Top 100 Franchise Opportunities 2011: Behind The Hype

Are these REALLY America’s 100 Best Franchise Opportunities?  Hear what their franchise owners have to say…

Franchise marketers and salespeople love to brag about their high franchise rankings and the awards they receive from the publications and groups they pay handsomely to promote their franchise opportunities.

And the King of all franchise rankings is Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise 500.  Even franchise #486 brags about its Entrepreneur ranking on its franchise website.

Which of these franchise opportunities do you think deserve to be listed in the Top 100? 

How the Entrepreneur Franchise 500® is Supposedly Determined

According to Entrepreneur, “All companies, regardless of size, are judged by the same criteria: objective, quantifiable measures of a franchise operation. The most important factors include financial strength and stability, growth rate and size of the system. We also consider the number of years a company has been in business and the length of time it’s been franchising, startup costs, litigation, percentage of terminations and whether the company provides financing.”

“We do not measure subjective elements such as franchisee satisfaction or management style, since these are judgments only you can make based on your own needs and experiences. The objective factors are plugged into our exclusive Franchise 500® formula, with each eligible company receiving a cumulative score. The 500 franchises with the highest cumulative scores become the Franchise 500®.”

“We do not measure subjective elements such as franchisee satisfaction…”  Entrepreneur magazine

Entrepreneur magazine doesn’t get involved with subjective issues like franchisee satisfaction, but does.  So we invite you to add your opinions (below) of the Top 100 franchises for 2011 as determined by Entrepreneur magazine.  We also invite you to click on the links within the listing to see the posts and discussions of some of these concepts without the filter of hype and advertising dollars.


1. Hampton Hotels 1,383 1,705 322  HAMPTON HOTELS Franchise Disclosure Document
2. ampm 720 1,199 479  BP, ARCO, am/pm Franchisees File Class Action Lawsuit
3. McDonald’s 11,674 12,477 803
4. 7-Eleven 5,580 6,515 935  7-Eleven Franchise Complaints
5. Supercuts 972 1,025 53
6. Days Inn 1,705 1,677 28
7. Vanguard Cleaning Systems 845 1,734 889 VANGUARD CLEANING SYSTEMS Franchise Scam Complaints
8. Servpro 1,368 1,526 158  SERVPRO Franchise Complaints
9. Subway 21,006 23,411 2405  Are SUBWAY Franchise Owners Happy?
10. Denny’s 975 1,296 321
11. Jan-Pro 6,409 10,266 3857 JAN-PRO Franchise Complaints
12. Hardee’s 1,156 1,225 69
13. Pizza Hut 6,079 6,917 838
14. Kumon 1,222 1,288 66
15. Dunkin’ Donuts 5,451 6,566 1115  DUNKIN’ DONUTS Accused of Franchise Discrimination Against African Americans
16. KFC 4,371 4,307 64
17. Jazzercise 5,918 6,627 709
18. Anytime Fitness 444 1,291 847  ANYTIME FITNESS Franchise Complaints
19. Matco Tools 1,457 1,397 -60 MATCO TOOLS Franchise Complaints
20. Stratus Building Solutions 708 3,512 2804 STRATUS BUILDING SOLUTIONS Franchise Complaints
21. Liberty Tax Service 2,070 3,053 983 LIBERTY TAX SERVICE Franchise Complaints
22. Circle K 439 487 48
23. Papa John’s 1,683 2,229 546  PAPA JOHN’S PIZZA Franchise Complaints
24. Snap-on Tools 3,088 3,219 131  SNAP-ON TOOLS Franchise Complaints
25. CleanNet USA 3,861 4,745 884 CLEANNET USA Franchise Complaints
26. Aaron’s 441 579 138
27. H & R Block N.L. 4,017   —– TAX FRANCHISES: Biggest Winners & Losers of 2010
28. InterContinental Hotels 2,541 3,175 634
29. Great Clips 2,544 2,787 243 Are More Franchisees De-branding, Going Independent?
30. Jiffy Lube 1,915 1,966 51  JIFFY LUBE Franchise Complaints
31. Ace Hardware 4,229 4,128 -101
32. Papa Murphy’s 939 1,169 230
33. Snap Fitness 490 972 482 SNAP FITNESS Franchise Complaints
34. Dairy Queen 4,694 4,451 -243 DAIRY QUEEN Sues Franchisee for $13M Extortion Scheme
35. Baskin-Robbins 2,793 2,597 -196 ACE HARDWARE Franchise Complaints
36. Bonus Building Care 1,774 1,711 -63 BONUS BUILDING CARE Franchise Scam Complaints
37. The Maids 969 1,048 79
38. Jimmy John’s 559 1,020 461
39. Midas 1,469 1,309 -160
40. GNC 1,046 892 -154  Is the GNC Franchise a Great Opportunity?
41. System4 467 1,190 723  SYSTEM4 Commercial Cleaning Franchise Complaints
42. ServiceMaster Clean 3,041 3,043 2
43. Merry Maids 747 714 -33
44. Miracle-Ear 1,277 1,301 24
45. Super 8 1,888 1,874 -14
46. The UPS Store/MBE 4,454 4,390 -64 THE UPS STORE Franchise Complaints
47. Carl’s Jr. 616 671 55
48. Auntie Anne’s 723 861 138
49. Edible Arrangements 531 804 273 EDIBLE ARRANGEMENTS, Tariq Farid Franchise Complaints
50. Fantastic Sams 1,371 1,262 -109
51. Cruise Planners/American Express 730 947 217
52. Long John Silver’s 661 989 328
53. Sylvan Learning 794 784 -10
54. Cold Stone Creamery 1,387 1,163 -224 Cold Stone Creamery Gets Served by Franchisees
55. Meineke 845 860 15
56. Chem-Dry 2,679 2,198 -481
57. Popeyes 1,507 1,533 46
58. CruiseOne 510 685 175
59. Home Instead Senior Care 548 597 49 HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE Franchise Nightmare: Everybody Loses
60. AAMCO Transmissions 814 837 23
61. Proforma 561 679 118
62. Comfort Keepers 552 607 55 COMFORT KEEPERS Caregiver Bilked Elderly Man
63. Buffalo Wild Wings 302 473 171
64. Massage Envy 334 626 292 MASSAGE ENVY: Franchisee Fetish Afoot!
65. Novus Glass 259 223 -36
66. Choice Hotels 4,323 4,936 613 CHOICE HOTELS: Franchisees Sue for “Unfair & Deceptive Acts”
67. CiCi’s Pizza 597 609 12
68. Hilton Garden Inn 300 460 160
69. Heaven’s Best Carpet 1,226 1,268 42
70. Smoothie King 447 549 102
71. Wingstop 299 428 129
72. Gold’s Gym 467 452 -15
73. Country Inns & Suites 385 457 72
74. Minuteman Press 769 730 39
75. MRINetwork 826 706 -120
76. Rita’s Italian Ice 461 561 100
77. Batteries Plus 283 384 101
78. Keller Williams Realty 651 672 21
79. Wireless Zone 249 399 150
80. FastSigns Int’l. 418 449 31
81. Planet Fitness 179 336 157
82. Coffee News 696 677 -19
83. Ramada 584 537 -47
84. Maaco 425 438 13
85. Culver’s 355 412 57
86. Padgett Business Services 275 302 27
87. Goddard Systems 255 371 116
88. Visiting Angels 290 390 100
89. E.nopi 103 103 0
90. Coldwell Banker 2,531 2,091 -440
91. Moe’s Southwest Grill 359 422 63
92. Rooter-Man 391 469 78
93. Club Z! In-Home Tutoring 409 420 11
94. Hilton Hotels 175 194 19
95. Qdoba Mexican Grill 320 331 11
96. Home Helpers/Direct Link 699 658 -41 HOME HELPERS / DIRECT LINK Franchise Complaints
97. Senior Helpers 105 283 178
98. Expense Reduction Analysts 165 276 111
99. PuroClean 179 298 119
100. Thrifty Rent-A-Car 345 120 -225

Stop back often as our comments and links will be continually updated.



13 thoughts on “Top 100 Franchise Opportunities 2011: Behind The Hype

  • gloryhole

    FUCK RITA’S now that place needs to be investigated, total fraud, you’ll lose everything!

  • Don’t buy a mobility franchise from Ken Hollowell he is a conman as is Susan Barnes of Rockrose realty Inc

  • Brenda Kidd


  • Fleece and Flush

    This is the face of franchising! Fraud! Look at all the negatives in growth! Look at Snap-On! We know by the article in Forbes that it’s own successful franchisor denounces their ranking. He says Snap-On buys back their own sold franchises so they can cook the books on failure rates. So how many of these other franchisors are actually successful and not publishing FALSE information?

  • CruzeDude

    As a former Cruise Planner, I would throw caution to the wind if you are reading the above review. Yes, what is stated is accurate, however there are many strings attached. Not all is as fantastic as it seems. FACT: CP states emphatically that your customers are yours; however they market to them extensively with highly discounted products to benefit their business. FACT: Many promises and written guarantees are made that are never honored; when confronted the franchisee is ignored or dismissed. FACT: Questioning or challenging a statement or recommended business practice known to be unethical is NEVER acceptable as a franchisee; you will be verbally attacked by CP officers. FACT: You are working for a corporation that is in direct competition with you and profiting from your hard work.

    I say FACT as I have documented evidence to support these statements. I urge anyone that is considering this company to carefully examine all options before the outlay of $10k+. I was a franchisee for 3-years and left due to the unethical practices of CP. As they say, hindsight is 20/20 and I count myself lucky to have a thriving agency today. Many franchisee’s who started in a class of 20 when I did never made it and saw their business an monies go down the drain. BE CAREFUL WITH THIS COMPANY!

  • Elaine Reinman

    Anyone know anything negative about the Cruise Planners/American Express franchise, Cruise One franchise or Expedia Cruise Ship Center franchise? Of course you will only hear the good side of the franchise. I want to go into this with my eyes open and know about the down side of these franchises before I invest and find out first hand.

    I can’t find anything on the internet but that does not mean they don’t exist.

  • Hello All.

    I’ve been investigating franchise ownership in 3 separate business areas: Home Health Care, Leather/Plastic Repair and Locksmith Services.

    I’ve tried to do as much due diligence on my own and have called a few franchisees.

    This would be my first franchise and I’ve considered relocating to an area that I am unfamiliar with to open this business.

    I’ve researched a lot, am using a Franchise Consultant but still feel like I’m not prepared to make a decision.

    Can anyone share any light on how long is too long to research before making a decision? I have hesitations in those that are labor intensive and would prefer to not be lock myself into a work/life balance that is unenjoyable.

    I am not the type to be forced into a decision but finding the real data out there has been pretty time consuming.

    Thank you and best wishes to everyone.

  • The Dude

    To John (and others):

    Owning a franchise – or any business – is never what you expect. Sort of like marriage, or any serious relationship. In the case of a franchise, the relationship is between you and the franchisor, with your customers, and with your vendors, employees and landlord. Don’t forget all of the different levels of the government.

    Have been a CPA for over 20 years and have had hundreds of business clients. Owned 2 franchises. In both cases, as with most businesses, income was less than reasonably projected and expenses were more. And – in both cases we did extensive research and focused on services we thought the market desperately needed and would pay for, along with skill sets atuned to both.

    You need to get to the point of your research where you can definitively objectively say the positives outweigh the negatives (list them), where you realize you may not make a dime but are willing to take the risk, where you understand it is going to be much harder and take more time and money than the franchisor says and where you don’t want to go to your grave saying “woulda coulda shoulda.” Prayer helps.

    Franchise #1 was a huge money pit, but led to a 20 year career as a professional speaker and published author. Franchise #2 (got out after the initial 5 year contract) led to what is now a profitable business (would not have done it in retrospect).

    Sometimes, buying an existing business and learning the ropes from the owner is a better bet. Good luck!

  • poonam

    I am so surprised to find absolutely nothing negative about cruise planners american express franchise . Just one review on Glassdoor and another one here – cruzedude. So much of media control. anyone who has worked with them can they please share their true views on company. Thank you

  • Poonam.
    I am too looking for getting to know someone’s real experience with cruise planners. If you have found anything appreciate if you could share with me.

  • travelwithme

    As a former franchisee for Cruise Planners I would follow the advice of Cruze Dude and run don’t walk but run from handing over your money to them.

    The company is very “rah rah” and if you don’t think Cruise Planners is the greatest thing since sliced bread and go along with everything you will be on the outs. They are extremely cliquish. They have a Facebook page where the agents do nothing by trash talk vendors and their BDM’s.

    Their “training” ( I used the term training, extremely loosely) is more or less a sales pitch. Which is also an additional fee to the franchisee fee. If they can find a way to charge you for something, you’re paying for it.

    A lot of the agents who bought a franchisee in my opinion should not be in this business, they have no clue as to what they’re doing. But it seems they’ll sell a franchise to whoever can pony up 10K plus the cost of their “training”.

    You can’t use the AMEX logo or name until you sell a certain amount of travel. But that doesn’t stop many of their agents from doing so. In fact many will tell people they work for American Express, which is against the rules. Once again has to do with selling franchise’s to people who have no clue. Many cling to the home office asking question after question as if they work for Cruise Planners over owning their own business.

    Their agreement is like 100 pages long, it’s absolutely ridiculous and they try to restrict you in every possible way.

    The executive management team spends more time traveling then they do actually managing their company. It’s a free for all in the office. Maybe you’ll get someone on the phone maybe you won’t. They’ll read your emails but never ever respond.

    There are plenty of other agencies out there that are less in cost and allow you the ability to do what you want and hire who you want.

  • Enrique

    I’m cutrently in the process of buying a Cruise Planners – like many of you guys I’ve done tons of research. However I’m perplex why some of you guys keep looking for bad or negative information- if you want to find out how their Franchise Owners are doing just find out who they are and call them direct and have a heart to heart conversation with them. It’s not hard to find who they are – heck CP even provides you a list of franchise owners who are no longer active with CP. I say heck call them and hear for yourself why they stopped or dropped out of CP.
    truth be told after much research and speaking to aprox 20 franchise owners – most of them I found on my own and did surprised calls – I’m happy to report the overwhelming majority of CP Franchise owners are happy with their decision ad would do it all over again if they had too.
    *** This has been my experience yours may be different ******************

    A little word of advice after 20 years in the business world – get familiar with the 80/20 rule – it applies to almost every industry in the business world and in broadly explains why some people are able to make it in business and others do not.

  • I’m also researching Cruise Planners and actually plan to sign on, this coming spring. The above negative revue by, “travelwithme”, sounds more like buyers remorse than an actual negative experience with the company itself. Just stating that the pages of the agreement number 100, sorta reveals that they didn’t actually read those 100 pages for details of restrictions or additional costs and signed on anyway! You are also sent a Franchise Disclosure, which is pretty comprehensive on what you get, don’t get, can do and can’t do, as a Franchisee. I’ve read them BOTH. So, it’s your decision on whether or not to sign on after READING the very pre-disclosed issues that “travelwithme”, has with Cruise Planners. I’m not defending them, but that negative review is rather weak.

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