It used to be if one wanted to find a list of franchises to check out for possible purchase, you would go out and buy a couple of entrepreneurial/business opportunity magazines from a bookstore, spend a Saturday afternoon circling the ones of interest, and then contact them to request more information.
There were even a few “Business Opportunity” directories that one could purchase in order to find out what franchises were available to look at.
Ahhhh. The good old days ….
Then came the internet. That changed everything. From the comfort of your own home, one could research and find just about anything. Several franchise directories sprang up, and there are now over 50 different franchise “directories” online.
Before I get into rating some of them, I want to make it clear that these are for-profit websites. The franchise companies that are listed in these directories pay to be listed. They either pay a set amount for exposure on these sites, or they pay each time a potential franchise candidate fills out a “request for information” form, online. That is known as “pay per lead.”
It is about revenue, folks. Just like any business.
Let’s look at 9 popular franchise directories. My criteria:
- Alexa rank under 200,000 (Most leaders in any category have an Alexa rank under 200,000. As an example, Small Business Trends comes in around 90,000, while Yahoo.com comes in at #1.)
- The directories must clearly display who owns them, and their contact information must be easily found.
- Specific franchise opportunities must be offered — no directories that are obviously just landing pages for Google Ads.
- The directories must give readers access to educational franchise articles, and/or current press releases.
Here are my choices, in no particular order:
This directory is owned by The Franchise Update Media Group, which also publishes Franchise Update Magazine, which is mostly for franchise industry insiders.
This directory is very easy on the eyes, looks upscale, and is not plastered with lots of flashy tile ads. Instead, the main feature seems to be informational in nature, with up-to-date franchise articles, and a section devoted to the latest franchise news.
Out of Atlanta, this website is owned by a division of Landmark Communications. (Landmark owns The Weather Channel).
A little flashy, this directory has tile ads of franchise companies as its main focus, but serves up several niche directories such as MinorityFranchise.com, and FranchiseRestaurant.com towards the top of the website, for those that want to focus on specific niches. There is also a Press Release section. There are a lot of advertising and resource links on the left hand side of the page.
Franchise Direct is owned by McGarry Internet Limited and is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. Interestingly, Franchise Direct offers some bilingual franchise directories, which is pretty cutting edge.
A list of franchise “categories” appears on the top of this directory, with tile ads noticeable only when you scroll down. Franchise Direct has a few prominent links to its blog, which it obviously feels is important for its readers to know about. There is also an “article” directory.
With its corporate offices in Reno, the RedHotFranchises.com directory’s red-hot colors definitely stand out. Large and colorful tile ads greet you when the website comes up, and those ads are the feature.
There are some current franchise news releases towards the bottom of the page, right before the longest legal disclaimer this side of the Mississippi River. This site is definitely about serving advertisements, which is fine, because it really is a directory of franchise opportunities.
The website of The International Franchise Association (IFA), the directory portion boasts that there are 1,200 different franchises to check out. The page is set up nicely, with some tile ads and prominent “association” links in which you can sign up for their free newsletter, or even become a member of the IFA.
Since there are only a few tile ads, it would be safe to assume that those are the ones that the franchise companies pay a premium for. There is a link titled “Find Your Franchise” that takes you to another page that lets you search alphabetically for franchises, as well as boxes that you can check off if you’re a Veteran, want something home-based, or even if you want a new franchise opportunity. There is a lot of content available when you really start digging in.
MFV Expositions owns this franchise directory, and is The IFA’s official trade show producer. The web page’s design reminds me more of a blog page than a web page, because of its thin footprint. The tile ads are actually pleasing to the eye on this franchise directory, because they also run down the right side, which breaks thing up a bit.
Advertisements dominate this directory, but if you look carefully, you will find links to franchise resources, press releases etc. There is an entire section devoted to upcoming franchise expos.
Featuring some well known franchise industry folks as partners, this site is a pleasant mix of tile ads, resource links, and up-to-date information on franchise news.
One unique thing about this franchise directory is their offer of a free franchise seminar that one may sign up for, and be delivered online via email. It is capped off by a live webinar on franchising. The tile ads on this site are not as loud as some of the others. Each partner has a link to their own franchise related businesses website.
The domain name of this franchise directory is as strong as it gets. This franchise directory is a franchise directory that doesn’t look like a franchise directory. That does not mean that Franchise.com is a better directory than the others. (Or worse) It just means that it has a totally different look.
It has a prominent area that is called “Franchising 101,” which is certainly not an original name in itself in the franchise industry, but manages to get the point across that it is there for those that want to learn about the franchise basics. This low-key looking site has a lot of good content.
Canadians own this franchise directory, which features 20 or so non-flashy tile ads in the main area of the page.
Right next to these ads is an area designated “The Top 10 Low Cost Franchises.” I am not sure if they really are officially the “Top 10” or are just 10 low-cost franchises that paid for placement on the front page of this website. Once again, I am not saying that is a bad thing. After you scroll past some Google Ads, there is a nice looking area displaying current franchise news.
This last one is not a real franchise directory. I was originally going to make this article the Top 10 Franchise Directories, but here’s why I included only 9. My 10th choice is a fairly well known franchise directory (which shall go unnamed to protect the guilty).
I left them out because of the way they choose to do business. You see, they like to have their employees cruise around the small business/Internet space looking for pertinent blogs that they can post “comments” on. These are not really comments, per se. They are comment spam. The ones I have been the target of consist of a long paragraph touting the merits of using their franchise directory to find terrific franchise opportunities. They even include a “testimonial” from a supposed satisfied customer who found their own “dream franchise” by using this franchise directory. Too bad they choose to do business like this. Their directory is pretty nice.
Franchise directories can be a great first destination for those seeking to learn about opportunities in the world of franchise ownership. They should not be the end-all in a franchise search. I always recommend leveraging your strengths and personality traits when trying to match up to a franchise to own.
You may end up finding that “perfect franchise” through one of these Internet franchise directories, or through another source. Either way, I hope you find one that works for you.
* * * * *