Many people who desire the financial security and independence of owning their own business assume franchises are simply too expensive to consider. While it’s true many name brand franchises like Dunkin Donuts and Subway carry price tags that can climb into the millions, there are a growing number of franchises for entrepreneurs interested in a low-cost opportunity.

For the risk-averse and those with less money to invest or who wish to avoid going through the gauntlet of finding bank financing, the advantages of a low-cost franchise are quite appealing. While the investment is smaller, they still come with all of the benefits of owning a franchise, including valuable support tools such as training, supplies, marketing assistance and access to technology.

Success, of course, isn’t guaranteed, but with the lowered risks and minimal overhead, profits are typically faster to arrive. Challenges that often confront larger franchise operations at startup, like cash flow issues and having substantial operating capital, do not hamper the owner of a low-cost franchise. There is also the benefit of a business that has fewer headaches, fewer moving parts and is easier to manage.

As with any investment, it is still important to do the necessary due diligence to ensure you are making the right choice for your financial and personal goals. To help in this decision process, Franchise Gator has compiled a list of the Top 100 Franchises for 2018 including a number of economical franchises.

Five Economical Franchise Investments

Here are the top 5 low cost franchise investments from the Franchise Gator Top 100, including some for under $20,000:

Pillar To Post

Pillar to Post LogoFounded in 1994, Pillar To Post is North America’s largest and fastest-growing professional home inspection franchise with over 515 franchises across the U.S. and Canada and is ranked No. 17 overall.

Pillar to Post offers franchisees hands-on and in-market training, therefore no technical experience is required. Franchisees are provided with a dedicated startup director to coach you through the launch and operations for the first year of your business. It also has one of the lowest franchise fees and initial investments in the industry.

Pillar to Post has been ranked No. 1 Home Inspection company by Entrepreneur and a Franchise Business Review Top 50 Award winner for Top Franchisee Satisfaction.

Cruise Planners

Cruise Planners LogoCruise Planners is a low-cost, home-based business with more than 1,800 franchise owners.  It is one of the largest, privately owned and nationally recognized travel franchises in the country and ranked No. 93 on Franchise Gator’s Top 100 list.  It has also been ranked No. 1 in its category on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500 for 15 years in a row.

Requiring just $10,495 of initial investment, Cruise Planners is a low-investment, low-risk opportunity that does not require inventory, employees, retail space or construction costs.  Franchisees have access to American Express Travel affiliation, earning instant credibility, a full-service travel franchise, free lead generation, mobile technology, on-demand training, turnkey marketing and advertising programs, and proprietary accounting web-based software. In addition, as a Cruise Planner franchise owner you are given travel agent perks including free or discounted travel!

Property Management Incorporated

Property Management Incorporated LogoPMI has more than 200 franchises in more than 40 states and is ranked No. 53. With an initial investment of just $19,850, PMI has been ranked by Entrepreneur as a Top 100 Low Cost Franchise, a Top 100 Fastest Growing Franchise and included on the Top Franchise 500 list.

Unlike most other real estate services companies, PMI’s network of franchise offices builds businesses upon a foundation of residual, recurring revenues generated from the entire real estate industry including residential, commercial, association and vacation rental. As franchisees, you will receive on-site and weekly webinar training, support for all operational aspects and access to technology systems.

Rhea Lana’s Franchise Systems

Rhea Lana LogoRhea Lana’s is the nation’s premier children’s consignment venue with 90 locations across 25 states and ranked No. 56 overall. The company has received many awards over the years including being recognized as a Top Retailer and Franchise Business by Franchise Business Review and multiple Rhea Lana Franchises have been ranked as National Top 10 Consignment Event Sales by Consignment Mommies.

Franchisees benefit from 17 years of experience that have resulted in events that are organized, streamlined and profitable. In addition, Rhea Lana’s franchises are lower in cost with just $19,050 required for an initial investment. This investment includes the company’s famous consignment management technology, barcoding programs and web pages. Working just two to three months per year on a successful sale in a mid-sized market can beat a full-time job.


Proforma LogoProforma is the leading business-to-business franchise opportunity in the $150 billion print and promotional product industry and ranked No. 64 overall. According to their Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), as little as $9,230 may be required at startup.

With no inventory, equipment or retail storefront required, the franchise can be operated from a home-base or small, leased office space environment. It’s a great opportunity for individuals who enjoy selling to middle-market, upper-market and Fortune 500 companies, and no industry knowledge or background is necessary, as product knowledge is taught during their training programs.

Finding the Right Opportunity for You

Lower cost franchises are a great way to jump into the world of business ownership as long as you do your homework, find a business that suits your skills, personality, and commitment to working hard to make it a success.