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- 2022 Franchise 500 Rank
#180 Ranked #313 last year
- Initial investment
$387K - $699K
- Units as of 2021
168 5.0% over 3 years
Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in opening a Donatos franchise.
Looking to grab a slice of a hot restaurant franchise opportunity? Donatos might be your chance!
Founded in 1963, Donatos is a pizza maker that has stood the test of time and strives to create consistently delicious pizza. There are several company-owned restaurants across the United States, as well as over 100 franchises. Since beginning to franchise in 1991, Donatos has developed a solid base of loyal customers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Why You May Want to Start a Donatos Franchise
Donatos prides itself on efficient kitchen layouts created in order to maximize sales. As you are planning your restaurant, you can choose add-on options like patios and drive-through windows to streamline your customer service. In addition, Donatos has a great app that makes placing orders as simple as possible. This creates a more enjoyable, faster experience for your clients.
The Donatos menu is continuously innovated in order to meet clients' trends and tastes, encouraging them to come back for more. You will also receive ongoing training and support from the franchise, providing you with a winning recipe and fresh ingredients for your pizza.
You can serve many clients within the Donatos' customer reach, whether they prefer to dine-in, pick-up, or have their pizza delivered to them. The drive-up window and catering during events are options for customers, as well.
What Might Make Donatos Franchise a Good Choice?
Donatos values franchisees who are invested in their communities. They look for franchisees with strong management skills and a passion for pizza and providing quality service. If you fall in this category, Donatos might be a place for you to set up shop.
To make sure you meet the financial requirements for opening a Donatos franchise, be sure to have a secured net worth and liquid capital on hand. Also, be prepared to make an initial investment that will include a franchise fee and additional startup costs. You should be willing to open multiple restaurant locations from the start as a part of your franchise.
Included in the franchise fee is access to the Donatos systems, technology, operational support, building plans, and your own training. The ongoing fees you will pay are a royalty fee, advertising fee, and a National Marketing Fund contribution, which will usually come out of a small percentage of your net sales.
How Do You Open a Donatos Franchise?
During the process, you will have the opportunity to speak to a Donatos Franchise Development team member and get information to guide you in your business decisions. You will likely attend a program review webinar to brief you on the Donatos franchise opportunity, company culture, market, and finances. This is the perfect opportunity to talk about franchise availability in your area, the number of locations you want to open, and the experiences of other franchisees.
The company will invite you to a discovery day at Donatos' headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. This will let you meet the operations team and get hands-on experience at a local Donatos restaurant. If you qualify, you can sign a franchise development agreement and pay the franchise fee.
After this, voilà! You are an official Donatos franchisee! The only thing you'll have left to do is to plan your grand opening.
- Franchising Since
- 1991 (31 years)
- # of employees at HQ
- Where seeking
This company is seeking new franchisees in the following US states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia
- # of Units
- 168 (as of 2021)
Information for Franchisees
Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in opening a Donatos 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.
- Initial Investment
- $386,500 - $698,900
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.
- 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.
- Cash Requirement
Definition: The minimum liquid capital you must have available in order to qualify to become a franchisee of this company.
- Royalty 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
- to 5%
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
- 20 years
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?
Some franchisors offer in-house financing, while others have relationships with third-party financing sources to which they refer qualified franchisees.
- Third Party Financing
- Donatos 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
- 454 hours
- Classroom Training
- 4 hours
- Ongoing Support
Purchasing Co-opsNewsletterMeetings & ConventionsGrand OpeningOnline SupportSecurity & Safety ProceduresField OperationsSite SelectionProprietary SoftwareFranchisee Intranet Platform
- Marketing Support
Co-op AdvertisingAd TemplatesNational MediaRegional AdvertisingSocial MediaSEOWebsite DevelopmentEmail MarketingLoyalty Program/App
Additional details about running this franchise.
- Is absentee ownership allowed?
Definition: Absentee ownership means that the franchisee does not actively work in the franchise business or manage day-to-day operations.
- 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.
- 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.
Franchise 500 Ranking History
Compare where Donatos landed on this year’s Franchise 500 Ranking versus previous years.
Curious to know where Donatos ranked on other franchise lists? Find out below.
Are you eager to see what else is out there? Browse more franchises that are similar to Donatos.
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