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Franchising is a way for companies to expand their business by licensing the rights to third-party retailers or individuals -- or franchisees -- who then can use the franchise's logo, name and business model.

There are three different kinds of franchises. They include:

  • Distributorships, such as withToyota, which licenses the right for a third party to sell the parent company product.

  • Trademark licensing, which allows companies to buy the right to use the parent company's trademark along with their own brand, such as what Coca-Cola licenses to other companies.

  • Business format franchises, such as Subway, which offer its franchisees the right to sell its goods and/or services using its business model.

Popular franchises: Some examples of popular and well-known franchise models are in the food industry -- many of which have gone international -- such as McDonald's, Subway and Pizza Hut. Starbucks, which is commonly thought to be a franchise, is not.

For more information about top franchise businesses, check out Entrepreneur's 2016 Franchise 500® Rankings, or get the Entrepreneur Franchise 500.