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10 Best Low-Cost Franchises to Buy If You Want to Own a Business

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera
Meredith is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.
Meredith Wood

Many people have dreams of becoming a business owner, but aren’t sure where to begin. That’s when looking into low-cost franchises is an opportunity worth considering. It’s one of the easiest ways to break into business ownership, allowing aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to make their business dreams a reality without the challenges of starting from scratch.

Of course, it takes money to purchase a franchise. The buy-in cost of some franchises can be very expensive, while others are more affordable and therefore more accessible to hopeful franchisees with limited capital available.

To help you make your dreams of franchise ownership a reality, we’ve compiled this list of the 10 best low-cost franchises you can buy.

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The Best Low-Cost Franchises to Buy: Under $25,000

Some franchises come with initial buy-in fees as high as $100,000 or more. But there are a few options available that have initial investment fees under $25,000. These low-cost franchises span industries with a wide range—fitness, cleaning, travel, and more—and some can even be operated as home-based businesses with no physical location.

Chem-Dry

Initial Investment: $13,300 to $162,457

With an average of 10 billion square feet of carpet installed each year, it’s no wonder that Chem-Dry has become a successful franchise business. Chem-Dry was founded in 1977 with the goal of cleaning carpets and keeping them clean, and since then, they’ve had a consistent track record of supporting their franchisees to build thriving businesses.

Costs to become a Chem-Dry franchise owner can vary widely depending upon your starting equipment purchases—but some franchisees have begun the process for as little as $13,300. Fortunately, if you decide you’re interested in opening a Chem-Dry franchise and need help with the initial investment, this franchisor offers internal financing options to help you get started.

Cruise Planners

Initial investment: $10,995

Interested in owning a travel company? Then consider Cruise Planners, a franchise representative of American Express, which is one of the most widely recognized cruise planning companies in the country. The bonus: You can operate your Cruise Planners franchise out of your home, making the initial investment in this opportunity among the lowest in the market.

Fit4Mom

Initial investment: $6,205 to $24,285

Grown out of the popular StrollerStrides fitness programs for mothers of young children, Fit4Mom offers nationwide franchising opportunities with very low startup costs and attractive scheduling options. Becoming a Fit4Mom Franchisee allows fitness instructors to conduct their own Stroller Strides Classes, Fit4Baby Classes, Body Back Classes, Stroller Barre Classes, and Fit4Mom Run Club.

Jazzercise

Initial investment: $3,700 to $32,750

Of course, we can’t talk about fitness franchise opportunities without including this gem on our list. Founded in 1969, Jazzercise is no longer all about leg warmers and ’80s music. The business that started the dance party craze is making a modern and hip comeback that hopefully translates straight to profit for new franchisees. Buying a Jazzercise franchise involves submitting an initial investment, learning a few dance moves, and finding your ideal location.

Stratus Building Solutions

Initial investment: $3,450 to $48,350

Consistently ranked among the best franchise opportunities in commercial cleaning, Stratus Building Solutions focuses on bringing environmentally friendly solutions to meet the janitorial needs of office buildings, retail shopping centers, restaurants, and more. This franchise started in 2006 and brought on 91 units in 2017 alone.

Stratus Building Solutions offers potential franchisees two options for buying a low-cost franchise: unit and regional or executive master. Both options are relatively affordable, but for those that have only a small amount of money set aside to invest in a franchise, the low $5,000 net-worth requirement for unit-level ownership makes this option especially appealing.

Interested in starting at a higher level of investment? Stratus offers in-house financing options to help with the initial franchise fee, equipment, inventory, and other startup costs.

SuperGlass Windshield Repair

Initial investment: $9,910 to $31,000

With only a few weeks of training, almost any aspiring business owner can learn the necessary skills to become a SuperGlass Windshield Repair franchise owner.

Based in Orlando, with locations operating worldwide, SuperGlass Windshield Repair has been ranked among Entprepreneur‘s best inexpensive franchises to buy. Focusing on mobile service has allowed this franchisor to keep pace with customer demands while also keeping startup and overhead costs low for franchisees.

Best Low-Cost Franchises to Buy: Under $50,000

If you have a little more capital available to purchase your franchise—or if you’re able to secure a larger business loan—consider these low-cost franchises that are available for less than $50,000. You might be surprised at the range of exciting business opportunities that fall into this category.

Mosquito Squad

Initial investment: $29,600 to $69,625

Most of us think of mosquitoes as annoyance at best, and, in some cases, even a danger to our health. But could saving your neighbors from this backyard pest be your ticket to a profitable business?

Since its founding in 2005, Mosquito Squad has been consistently ranked as a top franchise by Inc., Entrepreneur, and more. And with its low franchise fee as well as third-party lender relationships to help facilitate financing, it can be easy to become your town’s favorite pest-controlling hero through this low-cost franchise.

Pillar to Post Home Inspectors

Initial investment: $36,350

With more than 500 franchises in Canada and the United States, Pillar to Post Home Inspectors is a wonderful place to become a first-time franchisee. This professional home-inspection franchise was started in 1994, and has become the preferred home-inspection company by a number of real estate partners. Join their franchisee team and enjoy the benefits of work-life balance and a proven business model.

Property Management Inc.

Initial investment: $19,850 to $86,800

Did you know that more than 35% of US residents rent their homes, rather than own? This growing number of tenants and rental properties mean huge opportunity for one particular industry: property management.

Operating more than 200 franchise locations in upwards of 40 states, Property Management Inc. offers franchisees the technology, training, and turnkey business solutions needed to provide effective services for this large and growing population.

Whether you’re an existing property manager looking to grow the scope and support of your business—or you’re brand new to the field but looking for an exciting new career—becoming a Property Management Inc. franchisee gives you a validated model to build your own thriving property management business.

Soccer Shots

Initial investment: $41,034 to $53,950

For aspiring business owners who love kids, fitness, and the great outdoors, a Soccer Shots franchise could be the perfect fit. Founded in 2005 by two former professional soccer players, this national franchise enrolled more than 350,000 kids in youth soccer programs last year. And it’s continuing to grow.

Soccer Shots has been ranked among Entrepreneur‘s Franchise 500 as a top franchising opportunity. They also offer in-house financing to help with the franchise fee. Opportunities to become a Soccer Shots franchisees are limited by geographic territories, with many franchise locations still available in the central and western US.

Some Financing Options for Low-Cost Franchises

When buying a franchise business, it’s important to know that there are options at a range of price points. And, if you’re concerned about affordability, there’s always the option of taking out a loan to help you along the process.

Regardless of how much you’re willing to spend to buy a franchise, it’s likely that you’ll need a little bit of financial help to get started. There are many options for small business loans to purchase a franchise or other business. You can use these funds to help you pay for the initial cost of franchising a business, but most franchises still require that you have a certain net worth.

If you’re planning to purchase a business using loaned funds, this is known as a business acquisition loan. This type of loan is used to purchase an existing business or open a new franchise. The amount you can receive for a loan will depend on what type of business you’re buying and its value.

Each of these loan products have slightly different benefits, so make sure you find the one that will be right for your future franchise purchase.

Friends and Family Loan

Provided you have the option available, there can be many benefits to borrowing money from friends and family, including minimal interest rates and a longer repayment schedule. Often, friends and family are willing to give you a much better deal or take on more risk than a bank or traditional lender is willing to.

Of course, there are always drawbacks to involving friends or family in your business finances.

It’ll be especially important to document the loan and repayment expectations in a written agreement before funds exchange hands. That can help you avoid a strained relationship if the franchise’s business plan doesn’t go precisely to plan. (Plus, if you’re interested in writing off the business loan interest as a deduction on your tax return, you’ll need this documentation, anyway.)

Franchise Financing

When looking for a more traditional borrowing arrangement to purchase into a specific franchise, your first point of contact should almost always be directly with your franchisor.

Remember, your franchisor has almost certainly been through this process before with other franchisees, so they may be able to offer support, guidance, and even internal funding options or special relationships with lenders to help you with the financing process.

That said, along with connecting directly with the franchise to learn about borrowing options, you also shouldn’t overlook comparison shopping with outside lenders to make sure that you’re getting the best available interest rates and borrowing terms.

Traditional Term Loan

A traditional term loan is likely the first scenario that comes to mind when you think of a business loan. In this borrowing arrangement, you obtain a fixed amount of capital upfront from a lender, then pay back that amount plus interest over time according to a set schedule.

Remember that some term loans carry restrictions that may limit the use of funds on a franchise purchase, so make sure that potential lenders know that you’re considering low-cost franchises to buy before you sign any loan agreement.

Also keep in mind that a term loan might be out of reach for a business acquisition—without any history of revenue or time in business, this might not be an option for you. Since a business acquisition term loan is infamously difficult to get, you shouldn’t count on it as a sure thing.

SBA 7(a) Loan

If you’ve done any research into getting a business loan, it’s likely that you’ve heard all about the US Small Business Administration’s loan programs. Long repayment terms and low interest rates make SBA loans the most coveted option around for many business borrowers.

The SBA 7(a) loan is a particularly attractive choice for those looking into low-cost franchises to buy because it’s highly applicable to franchise purchases and business acquisitions.

But keep in mind that the application process for SBA loans is lengthy and highly selective, so those with a short buying timeline or with poor credit will need to look elsewhere to finance their franchise.

Equipment Financing

If the purchase price of the franchise you’re buying into has high initial equipment costs, you might be able to use equipment financing.

Available for the purchase of virtually any form of business equipment—computers, production machinery, cars, and more—an equipment loan works similarly to a car loan in that the price and quality of the equipment you’re purchasing is tied directly into the size and terms of your loan.

And, because the equipment itself serves as collateral on the loan, borrowers who opt for an equipment financing loan tend to encounter fewer personal collateral requirements than they would with other loan products.

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The Best Franchises with Low Startup Costs Could Bring Opportunity

Founding a new business can be intimidating. But purchasing a franchise can be a realistic—and much more affordable—entry point for many entrepreneurs. Luckily, the best low-cost franchises offer chances to seize a new opportunity with lots of room to grow.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera
Meredith is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.
Meredith Wood

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