Bruce Reed founded Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, opening the first shop in Bridgewater, Pennsylvania in 1989. Using his own recipe and making ice cream right in the store, Reed built a strong customer following. Within a few years, he was ready to start selling franchises and has since seen the Bruster’s name continue to rise in the franchise ranks. More than 230 of these homemade ice cream shops are open and operational in the United States.
Start-up Cost: $175K - 1.26M
Budget Blinds was started in 1992 by David Lewis, Brent Hallock, Chad Hallock, Tony Forbes and Todd Jackson. The five had all worked together at a window covering company prior to venturing out on their own to create Budget Blinds. They used their industry knowledge and experience to create a unique approach to retail window covering sales. Their technicians essentially bring the showroom to the customer by providing in-home consultations, sales, and installations. Budget Blinds now operates throughout the U.S. and Canada, with nearly 800 locations in all.
Start-up Cost: $89.24K - 174.07K
The idea behind this popular sports bar chain was first hatched in 1981 when co-founders and friends Scott Lowery and James Disbrow were looking for a place to eat in Kent, Ohio. Disbrow, who was from Buffalo, New York sought the Buffalo-style chicken wings he loved to eat back home. Finding none, he and Lowery decided to start their own wing restaurant. The first location was opened in Columbus the next year. The concept took off, and Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants began cropping up throughout the U.S. The company franchised in 1991, and Buffalo Wild Wings locations now total over 800.
Start-up Cost: $1.39M - 3.15M
Margaret and Carl Karcher started their fast food empire with a simple hot dog stand they operated in Los Angeles. After successfully running several of these stands, the couple tried their hand at something a little bigger and found continued success with their restaurant called Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue. Carl’s Jr. stores - smaller versions of the regular-sized Carl’s Drive In - were first opened by the Karchers in the 1950’s and the rest is history. Carl’s Jr. is now one of the most popular fast food chains with nearly 1,500 locations worldwide.
Start-up Cost: $690K - 1.53M
Nick Sheehan and Ken Blum started Cartridge Depot in 2004 in Boca Raton, Florida. The name was franchised that same year, and the two business partners set to work perfecting their model and methods. Cartridge Depot refills ink and toner cartridges, offering this service for a price lower than that of purchasing new cartridges. The company also cleans the cartridges and performs any necessary repairs before refilling them.
Start-up Cost: $78.33K - 191.27K
Cartridge World was founded in 1988 in Adelaide, Australia. It became a franchise in 1992, but the first unit wasn’t sold until 1997. Despite the slow start, Cartridge World locations now number over 1,600 and span 60 countries. The company provides products and services for printers and fax machines for individuals and companies.
Start-up Cost: $120.1K - 194.6K
Founder Tom Carvel opened the first Carvel ice cream store in 1934. As the years went by, Tom never stopped developing and improving upon his already successful model. He created his own specialized equipment and invented fun new flavors. He decided to take his business into franchising in 1947 and the Carvel name continues to grow. The brand has its own line of ice cream and ice cream cakes, which are sold widely.
Start-up Cost: $243.38K - 354.55K
Pioneers in their self-created industry, Certified Restoration provides a unique service that has continued to grow in demand. Working primarily with victims of disasters like flood and fire, the company cleans, sanitizes, and restores upholstery, rugs, carpets, curtains and other textile items. Over 140 Certified Restoration franchises currently exist.
Start-up Cost: $43.05K - 233K
Charley Shin opened the first Charley’s Grilled Subs shop on campus at Ohio State University. He had stumbled upon the concept on a family vacation to Philadelphia, during which he mistakenly found himself in South Philly where he fatefully stopped for some lunch. After sinking his teeth into his first authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwich, he began recreating the local favorite for his friends back at college in Ohio. Once perfected, he turned his recipe for creating the perfect cheesesteak sandwich into that first sub shop. Customers loved Charley’s Philly fare and Shin franchised Charley’s in 1991.
Start-up Cost: $103.03K - 445.3K
Since 1986, when it first opened its doors (and its drive-thru) in Mobile, Alabama. The establishment had a simple but noble aim: to provide customers with a better, more flavorful burger than what typical fast food restaurants had to offer. Between Checker’s and its partner brand Rally’s - which it merged with in 1999 - there are 800 franchises under this concept.
Start-up Cost: $453K - 627.2K
Working his way through law school cleaning carpets, Robert Harris probably didn’t imagine that he’d stay in the cleaning business for the rest of his life. He made a fateful decision, however, to see if he could improve upon the mediocre formulas used by the companies he had worked for. Harris’ method worked beautifully, and his services were soon in high demand. He started Chem-Dry in 1977 and was franchising the following year. There are more than 3,600 Chem-Dry outfits in the U.S. and internationally today. Since 2006, Chem-Dry has operated under The Home Depot brand.
Start-up Cost: $27.85K - 122.65K
Chemstation franchises provide detergent maintenance services for their industrial customers. The company provides containers free of charge, which clients pay to have filled and maintained on a regular basis. The company was founded in 1965, as an independent distribution company. In the 1980s the then-owner restructured the company as a detergent manufacturer and supplier in order to remain viable in tough economic times. This was apparently a smart move, as the company has become a flourishing group of franchised operations.
Start-up Cost: $212.45K - 305.45K
Chester’s started frying in 1952, first serving doughnuts and then expanding to the chicken that it is most known for today. Founder W.O. Giles built and patented his own fryers, and people loved the crunchy deep fried fare he made with them. Chester’s continued to grow and diversify, selling frying equipment as well as continuing to build a name for fast fried chicken. The double battered recipe along with clever marketing and brand-building has earned Chester’s a lofty place among successful franchises.
Start-up Cost: $6.14K - 344.5K
In 1939, a group of hotel owners joined efforts and created an industry standard in an effort to improve public perception of hotels. This unofficial alliance held themselves to certain principles of cleanliness, upkeep, and service. In 1941, the partners made it official and formed the United States’ first hotel chain, which they called Quality Courts, United Int’l. They began franchising in 1962, changed their name to Choice Hotels Int’l in 1990, and have expanded to include the Quality, Comfort, Clarion, Sleep, Roadway, and Econolodge names in their chain. Over 6,000 Choice brand hotels are in operation around the globe.
Start-up Cost: $1.27M - 14.64M
In 1952, George W. Church, Sr. opened the first Church’s Fried Chicken To Go in San Antonio, Texas. The concept was simple: chicken, served up fast. In 1955, Church augmented his one-item menu with jalapeños and fries. The fast fried chicken and simple sides were a hit. Church’s grew, and has continued to do so, with the franchise now boasting over 1,700 locations in the United States, Canada, and abroad.
Start-up Cost: $269.3K - 1.07M
Seattle, Washington is home to the first Cinnabon kiosk, opened in 1985 and located in the Sea-Tac Mall. The tiny bakery stand selling big, soft cinnamon rolls was a hit, and the company began franchising in 1986. The outfits were popular in malls and soon Cinnabon stands started cropping up at airports, amusement parks, bus stations, college campuses, and elsewhere. Cinnabon is currently owned by Focus Brands and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.
Start-up Cost: $254.51K - 345.74K
Fred Hervey opened the first three Circle K stores in 1951 in El Paso, Texas. He had purchased three local Kay’s grocery stores and converted them to his own brand of convenience stores. With over 6,000 locations internationally, Circle K has grown into a top franchise and a highly recognizable brand.
Start-up Cost: $171K - 1.88M
Coffee News was started by Jean Daum, in the small town of Charleswood in Manitoba, Canada. Wanting to have a profitable news publication offering affordable ad space that would help local businesses with exposure to potential customers, Jean saw her idea as a win-win. She did away with the tradition of delivering to people’s homes, instead focusing on keeping area restaurants stocked with the latest edition. She began franchising Coffee News outlets in 2004 and there are now almost 950 Coffee News units in the U.S. and internationally.
Start-up Cost: $9.43K - 10.43K
Cold Stone Creamery was founded in 1988 by husband and wife team Donald and Susan Sutherland. The Sutherlands had set out on a mission to create the most delicious ice cream possible. After some experimentation they came up with their signature style of frozen dessert, which is made fresh daily in the shop. Ingredients like candy, cookies, nuts, and fruit are folded in over an ice cold stone to each customer’s specifications. The company began selling franchises in 1994 and Cold Stone Creameries now number over 1,400.
Start-up Cost: $292.4K - 438.9K
Color Me Mine was started in 1991 in Van Nuys, California. The unique concept of paint-your-own ceramic art was immediately popular and Color Me Mine started selling franchises in 1995. Almost 150 Color Me Mine locations are up and running today. The studio lets customers pick from hundreds of pre-cast ceramic pieces, which they are then given the supplies to paint and customize. The company also does parties and group exercises.
Start-up Cost: $136.7K - 177.9K