What Is a Master Franchise?



master franchise

A Master Franchise happens when an investor goes all in. These franchisees pay big money to develop business opportunities in a specific territory. They recruit new franchisees, train them and offer support. Master franchise opportunities cover a number of new businesses over a specific period. Here’s some more good information on this franchising opportunity.

What Is a Master Franchise Company?

A Master Franchise Company, often known as a Master Franchisee, is a firm or individual that purchases the rights to sub-franchise within a certain territory. Essentially, they act as a mini-franchisor for a specific region, territory, or country.

This model allows the primary franchisor, often based in another country, to expand its brand internationally without needing to manage individual franchise units in that foreign territory.



The master franchisee takes on the responsibility of developing the brand within the designated area, including recruiting new franchisees, providing training, and offering ongoing support.

Due to the responsibilities and investments required, obtaining a master franchise usually necessitates significant financial resources.

As you might expect, there’s a master franchise system they need to navigate. A great resource is Franchise Update Media.

master franchise


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What Is the Difference Between a Franchise and a Master Franchise?

  • Territorial Rights: A master franchisee gains the exclusive rights to develop a brand within a specific large territory, such as an entire country or a significant region within a country. In contrast, a standard franchisee typically operates within a much more limited territory or just one location.
  • Level of Responsibility: While individual franchisees are mainly concerned with running their particular unit or units efficiently, master franchisees are responsible for the overall growth, development, and support of the brand in their designated territory. They are, in essence, responsible for establishing the franchise network within that area.
  • Investment and Potential Returns: The initial investment for a master franchise is considerably higher than that of a single franchise unit because of the extensive territorial rights and potential returns. However, master franchisees also stand to earn revenue from the franchise fees and ongoing royalties paid by the sub-franchisees they recruit.
  • Operational Scope: A regular franchisee focuses on the day-to-day operations of their unit, ensuring profitability, adherence to brand standards, and customer satisfaction. In contrast, a master franchisee, while they might operate their own units, is also deeply involved in strategic planning, marketing at a regional level, recruitment of new franchisees, and providing support to these franchisees.

In summary, while both franchise and master franchise models operate under the umbrella of the main franchisor, the scope, responsibility, investment, and potential returns differ substantially between the two.

Comparison Between Master Franchise and Regular Franchise

The complexities of franchising can sometimes be challenging to navigate. The table below provides a clear comparison between Master Franchise and Regular Franchise, highlighting their distinct features and responsibilities.

Features/ResponsibilitiesMaster FranchiseRegular Franchise
Territorial ScopeNational/InternationalSpecific Territory
Investment SizeSignificant Capital NeededLesser Capital
RoleRecruit and Support FranchiseesOperate a Single Unit
Income SourcePercentage from sub-franchisee fees, royalties, etc.Profits from their specific unit
Responsibility LevelHigh (area development)Focused on single business unit
Operational FreedomSupervise & ControlLimited to own business
Relationship with FranchisorMiddle person between franchisor & franchiseeDirectly with franchisor
Brand Ambassador RoleIn a new territory/countryIn a specific location

Master Franchise vs. Direct Franchising: Choosing the Right Path

When considering expansion, franchisors face a strategic decision between adopting a master franchise model or pursuing direct franchising.

Each approach has its advantages and challenges, making it important to choose the path that best aligns with the franchisor’s expansion goals, resources, and desired level of control.



Master franchising offers rapid international or regional expansion with reduced operational complexities for the franchisor.

By delegating the responsibilities of recruiting, training, and supporting franchisees to a master franchisee, franchisors can leverage local knowledge and expertise, potentially leading to faster market penetration.

However, this model requires relinquishing a degree of control over how the brand is developed and managed in the master franchisee’s territory.

Direct franchising allows franchisors to maintain tighter control over their brand and operations, ensuring consistency across all franchise units. This approach can be more resource-intensive, requiring the franchisor to manage recruitment, training, and support for each franchisee directly.



While direct franchising offers greater control, it may result in slower expansion, especially in unfamiliar markets.

The choice between master franchising and direct franchising depends on the franchisor’s capacity to manage overseas operations, their appetite for risk, and their long-term strategic objectives.

A careful assessment of these factors, possibly with the help of franchising consultants, can guide franchisors in selecting the most suitable expansion path.

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What Are the Advantages of Master Franchises?

A master franchisee needs to take on extra roles to support sub-franchisees. It’s more work to support franchisees but there are lots of advantages when the marketplace cooperates. Like the following:

  • It’s An Investment Decision Based on A Proven Business Model. A master franchisor gets the benefit of an established brand. You’ll be moving into new territory, but with a name that’s recognized and a business model that works. You’re taking advantage of a proven system. Metrics covering areas like own unit economics are visible.
  • You’ll Get An Exclusive Territory. Most of the master franchise agreement conditions grant this. A master franchisee buys that kind of exclusivity. And international expansion saves money on labor and regulations.
  • You Get Control. The master franchisee is empowered to supervise. You have your own business. But at the same time, you’re the middle person between the franchisor and the franchisees you recruit.
  • You Get The Benefit of Established Intellectual Property and Branding. The brand is more than likely already established in a certain territory. You get to use it as per the master franchise agreement. You are also able to take advantage of the already-established intellectual property.
  • You Get New Profits. With master franchising, you’ll get a percentage of the initial franchise fee. Plus you’ll also get a slice of ongoing royalties. And you can add that to what you’re making from a master franchisee’s existing business.

Who Makes an Ideal Master Franchisee?

A master franchisee needs to have the following traits to be successful. Remember, any kind of franchise ownership requires hard work too. To run a particular territory, you’ll need to have these characteristics. These are distinct from other forms of franchising.

  • A Business Background. This is a little different than unit franchising. A master franchisee needs to work with several different sub-franchise companies. Decisiveness and confidence are important for these types of area developers.
  • A Passion for The Brand. The master franchisee is the brand ambassador in another location or country. These people need to be leaders to inspire multi-unit franchisees by training and supporting them.
  • The Ability to Grow The Business. The franchise brand needs to be considered. However, good candidates have enough capital to be able to sustain a venture for 3 to 5 years.
  • Confidence. Master franchisees need to be able to achieve specific goals over a certain time frame. They need to project a positive confident attitude for themselves and the other franchisees. And they need the soft skills to deal with sub-franchisees and local employees.
  • They Need To Be Decisive. These types of franchise systems can be challenging. Candidates need to be able to make difficult and straightforward decisions. They deal with an infrastructure overseas as ambassadors for a known brand.

master franchise

How Do You Start a Master Franchise?

A Master franchisee usually has some experience in marketing and sales. A large percentage of successful people have an existing infrastructure and business. Starting one depends on a successful franchisorfranchisee relationship.



That means you’ll need to open and operate a few stores of your own as a franchisor. After that, you can start offering franchise rights to subfranchisees. Then you’ll sign a master franchise license. That gives you the rights to a large area.

There are some other options once you get comfortable. For example, you can make a motivated employee a mini franchisor.

The Financial Commitment for Master Franchising

Master franchising involves a significant financial commitment, often much larger than that required for a traditional franchise agreement. As a master franchisee, you’re not just investing in a single franchise unit; you’re investing in the right to develop an entire territory or region.

This means the initial master franchise fee can be substantial, reflecting the potential for extensive earnings through sub-franchise fees and royalties.



Beyond the initial fee, master franchisees must consider the capital required to establish the franchise brand within their territory. This includes marketing to recruit sub-franchisees, setting up training programs, and possibly launching your own pilot locations to showcase the business model.

The financial commitment also extends to ongoing support for your sub-franchisees, which can include marketing assistance, operational guidance, and continuous training programs.

It’s crucial for potential master franchisees to conduct a thorough financial analysis before entering into an agreement.

This analysis should account for the initial investment, estimated operational costs, and a realistic projection of revenue streams from sub-franchising activities. Understanding the financial model of master franchising is key to ensuring a profitable and sustainable business venture.



Navigating Legal Considerations and Agreements

The legal framework of master franchising is intricate, involving multiple layers of agreements that define the relationship between the franchisor, master franchisee, and sub-franchisees.

The master franchise agreement is the cornerstone document, outlining the rights and obligations of the master franchisee, including territory rights, exclusivity clauses, and the responsibilities for recruiting and supporting sub-franchisees.

Key legal considerations for master franchisees include understanding the scope of their territorial rights, the terms under which they can recruit sub-franchisees, and the mechanisms for dispute resolution outlined in the agreement.

Additionally, master franchisees must ensure they are in compliance with local laws and regulations governing franchising activities, which can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another.



Seeking experienced legal counsel is essential for navigating these legal complexities. A lawyer specialized in franchise law can help master franchisees understand their contractual obligations, negotiate favorable terms, and ensure compliance with applicable franchising regulations.

This legal guidance is invaluable in avoiding potential pitfalls and ensuring the long-term success of the master franchising operation.

How Much Do Master Franchisees Make?

The income potential for a master franchisee can be significant, but it varies greatly based on several factors, including the brand, territory, market conditions, and the master franchisee’s efforts in recruitment and support. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Initial Franchise Fees: Master franchisees earn a portion of the initial franchise fee for every new sub-franchisee they bring on board. For example, if the initial fee for a sub-franchise is $50,000, the master franchisee might retain a portion (e.g., 50%) or $25,000, with the balance going to the main franchisor.
  • Ongoing Royalty Fees: After the initial setup, sub-franchisees typically pay ongoing royalty fees based on their revenue or profit. The master franchisee collects these fees and then shares a portion with the main franchisor. So, if a sub-franchisee pays a 6% royalty fee on their sales, the master franchisee might keep half of that and pass the other half to the franchisor.
  • Real Estate Fees: If the franchising model involves real estate, the master franchisee might earn fees or a percentage of rent from sub-franchisees that lease properties controlled or managed by the master franchisee.
  • Training Fees: Often, the master franchisee is responsible for training new sub-franchisees in their territory. They can earn fees for conducting this training.
  • Supply Chain Profits: In some models, master franchisees may also profit from selling equipment, products, or services to the sub-franchisees.
  • Volume and Scale: The real potential for significant earnings as a master franchisee comes from volume. The more successful sub-franchisees they can recruit, train, and support, the greater their earning potential. It’s a multiplier effect.
  • Economic Conditions: The economic health of the region or country they oversee can influence earnings. Economic downturns can lead to fewer new franchise sales and lower sales volumes for existing sub-franchisees.
  • Brand Strength: The attractiveness of the brand and its proven track record can greatly affect the master franchisee’s ability to sell new franchises and the success rate of those franchises.

While there’s no fixed income for master franchisees, the potential earnings can be substantial, especially in large or rapidly growing markets.



However, it’s essential to understand that there’s also risk involved. The initial investment can be substantial, and success depends on the master franchisee’s skills, efforts, market conditions, and the strength and appeal of the brand.

master franchise

What Is a Master Franchising Fee?

This is the fee that the master franchisee pays in the beginning to the parent company. The master franchise fee is similar to other franchise fees that need to be paid. The FTC regulates the whole system nationwide. Usually, these fees are not negotiable because of the rules from the Federal Trade Commission which govern them. These are different depending on the franchisor.

What’s the Difference Between a Master Franchise Agreement and an Area Development Agreement?

It’s important to know the difference between these. There is a difference between a master franchise agreement and an area development agreement. First and foremost is the cost to the franchisor. Area developers don’t pay high investment fees. But at the same time, they don’t get a lot of the sub-franchise revenue.

The other big difference is who is responsible for developing regions directly. In most cases that’s the area developer. Support and training are offered by the franchisor. These developers help out because they are required to open some locations in a certain timeframe and in a certain territory.

The agreements cover different responsibilities. The area representatives who work under that agreement don’t have any arrangement with the franchisees. Their focus is more on being an area developer.

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

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