchise growth 2014-2019: +239.5%
> Total 2019 global locations: 797
> Est. franchise startup cost: $100,000 – $143,000
> Product: Personal fitness

9Round is one of several personal fitness-oriented businesses on this list, but it is the only one centered around kickboxing. Far less expensive of an investment than a typical gym, 9Round uses kickboxing-style training in a circuit format that lasts half an hour. A relatively new company, 9Round was founded in 2008 and became a franchise the following year. It is one of only three franchises to more than triple its U.S. footprint in the last five years, going from 172 franchisee operated locations in 2014 to 584 in 2019. The company also has over 200 franchise locations outside of the United States.

Source: Maddie4753 / Wikimedia Commons

2. Orangetheory Fitness
> U.S. franchise growth 2014-2019: +952.0%
> Total 2019 global locations: 1,225
> Est. franchise startup cost: $575,000 – $1.5M
> Product: Personal fitness

Orangetheory Fitness is a boutique fitness studio brand based in Boca Raton, Florida. The gym offers a customized 60-minute workout as well as help from professional trainers. In the last five years, the number of U.S. franchise locations jumped from just 100 to over 1,000, a staggering 952% growth rate. There are also more than 100 international locations.

According to the company, rapid growth in the number of franchise locations has limited its ability to meet demand — with less than 0.1% of those who inquired about becoming an Orangetheory Fitness franchisee ultimately becoming one.

Source: Courtesy of Eileen C. via Yelp

1. Club Pilates Franchise
> U.S. franchise growth 2014-2019: +2,773.7%
> Total 2019 global locations: 554
> Est. franchise startup cost: $168,000 – $280,000
> Product: Personal fitness

Each of the three companies that have more than tripled their U.S. footprint through franchise deals is a personal fitness company. But none has grown more than Club Pilates — a company that focuses on personal fitness through pilates, a fitness routine typically done on a gym mat designed to strengthen core muscles.

Partly because pilates requires little in the way of equipment, startup costs for franchisees are relatively low compared to other fitness companies on this list. In the last half decade, the number of franchisee-operated Club Pilates locations in the United States went from just 19 to nearly 550.