- 2023 Franchise 500 Rank
#8 Ranked #5 last year
- Initial investment
$2.3M - $5.8M
- Units as of 2022
871 21.8% over 3 years
Fast food franchises are some of the most common in the country, but starting a Culver’s franchise could be a wise idea for aspiring entrepreneurs like yourself. Why?
Culver’s, headquartered in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, is a highly popular fast food restaurant chain serving burgers (called “ButterBurgers”), frozen custard desserts, cheese curds and various sides.
The first Culver’s restaurant opened in 1984 in Wisconsin. Since then, the Midwestern chain has grown to encompass over 800 restaurants across 26 states thanks to its excellent franchising system and the leadership of Craig Culver.
As a result, this fast-growing restaurant company is primed for up-and-coming, go-getter franchisees such as yourself. Yet starting a Culver’s franchise will take some startup cash and a significant commitment.
Before beginning a Culver's franchise, learn more about what you need to know.
Why should you start a Culver’s franchise?
There’s a lot to like about starting a Culver’s franchise, beginning with the built-in customer base. There are plenty of other fast food businesses, but Culver’s has a very loyal customer base across 26 states, partially because of the quality and deliciousness of its core menu items.
Burgers, fries and fresh frozen custard desserts are the quality foods people consume at this location.
Culver's franchising is also fairly straightforward as a fast-casual, quick-service dining provider. If you have experience running a fast food restaurant, odds are you can pivot to operating a Culver’s location quickly.
Furthermore, Culver’s franchising could allow you to run a business and a hands-on fashion. Culver’s requires all owners to be owner-operators, meaning you need to be the manager of your franchised location.
Your restaurant will include at least six employees certified in a sanitation program, ensuring you have a fully supportive staff no matter where you open your store.
In limited cases, Culver’s allows you to operate your store from afar by appointing a separate manager. In this way, if you have extensive business managerial experience, you can potentially oversee several Culver’s franchise locations simultaneously.
Culver’s has a franchise system that ensures each new franchisee is supported from the start. You’ll get your pick of real estate locations, good training and financial aid.
Because of this, Culver’s is a supportive franchisor that offers promising opportunities to thrive, even for new entrepreneurs or newcomers to the fast food industry.
Does Culver’s grant exclusive territory?
Culver’s does provide territory exclusivity under the franchise agreement. Every new franchisee receives a designated territory, approximately a 3-mile radius around the restaurant's location (though this could be smaller depending on where the restaurant is set up).
This is a good thing for aspiring franchisees. Culver’s, as a franchisor, ensures that you will be protected against direct competition from other franchisees thanks to this territory exclusivity.
With that protection, you can focus on marketing to your local customer base, running your restaurant successfully and pursuing other strategies to maximize your success.
Culver’s franchise reviews
Current Culver’s franchisees have a lot of positive things to say. Most Curlver’s franchise owners say that corporate is supportive, knowledgeable and always responsive to questions or material concerns.
More importantly, existing franchisees receive extensive support when choosing the right location for their new restaurants and brokering lease agreements with property owners.
If you’re new to franchising and want a franchisor that will support you throughout your development, Culver’s could be a great company to work with for your franchise business.
As a full-time franchise owner, your gross sales could be pretty high, even compared to franchise industry giants like McDonald’s.
Related: Truffle Fries with That? Fast-Food Franchises Spice Up Their Menus
What support resources does Culver’s offer franchisees?
Top franchisors offer various support resources for their franchisees, and Culver’s is no different. You can benefit from many extra support resources when you become a franchisee.
This all starts with site selection assistance for your Culver’s restaurant. Culver’s will give you a list of potential locations for your new restaurant, then have you choose from among those spots.
Once you pick the right place, Culver’s will assist you with lease negotiation and getting the property or territory you need to begin construction.
Grand opening support, as is training in safety and security procedures, is included by default. Once your business is up and running, you'll also benefit from online support, field operations support and proprietary software like the franchisee intranet platform.
This will ensure you can access corporate FAQs, knowledge bases and personalized assistance whenever needed.
In the long term, you can attend various franchisee meetings and conventions for networking and educational purposes. Regarding advertising, Culver’s provides many different supportive resources, including national and regional advertising assistance and marketing help.
Website marketing is crucial in the modern market, so Culver’s will provide you with ad templates, email marketing and website elements assistance. Search engine optimization (SEO) is included, too.
All in all, you should expect this franchise agreement to be a partnership between you and Culver’s’ corporate team, not a solo venture in the least. That could be great if you are looking to become a franchisee for the first time.
Related: These Are Some of the Least Expensive Food Franchises You Can Buy
How much does starting a Culver’s franchise cost?
Naturally, starting a Culver’s franchise will cost you some money upfront. This begins with an initial franchise fee of $55,000 plus a net worth requirement of $1.25 million. You'll need to have about $500,000-$750,000 in cash to qualify as a new franchisee.
Your initial investment should be between $2.3 million and $5.8 million, depending on factors like location and your net worth. That’s a tall order for many aspiring franchise owners, especially when you consider royalty fees.
Royalty fees are 4%, and you’ll also have to pay an additional ad royalty fee of 2.5%. On the downside, the agreement term is for 15 years, so you won’t get much opportunity to renegotiate these terms.
That said, if you have the scratch to make franchising happen, you could benefit from over a decade of success thanks to Culver’s’ overall popularity with diners nationwide.
Does Culver’s provide financial aid?
Culver’s does provide limited financial aid in the form of a $10,000 discount on the franchise fee for veteran franchisees. If you have served in America's military, starting a Culver’s restaurant would be much easier.
On top of that, Culver’s maintains lending and financing arrangements with various third-party sources, like banks and credit unions.
Once you are approved for a franchise agreement with Culver’s, you can use these relationships to get financing to cover your franchise fee, startup costs, equipment and payroll.
Bottom line: you should expect to have to pay for editing by yourself if you choose to franchise with Culver’s.
Related: 7 Fast-Food Franchises Had More Sales Than Chick-fil-A Last Year. Can You Name Them?
What kind of training is required to start a Culver’s franchise?
Culver’s doesn’t leave you hanging regarding training, either. Every new franchisee must complete 172 hours of classroom training and 550 hours of on-the-job training.
Before opening your restaurant, you and six future employees must attend and complete a Culver’s Manager in Training Program. This takes place at Culver’s corporate headquarters and typically takes a few weeks.
After that, you'll participate in a 16-week franchisee development training program. This occurs at your constructed Culver’s restaurant or a similar one, often one of the company-owned designated restaurants.
Ongoing education is also mandatory; franchisees must occasionally attend and participate in reconnection training courses and programs.
In addition to the above training requirements, your staff members must be certified in ServSafe or an equivalent sanitation program. All in all, expect you and your staff to be well-trained and educated before opening doors to your Culver’s location.
Related: Just How Much Does it Cost to Own a Fast-Food Franchise?
Start a Culver’s franchise today
Now you know what it takes to start a Culver’s franchise, plus how much it will cost. Consider starting a Culver’s franchise location by contacting this franchisor at the earliest opportunity.
Check out Entrepreneur’s other articles for more information about Culver’s and other franchise opportunities.
|Related Categories||Hamburgers, Ices, Ice Cream, Miscellaneous Quick-Service Restaurants, Frozen Custard|
|Parent Company||Culver Franchising System LLC|
|Leadership||Rick Silva, CEO|
1240 Water St.
Prairie du Sac, WI 53578
|Social||Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube|
|Franchising Since||1988 (2023-1988 years)|
|# of employees at HQ||150|
This company is offering new franchisees throughout the US.
|# of Units||871 (as of 2022)|
Information for Franchisees
Here's what you need to know if you're interested in opening a Culver's franchise.
Financial Requirements & Ongoing Fees
Here's what you can expect to spend to start the business and what ongoing fees the franchisor charges throughout the life of the business.
Initial Franchise Fee
Definition: The initial fee paid to a franchisor to join their system
What you need to know: Found in Item 5 of the FDD, this may be a flat fee, or may vary based on territory size, experience, or other factors.The franchise fee is an up-front (one-time) cost that a new franchisee pays to the franchisor. This fee is usually due at the signing of the franchise agreement and covers the right to use the franchisor's trademarks, name, and related business systems.
Definition: The total amount necessary to begin operation of the franchise
What you need to know: The initial investment includes the franchise fee, along with other startup expenses such as real estate, equipment, supplies, business licenses, and working capital. This is outlined in a chart in Item 7 of the FDD, showing a range of possible costs from low to high.
|$2,301,000 - $5,788,000|
Net Worth Requirement
Definition: The minimum net worth you must have in order to qualify to become a franchisee of this company
What you need to know: Net worth is the value of a person's assets minus liabilities. Assets include cash, stocks, retirement accounts, and real estate. Liabilities include items like mortgages, car payments, and credit card debt.
Definition: The minimum liquid capital you must have available in order to qualify to become a franchisee of this company.
|$500,000 - $750,000|
Definition: A discount or other incentive offered to military veterans who buy a franchise with this company.
|$10,000 off franchise fee|
Definition: A ongoing fee paid to the franchisor on a regular basis.
What you need to know: Most franchisors require franchisees to pay an ongoing royalty fee, which is detailed in Item 6 of the FDD. This fee is typically a percentage of weekly or monthly gross sales, but may also be a flat weekly, monthly, or annual fee.
Ad Royalty Fee
Definition: An going fee paid to the franchisor on a regular basis to support advertising or marketing efforts.
What you need to know: This may also be called advertising fee, marketing fee, brand fund fee, and more, but the basic purpose is the same-- to support promotion of the brand systemwide. As with the royalty fee, it is detailed in Item 6 of the FDD, and can be a percentage of weekly or monthly gross sales or a weekly, monthly, or annual fee.
Term of Agreement
Definition: The length of time your franchise agreement will last.
What you need to know: Franchise terms are typically anywhere from 5 to 20 years in length, but are sometimes instead dependent on factors such as the term of your lease. Once your term is up, you may have the option to renew your agreement, typically for a smaller fee than the original franchise fee.
|Is franchise term renewable?||Yes|
Some franchisors offer in-house financing, while others have relationships with third-party financing sources to which they refer qualified franchisees.
|Third Party Financing||Culver's has relationships with third-party sources which offer financing to cover the following: franchise fee, startup costs, equipment, inventory, accounts receivable, payroll|
Training & Support Offered
Franchisors offer initial training programs and a variety of ongoing support options to help franchisees run their businesses.
|On-The-Job Training||550 hours|
|Classroom Training||172 hours|
Meetings & Conventions
Security & Safety Procedures
Franchisee Intranet Platform
Additional details about running this franchise.
|Is absentee ownership allowed?||No|
Can this franchise be run from home/mobile unit?
Definition: The business can be run from your home and/or a vehicle, and it is not necessary to have a retail facility, office space, or warehouse.
Can this franchise be run part time?
Definition: This business can be run by the owner on a part-time basis (less than 40 hours per week) and/or as a side business; it is not necessary for the business to be open/run full-time.
|# of employees required to run||55-65|
Are exclusive territories available?
Definition: An exclusive territory is a fixed area in which you are given the right to operate and in which no other units of the same franchise may be opened.
What you need to know: Territory size may be based on factors such as radius, population size, zip codes, and more. Details can be found in Item 12 of the FDD.
Interested in ownership opportunities like Culver's? Request a free consultation with a Franchise Advisor now.
Franchise 500 Ranking History
Compare where Culver's landed on this year's Franchise 500 Ranking versus previous years.
Curious to know where Culver's ranked on other franchise lists? Find out below.
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