Jun 20, 2023
Top 5 Food Franchise Brands with the Largest Global Presence

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur planning to start your own business but not sure about where to start? 

Imagine establishing a business with the support of a well-recognized brand, proven business model, and a network of like-minded entrepreneurs. Franchising is one of the most popular and ideal options to pick as it offers this unique opportunity. With a franchise business, you get to operate a business that already has its presence and a proven track record of success in the marketplace. 

Well you’re already aware of the brands like McDonald’s, Subway, KFC, etc. that not only deliver impressive financial returns but also transform the lives of countless entrepreneurs. So, whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur looking for your next big venture or a first-time business owner seeking a rock solid foundation, we’ve compiled a list of top 5 franchise businesses with the largest presence in the world that can be the ultimate launchpad for your success story. Let’s get started! 

1. McDonald’s 

  • Started franchising: 1955
  • Total units: 40, 275
  • Initial franchise cost: $1 million to $2.2 million

With over 40,000 locations in more than 100 countries (as of 2021), McDonald’s boasts an impressive global presence that only a few brands can rival. Having a business model emphasized on scalability, adaptability, and strong brand recognition, McDonald’s is one of the top choices for entrepreneurs seeking to invest in a proven and lucrative business opportunity. 

Top 5 Food Franchise Brands with the Largest Global Presence

Courtesy: McDonald’s 

One of the key factors contributing to the success of the fast-food giant is its focus on adapting to changing customer needs and preferences. Moreover, the company’s dedication to innovation plays a crucial role in the success of its franchises. In recent years, McDonald’s has continued to innovate and expand by introducing new offerings and embracing technology to improve its customer experience. 

One example of this is the brand’s investment in rolling out a mobile app that lets customers order and pay for their food in advance. This adoption has enabled the brand to maintain its dominance in the marketplace and stay ahead of the competition. Financially, the burger behemoth generates most of its revenue from its franchise model. In fact, recent statistics reveal that McDonald’s generated a total revenue of $23.18 billion in 2022. These figures are driven by the brand’s diverse menu offerings and improved food offerings quality. 

2. Subway

  • Started franchising: 1974
  • Initial franchise fee: $10,000 - $15,000 (vary from country to country)
  • Total units: 40, 000

Subway, an American multinational fast food restaurant franchise that specializes in sandwiches, wraps, salads, and drinks, has over 40,000 locations in more than 100 countries. The main reason that contributes to its success is its focus on healthy eating and customizable offerings which has become increasingly popular over the past few years. 

Subway allows its customers to choose their portion size, bread, vegetables, and sauce that has helped it appeal to a broad range of customers with different tastes, preferences, choices, and dietary restrictions. Much like its competitors, Subway has also shifted its focus toward innovation and delivering exceptional customer experiences. In fact, the brand has introduced a mobile app that lets its customers order and pay in advance, take away their order from the outlet, or get it delivered to their doorstep. Additionally, it has also launched a loyalty program - Subway MyWay Rewards that allows customers to earn reward points on every purchase and redeem them later to order food. 

Subway’s franchise model has proven over time, and the brand’s ability to evolve and adapt to market shifts has ensured its continued growth and profitability. If you’re seeking a stable and high-performing franchise opportunity in the food industry, Subway stands as a strong, reliable, and profitable contender. 

3. Domino’s 

  • Founded in: 1960
  • Initial fee: $10,000 
  • Total units: 17,000+

Given the fact that Domino’s is on just about every street in the US, no wonder that the franchise business has a massive footprint across the globe. Domino’s is one of the world’s largest American Michigan-based multinational pizza chainz, with over 17,000 locations in over 90 countries, earning lots of profits. 

The company has a fairly straightforward business model as it either has franchise stores or leverages online ordering to sell pizza to its customers. It also has advanced, innovative technologies that enhance the value of the brand amongst its target customers. When it comes to the company's primary source of revenue, it’s majorly generated through selling pizza. In addition, since the company has a huge number of application downloads, it also generates revenue through sponsorships and advertisements.

 If you’re someone looking to invest in a food franchise business, Domino’s is an attractive option with global retail sales of over $17.5 billion in 2022.

4. KFC

  • Started franchising: 1952
  • Franchise fee: $45,000
  • Initial investment: $1.4 million to $2.7 million
  • Total units: 24, 000

KFC, an abbreviation for Kentucky Fried Chicken, is a fast-food franchise with a worldwide presence that specializes in preparing fried chicken.With more than 24,000 locations in over 145 countries, the brand has positioned itself as one of the leading franchise brands in the fast-food industry, followed by McDonald’s and Subway. 

The brand’s unique franchise model, which emphasizes product innovation, global expansion, and franchisee support, has made KFC a popular choice for entrepreneurs thinking to invest in a successful fast-food franchise business. Financially, KFC franchises have demonstrated strong performance, with average annual sales per unit reaching approximately 1.3 million in 2020, according to QSR Magazine. This huge financial return is driven by the brand's focus on operational efficiency, strong marketing campaigns, and its commitment to product quality, which makes KFC an ideal choice for entrepreneurs who desire to start a food business. 

5. Dunkin’

  • Initial investment: $109,700 to $1,637,700
  • Franchise fee: $40,000 to $90,000
  • Total units: 13,000

Dunkin’, formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts is one of the top franchise opportunities in the quick-service restaurant industry that boasts over 13,000 locations worldwide in 46 countries. The company has an innovative franchise model that emphasizes adaptability, customer preferences, and franchisee support. When it comes to franchisees, Dunkin’ provides comprehensive training and ongoing support that contributes to the success of each location. The company offers a diverse range of products that cater to 3 million customers per day and demonstrates strong financial performance. 

That said, with the average per unit sale of over $1 million (annually), net operating income Dunkin’ a franchisee can generate is roughly around $1,00,000 after all costs and expenses such as labor, food costs, rent, royalties, etc. Dunkin’ success is largely due to its commitment to innovate its menu, ensure operational efficiency, and support franchisees with site selection, construction, operations, management, and marketing.  And these factors have played an integral role in enabling the company to thrive and deliver great financial results.

Final thoughts

Investing in a franchise business can be a way to become an entrepreneur. The businesses listed above are among the largest available options with the most number of franchise units in the world. However, it's crucial to conduct thorough research to find the right fit. When assessing franchise opportunities, consider critical factors that influence the business's success, such as global reach, number of locations, financial performance, initial investment, franchise fee, and brand awareness.

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