10. Dunkin’ Donuts
While traditional donut shops offered a mere four varieties of donuts, William Rosenberg—founder of Dunkin’ Donuts in 1950—had the brilliant idea to offer his customers 52. Today, Dunkin’ Donuts has over 15,000 locations in 37 countries and the company has increased their donut options to include 70 different kinds. Dunkin’ Donuts also offers hot and cold coffee drinks, breakfast sandwiches, bagels and baked goods. In addition to being served in stores, their coffee—so popular that the chain claims to sell over thirty cups a second—is available for purchase in packaged varieties at retailers nationwide.
9. Pizza Hut Inc.
Brothers Frank and Dan Carney were attending college in Wichita, Kansas when they borrowed $600 from their mother to launch the first Pizza Hut location. Since opening in 1958, Pizza Hut now has 14,357 locations in 94 countries and territories. The chain offers dine-in restaurants, delivery and carry-out locations, and hybrid restaurants offering all three options. Their "Pizza Hut Express" and "The Hut" stores operate as fast food restaurants. Pizza Hut customers are able to choose from different crust styles and toppings as well as from their signature pizza menu. In addition to pizza, many locations also serve up pasta, breadsticks, salad, buffalo wings, garlic bread and desserts.
8. Denny’s Inc.
Denny’s began as “Danny’s Donuts” in 1953 in Lakewood, California. By 1959, Founders Richard Jezak and Harold Butler had expanded their business to 20 restaurants (and changed their name to avoid confusion with a competitor). Denny’s began franchising in 1963, and since then, the chain has grown to include over 1650 locations in twelve countries. Denny’s restaurants and diners serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert all day, with most locations open 24 hours. Often located in close proximity to freeway exits and service areas, Denny’s focus is on comfort and convenience.
Originally started in Sacramento in 1967 as a painting business, Servpro now offers residential and commercial cleaning and restoration services to clients within the United States and Canada. Focusing primarily on disaster-related cleanup projects, Servpro’s clients include both commercial and residential customers whose property has suffered water or fire damage. Founders Doris and Ted Isaacson sold their first franchise in 1969 before acquiring the Bristol-Myers Domesticare Division and its 175 franchises a decade later. The company has since expanded to 1649 franchises, many of which also offer mold remediation, carpet and upholstery cleaning, and air duct and HVAC cleaning services.
6. 7-Eleven Inc.
The concept of 7-Eleven convenience stores originated in 1927 in Dallas, Texas, when Southland Ice Company employee John Jefferson Green began selling milk, bread and eggs outside of an ice house. Since then, 7-Eleven has opened 53,000 stores in 16 countries. Originally named for its operating hours, 7-Eleven stores now offer 24-hour convenience with products ranging from milk to gasoline to private-label beverages such as the Big Gulp and Slurpee. Each location also offers 7-Eleven Speak Out Wireless, a prepaid phone service featuring a cell phone that can be purchased directly at the store and immediately activated.
5. Jimmy John’s
Upon barely graduating from college prep school in 1982, Jimmy John Liautaud’s father gave him the option of either joining the military or starting a business. He chose to open a deli in Charleston, Illinois the following January. The success of that location—a garage featuring only secondhand equipment—led to several others throughout Illinois before Liautaud began to franchise a decade later. Currently, Jimmy John’s has over 1936 locations, 98 percent of which are franchise-owned. The chain boasts freshly baked bread at each location every day and a promise that their sandwiches will be made fresh to order within thirty seconds.
The first Supercuts location opened its doors in 1975 in Albany, California, when
founders Frank Emmett and Geoffrey Rappaport endeavored to offer a more convenient alternative to leisurely barbershops and salons. The pair developed a hair-cutting technique that took only 20 minutes, enabling them to offer quick and inexpensive haircuts to walk-in customers. This business model proved to be very successful with its busy clientele and the two began franchising in 1979. Since then, Supercuts has empowered customers to choose from a variety of salon services a la carte at over 2,324 convenient locations throughout the United States and Canada.
With 41,827 restaurants in 106 countries, Subway is the largest single-brand restaurant chain and the largest restaurant operator globally. Founded in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1965, the chain is owned and operated by Doctor’s Associates, Inc., a name created by founder Fred DeLuca when he opened his first shop in order to afford tuition for medical school. Subway’s advertising slogan “Eat fresh” reflects its use of fresh bread and ingredients. The chain offers an array of healthy menu options including vegetarian specialties and gluten-free bread. A 2009 Zagat survey named Subway the best provider of "Healthy Options" (in the "Mega Chain" category).
2. Hampton Hotels
Founded in 1984 by Promus Hotel Corporation, Hampton Hotels have over 1900 locations in 14 countries and territories. The brand includes Hampton Hotels, Hampton Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites and Hampton by Hilton, all trademarked by Hilton when it acquired Promus Hotel Corporation in 1999. Hampton Inn is currently the largest franchise in the United States. Hampton has launched several successful advertising campaigns luring potential guests through a call to return to relaxation, including “Embrace Your Weekend Self,” which was designed “To help travelers determine their weekend identities so they can better enjoy the weekend.”
1. Anytime Fitness
Open 24-hours and 365 days a year, this health and fitness club was founded in 2002 in Hastings, Minnesota. Friends and self-professed “gym rats” Chuck Runyon, Dave Mortensen and Jeff Klinger purchased and managed Southview Athletic Club together from 1995 to 2001 and wanted to open their own gym. The three developed a business model and opened their first franchise in Cambridge, Minnesota, a site chosen for its large population and lack of gym facilities. Since then, Anytime Fitness has expanded to include more than 2400 franchises in all fifty states and 19 countries. The name is indicative of the access granted to its members, who can utilize fitness facilities even during unstaffed hours with a key fob.
Their first location outside of the United States opened in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2005. The company has big plans for international expansion, including a goal of opening 250 fitness clubs in India within the next decade. Roark Capital Group acquired a minority stake in the chain in March of this year and appointed two directors to its board. The substantial investment is expected to help the company expand globally. Ever enterprising, Anytime Fitness also owns a chain of Waxing the City hair removal salons, which they began franchising in May.
Forbes recently ranked Anytime Fitness at number 14 among their list of America’s Most Promising Companies of 2014. With nearly two million members and counting, Anytime Fitness may soon become the fastest-growing fitness club franchise in the world.