Ranking Among the Best

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Every year we take a look at Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of the top 500 franchise companies in the U.S., and the tradition continues this year. A team of researchers, financial analysts, graphic designers and technical experts began carefully curating the 36th annual “Franchise 500” list in July 2014.

Only franchises that provided a full Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and whose information checked out with Entrepreneur were considered. This year, 927 companies made it through round one. (75 more than last year.) After being reviewed, 500 submissions made the Franchise 500 list based on financial and statistical data from July 2012 to July 2014.

Franchises were required to have a minimum of 10 locations with at least one unit located in the U.S. and be actively seeking more. Each company, regardless of size, was judged on: objective and quantifiable measures of a franchise operation. The most important factors included financial strength and stability, growth rate and size of the system. Other variables that were considered included: number of years in business, length of time as a franchise, startup costs, litigation, percentage of terminations and whether or not the company provided financing.

How important is franchising to the U.S. economy? Take a look at the signs sitting on the corners of the next intersection you’re at. Chances are you’ll be able to spot a 7-Eleven, Subway or Hampton Hotel located on at least one corner in your town (They all top the list at No. 10, No. 3 and No. 1, respectively.) as well as almost one of the other 497 franchises listed.

Franchises in the automotive service industry did their due diligence as well this year and held their own amongst those on the 2015 Franchise 500 list. Four fast lube and oil change-plus companies made the top 100 and several other names in the industry claimed spots in the top 500.

Once again, Jiffy Lube International led the pack for the fast lube industry and moved up three spots this year ranking No. 27.

Entrepreneur reported a total of 2,107 locations for the Houston, Texas-based Shell subsidiary. Of the reported stores, 1956 were located in the U.S. and 151 were located in Canada.

Valvoline Instant Oil Change (VIOC) also represented the fast lube industry well. VIOC cannonballed onto the list in 2013, debuting at No. 62. This year, they progressed two places since 2014 claiming No. 58.

The Lexington, Kentucky-based company began franchising in 1988, two years after it was founded. They reported 916 locations, 644 in the U.S. — 272 of which are company-owned.

Franchises in the oil change-plus category stood their ground against the competition. Midas International Corp. came in just behind Jiffy Lube International earning second place for the entire automotive service sector and topping the list at No. 35.

Nate Sherman opened the first Midas muffler repair shop in Macon, Georgia, in 1956. Today, that one shop has grown into 1,239 stores in the U.S., 156 stores in Canada and 881 locations internationally, with six company-owned shops. Midas shops have added to their service offerings since the late 1950s, now offering total automotive service including brakes, tires, batteries, radiator service and oil changes.

Behind Midas at No. 53 was Meineke Car Care Centers. Originally a single-store operation, Meineke has expanded its business model from exhaust services at discount prices to brakes, oil changes, front-end alignment, shocks and struts, and catalytic converter services as well. This year, Entrepreneur tallied a total of 885 U.S. shops, 51 Canadian stores and 44 international Meineke locations.

Other industry related companies that found their way onto the list include:

·       AAMCO Transmissions and Total Car Care landed at No. 124.

·       Tuffy Associates Corp./Car-X fell in line one place above Christian Brothers Automotive at No. 248.

·       Christian Brothers Automotive jumped 18 spots ahead of their 2014 position to No. 249.

·       Precision Tune Auto Care fell from their two-year reign at No. 162 to No. 283 in 2015.

·       Quaker Steak and Lube came in at No. 314. OK, these guys aren’t really in our industry but their burgers are seriously delicious, and it’s an atmosphere that those of us in the industry definitely feel at home in.

·       Honest-1 Auto Care advanced 27 spots since 2014 finding themselves ranked No. 328 and rounding out the presence of oil change-plus stores on the Franchise 500 list.

According to Entrepreneur, the 36th Franchise 500 list proved that franchises of all kinds continue to expand at a rapid rate. The top 10 franchises that stole the show in 2015 were:

1.     Hampton Hotels

2.     Anytime Fitness

3.     Subway

4.     Jack in the Box

5.     Supercuts

6.     Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches

7.     Servpro

8.     Denny’s

9.     Pizza Hut

10.  7-Eleven

Who pulled up the rear at 500? PIP Printing and Marketing Services, a “while you wait” printing center.  

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