In 1940, J.F. McCullough was an ice cream manufacturer working on a formula for what would be the first soft-serve ice cream. When he sampled his new concoction at one of his customers’ shops, the turnout was so impressive that he decided to start his own store based around his popular new frozen dessert. In 1944, McCullough sold the first Dairy Queen franchise. Dairy Queen’s menu expanded beyond soft serve ice cream to include other frozen treats along with some hot food items. Today, there are around 6,000 Dairy Queens around the world.
Start-up Cost: $382K - 1.83M
Tybee Island, Georgia is where Cecil B. Day opened up the first Days Inn in 1970. Within 2 years, the chain was franchised is now 2,000 locations strong. Part of the Wyndham Worldwide lodging group, Days Inn offers a diverse array of amenities to business travelers and vacationers alike
Start-up Cost: $202.17K - 6.76M
Decor&You works with owners and renters of both office and residential spaces, helping them to achieve their aesthetic and functional goals through interior design. The company was first started by Josie Cicerale and Karen Powell in 1994. They franchised their concept in 1998. Now, 70 independent locations are in operation in the United States.
Start-up Cost: $54.1K - 61.8K
Denny’s began in 1953 as Danny’s Donuts in Lakewood, California. By 1959, Harold had expanded the menu, opened 20 locations, and changed his restaurant’s name to Denny’s. In 1963, Denny’s became a franchise and has since grown to include some 1600 locations. The chain serves up all kinds of food, but has become known mainly for their breakfasts (most notably the “Grand Slam” so named in honor of baseball great Hank Aaron).
Start-up Cost: $1.13M - 2.4M
Disaster Kleenup International, which goes by DKI today, was founded in 1974 to serve home and business owners. DKI provides all kinds of services from cleanup and decontamination to mold remediation and restoration of flood, fire, and otherwise damaged property. There are currently more than 400 DKI franchises in nearly all 50 states.
Start-up Cost: $7.15K - 102.54K
Diane and Cliff Clark started the first Discovery Point child care center in 1988. Within two years, they were opening a second location and by 1991, they had started offering franchise sales. Discovery Points are child care centers operating on a model of providing a program that fosters creativity and confidence in children. Almost 60 of these centers are open in the United States today.
Start-up Cost: $393.14K - 436.49K
Jim Grote opened the first Donato’s in 1963 with less than $1,500 and a dream to make great pizza and treat his customers and employees well. His simple business model worked, and Grote’s restaurant grew in popurity through the decades. The company franchised in 1991 and there are now more than 175 Donato’s Pizza restaurants.
Start-up Cost: $370K - 681.9K
With over 250 locations in nearly 20 countries, DoubleTree sets a standard for lodging luxury by treating each guest like a VIP customer. From serving fresh baked cookies to everyone at check-in to providing indulgent high-end bath products in every room, the DoubleTree brand tries to distinguish itself by pampering its guests.
Start-up Cost: $33.85M - 56.78M
In 1977, Dryclean USA was formed, and franchises were offered the following year. A major player in the dry cleaning service industry, Dryclean USA has become an international chain consisting of almost 400 different stores. Dryclean USA promises to give its customers above-and-beyond care when it comes to their cleaning needs, taking time to assess and treat each garment based on fabric type.
Start-up Cost: $260.5K - 599K
Dryer Vent Wizard is a niche business specializing in dryer vent care and maintenance. Technicians clean, repair, reroute, and otherwise care for dryer vents in homes and commercial locations. Keeping dryer vents clean increases the efficiency of the machine and lowers fire risk. The company, formed in 2004 and franchised in 2006, currently has almost 60 U.S. locations and in Canada.
Start-up Cost: $67.65K - 89.85K
Ductz is an HVAC restoration and air duct cleaning company. John Rotche originally founded Ductz in 2002. The first Ductz was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and was very successful. The company launched its first franchise opportunities two years later, quickly growing into the 120 locations it has today. In 2008, Ductz was acquired by Belfor, the largest property restoration company in the world.
Start-up Cost: $54.18K - 103.79K
Dunkin’ Donuts was founded by Bill Rosenburg in 1950, after some previous success in the food industry. By 1955, Bill had turned his doughnut shop into a prodigious franchise. There are now around 10,000 Dunkin’ Donut locations serving up fresh doughnuts, coffee, and other breakfast items. Dunkin’ Donuts’ parent company, Dunkin’ Brands is also the franchisor for Baskin-Robbins ice cream shops.
Start-up Cost: $368.9K - 1.74M
In 1987, brothers Dan and Ed Dunn opened the first Dunn Bros Coffee shop in St. Paul, Minnesota. They sought to emulate the cozy coffee shops they had enjoyed in Oregon, and local customers warmed quickly to the new establishment. The Dunns have continued to carry their coffee shop into the future, implementing high standards of quality and integrating sustainability and fair trade initiatives into the company’s business model. The Dunn name opened up to franchising in 1994 and today there are more than 80 of the gourmet coffee houses in the U.S. today.
Start-up Cost: $125.75K - 453.6K