Before you consider what kind of franchise to investigate, it is extremely helpful to find the right entry level of franchising. Franchises are usually classified into four different categories or levels. Choosing the right level of franchising for personal and professional satisfaction is almost as important as choosing the right franchise.
A single-unit franchisee has the right to operate one franchise unit. Most franchisees enter the world of franchising by owning one unit. It is an excellent way to gain an understanding of the franchise system before considering additional units.
The franchisee acquires more than one unit of the franchise usually at reduced initial franchise fees. A good sign of the health of a franchise organization is that many of the franchisees are multi-unit owners.
Area Development Franchises
This license usually grants the franchisee the right to open a certain number of franchises in a given area. There is usually a production schedule where the area development franchisee must open a certain number of franchises during a certain period. As long as the area development franchisee stays on track in opening franchises in the area, he/she has an exclusive area where no other franchisees are allowed to open a franchise. Area development franchisees also typically pay reduced franchise and royalty fees.
Sometimes called a regional developer, a master franchisee has all the rights of an area developer and usually assumes a larger area. The main difference is that the master franchisee, in addition to opening franchises at reduced franchise and royalty fees, can also sell unit franchises, multi-unit franchises and area development franchises, and profit from those sales. The master franchisee usually receives a part of the ongoing royalties paid by each franchisee. There may be additional income available from distribution of products through the franchisees in the area and possibly some real estate interests in franchisee locations. The master franchisee will usually operate at least one unit for income generation, for use in franchise sales, and for use as a training facility. Master franchises are rare, and when they are available, they are usually sold quickly. Because of the multiple revenue streams associated with a master franchise, the potential return on investment is substantial.