2011 Top Franchises from Entrepreneur's Franchise 500 List

Our 37th Annual Franchise 500 ranking reveals the impact of the newest trends and the industries poised for growth.

Understanding the Ranking Franchise Buying Guide More Franchise Articles

  • Rank
  • Company/Description/Initial Investment
# 51
Cruise Planners

Cruise Planners

Travel agency

Initial Investment: $2K - $23K

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# 52
Long John Silver's Restaurants Inc.

Long John Silver's Restaurants Inc.

Fish & chicken

Initial Investment: $833K - $1.4M

# 53
Sylvan Learning

Sylvan Learning

Supplemental and enrichment education

Initial Investment: $187K - $282K

# 54
Cold Stone Creamery

Cold Stone Creamery

Ice cream, sorbet

Initial Investment: $261K - $405K

# 55
Meineke Car Care Centers

Meineke Car Care Centers

Auto repair and maintenance

Initial Investment: $200K - $466K

# 56
Chem-Dry Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning

Chem-Dry Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning

Carpet, drapery and upholstery cleaning; tile and stone care

Initial Investment: $30K - $143K

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# 57
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

New Orleans-style fried chicken, seafood, biscuits

Initial Investment: $292K - $442K

# 58
CruiseOne

CruiseOne

Travel agency

Initial Investment: $3K - $22K

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# 59
Home Instead Senior Care

Home Instead Senior Care

Nonmedical senior care

Initial Investment: $102K - $118K

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# 60
AAMCO Transmissions and Total Car Care

AAMCO Transmissions and Total Car Care

Transmission repair and car care

Initial Investment: $227K - $333K

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# 61
Proforma

Proforma

Printing and promotional products

Initial Investment: $5K - $50K

# 62
Comfort Keepers

Comfort Keepers

Home care

Initial Investment: $83K - $114K

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# 63
Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo wings, sandwiches

Initial Investment: $1.4M - $3.6M

# 64
Massage Envy Spa

Massage Envy Spa

Therapeutic massage and facial services

Initial Investment: $414K - $961K

# 65
Novus Glass

Novus Glass

Auto glass repair and replacement

Initial Investment: $47K - $229K

# 66
Choice Hotels Int'l.

Choice Hotels Int'l.

Hotels

Initial Investment: $88K - $13.2M

# 67
CiCi's Pizza

CiCi's Pizza

All-you-can-eat pizza buffet

Initial Investment: $489K - $758K

# 68
Hilton Garden Inn

Hilton Garden Inn

Upscale midprice hotels

Initial Investment: $11.7M - $22.3M

# 69
Heaven's Best Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning

Heaven's Best Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning

Carpet and upholstery cleaning

Initial Investment: $55K - $84K

# 70
Smoothie King

Smoothie King

Smoothies, health products

Initial Investment: $181K - $423K

# 71
Wingstop Restaurants Inc.

Wingstop Restaurants Inc.

Chicken wings

Initial Investment: $192K - $688K

# 72
Gold's Gym

Gold's Gym

Health and fitness centers

Initial Investment: $1M - $4M

# 73
Country Inns & Suites By Carlson

Country Inns & Suites By Carlson

Hotels

Initial Investment: $6.6M - $7.9M

# 74
Minuteman Press Int'l. Inc.

Minuteman Press Int'l. Inc.

Printing, graphics and mailing center

Initial Investment: $64K - $185K

# 75
MRINetwork

MRINetwork

Permanent placement and contract staffing

Initial Investment: $61K - $86K

# 76
Rita's Italian Ice

Rita's Italian Ice

Italian ice, frozen custard

Initial Investment: $141K - $414K

# 77
Batteries Plus Bulbs

Batteries Plus Bulbs

Batteries, light bulbs, related products

Initial Investment: $215K - $389K

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# 78
Keller Williams Realty

Keller Williams Realty

Real Estate

Initial Investment: $175K - $328K

# 79
Wireless Zone

Wireless Zone

Wireless-communications store

Initial Investment: $127K - $393K

# 80
FastSigns Int'l. Inc.

FastSigns Int'l. Inc.

Signs, graphics

Initial Investment: $169K - $309K

# 81
Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness

Fitness clubs

Initial Investment: $728K - $3.8M

# 82
Coffee News

Coffee News

Weekly newspaper distributed at restaurants

Initial Investment: $10K - $11K

# 83
Ramada Worldwide

Ramada Worldwide

Hotels

Initial Investment: $196K - $13.1M

# 84
Maaco Franchising Inc.

Maaco Franchising Inc.

Auto painting and collision repair

Initial Investment: $375K - $487K

# 85
Culver Franchising System Inc.

Culver Franchising System Inc.

Frozen custard, specialty burgers

Initial Investment: $1.4M - $3.7M

# 86
Padgett Business Services

Padgett Business Services

Financial, payroll, consulting and tax services

Initial Investment: $100K - $100K

# 87
Goddard Systems Inc.

Goddard Systems Inc.

Preschool/educational child care

Initial Investment: $707K - $751K

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# 88
Visiting Angels

Visiting Angels

Nonmedical home care

Initial Investment: $64K - $105K

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# 89
Eye Level Learning Centers

Eye Level Learning Centers

Supplemental education

Initial Investment: $76K - $139K

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# 90
Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC

Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC

Real estate

Initial Investment: $52K - $494K

# 91
Moe's Southwest Grill

Moe's Southwest Grill

Southwestern food

Initial Investment: $369K - $916K

# 92
Rooter-Man

Rooter-Man

Plumbing, drain and sewer cleaning

Initial Investment: $47K - $138K

# 93
Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services

Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services

In-home tutoring

Initial Investment: $33K - $57K

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# 94
Hilton Hotels and Resorts

Hilton Hotels and Resorts

Upscale hotels and resorts

Initial Investment: $56M - $97.1M

# 95
Qdoba Mexican Grill

Qdoba Mexican Grill

Mexican Food

Initial Investment: $623K - $815K

# 96
Home Helpers/Direct Link

Home Helpers/Direct Link

Medical/nonmedical personal care

Initial Investment: $68K - $127K

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# 97
Senior Helpers

Senior Helpers

Personal, companion and Alzheimer's home care

Initial Investment: $81K - $117K

# 98
Expense Reduction Analysts Inc.

Expense Reduction Analysts Inc.

Cost-management consulting

Initial Investment: $66K - $86K

# 99
PuroClean

PuroClean

Property damage restoration and remediation

Initial Investment: $142K - $164K

# 100
Thrifty Rent-A-Car System Inc.

Thrifty Rent-A-Car System Inc.

Car rentals

Initial Investment: $639K - $6.8M

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Understanding the Ranking

There's a lot that goes into putting together the first, best and most comprehensive franchise ranking in the world. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at Entrepreneur's 37th annual Franchise 500®.

The process began in July 2015, when we asked franchisors to participate in our survey. Each submission was vetted before being entered for data analysis; 951 companies made the first cut. Of those, the top 500 became the Franchise 500® ranking, based on financial and statistical data from July 2013 through July 2015.

Only franchise companies that supply a full Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) or Canadian Disclosure Document and whose information is verified by Entrepreneur can receive a listing. To be eligible for the Franchise 500®, a franchisor must have a minimum of 10 units, with at least one franchise located in the U.S. The company must be seeking new franchisees in the U.S., and it cannot be in Chapter 11 at the time the ranking is compiled. (The exception to these rules is Canada-based companies that are expanding only in Canada.)

All companies are judged by the same criteria: objective, quantifiable measures of a franchise operation. The most important factors include financial strength and stability, growth rate and size of the system. We also consider the number of years a company has been in business and the length of time it's been franchising, startup costs, litigation, percentage of terminations and whether the company provides financing. Financial data is analyzed by an independent CPA.

We do not measure subjective elements such as franchisee satisfaction or management style. The objective factors are plugged into our exclusive Franchise 500® formula, with each eligible company receiving a cumulative score.

Remember that the Franchise 500® is not intended to endorse, advertise or recommend any particular franchise. It is solely a research tool you can use to compare franchise operations. Entrepreneur stresses that you should always conduct your own independent investigation before investing money in a franchise. Read the FDD and related materials carefully, get help from a franchise attorney and a CPA in reviewing any legal or financial documents, and talk to as many existing and former franchisees as possible and visit their outlets. The best way to protect yourself is to do your homework.

Research compiled by Tracy Stapp Herold and J.R. Jimenez with assistance from Hava Arieh, Rick Ignarra, Nicole Jurinek, Yvette Madrid, Jessica Nguyen and Giuseppe Ricapito; technical assistance from Angel Cool and Daniel Sibitzky; financial analysis by David R. Juedes, CPA; graphic design by Karen Meneghin.

More Franchise Rankings

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87 franchises for under $50,000

Top Homebased/Mobile Franchises

These 100 businesses can be managed from home

Fastest-Growing Franchises

These companies have shown rapid unit expansion over the last two years

Top New Franchises

The top 75 companies that began franchising in the last five years

Top Global Franchises

200 North American franchisors seeking international franchisees

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