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Top Five Restaurants People Wish Were Franchises

Not every business in the U.S. is a franchise. (Much to the chagrin of us here at FranchiseHelp.) But that doesn’t stop people from searching desperately for information on opening a location of their favorite stores.

In some instances, like a few listed below, companies actually used to be franchises, but are no longer expanding via the franchise model. They decided that it was more profitable to grow using company funds as opposed to leveraging franchisee capital.

Unsurprisingly, almost all the searches we get for companies that are not currently franchising are restaurants. So here are the five most companies people wish were franchises:

Chipotle – With 2012 sales of $2.7B, Chipotle is the 16th largest fast food restaurant. Even though it was briefly owned by McDonald’s, they’ve never had to franchise as the founder, Steve Ells, turned to his work and personal network to finance the expansion of the restaurant. One of the fastest growing restaurants in the world, Americans are desperate to open their own Chipotle. However, the only way that they can become owners is by buying stock!

Starbucks – Starbucks booked 2012 sales of over $10B, making it the third largest fast food restaurant. When you look at their store breakdown, you’ll see that about ~40% of their stores are franchises and ~60% are company owned. That’s because Starbucks used to franchise, but they do not anymore. Some of their other brands, like Seattle’s Best Coffee, will accept new franchisees, but the Starbucks brand does not.

White Castle – Ranking at #36 in terms of 2012 sales ($618MM), White Castle may not be the biggest “non-franchisor” out there, but it is very popular. Coming in with over 400 company owned stores, those small little burgers drive people crazy about becoming owners. We’ll call it the Harold and Kumar effect! Having been in the Ingram family since being founded in 1921, your best chance to own a piece of White Castle is through marriage!

In-N-Out– Here’s one for all you West Coasters out there. 2012 sales for In-N-Out Burger were just over $500MM coming from 280 company owned stores. For those of you who have eaten at an In-N-Out, it’s easy to understand why becoming a franchisee would be attractive. Its simple menu and tasty ingredients have people clamoring for more. Unfortunately Lynsi Snyder, the owner of In-N-Out has decreed that In-N-Out has no interest in ever franchising!

Panda Express – If you’ve ever been to a shopping mall or airport (which is highly likely), you’ve seen a Panda Express! With 2012 sales of $1.8B, Panda Express ranks as the 21st largest fast food restaurant. Having over 1,500 company-owned stores, they’ve achieved massive growth without seeking much franchisee capital. Although they do have 47 franchise stores, they are few and far between.

Bonus: Boston Market – As of the writing of this article, Boston Market has never opened a franchise store. Even so, they’ve been able to grow to over $500M in sales and crack the top 50 list of fast food restaurants. However, they are exploring entering the franchising game! Their website cryptically reports that, “Boston Market is considering developing a franchise program that may launch in 2015.”(How’s that for being wishy-washy!)

So there you have it, the six franchises that people desperately want to open, but don’t actually exist.

That being said, don’t be discouraged! There are hundreds of franchises looking to find new owners in your local owners. Some restaurants and some not.

To see which franchises are looking for you, click here to take our brief franchise matching quiz. When you answer a few questions, we’ll figure out which franchises are right for you.

(And if any of these six ever change their mind, we’ll let you know!)

Source: QSR magazine’s top 50

Choosing a Service Franchise or a Product Franchise

Most of the franchises offering Product oriented goods have very stringent rules. Since their brand is associated with a tangible good they must guarantee the desired quality from the consumer’s expectation. Franchisees must purchase the goods from a designated supplier and must keep items in their inventory as suggested by the franchisor. This can be company regulated policies or simply to help the franchisor launch some of their new products.

Why I Have an Issue with the Forbes Franchise Rankings

The 5-Year Growth Rate and 5-Year Franchise Continuity are both great independent metrics of how a franchise is doing on average. As a potential franchisee both of these statistics are vital for selecting a franchise - you want to select a franchise that will provide you with a high return on investment and which will survive in the long run. I think these are, as FRANdata and Forbes suggested, two of the biggest (if not the two biggest) and most obvious metrics for whether or not a franchise is a “good” opportunity for a franchisee. But how do you use these to determine which franchise is BEST? This is the fundamental difficulty in coming up with a ranking system - it isn’t the difficulty in separating the good from the meh from the bad - it’s separating the great from the good and the best from the great. In the case of these rankings I found it to be pretty difficult to comprehend how they differentiated between the top ranked franchises. For instance, if you look at the difference between Discover Map (Forbes #4), Just Between Friends (Forbes #5), & Seniors Helping Seniors (Forbes #6) they all have extremely close continuity ratings and substantially different growth rates. In fact, in the case of these three, the overall rankings are opposite the growth rate rankings. Seniors Helping Seniors is ranked at the bottom of these three franchises despite having a growth rate that is 31 percentage points higher than Discovery Map and a continuity that is only 2 percentage points lower. This suggested to me that continuity was viewed as the dominant factor. But that logic didn’t hold for the rest on the “Economy Class” Top 10, as BrightStar Care (Forbes #7) had the same growth rate as Pop-a-Lock (Forbes #8) but a continuity rate that was 12 percentage points lower. These comparisons show that these were not the only two factors that went into the rankings, which is understandable, but no other factors that are explicitly listed in their results seem to be major factors.

Can an Adult Franchise be Tasteful?

The brand of adult shop that the newlywed couple launched after returning from a year-long tour of duty in Iraq was inspired by what made them uncomfortable about other adult shops.