These low-cost franchise opportunities may put ownership within reach
Initial franchise startup costs can be pricey–often ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $1 million! This may be enough to intimidate even the most determined entrepreneur. Luckily, there are franchises that keep their franchise fees and initial investment costs low to attract owners and give them an opportunity to achieve a return on their investment as quickly as possible.
Franchise Business Review’s research shows that low-cost franchise owners are ultimately happy with their decisions. In our 2022 franchisee satisfaction survey, owners of low-cost franchise brands reported the highest satisfaction.“The low-cost franchise companies we survey have an average owner satisfaction score that’s 15% higher than our industry benchmark,” said Eric Stites, CEO of Franchise Business Review.
Approximately a third of all the franchise companies surveyed by Franchise Business Review have initial investments starting under $100K and with financing, many can be started for as little as $15-$20K, with a few options starting under $10K.
With the median initial investment for a low-cost franchise coming in at $75,000, franchise owners at these brands were able to realize their dreams without breaking the bank.
Taking the Plunge into Low-Cost Franchise Opportunities
Today, Trina and Chip Rayburn own three Premier Pools & Spas locations in Texas but were initially reluctant to invest in a franchise due to a bad experience a family member had with one. “After working as a boutique owner and an insurance adjuster, shifting to franchising was like jumping into the deep end. However, the Premier Pools team instantly made us feel comfortable. By following the brand’s business model, we were able to realize a profit in about a year,” Trina said.
“Premier Pools & Spas and Premier Pool Service was by far the best decision we ever made. It has opened so many doors to us and we’ve made so many friends throughout the country,” she said. “It’s like being in a family business—because everyone involved is there with a servant’s heart.”
Swimming pools proved to be a hot ticket item during the pandemic, with families looking for ways to entertain their children at home. “Several entrepreneurs reached out to Premier Pools & Spas after seeing the high demand for pools in their communities,” said Aaron Gurley, president and COO of Premier Franchise Management, which also includes Pinnacle Pools & Spas, Premier Pool Service, and Pinnacle Pool Service.
With an initial investment that ranges between $48,000 and $107,500, owners can invest in a Premier Pools franchise. The brand purposely keeps its initial investment low so that it’s not a barrier for anyone, said Gurley.
“For a lot of people, a low-cost franchise is appealing, but not everyone is overly capitalized,” he said. “Unlike housekeeping or pest control, which has a ticket of less than $100, the average pool sale is $85,000.”
Premier Pools is able to keep franchise fees low by keeping its expenses down. The 30-year-old franchise also has a stable base of 140 locations generating revenue—and royalties.
“Our income potential is extraordinary,” Gurley said. “We want this to be the greatest opportunity in the franchising world.”
Low-Cost Franchise Opportunities–Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Kevin Golding of New Jersey bought his first Unishippers franchise in 1991 when he was a New York City police officer. He was able to purchase his first franchise without financing and said he “realized financial success” after one year in the business.
He’s since bought several Unishippers units and created a large franchise group before selling those locations back to the company and reverting back to operating his original franchise.
“Our franchise has been rewarding over the last 30 years,” Golding said. “The best advice I can provide is–with hard work, you can have amazing results.”
“At Unishippers, franchise owners invest $30,000 and are encouraged to finance their loan over five years,” said Dustin Wesley, senior vice president of franchise development for Unishippers.
“Unishippers owners require no storefront, and the corporate office provides customer support to clients. The brand also offers owners equity on the backside, giving them the opportunity to sell back their businesses to the corporate office based on their gross profits,” Wesley said.
Low-Cost Franchises–Helping Other Businesses Thrive
Tony Davis bought his Crestcom International franchise in May 2021 after selling three home remodeling franchise locations. In less than a year, Davis said he’s already recouped his investment, thanks to Crestcom’s low-cost business model.
“There’s no overhead, you work out of your house, and the gross profit margin is pretty high,” he said. “(The fact that) Crestcom was low-cost added to my list of pros.”
Crestcom is a global corporate training franchise that helps develop leaders globally. Its business owners coach executives and serve as training facilitators and mentors. The initial training fee is $25,000 and owners pay an additional franchise fee of $44,500.
Chip Baker held careers in hospital administration and event management before exploring a franchising career. He wanted to be his own boss—and have a passion for his work. He discovered Crestcom after looking at a number of options. Although the low cost of the franchise was a plus, it was more important that he aligns himself with the right brand.
“The low barrier to entry is important but the best thing about Crestcom is that the franchisees all support one another, and they all come in with business experience,” he said.
Although Baker launched his business just before the pandemic, he said he was still about to earn back his investment right away.
“Expect that it’ll take four months to get you where you want to be—it’s building a business,” he said.
“Candidates might anticipate that low-cost means minimal support, but that’s not the case at Crestcom,” said Tammy Berberick, president and CEO of Crestcom International. “The brand consistently invests in its product, technology, and people,” she said.
“Low cost also does not mean low impact,” she said. “Our franchisees have developed more than 1 million executives in more than 60 countries worldwide. Crestcom’s training is so effective that we have a 63% repeat and add-on business rate.”
Taking a Shot at Low-Cost Franchise Opportunities
It’s possible to make money taking preschool pictures, and Spoiled Rotten Photography has helped its mostly female franchisee base earn a full-time living doing so. Melissa Tash, the founder of Spoiled Rotten Photography, began the franchise in 2003 after serving in the US Army and working as an engineer for NASA’s International Space Station program.
“I was making more money as a photographer than I was at my NASA job, and I loved what I was doing way more,” she said.
Spoiled Rotten Photography requires an initial investment ranging from $33,500 to $48,300 –which includes $7,000 in equipment. Tash said Spoiled Rotten Photography provides its franchisees an operations manual and specialized training—as well as a flexible lifestyle.
The brand’s average unit volume is $140,000. The job also tends to be seasonal, making it a part-time job that can result in full-time pay, Tash said.
“We compete on quality, not quantity. Our owners understand the quality they must produce and our brand standards,” she said. “Our photographers are real professional photographers, not button pushers.”
Beginning Your Search for the Best Low-Cost Franchises
While franchising can be lucrative for many entrepreneurs, there are multiple factors—beyond cost—that come into play when choosing a franchise, including owner satisfaction. Franchise Business Review researched hundreds of leading franchise companies to help identify our 2022 list of Top 50 Low-Cost Franchises. Our finalists are not only affordable business options, but companies that have outstanding franchise owner satisfaction in training and support, leadership, core values, and other areas critical to success. Check out the list and request information from the brands that interest you most.