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:
Franchising.com 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, FranchiseOpportunities.com 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.
FranchiseDirect.com 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.
Franchise.org is 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 the FranchiseExpo.com 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, FranchiseWorks.com 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 Franchise.com is as strong as it gets. This franchise directory 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 TheFranchiseMall.com, 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.
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.
Interesting. I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately regarding franchising, and more specifically where one can go to get more information on franchises. I’ll point them your direction.
Thanks for the pointing out the resources. We have to talk about the Blue Chip idea and its franchise potential later on.
Thank you so much for your offer! Martin, I look forward to it!
We will keep in touch! Keep up with your good work! 🙂
Joel, this is a great list for anyone looking for franchising. I’m gonna keep this one in my back pocket for future reference.
Hi Joel. Thank you for listing this resources. Very helpful!
Thanks for the list. I was surprised that a couple of directories that I know my clients have used did not make your list. Now I wonder which one of them is the “guilty” party you describe at the end of the article.
I’m surprised to not see franchise Gator making the lsit. This is one of the oldest one in the amrket and provide clean navigational structure for people find out information. Some of the sites you mentioned are created for serach engines and haven’t looked at usability issue. I think its bit baised and should have looked at all the factors.
That has to be the most biased post on this blog! As a franchise sales rep, I have been dealing with all franchise directories for years and if I had to make my list of Top franchise directories, none of the site the author of this post mentions would make it in.
Some of the websites listed here are not user friendly at all, and they give very little franchise information.
Now regarding one of the author’s criteria about Google Ads, that’s exactly how thefranchisemall.com pays the bill… with Google ads.
3 of the most popular franchise sites didn’t make it in this list, and yes, Gator is one of them but I am under the impression that the author of this post is pissed at Gator because they post comments on blogs… I’m just a sales guy but I believe this is called SEO and it is part of marketing…
Thank you for sharing.
Hi Franchisor, why don’t you share which franchise directories you use? And tell us what is good about them. We always like to hear about new sites.
You took a very nice stab at this list. The only problem I can see is whether it is viewed from the side of site viability in regard to layout and search functionality or whether it is viewed from the side of leads delivered and/or converted to sale. There are a few small sites that I like to do cpl work with, such as BizBuySell, missing and a few of the big guys who are still producing good closes, like Franchise Solutions, missing as well. I think the readers should keep in mind that the information was probably derived more from the site layout and search presence side of things than the end-user result side. As someone who launched and developed one of the larger portals in the industry, and as someone who currently manages large budgets within the industry, I would be very curious to see where a large budget could be eficiently and effectively spent in the franchise portal arena without utilizing many of the sites on this list. There are several sites on this list that I utilize on multiple projects and with good results.
Thanx a lot for your comments.
I based my reviews on my industry knowledge, combined with usability, basic design, and some other general criteria. I am by no means a website SEO, or design expert, but I can tell fluff from the real deal, most of the time. Again, thanx!
I am not in agreement with your list of top franchise directories. Many of the sites you list do not publish fresh relevant content relating to the franchise universe. Many also, show ads of franchise opportunities that they don’t have an agreement with, thus, leading the visitor astray while wasting his time. America’s Best Franchises always has fresh relevant content and displays excellent navigation especially when it come to posting franchise and business opportunities that fall into a particular financial budget.
Asia Business Investor is an on-line magazine with a focus on business for sale in Asia. Based in Singapore we cover business and investment across Asia. Asia Business Investor has the largest directory of business opportunities, franchise, franchising, in asia today from Dubai through to Shanghai.http://magazine.asiabusinessinvestor.com
If you are interested, Paul Segreto and I discussed this franchise article on the Franchise Today Show, our weekly radio program.
The Franchise King
@FranchiseKing on Twitter
I see you’ve listed FranchiseExpo.com check out the Canadian counterpart at http://www.buythatfranchise.ca – it features Canadian franchise opportunities news and resources. Love the blog. I know this is an older post but I read your posts at thefranchise king too
Thank you so much for the compliment…
I’ll check out the franchise website from the great white north, for you.
The Franchise King