What draws many people to franchising is that it seems "safer" and less risky than traditional business models. Instead of building your business from A to Z, you benefit from a proven system to propel you to success.
One common roadblock, however, is the initial investment. Many franchises expect you to pay tens of thousands of dollars to join. Top franchises such as McDonald’s may sometimes require you invest millions before working with them.
If you’re an aspiring franchisee with limited capital, not all hope is lost. There are various low-cost franchises you can join as a first-time business owner without breaking the bank.
In this article, we’ll cover our top picks of the best low-cost franchises, how much it costs to purchase each, and an alternative that can be even more affordable.
Read on to find out more.
#1: Dream Vacations
Dream Vacations is one of the best franchises in the travel industry. They started franchising their business back in 1991.
With Dream Vacations, you’ll be able to run a full-time franchise business from the comfort of your own home. You won’t have to worry about geographical restrictions. All you need is an internet connection to get started.
You'll get training on how to run the business at their headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. During these six days, you’ll be taking courses on subjects such as:
- Digital marketing strategies
- Website optimization
- How to manage booking software
- Invoicing clients
One benefit of working with Dream Vacations is that you won't have to invest in equipment. You’ll also get reduced prices and discounts on your future travels.
Here are some details potential franchisees should know about Dream Vacations:
#2: Cruise Planners
Cruise Planners is another franchise that operates as a travel agency. They’ve been franchising since 1994 and rank as Entrepreneur’s No. 1 travel-based company for franchise owners, a title they’ve held for the past 16 years.
The travel franchise specializes in land tours, cruises, car rentals, and resorts. Just like Dream Vacations, you’ll be running your entire small business from home.
Cruise Planners offers 49 hours of comprehensive training at a hotel near its headquarters in Coral Springs, Florida. The training consists of workbooks and PowerPoint presentations to teach you the business. The franchise offers ongoing training to keep your skills up-to-date.
Here’s a look at the numbers:
- Franchise fee: $9,995
- Royalty fees: 3% of sales
#3: SuperGlass Windshield Repair
SuperGlass Windshield Repair is a global leader in car repair. Franchising since 1993, SuperGlass incorporates intensive training to make sure you’re ready for business. Your first week starts at their headquarters in Orlando. You’ll learn everything about glass repair in a lab setting. Your technical training will consist of:
- Repairing different kinds of breaks
- Discovering the best methods to fix long cracks
- Working with temperature extremes
- Courses on how to manage business records and reports
You’ll spend the entire second week with a SuperGlass representative. During this time, you’ll attend pre-made appointments and learn how to present your services to clients.
Here’s what you need to know about franchising with SuperGlass Windshield Repair:
- Franchise fee: Starting at $5,000
- Royalty fees: 4% of sales
Jazzercise is a franchise that offers dance fitness programs in gyms. Their goal is to promote well-being for clients by using dance as a form of cardio. Instructors lead classes through dance routines learned from Jazzercise’s routines database.
When you join Jazzercise, you can either become an instructor yourself or manage a center. Franchising since 1982, it’s one of the most accessible franchises on this list.
Franchising with Jazzercise consists of learning about their business model and searching for new members. Other activities include negotiating real estate and exploring new areas. Check out these financial numbers for those who want to own a center:
- Franchise fee: Starting at $1,250
- Royalty fees: 20% of gross revenues or $250 monthly
#5: Complete Weddings + Events
There’s a lot of untapped potential in the lucrative wedding industry for aspiring franchisees. Complete Weddings + Events has been in the industry since 1974, but they didn’t begin franchising until 1983. Their services include photography, DJing, videography, and lighting. Their headquarters are in Omaha, Nebraska.
Once accepted, you’ll receive complete owner training where you’ll have lessons on:
- Managing a wedding project
- How to hire the perfect wedding professionals for the event
- What to charge employees
After the training, you’ll receive a follow-up from the franchise to keep you on the right track. Here’s how much you should expect to invest when you join Complete Weddings + Events:
#6: TSS Photography
TSS Photography has been franchising since its launch in 1983. Based in Oklahoma City, their services focus on taking photos during school and sports events. It’s the perfect franchise opportunity for anybody with a passion for photography.
One bonus with TSS Photography is that you won’t be paying any royalties. The franchisor makes money from the markup of its products instead and charges a monthly fee rather than a percentage of sales.
If you qualify, the franchise will invite you to their TSS University, a four-day training program. During this course, you’ll be receiving training on:
- Sales and marketing tactics
- Operations and property management
Here are some relevant numbers you should know about TSS:
- Franchise fee: $7,500
- Monthly fee: $50
#7: Stratus Building Solutions
Stratus Building Solutions is a cleaning franchise that provides eco-friendly cleaning services to meet janitorial needs. They service office buildings, restaurants, malls, and more. Based in Los Angeles, California, they’ve offered franchising opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs since 2006.
You’ll go through over six hours of on-the-job training and 11.5 hours in the classroom. During this training, you’ll be learning about the following subjects:
How to manage billing and finances
- Hiring the best cleaning crew
- Marketing your services online
Stratus provides business loans for initial franchise fees, inventory, and other start-up costs. Here’s what it will cost:
- Franchise fees: $2,700-$39,600
- Royalty fees: 5%
What Cheap Franchises Really Cost
As you can see, there are many lower-cost franchise opportunities out there to launch a new business, but they’re still pricey. While it’s possible to start franchising under $15,000, there are other costs to consider, both financially and from a brand flexibility standpoint.
You’ll still have to pay for things such as royalty fees, and you don’t have creative control over the details of operations and branding since you’re bound by your franchise agreement. Ask yourself what you want to get out of being a franchise owner. Is it a path to profitability? Is it being your own boss?
At Main Street, we believe that business ownership should be as easy and affordable as possible. Here’s what separates us from franchises:
- Low investment: Launch your business today with only $10,000. This isn’t a startup or joining fee you pay us but rather an investment in your business.
- Free training: We offer top-level training on how to grow your business, all included at no extra cost.
- Main Street invests in you: Customer success is our priority. We’ll put $10,000 into your company as you hit your business goals.
- Independence: Your business, your rules. Unlike a franchise, you’ll get to decide how you run the company.
- Ongoing support: Feeling lost during your journey? You’ll have access to more than 500 modules, Q&A forums, and one-on-one coaching to help you out.
Transform your career today
When looking to start a business, it’s good to know that you have various options. Franchising can be an affordable solution, but focus on what you want long term.
Have you always dreamed of independence and starting your own business but don't know where to go? Main Street can help. Apply for our New Owner Program to see if you qualify today. We can help you as you work to build a successful business in the profitable and growing painting industry.