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2024 Franchise 500 Rank
#7 Ranked #8 last year
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Initial investment
$2.5M - $7.2M
Units as of 2023
918 Increase 20.0% 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.

 

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Company Overview

About Culver's

Industry Food
Related Categories Hamburgers, Ices, Ice Cream, Miscellaneous Quick-Service Restaurants, Frozen Custard
Founded 1984
Parent Company Culver Franchising System LLC
Leadership Rick Silva, CEO
Corporate Address 1240 Water St.
Prairie du Sac, WI 53578
Social Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube

Business Overview

Franchising Since 1988 (36 years)
# of employees at HQ 150
Where seeking

This company is offering new franchises in the following US states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming

# of Units 918 (as of 2023)

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 Information Circle
$55,000
Initial Investment Information Circle
$2,524,000 - $7,228,000
Net Worth Requirement Information Circle
$1,250,000
Cash Requirement Information Circle
$500,000 - $750,000
Veteran Incentives Information Circle
$10,000 off franchise fee
Royalty Fee Information Circle
4%
Ad Royalty Fee Information Circle
2.5%
Term of Agreement Information Circle
15 years
Is franchise term renewable? Yes
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Financing Options

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
Ongoing Support
Newsletter
Meetings & Conventions
Grand Opening
Online Support
Security & Safety Procedures
Field Operations
Site Selection
Proprietary Software
Franchisee Intranet Platform
Marketing Support
Co-op Advertising
Ad Templates
National Media
Regional Advertising
Social Media
SEO
Website Development
Email Marketing

Operations

Additional details about running this franchise.

Is absentee ownership allowed? No
Can this franchise be run from home/mobile unit? Information Circle
No
Can this franchise be run part time? Information Circle
No
# of employees required to run 55-65
Are exclusive territories available? Information Circle
Yes
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Franchise 500 Ranking History

Compare where Culver's landed on this year's Franchise 500 Ranking versus previous years.

Additional Rankings

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Disclaimer
The information on this page is not intended as an endorsement or recommendation of any particular franchise or business opportunity by Entrepreneur Media. Our listings and rankings are solely research tools you can use to compare opportunities. Entrepreneur stresses that you should always conduct your own independent investigation before investing in a franchise or business opportunity. That should include reviewing the company's legal documents, consulting with an attorney and an accountant, and talking to former and current franchisees/licensees/dealers.
Updated: December 12th, 2022