The Longest Running Franchises of All Time – How They’re Still Thriving
Some of the biggest names in franchising have been around for years. Decades even. They’re globally recognized names and continue to bring in billions of dollars year after year. Considering there’s only been a handful who have been able to do so, however, it’s safe to say these rare successes have done something right. Maybe it was their timing, maybe it’s the different availability they were able to provide. Whatever it is/was, there’s no denying their rate of success.
Some of these moguls include:

  • Dairy Queen – founded in 1940, franchising that same year. Today they have more than 4,800 locations in the U.S. alone. 
  • Dunkin’ Donuts – started in 1948, franchising in 1955.
  • McDonalds’s – this burger mogul opened in 1940 and has more than 35,000 locations. They’re said to be the second-largest employer in the world, behind Walmart.
  • Wendy’s – the first branch opened in 1969; it hosts over 6,650 restaurants.
  • Starbucks – it’s first coffee joint opened in 1971. Toward the end of 2014, they were said to have 21,160 stores.
  • Subway – first started in 1965, they’re noted as one of the largest food franchises of all time. Subways are located in 110 countries and have more than 43,000 locations.
  • Domino’s Pizza – Revolutionizing the way pizza is eaten, the first location opened in 1960; within five years they held three branches. Today they’re second in size of pizza chains, only behind Pizza Hut, which is just two years older.
  • KFC – having started in 1930, KFC (short for Kentucky Fried Chicken) is one of the oldest-running chains. They host nearly 19,000 stores.
But what’s their secret?
When pairing each of these locations side-by-side, there are a few things that stick out. One, they’re all old – very old in food industry standards. (Meaning new concepts might get just as big down the line. These brands have had years to grow and prosper.) Another similarity they have is they offer plenty of food choices, along with one main concept. Whether it is sandwiches, pizza, coffee, or fried chicken – they picked something and did it well.
Finally, though it’s not listed above, each of these brands has something very important in common. They didn’t start out with the intention of franchising. Each began as a small, one-location stop that wanted to serve good food (or drinks). It was that reputation that then led to incredible success, along with a solid business plan to get them there. Some original owners sold out, which allowed for those with a better business mind to step in (whether or not the owners knew it at the time). For instance, Starbucks, which didn’t go worldwide until it was purchased by an employee; the original owners were all but ready to give up.
With continual updates and a model that was made to profit (not to mention an incredible product), franchises of all types have been able to thrive and become worldwide phenomenons. Look into their hard-learned lessons when starting your own branch in order to provide for the best level of success.

By Staff | December 21, 2017 | Food Franchise Blog