The 10 Hottest Industries in Franchising

Convenience stores

ampm has been pushing hot dogs and Snickers bars to U.S. travelers for more than 30 years, but the brand may not ring a bell. That's because for most of that time, ampm was only found in five western states, as the convenience brand of the Arco gas company. But in 2006, BP, which absorbed Arco in 2000, decided that the popular convenience store chain was ready to go national. Since then, BP has steadily converted its BP Connect and other gas-station convenience stores to ampm franchises, creating one of the fastest-growing brands in the country.

Fast Facts
In 2010, ampm launched a "secret menu" of snack bar recipes available only via Facebook.

ampm also ranked No. 2 in our Top Global Franchises list. Almost 2,000 of its franchises are outside the U.S.

It ranked No. 16 in Entrepreneur's 2011 Fastest-Growing Franchises list.

So far, ampm has moved east to Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Though it's keeping its growth steady and controlled, it has massive potential--any market where BP gas is sold is a market for ampm. But the store's strength also comes from its products. Signature items like its 24-flavor fountain drink oasis, an ever-expanding menu of hot fast food and a 16-item condiment bar with everything from spicy mustard to jalape?os and chili all aim at fulfilling the company slogan, "Too much good stuff."

2011 Franchise 500(R) ranking: 2
Convenience store & gas station
Cost: $1.8M-7.6M
Total franchises/co.-owned: 3,177/6

7-Eleven Inc.
2011 Franchise 500(R) ranking: 4
Convenience store
Cost: $30.8K-604.5K
Total franchises/co.-owned: 37,039/457

Circle K
2011 Franchise 500(R) ranking: 22
Convenience store
Cost: $171K-1.4M
Total franchises/co.-owned: 4,238/2,873

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Tracy Stapp Herold is the special projects editor at Entrepreneur magazine. She works on franchise and business opportunity stories and listings, including the annual Franchise 500.

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This article was originally published in the March 2011 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: Buy In While They're Hot.

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