Franchises

The 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2018

Here's everything you need to know about the startup costs, training and investment opportunities from the top 10 companies in our Franchise 500.
The 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2018
Image credit: nzphotonz | Getty Images
Entrepreneur Staff
Associate Editor, Contributed Content
8 min read

A new year brings new ideas, inspiration and opportunities. So, if you have a killer business idea, there's never a better time to get started than now. We have tons of resources that can help you get that idea off the ground, from our Complete, 12-Step Guide to Starting a Business to our hundreds of articles from experts in every industry imaginable.

If you're still waiting for your great idea, then you should consider a franchise investment. We work all year on researching stable, helpful franchises, and then compile our favorites to make Entrepreneur's Franchise 500 list.

The five pillars of the Franchise 500:

  1. Cost and fees
    1. Franchise fee
    2. Total investment
    3. Royalty fees
  2. Size and growth
    1. Open and operating units
    2. Growth rate
    3. Closures
  3. Support
    1. Training times
    2. Marketing support
    3. Operation support
    4. Franchise infrastructure
    5. Financing availability
    6. Litigation
  4. Brand strength
    1. Social media
    2. System size
    3. Years in business
    4. Years franchising
  5. Financial strength and stability
    1. Franchisor's audited financial statements

You can use this franchise list to search for franchises in the industry and location that fit you. While its important to keep in mind that starting any business comes with its own inherent risks, these franchises can help you with training, marketing and more to give you the best shot at making your investment a successful one.

Start the slideshow to see the top 10 franchises of 2018, or click here to see the full list of the Entrepreneur Franchise 500.

The 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2018

McDonald's

McDonald's
Image credit: McDonald's | Facebook

Last year, McDonald's was the runner-up in our list of favorite franchises. This year, it takes the top spot, despite each franchise costing seven figures. 

You can request more information on the McDonald's franchising website.

CEO: Steve Easterbrook

Business headquarters: Oak Brook, Ill.

Franchising since: 1955

Initial investment: $1,008,000 to $2,214,080

Initial franchise fee: $45,000

New units in 2017: 507 units (1.4 percent)

Training: 6 to 24 months on the job, 75 hours in the classroom

Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, loyalty program/app

Related: Quiz: How Much Do You Really Know About McDonald's?

The 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2018

7-Eleven

7-Eleven
Image credit: 7-Eleven | Facebook

7-Eleven got knocked off from its no. 1 spot on the 2017 Franchise 500, but second place is nothing to sneeze at -- and neither is the company's absurd growth. There were 3,336 new units of the convenience franchise in 2017 -- more units than three of the companies on this list have in total. Maybe that's because it can cost as little as $37,550 to start a 7-Eleven, making it one of the most affordable franchises on this list.

You can request more information on the 7-Eleven franchising website.

CEO: Joseph DePinto

Business headquarters: Dallas

Franchising since: 1964

Initial investment: $37,550 to $1,149,900

Initial franchise fee: $10,000 to $1,000,000

New units in 2017: 3,336 units (5.7 percent)

Training: 240 hours on the job, 24 hours in the classroom

Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, SEO, website development, email marketing, loyalty program/app

Related: The 5 Best Pizza Franchises You Can Start Today

The 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2018

Dunkin' Donuts

Dunkin' Donuts maintains its 2017 Franchise 500 rank, falling just short of McDonald's and 7-Eleven once again. It also maintains its consistent growth, having added 346 units in the last year and 1,294 since the start of 2015. Now, you can find the coffee and donut shop franchises in 32 countries.

You can find available franchise markets or request information on the Dunkin' Donuts franchising website.

CEO: Nigel Travis

Business headquarters: Canton, Mass.

Franchising since: 1955

Initial investment: $228,620 to $1,691,200

Initial franchise fee: $40,000 to $90,000

New units in 2017: 346 units (2.9 percent)

Training: 219 to 324 hours on the job, 68 to 73 hours in the classroom

Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, SEO, website development, email marketing, loyalty program/app

Related: Krispy Kreme Vs. Dunkin' Donuts: Which Is the Better Franchise Investment for You?

The 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2018

The UPS Store

The UPS Store
Image credit: UPS | Facebook

The UPS Store was our top-ranked franchise in the business services industry for 27 years running and that hasn't changed this year. It's just hard to match the company's brand recognition, financial strength and stability.

You can find available franchise markets on the UPS franchising website or request information here.

CEO: Tim Davis

Business headquarters: San Diego, Calif.

Franchising since: 1980

Initial investment: $177,955 to $402,595

Initial franchise fee: $29,950

New units in 2017: 69 units (1.4 percent)

Training: 80 hours on the job, 72 hours in the classroom

Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, SEO, website development, email marketing, loyalty program/app

Related: Our Top 5 Franchises You Can Run From Your Own Home

The 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2018

RE/MAX LLC

RE/MAX LLC
Image credit: REMAX | Facebook

RE/MAX ranked 8th among the Franchise 500 a year ago, but in 2018 we've bumped it up three spots. The real-estate agency has grown both domestically and abroad, adding 97 U.S. franchises in addition to 246 international franchises. 

Request more information about becoming a franchise investor on the RE/MAX franchising page.

CEO: Dave Liniger and Adam Contos

Business headquarters: Denver

Franchising since: 1975

Initial investment: $37,500 to $225,000

Initial franchise fee: $15,000 to $32,000

New units in 2017: 84 units (3.2 percent)

Training: 31 hours in the classroom

Marketing support: Ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, SEO, website development, email marketing

Related: 24 Top-Ranked, Affordable Franchises You Can Buy for $25,000 or Less

The 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2018

Sonic Drive-In Restaurants

Sonic is the only franchise in the top 10 without any international franchises. Instead, as of 2017, every one of its 3,557 units is either company-owned or located in the U.S. That sounds like a lot -- about 71 burger joints per state -- but considering that there are more than 13,000 McDonald's franchises in the U.S., Sonic still has plenty of room to grow.

You can find the list of available franchise markets and request information for nexts steps on the Sonic franchising page.

CEO: Cliff Hudson

Business headquarters: Oklahoma City

Franchising since: 1959

Initial investment: $1,073,000 to $2,361,500

Initial franchise fee: $45,000

New units in 2017: 31 units (0.9 percent)

Training: 400 hours on the job, 24 hours in the classroom

Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, SEO, website development, email marketing, loyalty program/app

Related: Just How Much Does It Cost to Own a Fast-Food Franchise?

The 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2018

Great Clips

Great Clips
Image credit: Great Clips | Facebook

Since Great Clips headquarters are in Minnesota, it only makes sense that the company's international franchising would start in Canada. Right now, our seventh-ranked franchise only has a small percentage of its franchises north of the border -- 146, compared to 3,945 franchises in the U.S.

You can request more information here and find available territories in both countries on the company's franchise website.

CEO: Rhoda Olsen

Business headquarters: Minneapolis, Minn.

Franchising since: 1983

Initial investment: $136,900 to $258,250

Initial franchise fee: $20,000

New units in 2017: 223 units (5.8 percent)

Training: 12 hours on the job, 44 hours in the classroom

Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, SEO, website development, email marketing, loyalty program/app

Related: Hair Care Franchises in the Entrepreneur Franchise 500

The 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2018

Taco Bell

Taco Bell
Image credit: Taco Bell | Facebook

Taco Bell hops into the top 10 this year after finishing 12th a year ago. This puts it atop the Yum! Brands Inc. subsidiaries, which include Pizza Hut (No. 47 on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500) and KFC (233), and on top of other taco spots like Fuzzy's Taco Shop (123).

Why? Well, Taco Bell has been franchising for more than 50 years now, and it's still growing. That's the sort of branding and stability we look for in our Franchise 500 rankings.

The company has limited opportunities, but you can find out where Taco Bell is growing and request information here.

CEO: Brian Niccol

Business headquarters: Irvine, Calif.

Franchising since: 1964

Initial investment: $525,100 to $2,622,400

Initial franchise fee: $25,000 to $45,000

New units in 2017: 218 units (3.4 percent)

Training: 400 hours on the job, 8 hours in the classroom

Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, regional advertising

Related: The 5 Best Taco Franchises You Can Own Today

The 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2018

Hardee's

Hardee's
Image credit: Hardee's | Facebook

Hardee's beats out its western counterpart (Carl's Jr., ranked 15th) in the battle between CKE Restaurants burger franchises. Their price tags are comparable (about $1.4 to $1.9 million for each), but there are 2,226 Hardee's units across the globe, which is about 27.4 percent more than the 1,616 Carl's Jr. units.

You can find available markets and request more information for both franchises here.

CEO: Jason Marker

Business headquarters: Franklin, Tenn.

Franchising since: 1962

Initial investment: $1,431,500 to $1,949,000

Initial franchise fee: $25,000 to $35,000

New units in 2017: 80 units (3.7 percent)

Training: 80 hours on the job, 32 hours in the classroom (eight weeks of additional management training and at grand opening)

Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, SEO, website development, email marketing, loyalty program/app

Related: The 5 Best Burger Franchises You Can Buy (and How Much They Cost)

The 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2018

Sport Clips

Sport Clips
Image credit: Sports Clips | Facebook

Sport Clips prides itself on having a high continuity rate. Over the past five years, only six of its more than 1,600 stores have closed, which has contributed to its strong growth. The number of Sports Clips franchises has more than doubled since 2011, and it's begun adding international units since 2013.

You can find available markets on the SportClips franchising page, or request more information here.

CEO: Gordon Logan

Business headquarters: Georgetown, Texas

Franchising since: 1995

Initial investment: $189,300 to $354,500

Initial franchise fee: $25,000 to $59,500

New units in 2017: 132 units (8.5 percent)

Training: 48 hours on the job, 110 hours in the classroom

Marketing Support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, SEO, website development, email marketing, loyalty program/app

Related: 6 Recreation Franchises You Can Buy for Less Than $40,000

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  • The 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2018
  • 1. McDonald's
  • 2. 7-Eleven
  • 3. Dunkin' Donuts
  • 4. The UPS Store
  • 5. RE/MAX LLC
  • 6. Sonic Drive-In Restaurants
  • 7. Great Clips
  • 8. Taco Bell
  • 9. Hardee's
  • 10. Sport Clips
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