The Franchise 500's Top 10 Low Cost Franchises

Looking to start a business while saving a dime? These thrifty franchises made Entrepreneur's top 10 list for the best low-cost franchises.

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In 1969, Arleen Cavanaugh and then-husband Jim Cavanaugh founded Jani-King, a commercial cleaning franchise. When the couple divorced in the mid-'90s, Jim maintained control of the business.
Using the experience she gained with Jani-King, Arleen started her own commercial cleaning business, Bonus Building Care. The company currently serves businesses throughout the South and Midwest.
Number of franchises: 2,490
Franchising since: 1996
Startup costs: $9,000 - $15,000
2010 rank: #32
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ServiceMaster was incorporated in 1947 as Wade, Wenger and Associates. Marion Wade got the idea for his company after a chemical accident left him temporarily blind in 1945.
Today, it is part of the Memphis, Tennessee ServiceMaster Co. franchise family, which includes AmeriSpec Home Inspection Services, Furniture Medic, Merry Maids and Terminix. ServiceMaster franchisees offer disaster restoration and residential and commercial cleaning services.
Number of franchises: 4,940
Franchising since: 1952
Startup costs: $20,926 - $132,623
2010 rank: #31
Vanguard Cleaning Systems was founded in 1984 and began franchising the same year. The private company is based in San Mateo, California. Its franchisees serve approximately 1,000 commercial cleaning accounts. Vanguard offers a Master Franchise program for experienced businesspeople and a Unit Franchise program for beginning entrepreneurs.
Number of franchises: 1,516
Franchising since: 1984
Startup costs: $8,125 - $38,100
2010 rank: #30
Fez Ogbazion was a college student from Ethiopia in 1994 when he started Instant Refund Tax Service. In their first tax season, his startup did returns for over 600 clients and eventually grew to dozens of locations. Ogbazion sold Instant Refund Tax Service to Jackson Hewitt in 1999. In 2000, Ogbazion moved to Dayton, Ohio, with the profits from his business deal to found Instant Tax Service. By 2003, Instant Tax Service had 100 offices across several states, and the company began franchising in 2004. Instant Tax Service specializes in professional tax preparation, expedited refund and refund anticipation loans, offering both in-person and online filing services.
Number of franchises: 1,197
Franchising since: 2004
Startup costs: $39,000 - $89,000
2010 rank: #29
While teaching traditional jazz dance classes in Evanston, Illinois, in 1969, Judi Sheppard Missett turned her students away from the mirrors and started a "just for fun" class that incorporated dance moves to provide aerobic exercise. After moving to Southern California, she started training other instructors in the Jazzercise program in 1977. Six years later, the company began franchising. Now Jazzercise's CEO, she continues to teach weekly Jazzercise classes and choreograph new dance routines. Based in Carlsbad, California, Jazzercise has more than 5,000 instructors teaching its total-body conditioning program to almost half a million participants each year in the United States and more than 30 other countries. Jazzercise instructors are trained and certified before becoming franchised.
Number of franchises: 7,854
Franchising since: 1982
Startup costs: $2,980 - $75,500
2010 rank: #18
Utilizing their combined experience of over 20 years as executives in the commercial cleaning industry, Dennis Jarrett and Pete Frese founded Stratus Building Solutions in 2004. Franchisees offer cleaning services--including the company's environmentally-friendly Stratus GreenClean program--for office buildings, retail properties, medical facilities, schools and more.
Number of franchises: 2,148
Franchising since: 2005
Startup costs: $3,450 - $57,750
2010 rank: #13
High school math teacher Toru Kumon developed the Kumon method of learning over 50 years ago in Japan, when his son was struggling with second-grade arithmetic. Realizing that a strong foundation in the basics--addition, subtraction, multiplication and division--was essential for higher-level math, Kumon created a series of math worksheets for his son to work on after school. With daily practice, Kumon's son gradually expanded his mastery of mathematical skills and by sixth grade was able to solve differential equations and integral calculus problems.
Today, at locations throughout North America, Kumon franchisees apply this method of daily practice and self-paced advancement to children's math and reading skills.
Number of franchises: 26,311
Franchising since: 1958
Startup costs: $32,958 - $131,070
2010 rank: #12
No. 3: Jan-Pro Franchising Int'l. Inc.
Jacques Lapointe founded Jan-Pro in Providence, Rhode Island in 1991. Jan-Pro began franchising the following year, offering both master and single-unit franchises, and has since grown to over 10,000 units throughout the United States and Canada.
Jan-Pro franchisees offer commercial cleaning services to businesses such as car dealerships, gyms, banks, churches, schools and offices. The company's "Cleaning Greener" initiative emphasizes the use of cleaning products that require fewer chemicals to clean more.
Number of franchises: 10,099
Franchising since: 1992
Startup costs: $3,145 - $50,405
2010 rank: #11
No. 2: Jani-King
As a student at the University of Oklahoma in 1968, Jim Cavanaugh worked as a night auditor at a hotel chain. He realized that there would always be a need for janitorial services as long as there were office buildings. He began marketing janitorial services by day and cleaning buildings with his friends by night. Within a year, Cavanaugh established Jani-King, and in 1974 he started franchising.
A commercial cleaning service, Jani-King sets up franchisees with a customer base and charges fees depending on the size of that initial base.
Number of franchises: 13, 046
Franchising since: 1974
Startup costs: $11,400 - $35,050
2010 rank: #8

No. 1: H & R Block
Number of franchises: 4,502
Franchising since: 1956
Startup costs: $26,427 - $84,094
2010 rank: #6

Tags: business franchise opportunities with low startup costs, franchise cost, franchise-500, low cost franchise, low cost franchise opportunity, low-cost franchises, small business opportunities low cost

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