25 Established Franchise Brands to Watch
25 Established Franchise Brands to Watch

These are the brands moving and shaking in the franchise industry. Are you watching them?

Pita Pit
Pita Pit emerged on the scene in Kingston, Ontario, in 1995, practically introducing the world to the concept of fresh, healthy fast food. They entered the U.S. in 1999 and celebrated their 20th anniversary on July 20, 2015.

Longevity isn’t the only reason to keep an eye out for this brand. Pita Pit has stayed true to its original concept and has continued to grow, with over 550 locations in 11 countries and showing no signs of slowing. The brand uses social media incredibly well by engaging fans, responding to questions and complaints and running campaigns that capitalize on current events and holidays.

Pita Pit also attracts young professionals as franchisees, which many other brands shy away from, and groom them to eventually become multi-unit powerhouses. With 20 years under its belt, Pita Pit is here for the next 20 and beyond.

Subway was the original worldwide sub franchise and no other restaurant has come close to beating it. With almost 44,000 locations in 110 countries, Subway is the largest single-brand restaurant chain in the world. Serving customizable subs—and more recently breakfast sandwiches—with fresh ingredients has worked. Subway distinguished itself from dime-a-dozen hamburger chains to offer a fresh and fast option that is now available in every airport, at gas stations and just about every street corner.

Known as Checkers in some areas and Rally’s in others, this brand is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. If there is an established brand to laud for its resilience, Checkers/Rally’s is it. Through leadership changes Checkers and hard times in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the brand powered through and came back with a stronger team and brand.

Today, Checkers boasts over 800 locations nationwide and counting. The chain’s French fries recently beat out McDonald’s, Burger King and more to earn the title of “Best Fast Food French Fries” in a Yahoo! study. The drive-thru concept, all-American décor, familial friendliness and delicious food has kept customers coming back in good times and bad for decades.

Taco Bell
Taco Bell has been on the scene since 1962 and continues to be a giant in the franchise industry with 6,500 locations over 2 billion customers annually. How does the Bell keep from getting stale to customers? They continue to adapt and innovate. From switching up their value menu to establishing partnerships with Dorito’s to repurposing existing menu items, Taco Bell stays relevant by embracing change.

Recently, the chain announced that it will be testing a delivery service, making its items fast, accessible and easy food perfect for an increasingly time-constrained population. Taco Bell has even obtained a liquor license for a Chicago location. Taco Bell will be around for many years to come as long as this innovation and creativity continue.

The Movers Who Care ™ have been around for thirty years and have grown from its home-base in Lansing, Mich., to over 200 locations across 32 states. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® has built a huge network of franchises nationwide by providing superior customer service and quality care while providing growth opportunities for operators and franchisees alike.

Domino’s Pizza has been one of the major pizza franchises for decades along with Pizza Hut, Papa John’s (also on this list) and Little Caesars. So why has Domino’ recently pulled ahead of the pack? The brand’s stock is chugging up, investors are happy and brand image is sharper than ever. So what’s the secret?

A few years ago Domino’s wasn’t doing so well. Complaints about ingredient quality, cleanliness and general restaurant conditions flurried in. Instead of being defensive, making excuses or trying to change customers’ minds, Domino’s did something that most industry giants just wouldn’t: Admitting that the customers were right. So Domino’s reworked its sauce recipe, started using higher quality ingredients and let every customer know that their input was important. And it worked.

With over 4,000 properties in 80 countries managed by the brand, Marriott is more than a hotel giant—it’s a hospitality Goliath. Corporate-owned locations and franchising opportunities represent 18 brands and range in services and budget, making Marriott one of the most recognizable hotel brands in the world.

You may have heard the name Pirtek, but do you know what the brand does? You may associate the name with a British racing team, or maybe a multi-purpose stadium in New South Wales, Australia. But Pirtek isn’t just sponsorship and naming rights deals; it is actually an on-site hydraulic hose repair and replacement service with over 440 locations worldwide.

The brand is rapidly expanding in the U.S. as of late, with great growth potential as a new brand in a large, unsaturated market. The brand’s convenience and expertise sets Pirtek apart from competitors.

Jimmy John’s
Competing against several other sub franchises, Jimmy John’s sets itself apart with “Freaky Fast Delivery.” With over 2,000 locations worldwide, the model must be working. The brand touts in-house baked bread and fresh ingredients; paired with fast delivery, it’s a recipe for success. So successful, in fact, that the company is supposedly preparing to go public.

Which Wich
Which Wich CEO, or “Chief Vibe Officer” if you prefer, Jeff Sinelli wasn’t a stranger to creating successful franchise concepts when he started Which Wich. He had guided his first brand, Genghis Grill, to great success but wanted to pursue something new. That’s when the idea for Which Wich was born.

“My vision was to build a brand that focused on superior quality and superior service, and I believe that we have achieved that,” Sinelli said. “And we’ll always hustle to keep those standards high.”

With over 350 locations worldwide since its inception in 2003, Which Wich’s unique ordering system and high quality products have continued to drive the brand’s rapid expansion.

With over 7,000 offices and 100,000 sales associates, it’s safe to say that no matter where in the world you move, there is probably a Re/Max agent there waiting to sell you a home. The Re/Max business model is simple and has worked for over 40 years. Offering corporate structure and support to the best and brightest relators, Re/Max’s business model is a surefire one.

Buffalo Wings & Rings
Founded in the mid-‘80s, Buffalo Wings & Rings is not to be compared to its similarly named competitor. BWR offers a community-based and family friendly environment, not a dark and dingy sports bar. The brand targets family-oriented communities, and its products and atmosphere reflect that. With 45 locations in the U.S. and 10 more worldwide, rapid expansion is on the menu at BWR.

An old school vibe, simple burger shop fare and a secret menu are only part of what makes In-N-Out a brand to watch. While In-N-Out hasn’t fully franchised yet domestically, Internationally they are entertaining discussions. What really makes the West Coast-based company special is the feeling of exclusivity the brand creates for customers. Though the brand boasts over 300 locations, In-N-Out is only available in five states: California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Utah. In-N-Out has expanded slowly, creating anticipation and establishing a reputation nationwide.

If there ever was a company that had worldwide name recognition that could compete with McDonald’s, it’s 7-Eleven. Nearly 90 years after its founding, 7-Eleven is by far the largest convenience store chain in the world, clocking in at over 55,000 locations. Offering household items and groceries, friendly service and late—sometimes 24/7—hours, 7-Eleven is an easy brand to forget to watch because it has always been there.

JAN-PRO, a commercial cleaning franchise with over 8,000 active units worldwide, may not be the company you’d lump in with franchise brands, but this company has a solid business model with low overhead cost and an accessible franchisee program.

Great Clips
There will never be a lack of need for a quick haircut. In fact, an affordable haircut at a salon with convenient hours is always in high demand. Great Clips has capitalized on that demand, along with many hair stylists’ goals of owning their own salon, by making salon ownership more accessible than ever. There are over 3,700 independently owned Great Clips in the U.S., giving entrepreneurial stylists their own business and customers the quick, reliable and affordable services they need.

Beef O’Brady’s
When Beef O’Brady’s emerged on the scene in Brandon, Fla., the concept was simple and solid—a family-oriented Irish pub serving no hard liquor. So how has this concept stayed fresh 30 years later? Because pub food and affordable, family- friendly restaurants have time and time again stood the test of time.

Don’t think nothing has changed since the first Beef’s opened its doors, though. Beef O’Brady’s is adapting to changing food trends and culture by acquiring more brands and creating new concepts. The brand recently purchased the Brass Tap, an upscale craft beer, wine and cigar bar franchise that is rapidly growing in the Southeast and beyond. Beef’s will also be introducing a new concept in the fall called Beef’s Express in response to the fast casual trend in the restaurant industry.

Chik Fil-a
Chik Fil-a is an example of a brand that—despite public relations issues—has stuck to its guns and remained true to its concept through and through. With deeply religious views, it would’ve been very easy for Chik Fil-a to be forgotten along with many other polarizing brands, but the chain has never wavered.

Papa John’s
Papa John’s is another one of the pizza giants that refuses to waver. With the motto “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza,” there’s a lot to live up to in customers’ eyes. Recently, Papa John’s announced that the brand will spend $100 million dollars ridding its products of artificial ingredients. The pizza slingers are also introducing a “Lighter Choices” menu. This commitment to quality is reflected by the brand’s rising stock and satisfied customers.

Jamba Juice
The dominating smoothie franchise on the market, Jamba Juice, boasts over 800 locations worldwide. With a menu that offers fresh fruit smoothies, meal replacements, juices and even small meal selections for breakfast and lunch, Jamba Juice sets itself a part from comparable franchises with cross-branding.

Jamba Juice knows how to target its audience by branding campaigns with professional athletes, exercise class apps like “Class Pass,” and now JJ will open nine co-branded stores with Bruegger’s Bagels.

Right at Home
20 years ago, hospital administrator Allen Hager noticed an alarming trend of senior citizens returning to the hospital due to inadequate in-home care. Following these observations he founded Right at Home, a franchise offering in-home care to seniors, allowing them to remain comfortable and cared for without moving to an assisted living center. Today, Right at Home boasts over 400 locations worldwide and ample growth potential among the aging baby boomer population.

With twelve hotel brands ranging from the pricey Waldorf Astoria to the affordable Hampton Inn, Hilton brand hotels offer an option for anyone and everyone. Hampton was actually recently named the number one in Entrepreneur’s “2015 Top Franchise Opportunities.” High startup costs scare some away, but the investment can be well worth it with a good location and commitment to customer service.

GNC is a great example of a anticipating a void in the market and becoming a champion of the industry. Far ahead of its time, GNC was conceived in 1935 before health food and supplements prominently existed. Now the business gets to reap the rewards of brand recognition as the world becomes increasingly health-conscious.

The brand has 5,000 stores—with over 950 of them being franchise locations—that sell vitamins, weight loss and nutrition supplements and exercise aids.

Hertz (also operating Dollar, Firefly, and Thrifty car rentals) is the king of rental cars. Around for nearly a century, Hertz basically invented the car rental concept and has continued to grow along with the industry. Today, Hertz stakes over 1,700 locations in the U.S. and 1,300 more worldwide.

Philly Pretzel Factory
Recent growth has indicated that Philly Pretzel Factory may just have mastered pretzel game. With over 12 percent sales growth since last year and over 160 locations, Philly Pretzel Factory is absolutely doing something right.

While the brand is mainly situated on the East Coast, it is spreading as customers spread the gospel of quality products and excitement mounts around promotions like National Pretzel Day (which has subsequently turned into their third highest grossing sales day.). This year, the brand added another holiday to its calendar: National Hot Dog Day.