Franchise Fun Facts

Franchising has had a compelling history from the start. Here are some fun facts about franchising that may surprise you.

Benjamin Franklin was one of the first franchise owners!

One Hundred Dollar Bill With Benjamin Franklin

In 1731, before franchising was a term, he entered a printing business “co-partnership” in Charlestown, South Carolina. He and Thomas Whitmarsh published the South-Carolina Gazette and the agreement stated during a six-year term, Whitmarsh would be responsible for “the Care, Management, and Direction…and the working Part performed by him or at his Expense.” He purchased his materials from Franklin and could not work for any other printing service while under Franklin’s contract. This partnership is the first franchisor-franchisee relationship in history.

Jimmy Buffett owns several Krispy Kreme Franchises

A Glazed Donut

 

The widely recognized American country-rock singer owns several Krispy Kreme stores in Palm Beach County, Florida in 2000. Buffett is known for his Margaritaville empire — a chain of restaurants, shops, and resorts with 12 destinations across the globe. He merged Margaritaville and Krispy Kreme to create his franchise holding company, KreMaritta.  The singer has always been a fan of the donut franchise: he names Krispy Kreme in one of his songs, “I Will Play for Gumbo.”

Tennis Champion Venus Williams Own Four Jamba Juice Franchises in Washington D.C.

Venus Williams Playing Tennis Match

The American tennis star joined the Jamba Juice franchise after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Williams suffers from Sjögren’s syndrome, which causes joint pain, fatigue, dry eyes, and mouth. Since her diagnosis, she has become an advocate for healthy eating and living. When she came across Jamba Juice, she found exactly what she was looking for, became a spokesperson for the company, and a franchisee.

Kentaro Ogawa, the founder of the popular Japanese food franchise, Sukiya, built his $1 billion fortune on shredded beef and rice bowls.

Storefront of Sukiya Restaurant in Japan

Sukiya, a popular fast-food chain in Japan, is worth a billion dollars because of a simple beef dish. The franchise, owned by Zensho Holdings, is the largest gyūdon (beef bowl) restaurant chain in Japan. As of 2017, they have over 2300 restaurants in Japan, as well as locations in China, Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Smoothie King was founded as a solution to chronic allergies

Two Fruit Smoothies

Steve Kuhnau, the founder of the Smoothie King franchise, struggled with lactose intolerance, which left him unable to digest malts, shakes, floats, and other ice-cream based products. One day in his kitchen, he concocted a smoothie as an alternative to these drinks — and Smoothie King was born. In 1973, Kuhanu opened the first franchise location in Louisiana, and today they have over 1,000 locations across three continents.

Ben & Jerry’s franchise started in a renovated gas station

Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Van

In 1978, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield began their entrepreneurial journey with a $5 completed correspondence course in ice-cream making from Penn State and a $12,000 investment in their back pocket. Their first ice cream shop was opened in a renovated gas station in Vermont and on their first anniversary as a business, they held the first-ever Free Cone Day for customers. They soon became more popular and opened their first franchised shop in 1981. In 41 years of business and counting, they have opened over 577 locations worldwide.

Sky Zone franchise was originally created as a trampoline dodgeball park for professional athletes

Two People Jumping on Skyzone Trampolines

Sky Zone, one of the largest trampoline park franchises in the United States, was originally founded in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2004 by Rick Platt, who intended the space to be used for trampoline dodgeball. The sport never took off, but skateboarders learned about the facility and wanted to bounce on the court. Soon after, Platt opened the facility to the public and charged $8 per person.

Two years later, his son, Jeff Platt, opened a second location in St. Louis, Missouri while he was still in college. His location became profitable within the first six weeks of opening.

Popeye’s Restaurant Franchises Sold Out Of Their New Fried Chicken Sandwich in Two Weeks

Baskets of Fried Chicken

Did you know that Popeye’s featured their first-ever chicken sandwich on their menu and it sold out in all franchise locations nationwide within two weeks? The sandwich became a trending topic on social media and the high demand for the new item caused restaurants to exceed their supply.

The first woman franchisor built an international network of franchised hair salons in 1891

Martha Matilda Harper

Martha Matilda Harper was a business innovator, entrepreneur, inventor, and the first to start modern retail franchising in America. Before Harper, hairdressers would only make home visits. She, on the other hand, invented her own hair tonic and created specialized hair salons, called Harper Hair Parlour, to promote it. She hired former servants to staff her salon and each one was owned by a woman. In 1891, she franchised the salon and opened the first location in Buffalo, New York.

Harper provided training and support, branded hair tonic, advertising, group insurance, and more to her franchisees.  She opened more than 500 franchises and an entire line of hair care products.

Shaquille O’Neal is a Franchise Mogul

Did you know that Shaquille O’Neal is a franchise mogul who owns 155 Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurants, 40 24-Hour Fitness Clubs, 17 Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and a variety of other businesses between New York and Michigan?

Singer Sewing Machines; The first American Franchise

In the mid-1800’s the first American Franchise was established by Albert Singer and his Singer sewing machine. Singer is highly regarded for his licensing arrangements. Singer set up specific geographical locations for business owners and charged an upfront licensing fee for the right to sell his sewing machines.

The first McDonald’s opened in Des Plaines, Illinois in 1955

Ray Kroc, a milkshake mixer salesman, ventured to California in 1954 to visit McDonald’s hamburger stand, where he heard they were running eight mixers at once. Kroc was impressed by how rapidly customers were served and, seeing an opportunity to sell many more milkshake machines, encouraged brothers Dick and Mac McDonald to open a chain of their restaurants. Kroc became their business partner and opened the first McDonald’s in Des Plaines, Illinois in 1955. McDonald’s and the Golden Arches have since become an internationally-recognized symbol of quick-service hamburgers, fries, chicken, breakfast items, salads, and milkshakes.

There are currently 750,000 franchises in the United States

Peyton Manning Owns 21 Papa Johns franchises

Retired football star Peyton Manning not only stars in Papa John’s Pizza commercials but also owns 21 Papa John’s franchise location in Colorado.

The first franchise dates back to 200 B.C. 

The first franchise ever documented was started by a Chinese man named Lo Kass back in 200 B.C. Lo Kass operated several retail units in China.

Dunkin’ Donuts serves more than 300 Million customers each and every day.

Donut with vanilla icing and rainbow sprinklesThe first Gold’s Gym opened in 1965 and was sold to an owner with a different last name in 1971.

Joe Gold opened the first Gold’s Gym in August 1965, in Venice Beach, California, long before the modern-day health club existed. It was offered to a gym member, Ken Sprague, who purchased it in late 1971, who saved the gym and continues to own the franchise today.

Magic Johnson is a Franchise Mogul

The NBA Hall of Famer, Magic Johnson owns 30 Burger King restaurants and over a dozen 24-Hour Fitness Clubs. He also once owned 105 Starbucks that he sold in 2010 for an undisclosed amount in 2010.

Phil Mickelson owns exclusive franchise rights

Professional Golfer, Phil Mickelson owns the rights to the Orange County, California Five Guys Burgers, and Fries chain.

In Canada, the recent legislation mandates better disclosure and treatment of franchisees.

The regulations also ensure their right to form associations and launch collective action, even if they signed contracts prohibiting such moves. Franchising in Canada involves 1,300 brands, 80,000 franchise units accounting for about 20% of all consumer spending.

China has the most franchises in the world but the scale of their operations is relatively small.

Europe’s franchise industry is largely unregulated.

Franchising has grown rapidly in Europe in recent years, but the industry is largely unregulated. Unlike the United States, the European Union has not adopted a uniform franchise law.

Hampton Inns is the largest and most successful hotel suites franchise.


Tobi Miller, lead guitarist and founding member of the 90s Grammy winning rock band The Wallflowers, cofounded LemonShark Poke, a popular poké franchise.

Miller founded the poké chain in 2016 with childhood friend Richard Gottleib. Originally a commercial property developer, Miller had the idea to transform an empty unit in one of his properties into a poké restaurant!

Poke bowl with beans

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