The Top Franchise in Every Industry

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This story appears in the May 2014 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If you're searching for a franchise opportunity, it makes sense to start at the top.

That's why we're bringing you our Best of the Best list: the 97 franchises that ranked at the top of their industry categories in Entrepreneur's 2014 Franchise 500®.

These companies have been ranked based on objective, quantifiable criteria, including system size, growth and financial strength and stability. The list is not intended as a recommendation of any particular company. Instead, consider it a starting point in your research to find the best franchise opportunity for you. That research should also include reading the company's legal documents, consulting with an attorney and an accountant, and talking to existing franchisees.

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Automotive

Appearance Services

Maaco Franchising

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 166

Total cost: $364.1K-$471.1K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 446/0

Oil-Change Services

Jiffy Lube International

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 30

Total cost: $196.5K-$376K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 2,098/0

Wheels & Tires

RNR Custom Wheels & Tires

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 322

Total cost: $288.8K-$563.5K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 56/10

Windshield Repair

Novus Glass

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 124

Total cost: $44.3K-$226.99K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,608/17

Miscellaneous Repair & Maintenance Services

Midas International

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 25

Total cost: $123.6K-$412.2K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 2,259/49

Miscellaneous Auto Products & Services

Sixt Franchise USA

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 73

Total cost: $614.1K-$6.7M

Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,141/878

Business Services

Advertising Services - Publishing

Coffee News

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 93

coffeenews.com/franchise

Total cost: $9.4K-$10.4K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 884/4

Advertising Services - Miscellaneous

Valpak Direct Marketing Systems

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 202

Total cost: $82.2K-$200.8K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 172/2

New concepts are being introduced to franchising all the time.These categories joined the Franchise 500® in 2014:

Children's Entertainment

Electronics Repairs

Frozen Yogurt*

Paint-&-Sip Studios

Pool Maintenance

Vending

Wood Refinishing

Business Brokerages

Transworld Business Advisors

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 226

Total cost: $57.2K-$74.7K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 155/5

Business Coaching & Consulting

FocalPoint Coaching

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 286

Total cost: $64.6K-$115.5K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 125/0

Shipping Services

Unishippers Global Logistics

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 172

Total cost: $40.4K-$1.8M

Total franchises/co.-owned: 247/47

Signs

Sign-A-Rama

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 74

Total cost: $87.1K-$229.2K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 888/0

Staffing

Express Employment Professionals

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 71

Total cost: $105K-$195K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 632/0

Training Programs

Sandler Training

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 186

Total cost: $83.2K-$100.1K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 235/0

Miscellaneous Business Services

Proforma

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 83

Total cost: $19.5K-$50.2K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 718/0

Average age of a Best of the Best franchise: 26 years

Oldest franchise on the list: Baskin-Robbins (franchising since 1948)

Youngest franchise on the list: HUMAN Healthy Vending (franchising since 2012)

Children's Businesses

Child Care

Goddard Systems

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 113

Total cost: $694.4K-$739.4K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 413/0

Children's Enrichment Programs

Bricks 4 Kidz

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 111

Total cost: $33.8K-$51.1K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 423/1

Children's Entertainment

GameTruck Licensing

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 260

Total cost: $122.5K-$310.5K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 70/1

Children's Fitness Programs

The 10 largest companies on this list, based on number of franchise units worldwide:

7-Eleven: 50,460

Subway: 39,767

Kumon Math & Reading Centers: 25,410

KFC: 13,539

Pizza Hut: 12,700

Jan-Pro: 11,532

Dunkin' Donuts: 10,833

Baskin-Robbins: 7,391

RE/MAX: 6,374

H&R Block: 5,059

My Gym Children's Fitness Center

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 182

Total cost: $36K-$281.1K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 312/0

Children's Retail

Once Upon A Child

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 149

Total cost: $239.7K-$336.1K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 272/0

Children's Safety Services

Guard-A-Kid

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 246

Total cost: $21.4K-$38.7K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 180/1

Tutoring

Kumon Math & Reading Centers

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 18

Total cost: $66.5K-$140.6K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 25,410/27

Financial Services

Business Financial Services

Padgett Business Services

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 188

Total cost: $99.8K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 406/0

Insurance

Estrella Insurance

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 242

Total cost: $49.95K-$84K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 69/0

Tax Services

H&R Block

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 15

Total cost: $31.5K-$148.7K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 5,059/6,256

Miscellaneous Financial Services

ACFN-The ATM Franchise Business

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 493

Total cost: $40.1K-$67K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 212/0

Food/Full-Service

Restaurants

Denny's

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 8

Total cost: $1.2M-$2.4M

Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,518/165

Food/Quick-Service

Baked Goods - Bagels

Bruegger's Bagels

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 203

Total cost: $389.6K-$591.6K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 103/190

Baked Goods - Cookies

Great American Cookies

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 143

Total cost: $178.4K-$280.4K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 343/3

Baked Goods - Pretzels

Auntie Anne's Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzels

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 37

Total cost: $194.9K-$367.6K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,437/17

Baked Goods - Miscellaneous

Cinnabon

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 64

Total cost: $142.3K-$365.7K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,102/1

Chicken - Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 62

Total cost: $1.2M-$3.3M

Total franchises/co.-owned: 529/409

Chicken - Miscellaneous

KFC

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 14

Total cost: $1.3M-$2.5M

Total franchises/co.-owned: 13,539/4,659

Coffee

Dunkin' Donuts

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 10

Total cost: $294K-$1.5M

Total franchises/co.-owned: 10,833/0

Frozen Desserts - Frozen Yogurt

Menchie's

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 116

Total cost: $218.3K-$385.2K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 388/1

Frozen Desserts - Ice Cream

Baskin-Robbins USA

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 41

Total cost: $100.7K-$390.2K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 7,391/7

Frozen Desserts - Miscellaneous

Rita's Italian Ice

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 81

Total cost: $140.2K-$379.4K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 552/0

Hamburgers

Hardee's

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 11

Total cost: $1.1M-$1.5M

Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,492/468

Mexican Food

Taco Bell

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 20

Total cost: $1.2M-$2.5M

Total franchises/co.-owned: 4,933/1,047

Pizza

Pizza Hut

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 9

Total cost: $297K-$2.1M

Total franchises/co.-owned: 12,700/1,657

Sandwiches - Philly Cheesesteak

Charleys Philly Steaks

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 108

Total cost: $101.6K-$465.3K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 479/37

Sandwiches - Submarine

Subway

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 3

Total cost: $85.7K-$262.9K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 39,767/0

Sandwiches - Miscellaneous

Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 5

Total cost: $300.5K-$489.5K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,814/28

Smoothies

Smoothie King

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 86

Total cost: $144.4K-$336.2K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 651/6

Miscellaneous Quick Service

Nathan's Famous

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 144

Total cost: $276.4K-$1.1M

Total franchises/co.-owned: 314/5

Food/Retail Sales

Vending

HUMAN Healthy Vending

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 281

Total cost: $71.5K-$108.99K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 89/2

Miscellaneous Food Businesses

Edible Arrangements International

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 43

Total cost: $154.3K-$279.3K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,126/2

Health

Health Products

Miracle-Ear

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 36

Total cost: $119K-$287.5K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,290/9

Health Services

HealthSource Chiropractic and Progressive Rehab

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 107

Total cost: $52.7K-$249.1K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 395/0

Home Improvement

Building & Remodeling

Kitchen Tune-Up

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 211

Total cost: $45.8K-$55.4K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 162/0

Painting

CertaPro Painters

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 103

Total cost: $129K-$158.5K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 442/0

Wood Refinishing

N-Hance

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 134

Total cost: $30.5K-$130.9K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 287/0

Miscellaneous Home Improvement

Budget Blinds

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 55

Total cost: $89.2K-$187.1K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 905/0

Hotels & Motels

Hampton Hotels

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 2

Total cost: $3.7M-$13.5M

Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,941/1

A surprising 17 of the 97 Best of the Best companies ranked at the top of their categories for the first time this year. For two, Sixt and Dogtopia, it's also their first time ever ranking on the Franchise 500®-- not a bad way to start.

Maintenance

Carpet, Upholstery & Drapery Services

Chem-Dry Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 61

Total cost: $29.95K-$131K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 3,522/0

Commercial Cleaning

Jan-Pro Franchising International

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 12

Total cost: $3.1K-$50.9K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 11,532/0

Electrical Services

Mister Sparky

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 299

Total cost: $56.2K-$271.6K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 96/8

Handyman Services

HandyPro Handyman Services

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 410

Total cost: $68.5K-$107.3K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 31/0

Home Repairs - Miscellaneous

The Glass Guru

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 244

Total cost: $30K-$130K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 82/1

HVAC Services

One Hour Heating & Air

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 150

Total cost: $74.8K-$354.5K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 272/49

Lawn Care

Weed Man

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 98

Total cost: $67.1K-$84.1K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 457/0

Plumbing

Rooter-Man

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 102

Total cost: $46.8K-$137.6K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 476/21

Pool Maintenance

ASP-America's Swimming Pool Company

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 197

Total cost: $48.9K-$89.96K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 129/1

Residential Cleaning

The Maids

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 39

Total cost: $95.6K-$123.4K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,085/33

Restoration Services

Servpro

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 7

Total cost: $134.8K-$183.5K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,614/0

Restroom Maintenance

Aire-Master of America

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 269

Total cost: $35.6K-$126.9K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 100/4

Window Cleaning

Fish Window Cleaning Services

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 148

Total cost: $76.2K-$136.7K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 295/1

Miscellaneous Maintenance Businesses

American Leak Detection

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 123

Total cost: $76.8K-$259.6K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 377/15

Personal Care

Fitness Businesses

Anytime Fitness

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 1

Total cost: $56.3K-$353.9K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 2,397/28

Hair Care

Supercuts

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 4

Total cost: $108.8K-$203.6K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,138/1,186

Massage Services

Massage Envy

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 54

Total cost: $331.5K-$825.6K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 957/1

Senior Care

Comfort Keepers

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 59

Total cost: $77.6K-$109.96K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 783/0

Miscellaneous Personal Care Businesses

Palm Beach Tan

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 159

Total cost: $554.6K-$821.1K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 215/173

Pets

Pet Care

Dogtopia

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 390

Total cost: $253.4K-$478.8K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 25/5

Pet Services - Miscellaneous

Sit Means Sit Dog Training

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 313

Total cost: $21.1K-$93.9K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 74/1

Pet Stores

Wild Birds Unlimited

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 151

Total cost: $95.3K-$161.8K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 283/0

Recreation

Sports Businesses

American Poolplayers Association

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 255

Total cost: $16.7K-$19.9K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 307/6

Sports Equipment & Apparel

Fleet Feet Sports

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 272

Total cost: $173K-$335K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 100/17

Travel Agencies - Cruise-Only

Cruise Planners-American Express Travel

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 19

Total cost: $2.1K-$21.99K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,500/1

Travel Agencies - Miscellaneous

Results! Travel

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 70

Total cost: $25-$8.9K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 655/0

Retail

Apparel & Accessories

Plato's Closet

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 115

Total cost: $230.7K-$389.4K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 376/0

Batteries

Batteries Plus Bulbs

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 79

Total cost: $193.6K-$410.1K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 529/40

Convenience Stores

7-Eleven

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 6

Total cost: $30.8K-$1.6M

Total franchises/co.-owned: 50,460/484

Electronics Stores

RadioShack

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 48

Total cost: $144.9K-$607.4K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,306/4,395

Tools Distribution

Snap-on Tools

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 24

Total cost: $143.7K-$307.7K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 4,538/242

Vitamins

GNC Franchising

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 28

Total cost: $167.7K-$281.4K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 2,876/3,270

Miscellaneous Retail Businesses

Aaron's

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 17

Total cost: $275.6K-$707.4K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 763/1,335

Services

Dry Cleaning & Delivery Services

Certified Restoration DryCleaning Network

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 278

Total cost: $45.6K-$235.5K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 150/0

Home Inspections

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 118

Total cost: $30.9K-$36.8K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 389/0

Moving/Junk-Removal Services

Two Men and a Truck International

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 167

Total cost: $178K-$548.5K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 229/1

Paint-&-Sip Studios

Painting with a Twist

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 276

Total cost: $93.5K-$131.5K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 82/0

Postal & Business Centers

The UPS Store

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 22

Total cost: $148.7K-$347.2K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 4,776/0

Printing

Minuteman Press International

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 75

Total cost: $66.2K-$221.3K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 931/0

We took a look back at the Best of the Best from the first Franchise 500®, in 1980, and found a few familiar faces: Dunkin' Donuts, 7-Eleven and Midas. Subway didn't rank at the top of its category in that first Franchise 500® or even the first few. But once it did claim the No. 1 spot in the Submarine Sandwiches category (in 1983), it held on tight and never let go. At 32 years and counting, Subway holds the record for the longest consecutive stay on the Best of the Best list.

Real Estate

RE/MAX

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 76

Total cost: $35K-$250K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 6,374/24

Miscellaneous Services

Pop-A-Lock Franchise System

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 105

Total cost: $75K-$133K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 389/0

Tech

Electronics Repairs

CPR-Cell Phone Repair Franchise Systems

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 180

Total cost: $115.5K-$244.6K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 138/4

Miscellaneous Tech Services

WSI Digital Marketing

2014 Franchise 500 rank: 184

Total cost: $64.4K-$171.7K

Total franchises/co.-owned: 998/2

Tracy Stapp Herold

Written By

Entrepreneur Staff

Tracy Stapp Herold is the special projects editor at Entrepreneur magazine. She works on franchise and business opportunity stories and listings, including the annual Franchise 500.