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The 15 Best Franchise Opportunities of 2020

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If you’re looking for a new business venture, but don’t want to take on the difficult work of developing your own brand image and identity, a franchise opportunity might be the best fit for you. Since there’s already a strong corporate and management framework in place as well as guidelines around everything including marketing, merchandising, and production, owning a franchise can be a great choice for some.

Still, just knowing you’re interested in a franchise is only the beginning; in reality, finding the best franchise opportunities can be a challenge. There are more franchises out there than one can reasonably count and consider, making it tough to figure out which one is right for you. 

That’s why we’ve reviewed many of the different options for franchise businesses, and picked out some of the best franchise opportunities of 2020 across several different sectors. Their fees and requirements vary, but you should hopefully be able to find a franchise opportunity that piques your interest and aligns with what you’re hoping to build. 

As we go through these businesses, remember that all costs and fees listed here are averages or approximates, and will change based on when you inquire, so make sure you contact each company for the most up-to-date numbers.

15 Franchise Opportunities for 2020

1. McDonald’s

  • Initial investment: $1,263,000 to $2,235,000
  • Liquid cash requirement: $500,000
  • Ongoing royalty fee: 4%
  • Ad royalty fee: 4%+

We’re pretty positive this is a name you know. McDonald’s is one of the more expensive franchises around, but has perhaps the best brand recognition in the world. If you’re able to open a McDonald’s franchise in a well-trafficked area without much competition, you may be able to quickly recoup the initial investment.

2. Sonic

  • Initial investment: $1,236,800 to $3,536,300
  • Net-worth requirement: $1 million to $2 million
  • Liquid cash requirement: $500,000 to $1 million
  • Initial franchise fee: $45,000
  • Ongoing royalty fee: 2.45% to 5%
  • Ad royalty fee: 3.25% to 5%

Sonic is an American fast-food staple with unmissable branding, mostly fueled by their drive-in style of service and unique soft drinks. With franchises in 46 states, Sonic offers a strong franchise opportunity that comes with a cult following for their unmistakable menu items (cherry limeade, anyone?) as well as core staples that customers expect and love. 

3. Dunkin’

  • Initial investment: $395,500 to $1,597,200
  • Net worth requirement: $250,000 to $500,000
  • Liquid cash requirement: $125,000 to $250,000
  • Initial franchise fee: $40,000 to $90,000
  • Ongoing royalty fee: 5.9%
  • Ad royalty fee: 5%

Formerly Dunkin’ Donuts, Dunkin’ certainly costs less than a McDonald’s and has strong name recognition to boot. In fact, when Dunkin’s first franchises returned to southern California, customers lined up at 5 a.m. in some locations, just to be among the first to get their fix.

4. Anytime Fitness

  • Initial investment: $107,500 to $722,800
  • Net-worth requirement: $300,000
  • Liquid cash requirement: $100,000
  • Initial franchise fee: $35,000
  • Ongoing royalty fee: $549 per month
  • Advertising fee: $300 per month

Few fitness franchises are as hot right now as Anytime Fitness. This gym franchise focuses on offering group workouts as well as solo workout equipment. Best of all, the franchise provides members with a keycard to access the gym during off-hours, allowing people to work out on their schedule. Operating costs are low, and name recognition is high—so high, in fact, that there are currently 4,000 locations worldwide.

5. Planet Fitness

  • Initial investment: $1,084,600 to $4,178,000
  • Net-worth requirement: $3 million
  • Liquid cash requirement: $1.5 million
  • Initial franchise fee: $20,000
  • Ongoing royalty fee: 7%
  • Ad royalty fee: 9%

Planet Fitness differentiates themselves with their iconic purple and yellow branding, low membership fees, and mission to create a welcoming atmosphere for first-time gym members and avid fitness fans alike. Gyms tend to be challenging to open, but Planet Fitness’ main market is fitness first-timers, which means that these gyms can benefit from high retention rates through low prices and high sign-ups. 

6. Orangetheory Fitness

  • Initial investment: $575,422 to $1,497,372
  • Net-worth requirement: $500,000
  • Liquid cash requirement: $150,000
  • Initial franchise fee: $59,950
  • Ongoing royalty fee: 8%

Group workout studios are a booming business for the fitness franchise market. The desire for high-intensity interval training programs makes the desire for new programs a compelling draw for people looking to get in shape or take their training to the next level. Orangetheory’s combination of running, rowing, and cross-training with a focus on heart rate is a unique way for customers to get in shape and—most importantly—keep coming back for more.

7. Primrose Schools

  • Initial investment: $637,900 to $6,375,500
  • Net-worth requirement: $750,000 to $1.2 million
  • Liquid cash requirement: $350,000 to $1.2 million
  • Initial franchise fee: $80,000
  • Ongoing royalty fee: 7%
  • Ad royalty fee: 2%

Early childhood education is a prime market for franchise opportunities as parents look to give children every opportunity to learn—even within their early years of education. Primrose Schools are a solid franchise because they offer educational programs all year round, are licensed facilities for educational child care, and give their teachers continuing education access to keep their skills sharp.

8. Kiddie Academy

  • Initial investment: $425,000 to $4,163,000
  • Net-worth requirement: $700,000
  • Liquid cash requirement: $225,000
  • Initial franchise fee: $135,000
  • Ongoing royalty fee: 7%
  • Ad royalty fee: 2%

Kiddie Academy also offers a compelling opportunity in the early childhood education market, serving up a hybrid of child care and educational development that helps keep children entertained and learning at the same time. There are franchise opportunities throughout 49 states (sorry, Montana), and plenty of room to grow.

9. Kumon Math and Reading Centers

  • Initial investment: $73,373 to $154,825
  • Net-worth requirement: $150,000
  • Liquid cash requirement: $70,000
  • Initial franchise fee: $1,000
  • Ongoing royalty fee: $34 to $38 per student, per month

The Kumon Method for improving math and reading comprehension was first created in 1958, based on a curriculum developed by Toru Kumon in Osaka, Japan. Today, Kumon Math and Reading Centers help students learn critical math and reading skills that prepare them for more complex concepts later on in their education. With a low cost to entry and high demand, Kumon can be a great opportunity to help students get a leg up on their education, while also creating a great business opportunity for prospective franchisees.

10. Ace Hardware

  • Initial investment: $286,000 to $2,110,230
  • Net-worth requirement: $400,000
  • Liquid cash requirement: $250,000
  • Initial franchise fee: $5,000

Ace Hardware is an excellent franchise prospect for providing an antidote to the big-box home improvement store experience, which is typically marked by unhelpful staff and overwhelming product choices. Instead, Ace Hardware locations pride themselves on hiring staff that put customer service at a premium and keeping product choices to a reasonable selection. Their franchises make it easier for local hardware stores to remain competitive against mega-stores by way of their cooperative structure and store-brand products.

11. Snap-On Tools

  • Initial investment: $172,207 to $375,265
  • Net-worth requirement: $37,999 to $55,377
  • Liquid cash requirement: $37,999 to $55,377
  • Initial franchise fee: $8,000 to $16,000
  • Ongoing royalty fee: $125 per month

Any gearhead, DIY aficionado, mechanic, or professional contractor will tell you that few tool brands have as high a reputation for quality—and even a cult following—as Snap-On does. This high brand affinity makes Snap-On a great franchise to consider if there’s a strong opportunity in your determined area. The low investment threshold and net worth requirement also makes Snap-On a promising option for would-be owners that aren’t flush with the kind of cash needed to sign on with other franchise businesses.

12. Pillar to Post Home Inspectors

  • Initial investment: $37,100 to $45,900
  • Liquid cash requirement: $10,000
  • Initial franchise fee: $21,900
  • Ongoing royalty fee: 7%
  • Ad royalty fee: 4%

Home inspection services are always in demand, particularly in parts of the country where home sales are hot and the real estate market is hopping. Pillar to Post makes the process of starting a home inspection business easy, providing franchisees with everything they need to drum up new business, train staff as necessary, and their proprietary software makes home inspections easy for staffers to complete.

13. Keller Williams

  • Initial investment: $183,947 to $336,995
  • Liquid cash requirement: $150,000
  • Initial franchise fee: $35,000
  • Ongoing royalty fee: 6%
  • Ad royalty fee: $1,000 per year

Keller Williams has a reputation for providing real estate agents with opportunities to grow professionally while helping their clients find their dream home. The company began in 1987 and has been attracting agents through profit-sharing agreements and other perks, which can make it easier for franchise owners to recruit and retain top talent. 

14. FastSigns

  • Initial investment: $197,172 to $313,136
  • Net-worth requirement: $300,000
  • Liquid cash requirement: $80,000
  • Initial franchise fee: $49,750
  • Ongoing royalty fee: 6%
  • Ad royalty fee: 2% per year

If you’re going to own a store, then you’ll quickly realize how important signage is. FastSigns has been franchising their signage shops since 1986. With more than 600 locations, the Texas-based company offers opportunities for entrepreneurs to get involved with this high-visibility “visual problem-solving” company both in the U.S. and abroad, too. 

15. Merry Maids

  • Initial investment: $89,619 to $125,023
  • Net-worth requirement: $90,000
  • Liquid cash requirement: $35,000
  • Initial franchise fee: $37,500 to $51,500
  • Ongoing royalty fee: 5% to 7%
  • Ad royalty fee: 1.3% per year

The home cleaning sector can be overwhelming for many consumers as options abound. This means that operating a business that has a household name provides a competitive advantage that can turn into tangible business opportunities for franchise owners. Merry Maids has this in spades: As one of the largest house cleaning companies in the United States, this franchise is easy to set up and doesn’t require a ton of startup capital to get things rolling.

Financing Your Franchise

As you’re looking into the best franchise opportunities for 2020, one thing to keep in mind is how you’re going to pay your franchise fees.

All franchises come with some kind of investment, which usually comprises corporate fees, startup costs, real estate, staff, equipment, and other expenses, too. Your investment will be contingent on several things, but the two most important are the mandatory expenses set by the parent company to get up and running as well as the regional expenses that dictate costs (in other words, some markets are more expensive than others).

Make sure you take into consideration where the capital to finance your franchise will be coming from. Many entrepreneurs choose to take advantage of a business loan, including SBA loans, business lines of credit, term loans, and equipment financing. To begin, check out the best franchise financing options. 

Also note that some companies offer internal financing, as well as discounts for certain types of business owners (such as women, veterans, and more). Make sure to check with headquarters for their options if you are seriously interested in pursuing their franchise option.

Finding the Best Franchise Opportunities of 2020

One thing you’ll find as you search through franchise opportunities: There’s no shortage of great companies with strong brands and quality products and services to explore. 

Still, it’s important to keep in mind that the best franchise opportunity for one person isn’t necessarily the best franchise opportunity for you. When you’re weighing options, don’t forget to take into account how much you’re willing to spend on an opportunity, and, perhaps most crucially, what you’re interested in doing. 

There are both advantages and disadvantages to franchising, so make sure you weigh the pros and cons before moving ahead. A great franchise leader is one who truly believes in what’s being sold, and wants to stand out both in their local business landscape, and also as a franchisee across their parent corporation.

Meredith Turits

Meredith Turits

Meredith is a writer and editor. Drawing on her background in small business and startups, she writes on business, finance, and entrepreneurship. Her writing has also appeared in the New Republic, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, ELLE, The Paris Review Daily, and more.