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2023 Franchise 500 Rank
#41 Ranked #41 last year
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Initial investment
$1.5M - $2.4M
Units as of 2023
7,268 3.3% over 3 years

Dairy Queen Franchise

Some food restaurants are popular from the get-go, especially those that provide sweet treats to the public. 

Dairy Queen is one of the world's most well-known fast food brands, offering a dazzling mix of delicious beverages and soft-serve ice cream, plus other foods ranging from chicken strips to burgers.

DQ holds the crown as the go-to quick-serve restaurant brand, offering aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to build up a business from scratch without worrying about brand recognition or lack of support. DQ Grill & Chill restaurants are seen in Canada and the U.S. Franchise owners can use this fast food franchise to maximize their business opportunities.

But a lot goes into starting a Dairy Queen franchise, and it's important to know what to expect should you reach for this opportunity. Read on to learn more about starting a Dairy Queen franchise and what’s involved.

Why should you start a Dairy Queen franchise? 

For many would-be business owners, it’s because of brand recognition.

Dairy Queen’s soft-serve ice cream formula was invented in 1938. Since then, it has played an integral role in the success of the Dairy Queen restaurant chain brand. It’s been so successful, but there are now thousands of restaurants throughout the U.S. and beyond. Most Dairy Queen locations range between 1800 and 2600 ft.².

Simply put, when you become a Dairy Queen franchisee, you’ll immediately benefit from the brand recognition that DQ brings. Whether in Minnesota or Texas or even internationally, people know about DQ.

This brand recognition can help you thrive immediately, rather than opening an independent ice cream or restaurant location and building up a loyal customer base from scratch.

Even people who don’t frequent Dairy Queen restaurants might know the names of some of the most popular DQ treats, such as Blizzards. There are currently over 4000 domestic locations and 6800 locations around the globe. Having a built-in customer base for your business is never a bad thing.

More importantly, that built-in customer base tends to be dedicated. Dairy Queen fans are truly loyal to the brand, so once you open a new location in any area, odds are you'll get access to an immediate customer base.

But Dairy Queen is also an advantageous franchise to start because of the ongoing support you’ll benefit from. Franchise support ranges from developing training to operations help to supply chain support to marketing and much more. 

You don’t have to do everything yourself when you become a Dairy Queen franchisee. You’ll have corporate backing to support you every step of the way.

What are Dairy Queen’s international franchise opportunities? 

In addition to the above benefits, it’s essential to remember that you can become a Dairy Queen franchisee outside the United States. Recently, the Dairy Queen franchise system has been expanding its restaurant franchise options into more global markets.

You cannot become a franchisee in countries ranging from Costa Rica to Taiwan to Japan to South Korea to Puerto Rico to Guatemala and much more.

If you’ve ever wanted to be an international business owner or are simply tired of the challenges in US-based businesses, working as an international DQ franchisee might be right up your alley. Even internationally, DQ’s menu items are fan favorites, ranging from Orange Juliussmoothies to ice cream.

Whether you choose a U.S. or international Dairy Queen location, you can set up a standard or traditional restaurant or a freestanding, strip center or mall location, depending on your preferences.

Related: Dairy Queen’s New Campaign Focuses on Food

What resources and support does Dairy Queen offer franchisees? 

Dairy Queen offers tons of support for new franchisees like you.

These include meeting and convention attendance options, newsletters and online support whenever you have a question or require assistance with some aspect of your store operations. In the earliest stages, Dairy Queen will even help you choose the site for your store based on market research and real estate space.

When you open your store, you can count on Dairy Queen to help you during the grand opening. This extends to ensuring you have enough labor to provide excellent service to the influx of customers you can expect. 

Even after that, Dairy Queen will provide security and safety support and procedure training as needed.

What about marketing? Dairy Queen takes its marketing very seriously, so all franchisees can take advantage of social media marketing campaigns and materials, in addition to both regionally tailored and national media materials. 

Simply put, you won’t need to assemble marketing campaigns for your Dairy Queen store. Dairy Queen will do it for you.

That’s not all. Dairy Queen also gives franchisees access to templates, making advertising much more accessible to your target audience. 

The loyalty program and app will be made available to your store so you can get the most loyal, driven Dairy Queen customers returning to your location repeatedly.

Related: The Curse of Dairy Queen? Internet Speculates After 4th MLB Player Halts Season

What does opening a Dairy Queen franchise cost? 

Before signing any dotted lines, understand how much it will cost to start a Dairy Queen franchise. It’ll all be outlined in your franchise agreement, including the liquid capital needed to build your quick-service restaurant.

Firstly, you’ll need to pay the initial franchise fee of $45,000. This is required when you sign the paperwork marking you as a DQ franchisee. You’ll also need to supply between $1.5 million and $2.4 million on average. The initial investment fee will cover things like real estate, equipment purchasing, training fees and ingredient purchasing.

To ensure that you have enough money to make this total investment happen, Dairy Queen requires new franchisees to have a minimum net worth of $750,000 or more, plus another $400,000 in cash. It's a lot to scrape together, but you could be much more successful in the long run, should you qualify.

Once you have your Dairy Queen operation in business, you’ll have to pay a regular 4% royalty fee and another ad royalty fee ranging from 5% to 6%, depending on how much marketing assistance you need.

These ongoing costs can add up across 20 years, the length of the standard agreement term as a Dairy Queen franchisee. 

What financing assistance does Dairy Queen offer? 

There’s good news, though. Dairy Queen has lots of relationships with third-party financing sources, like lenders. These can help you cover some of the above costs, like the franchise fee, inventory and other startup costs.

Therefore, if you can’t meet the above financial requirements outright, you might still be able to make things work with the proper lending agreement.

Related: Why Dairy Queen is Finally Opening Up in Manhattan

What training does Dairy Queen provide? 

Dairy Queen doesn’t let prospective franchisees begin their operations without ensuring that they know what to do. That’s why you must complete 32 hours of classroom training and 245 hours of on-the-job training.

There are three main components for the initial Dairy Queen franchiseetraining program:

  • The MTRA or Management Training Readiness Assessment.
  • ServSafe Certification.
  • ADQ’s training program is split into three phases to teach you about products and equipment, service and management skills and financial/leadership skills.

When you start a new Dairy Queen franchise business, you and up to two assistant managers must attend each of the three components. As a result, when you open your Dairy Queen store, you'll be well-equipped and ready to lead it successfully, even if you don't have any business experience yet.

On top of this training, you, the controlling owner, must attend all the meetings and additional training the franchisor holder sponsors in your area. 

These regular seminars allow you to network with fellow business owners and ensure that your store stays up-to-date with all recent Dairy Queen requirements regarding staff and management principles.

Related: Dairy Queen Scoops Out Niche with New Grill Concept

Start a Dairy Queen franchise today

Ultimately, starting a Dairy Queen franchise could be a great way to reach your business goals and provide delicious desserts to the American public for years. Consider starting a Dairy Queen franchise with this information.

Explore Entrepreneur’s other guides and resources for more information about Dairy Queen and other franchise opportunities.
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Company Overview

About Dairy Queen

Related Categories
Ice Cream, Ices
Parent Company
International Dairy Queen Inc.
Jim Kerr, EVP, Franchise Development
Corporate Address
8000 Tower, #700, 8331 Norman Center Dr.
Bloomington, MN 55437

Business Overview

Franchising Since
1940 (83 years)
# of employees at HQ
Where seeking

This company is offering new franchisees throughout the US.

This company is offering new franchisees in the following international regions: Asia, Middle East, Central America, Canada, South America, Mexico

# of Units
7,268 (as of 2023)

Information for Franchisees

Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in opening a Dairy Queen 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
Initial Investment
$1,461,200 - $2,426,990
Net Worth Requirement
Cash Requirement
Royalty Fee
Ad Royalty Fee
Term of Agreement
20 years
Is franchise term renewable?
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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
Dairy Queen 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
245 hours
Classroom Training
32 hours
Ongoing Support
Purchasing Co-ops
Meetings & Conventions
Toll-Free Line
Grand Opening
Online Support
Security & Safety Procedures
Field Operations
Site Selection
Marketing Support
Ad Templates
National Media
Regional Advertising
Social Media
Email Marketing
Loyalty Program/App


Additional details about running this franchise.

Is absentee ownership allowed?
Can this franchise be run from home/mobile unit?
Can this franchise be run part time?
# of employees required to run
Are exclusive territories available?
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Franchise 500 Ranking History

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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