Top 25 Brands to Watch in 2016
Top 25 Brands to Watch in 2016

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

Smoothie King
This year, the New Orleans-based health-conscious smoothie brand showed no signs of slowing down. After hitting the 750-unit mark in 2015, the company continues to gain momentum in reaching their goal of opening 1,000 new locations by 2016—a 140 percent increase from last year. The company was recently ranked No.1 by Entrepreneur Magazine in the juice bar category for the 21st year in a row.
After private-equity firm NRD Capital acquired the family restaurant chain for $175 million this year, its new leadership plans to expand the brand—entering new markets in Tennessee—and retool its menu to appeal to young diners. Frisch’s net income for the 2015 fiscal year was $9.9 million, a five percent increase from 2014.
Cruise Planners
Cruise Planners, the nation’s largest home-based travel agent franchise network in the travel industry, saw an average revenue growth of 63 percent his year—a healthy average that suggests that many franchisees doubled their 2014 revenue.
Dunkin' Brands
Dunkin’ Brands delivered strong numbers in 2015, as the company reported 8.1 percent year-over-year increase in its net revenues. Amid the stiff competition in the U.S. restaurant industry for the breakfast and coffee market share, Dunkin’ Brands is one of the few food and beverage chains to report an increase in customer traffic and transactions.
Subway is the largest single-restaurant chain globally with 44,000 stores in 110 countries, and the company currently controls 60 percent of the quick-service sandwich market in the United States. Subway is aiming to reach 50,000 stores by 2017.
Sport Clips, the nation’s largest provider of men’s and boys’ hair care, has consistently been ranked one of the fastest-growing companies. This year, they opened nearly 200 locations. Founder and CEO Gordon Logan notes one of Sport Clips’ reasons for growth is that they will not compromise on the quality of franchisees nor the real estate locations selected.
This Dallas-born franchise of sandwich shops serves more than 50 varieties of customizable sandwiches. With more than 350 stores nationwide, the 11-year-old brand made its debut in previously untapped markets this year, such as Portland, Oregon, and continued to attract experienced franchising veterans who see the growth opportunities presented by the brand. The company’s unique ordering system and high quality products have continued to drive the brand’s rapid expansion.
Building off the brand’s success in 2014, Maid Right focused on steady growth this year, with a core concentration on growing local home-based business opportunities, as well as growing in new key markets such as Chicago, Washington D.C., the tristate area of New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Tampa and Miami. The two-year-old company currently has 111 locations in the United States and Canada.
The franchising industry’s leading moving services brand is also one of its fastest growing. The company continued its momentum in 2015 by maintaining record growth for 54 consecutive months. With 320 national locations and 24 international locations, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK continues its expansion in the global market by introducing innovative technology system-wide, improving existing operational systems and employing passionate staff.
Today, Massage Envy Spa is the largest system of franchised massage clinics in the industry. The company is also the world’s largest employer of licensed massage therapists, with more than 25,000 therapists and estheticians providing more than 18 million massages a year to a total of more than 1.5 million members. Over the next several years, Massage Envy Spa plans to continue to grow across the country.
At the end of 2014, the fitness brand had 64 clubs in operation—up from 45 at the end of 2013. Today, the company has 82 clubs open, with eight more clubs in presale and construction. Workout Anytime, which has predominately grown in small towns throughout the Southeast, projects to open at least 20 clubs by the end of the year in a wide range of states. This year was also marked by Workout Anytime signing a franchise-best 12 franchisees in its third quarter.
Choice Hotels is currently undergoing a rejuvenation of the Comfort Inn and Suites brands, which includes a systematic removal of under-performing hotels that will reach approximately 600 by year’s end. The rejuvenation has helped drive a 40 percent increase in new domestic hotel contracts and a 50 percent increase for the Suites brand in particular.
The Nashville-based home staging franchise made company history in 2015 by posting its highest month in sales revenue since the brand’s inception. Year to date, the brand has also reported total revenues of $6,152,843—a 35 percent increase from 2014. According to CEO Matt Kelton, 2015 is shaping up to be the most successful year in the company’s history.
Known as Checkers in some areas and Rally’s in others, this brand celebrated its 30tbh anniversary this year. Today, Checkers boasts more than 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.
JAN-PRO, a commercial cleaning franchise, boasts a solid business model thanks to its low overhead costs and its accessible franchisee program. As the fastes- growing commercial cleaning franchise, JAN-PRO expanded its network of more than 10,000 owner-operators across the United States. The company’s franchises serve officers, health care facilities, schools and other commercial spaces seeking the highest levels of cleanliness.
Aaron’s, a leader in the sales and lease ownership and specialty retailing furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories, saw an increase in third quarter revenue during 2015 by 10 percent--$767.7 million compared with $698.4 million for the third quarter of 2014. This year, in a strategic move to extend its presence in underserved markets across the country, Aaron’s aggressively franchised throughout small town America. The company currently has more than 1,350 company-operated and franchised stores in 47 states and Canada.
For more than 59 years, Safeguard, through its network of distributors, has been providing the products, services and expertise needed by business owners to help their businesses grow. Through innovation, dedication and a commitment to quality and integrity, Safeguard has transformed itself from a small check printing business to a fully diversified business solutions enterprise.
Alair Homes, a booming Canadian home-building franchise, is setting up to repair the fragmented industry with an expansion into the United States. After growing from one to 35 units across Canada in less than three years, Alair Homes is now poised for rapid growth in the U.S.—the company is targeting 10 states for new openings over the next 12 months. Alair’s first foray into the U.S. market has already been a resounding success, with five units in Arizona already prospering.
For its eighth straight year, Buffalo Wings & Rings has seen an increase in revenue, exceeding $2 million with 13 percent growth of year-over-year annual unit volume. Backed by the demand for an alternative to traditional sports bars, Buffalo Wings & Rings has cemented itself as a go-to option for families looking to watch the big game in a friendly atmosphere that serves fresh, high-quality food.
Right at Home, a leading international in-home care franchise, has succeeded in continuing 2014’s momentum of success and growth, building on the strong foundation established during the past three years. In Forbes’ second annual list of the best franchises in America, Right at Home recently was named as one of the Top Franchises to Buy in 2015. With more than 410 locations open in the United States and the company’s presence in eight countries, Right at Home is one of the top-rated senior care companies.
The member-based barber club was created for more than just a haircut—Kennedy’s All-American Barber Club offers the highest quality haircuts, straight-razor shaves and styling products available. A growing, award-winning franchise concept, Kennedy’s has perfected the authenticity of the barbershop experience. The brand currently has 12 locations and another 12 sold. Kennedy’s looks to double in size every year going forward.
Wing Zone is one of the nation’s fastest-growing takeout and delivery chains, best known for its 25 award-winning flavors of fresh, cooked-to-order chicken wings, fingers, chicken sandwiches burgers and more. The company now has nearly 100 locations open across the United States, Panama, Bahamas, Saudi Arabia, Dominican Republic, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. This year was especially significant after Wing Zone opened its first location in California, leading to a near 100 percent sell out of units in the state.
Taco Bell made headlines this year by pledging that it would only serve cage-free eggs across its 6,00 domestic units by the end of 2016—earlier than any other large national quick-service chain that serves breakfast. The Irvine, California-based brand is also on track to reach its previously announced goal of removing artificial colors and flavors from core menu items by the beginning of 2016.
This year, Saladworks, the nation’s first and largest fresh-tossed salad franchise concept with 105 units, has set out to become America’s only nationally recognized salad restaurant with a strategic growth plan, a new store design and an updated menu. The updated store design will be unveiled in early 2016 with a new look and feel that focuses on a more natural ambiance. The brand is also eyeing expansion in major cities across the Northeast, aiming to open more than 10 locations in 2016.
ACE Hardware, the largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative in the world for more than 90 years, reported record first quarter 2015 revenues of $1.2 billion this year, an increase of $107.4 million from the first quarter of 2014. Net income was $29.9 million for the first quarter of 2015, an increase of $5.5 million, or 22.5 percent, from the first quarter of 2014. The company has more than 4,800 hardware stores locally owned and operated across the globe.