Want to Go Into Business? Here Are 12 Cheap Franchises to Open

Want to Go Into Business? Here Are 12 Cheap Franchises to Open

For many aspiring business owners, entrepreneurship is both exciting and daunting. Sometimes it feels like you have to be creative, a maker, an inventor—someone who can turn nothing into something. 

But not every successful business owner started from scratch. Franchisees are inspirational entrepreneurs in their own right. Not to mention smart. Who wouldn’t prefer a proven business model with training programs, marketing materials and a full turnkey startup process over a leap into the unknown?

But franchises often come with a hefty price tag. That’s why we rounded up a number of cheap franchises with a variety of business models to open. Not every potential franchisee can afford to open a McDonald’s. 

Savvy entrepreneurs of America, check these low-cost franchise business model opportunities below.

2 Cheap Franchises under $1,000

Buildingstars

Commercial cleaning company Buildingstars offers potential franchisees one of the most affordable options out there—it’s an affordable franchise business under $1,000, not to mention $5K. You can start your own for as little as $795. This includes a base of customers to get you started generating $1,000–$5,000 in monthly gross revenue. There are three levels of franchising with Buildingstars:

Technician: Start small with a part-time commitment while you keep your day job. This is among the cheapest franchises to open.

On-site manager: Gain full-time business ownership, manage larger accounts, lead a team of staff, and clean yourself as needed.

Corporate: For experienced Buildingstars franchisees, this level offers the highest average gross revenue.

Buildingstars offers franchise location opportunities across the United States, catering to entrepreneurs interested in the commercial cleaning industry with a focus on green cleaning solutions.

Dream Vacations

Dream Vacations allow franchise owners to start and run their own travel agency small business for as low as a $495 initial investment. Depending on your franchise license, you’ll be able to sell travel packages to clients and build your own customer base. Dream Vacations offers training and resources, as well as tools and solutions (like a live booking engine) to enable you to book trips for your clients easily.

Cheap franchises under $1000 are a great way to get started with your own business on a budget.

Dream Vacations operates primarily in the USA, but as a web-based business, you can run your franchise from anywhere in the world with just an internet connection. 

5 Cheap Franchises under $5,000

JAN-PRO

JAN-PRO is a commercial cleaning service company with more than 10,000 franchisees in eight countries. There are three franchising options to choose from: 

Home-based: JAN-PRO’s most affordable franchising option, you’ll need $1,000–$5,000 for use of the JAN-PRO brand, brand standards certification, uniforms, initial equipment, cleaning accounts, and cleaning supplies. This is their cheapest franchise to open.

Executive: For a slightly higher price of $20,000, you can become a regional master franchisee. This is ideal for individuals with C-level and SVP experience and a minimum $1 million net worth. This investment is still considered a cheap franchise business.

International: Also starting at $20,000, international opportunities are for regional master franchisees with C-level and SVP experience and a minimum $2 million net worth.

JAN-PRO’s primary franchise opportunities are available in the USA, Canada, and Australia, catering to markets with a demand for robust commercial cleaning services.

Stratus Building Solutions

Stratus Building Solutions is another corporate cleaning franchise option. While franchising fees start as low as $1,000, Stratus notes that its Unit Janitorial Franchise option typically comes in at $2,700–$39,600, with a total investment of $3,450–$53,800. You can run this business in-home and own as many units as you like. 

The Master Franchise offering requires at least $75,000 in initial franchise fees. In this model, you operate as the regional franchisee and the sales and support center for your own franchisees.

Stratus Building Solutions offers its environmentally friendly commercial cleaning services franchise opportunities across North America, including major cities in the USA and Canada​.

Jazzercise Inc.

Aerobic exercise and dance fitness brand Jazzercise offers franchise opportunities all over the world, letting franchisees tap into the global fitness and wellness trend for an initial franchise fee of just $1,250. Other associated costs include a $120 annual associate fee, annual insurance fees of $185–$275, and up to $250 annually for music downloads. Travel and equipment expenses vary. 

There are two franchise options with Jazzercise: 

Associate instructor: If you want to teach the classes and not deal with the business side of things.

Owner instructor: If you want to be more hands-on with the business side of things; this also comes with an additional monthly continuing franchise fee (CFF) of 20% of gross revenues (or $250 per month minimum) as well as music licensing fees of $169–$323/year.

Travel Leaders

With 7,000 company-owned, franchised, and affiliated travel agencies, Travel Leaders is the largest franchise network of travel agencies. Spanning six countries, they offer franchisees a suite of tools—and minimal startup costs. Franchisees get training and sales presentations and materials, upfront commissions, marketing, and PR support, and access to their tech stack and support. 

Franchises operate as travel agencies within the Travel Leaders network. This gets you access to Travel Leaders clients and customer enquiries. By joining the network, franchisees not only leverage the brand’s extensive recognition but also benefit from a well-established customer base that can significantly reduce the typical challenges of client acquisition for new businesses.   

Chester’s Chicken

Chester’s Chicken is one of the cheapest fast food franchises out there in the franchise industry. According to TopFranchise.com, Chester’s Chicken requires a franchise fee of just $3,500, though that doesn’t include additional startup costs. Total investment depends on the type of franchise you open. Franchise locations can range from traditional venues like supermarkets and convenience stores to truck stops, changing the scale of the operation and giving franchisees flexibility on the real estate options for their new franchise business.

Drawing on 70 years of brand credibility and recognition with more than 1,200 locations across the United States, Chester’s Chicken is a leader in the quick-serve restaurant (QSR) franchise category. 

6 Cheap Franchises under $25,000

Baby Boot Camp

One of the best cheap franchises for ambitious parents, Baby Boot Camp’s stroller fitness classes combine exercise, parenthood, and entrepreneurship. Franchise fees and tiers are dependent on the local population—expect to pay anywhere between $5,000–$8,000. Franchisees get a comprehensive operations manual and secure exclusivity of their territory to avoid saturation, making this a compelling business opportunity.

Baby Boot Camp is an American company with opportunities available only in the USA, designed for entrepreneurs interested in fitness programs targeting new mothers​.

TSS Photography

No matter how much time you’ve spent behind the camera, TSS Photography makes starting a photography business accessible to all kinds of entrepreneurs. You can look for cheap franchises to buy on their database, or start a new one of your own. Franchise Direct reports a $7,500 franchise fee, though TSS Photography estimates equipment and other costs will require a $40,000–$60,000 total initial investment. There are no royalty fees, and discounts are available for veterans.

TSS Photography franchise opportunities are available across the United States, with a specialist focus on clientele seeking photographers to capture memories at school, sports, and other community events.

Rhea Lana’s

An “upscale children’s consignment pop-up event,” Rhea Lana’s offers flexibility for franchisees. To secure your territory, Rhea Lana’s asks for an $11,500–$14,500 franchise fee (the range depends on the size of your market). Expect to pay an additional $20k to launch your first event, as well as a 3% royalty fee (this number decreases as your sales numbers increase). Of sales revenue, franchisees receive 35-40% and you will retain all income from consignor fees, vendor fees, ticket sales, and sponsorships. 

All Rhea Lana’s franchisees receive extensive support, including proprietary software for event management, marketing and operational guidance, and training to ensure successful event execution. Franchise opportunities all across the USA.

Coverall

Though Coverall doesn’t disclose specific figures on their website, it’s been reported by Entrepreneur, Franchise Direct, and Franchise.com that franchise fees are in the $13,500–$52,000 range. Coverall also offers up to 10% off franchise fees for qualified active military and veterans. The commercial cleaning company offers business operations guidance, ongoing preventative maintenance training, 1:1 mentorship, and access to its existing customer base. 

Promoting health-based cleaning systems that appeal to a broad market, Coverall has commercial cleaning franchise opportunities across the USA.

SuperGlass Windshield Repair

With more than 300 franchises across the U.S., SuperGlass Windshield Repair is a mobile windshield repair service that provides marketing and technical support to franchisees, among other things. TopFranchise.com estimates a $17,500 franchise fee and a total initial investment of $18,685–$84,205. 

Those costs are getting up there, but as a home-based model, SuperGlass Windshield Repair has fewer ongoing costs than many other franchise options. It also boasts its comprehensive training program as the best in the industry, equipping franchisees with the necessary skills to succeed in the business. 

Cruise Planners

Cruise Planners is a low-cost franchise company with a modest initial investment of $10,995 and not much else. The overheads are low, as it is a home-based franchise. Franchisees can just expect the typical ongoing fees, but nothing in the way of real estate, storefront management and maintenance. 

As with most web-based franchisors, Cruise Planners offers comprehensive training, innovative marketing tools, and robust technology solutions. They also heavily promote their home-based model, emphasizing the flexibility this affords to meet homecare commitments or to work from anywhere in the world while enjoying the benefits of being part of a reputable and well-supported brand. 

PatchMaster

You can get into the drywall repair industry with a PatchMaster franchise. It comes with a $19,500 franchise fee and an estimated total startup cost of $28,450–$49,800. Even if you’re new to the home services market and drywall repair, PatchMasters gets its franchisees set up quickly with comprehensive training and support. Their courses cover drywall repair techniques, business management, and the use of PatchMaster’s proprietary software systems. They also provide ongoing support in marketing, advertising, and business operations.

PatchMaster offers drywall repair franchise opportunities across the USA, providing a service that is consistently in demand in the construction and maintenance industry​​. Funding options are also available. 

Vending Businesses

An additional, out-of-the-box franchise-adjacent business model is vending machines. Structurally and strategically, the business operations are closely related. In both cases, individuals or entities (franchisees or vending operators) pay an initial fee or investment to operate under an established brand or system. The appeal of vending is that it’s quite flexible and may suit someone wanting a part-time or hour-flexible business rather than an operation that will require them to be hands-on during typical work hours.

How to Choose a Franchise

Choosing the best franchise for yourself depends on your goals and motivations to start your own business. If you have lifestyle goals or homecare commitments, choose a franchise like Baby Boot Camp or Rhea Lana’s that offers community and flexibility, respectively. If you have revenue goals, look for metrics in a franchise business review around what franchisees’ typical sales numbers and profit margins are. If you want to run a business with the flexibility to dash out as needed or take your work on your travels, web-based franchises give you that ability.

Beyond those listed, there are so many franchise opportunities available across North America. Whatever your interests—be they lawn care, dog grooming and events planning—there is a franchise out there that fits your interests and your goals. 

Just remember, franchise costs aren’t limited to the franchise fee. There are other expenses associated with becoming a franchisee than simply the low startup costs: 

Royalty fees: Ongoing fees due to the franchise; these are typically taken as a percentage of your sales.

Initial investment: While you need to pay the franchise fee, you’ll also need to consider other required investments in inventory, marketing and promotion, staffing, storefront, equipment, and other business startup costs. Legal and accounting services will also be needed before any contracts should be signed. 

Ongoing costs: Business operations come with a variety of non-optional costs:

  • Training: Some franchises require new franchisees to undergo mandatory training, and it falls on the franchisee to cover the travel and accommodation costs during this training.
  • Accounting fees: After setup, accountants will be needed to financial ensure compliance and proper management.
  • Insurance costs: The insurance coverage you need will depend on the franchise, but the most common are general liability, worker’s compensation, and property insurance.
  • Renovation and maintenance costs: The space will have to meet brand standards for physical storefronts, and periodic maintenance expenses will be required to keep the property in good condition.
  • Renewal fees: In addition to loyalty fees, franchise agreements will need to be renewed. The frequency of these agreements will differ among franchises.

Some franchises also look at your personal finances. In some cases, they’re just checking for good records and payment history. In others, franchises require a minimum net worth and credit score.

High Profit vs. Low-Cost Franchise Opportunities

Low-cost franchises are attractive. But, smart entrepreneurs have to balance the allure of the low price point with the potential for high profits. That may mean you need to spend more to make more in the long run. An attractive entry price should not be the sole factor in decision-making.

Unfortunately, startup costs are easy to find, and profit potential is often vague and unguaranteed—you need diligent investigation. 

Once you have identified a franchise you like, it’s time to make inquiries. Asking for average revenue figures, the typical duration to break even, and details of any recurring fees that might affect profitability, such as royalties and marketing contributions. Diving deeper, it’s advisable that you request case studies and even contact existing franchisees to discuss their experiences regarding revenue and profitability. 

You want to trust your franchisor, but peace of mind comes from speaking to others who have lived the experience you are about to embark on.  

Steps to Take Before Buying a Franchise

Franchise success elsewhere doesn’t guarantee success for your particular franchise. The first step is to do some market research to ensure there’s demand for your offering and a large enough market to sustain that demand over time. It’s also a good idea to make sure there aren’t too many competing businesses or other franchisees of the same brand in your area. This is called saturation—when there are too many of the same kinds of businesses in a location.

If you’ve determined the franchise can be successful in your chosen location and it’s within budget, it’s time to look at the specific legal agreement. The Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) outlines your responsibilities as a franchisee, as well as what you can expect to receive from the franchisor. 

Pro tip: Hire a trusted attorney to help you with this. It’s important that someone with legal expertise ensure you’re agreeing to terms that are mutually beneficial and protect your business and personal assets. 

It’s also a good idea to do some independent research before you sign your name on any agreements. Look out for scams or negative experiences that others have had with the company. A quick Google search should reveal these red flags. You’ll also want to look at customer reviews on Google and employee reviews on a site like Glassdoor to make sure it’s a reputable company that pleases customers and staff alike. 

Finally, when it comes to covering the investment costs of your new business (even if it’s a very low investment), you may need to look at a variety of financing options. For instance, you may need to apply to a lender for one or more business loans in order to obtain the cash required to start a new franchise. Fear not, though, a well-run, profitable franchise should be able to turn a positive ROI in a reasonable timeframe.

Moving Forward with Your Franchise

Congratulations! You’re ready to invest in your next franchise opportunity. With minimal startup costs and an experienced network of industry and business professionals, a franchise is a great way to experiment with entrepreneurism for the first time and become your own boss or expand on what you’ve already built. Which franchises are you considering for your next venture?

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FAQs about Cheap Franchises

Q: What are some cheap franchise business options to consider?

  • Buildingstars (Commercial cleaning company)
  • Dream Vacations (Travel agency)
  • JAN-PRO (Commercial cleaning service)
  • Stratus Building Solutions (Corporate cleaning franchise)
  • Jazzercise (Aerobic exercise and dance fitness brand)
  • Travel Leaders (Travel agency)
  • Chester’s Chicken (Food franchise)
  • Baby Boot Camp (Stroller fitness classes)
  • TSS Photography (Photography business)
  • Rhea Lana’s (Children’s consignment events)
  • Coverall (Commercial cleaning company)
  • SuperGlass Windshield Repair (Mobile windshield repair service)
  • PatchMaster (Drywall repair)

Q: What are the costs associated with owning a cheap franchise?

Apart from the initial franchise fees, the costs involved include royalty fees, initial investments in marketing, inventory, staffing, storefront, equipment, and other business startup costs. Some franchises also require a minimum net worth and credit score.

Q: How do I determine the right franchise for my goals and motivations?

Consider franchises that align with your lifestyle and revenue goals. Look for metrics in a franchise business review around franchisees’ typical sales numbers and profit margins. Evaluate the demand for the franchise offering and the market size in your area.

Q: What is market saturation and why is it essential to consider?

Market saturation occurs when there are too many of the same kinds of businesses in a location. It is crucial to consider saturation to ensure there’s adequate demand for your franchise without excessive competition from similar businesses or other franchisees of the same brand.

Q: What should I look for in the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD)?

The FDD outlines your responsibilities as a franchisee and what you can expect to receive from the franchisor. It is important to thoroughly understand these terms and hire a trusted attorney to ensure the agreement protects your business and personal assets.

Q: How should I conduct independent research before investing in a franchise?

Look for scams or negative experiences that others have had with the company through a quick Google search. Check customer reviews on Google and employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor to determine the reputation of the company and its treatment of customers and staff.

Q: What financing options can I explore to cover my investment costs in a franchise?

You may need to apply for one or more business loans from lenders to obtain the cash required to start a new franchise. A well-run, profitable franchise should be able to provide a positive return on investment in a reasonable timeframe.

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