Investing in a franchise can be a great way to build your own business under a tried and tested brand. In fact, many of the brands we know and love - and see on every corner - here in Singapore run on a franchise model.
Choose to buy into a franchise and you could be your own boss while simultaneously becoming part of a brand you’re already passionate about.
This guide is a great starting point to gather ideas and plan your journey. We’ll cover how franchise businesses work and some of the most popular available franchises across Singapore, including retail, food and beverage and even childcare companies.
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Let’s start with the basics. In a franchise model you’ll pay an upfront investment fee to be able to build your business under an existing brand. That means you benefit from the expertise of the company, access to their products and resources, and of course their brand name.
You don’t need to worry about choosing what to sell, or how to market your business as you’ll usually get full training under the brand’s operating policies, as well as the use of their marketing and advertising materials.
In return for this, you’ll commit to operating within brand guidelines, and handing over a percentage of your monthly profit to the brand.
There are challenges in getting your franchise up and running. Some brands require high upfront investment, and a ready supply of extra cash - this is needed to show you have the working capital to get your business off the ground.
You’ll also have to follow strict guidelines which can cover everything from how you present your products, decorate your space, price your goods and services, and market your business within your community. Failure to stick to standard operating procedures can mean you face penalties - not something any business owner needs to deal with.
Franchising is a great option for many would-be business owners - but of course before you make a final decision you’ll want to do your research. Check out the handy resources from the Franchising and Licensing Association (Singapore) and iFranchise Singapore to learn more.
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The Singaporean passion for food is legendary. It’s no surprise then, that many of the franchise opportunities available are in food and beverage. Here are a few to consider.
If you’re a fan of Ya Kun Kaya Toast, you’ll be glad to hear you can become a franchise owner either here or overseas¹. As well as access to products and marketing material you’ll benefit from full initial training and ongoing support.
Cost: Ya Kun franchise costs aren’t published online - you have to apply to learn more. However, the overall price is reported to be in the region of SGD250,000.
Another famous heritage brand, you can become part of the Old Chang Kee story if you buy into a franchise². Opportunities are available both in Singapore and overseas, and franchise holders get access to the well known branding and products, along with practical support in the form of training and operational best practices.
Costs: The investment you’ll need could run from SGD200,00 to SGD300,000 or more.
You’re never far from a Subway. It’s one of the strongest brands in its field, with standard operating procedures that mean that the sub you’ll get in Singapore is the same as the one you could buy in San Francisco - a big bonus for customers who want to know the quality will be consistent. Join the Subway family by buying your own franchise.³
Cost: Subway’s website has a helpful FAQ which runs through the details of franchising with them. The costs split into an initial franchise fee of USD10,000 to USD15,000, plus a capital investment which depends on the store type and size. Once you add in all the initial costs including training, fitting out the store, opening inventory and more, you could be paying around USD250,000 for a medium sized operation.
Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks offers everything you might find at the famous Shihlin night market in Taipei, including meals, drinks and snacks. In Singapore services include pickup, delivery and dine in, and franchise owners can operate a variety of different sized outlets.⁴
Costs: reported to be SGD120,000 to SGD150,000 to get up and running, depending on the unit size and setup
BreadTalk and Toastbox are perennial favourites - as you’ll know if you’ve ever stood in line outside to get your morning kopi and butter sugar toast. What you might not know is that the company behind these brands is expanding with operations across 15 countries, including recent outlets expanding into the European market⁵. Get on board as the brand grows with your own franchise.⁶
Cost: not publicly available - apply online and your application will be assessed within 2 weeks.
LiHO bubble tea and signature cheese teas are well known, and a popular quick drink to pick up on the go. With a famous brand and a hot product, this could be a good franchise opportunity if you’re looking for a food and beverage operation to buy into.⁷
Cost: not publicly available
With branches all over Singapore, you’ll probably be familiar with Koi’s flavoured teas, milk teas, juices and coffees. Koi franchises are available in Singapore and overseas, giving you access to their brand and products in exchange for your franchise fees.⁸
Cost: Koi specifies the costs for units in the US online - you’ll need USD200,000 upfront investment, with a networth of USD300,000 to show the minimum liquidity. Although costs will vary by market, this should give a picture for local investors interested in franchising.
If F&B is not for you, you might want to look beyond this market for franchising opportunities. How about childcare or education? Here are a few to think about.
Kinderland has been around for over 40 years and operates over 100 locations around the region, meaning franchise holders benefit from a strong brand⁹. There’s also a unique curriculum which will appeal to parents looking for something a little extra for their kids.
Costs: not fully specified online - however, when you apply you’re asked to declare that you have at least USD200,000 available to invest in the first year of operation.
Montessori based schools attract families looking for a child centred preschool experience. Modern Montessori International (MMI) franchise holders benefit from an international brand which offers support, training and ongoing quality control to make sure the children enrolled get the very best.¹⁰
Costs: not publicly available
MindChamps provide a range of schooling and enrichment programs across Singapore. Franchise holders can build a business with access to the MindChamps methodology and teaching materials, training and quality control¹¹. Impressively 75% of franchise holders are parents of children who attend or previously attended MindChaps facilities, and chose to invest as a result of their experiences.
Costs: MindChamps recently reported a franchise opportunity selling for SGD200,000¹². It’s worth noting as well that another preexisting MindChamps business sold turnkey to an investor in 2020 for a stunning SGD5.1 million.¹³
Another option is to look at retail franchises, from convenience stores to fashion boutiques. Here are some to explore.
7-Eleven is a life saver for many busy Singaporeans - from schoolkids grabbing a snack before jumping on the bus, to popping out late at night when you realise you’ve run short of eggs or milk. No wonder you see the outlets everywhere. About 50% of 7-Elevens are franchise run, and interestingly 7-Eleven will always operate a unit initially before selling the franchise on. That means new franchise holders get a fully fitted out store with a track record of profit that can be analysed and improved on.
Costs: 7-Eleven Singapore claims to have one of the lowest investment requirements in the category, with initial investment capital of SGD30,000 and up depending on the unit, and working capital of SGD40,000 and up.¹⁴
Cheers stores are in petrol stations, in malls and in many other locations with high footfall and hungry, thirsty passing trade. As part of the NTUC family Cheers is a well known brand, which offers franchising opportunities to Singaporeans and PRs only. Franchise holders get 3 months training and on the job support to make sure they succeed.¹⁵
Costs: reported to be from SGD40,000 to SGD200,000 depending on the outlet type
For something a little different, take a look at Park Lane. Park Lane has been around since 1955, offering direct sales of jewellery. Park Lane franchise holders get corporate support and training and the company states that upfront investment is minimal to reduce risk.¹⁶
Costs: not publicly available
There are too many franchise opportunities available to list them all out here. However, here are a couple more we couldn’t leave out.
We’ve added in Singapore Pools as opening a franchise may be an appealing option. Unfortunately, while this used to be possible, at the time of writing Singapore Pools are not advertising public franchise opportunities, and - according to reports - don’t plan to open public bidding for franchises any time soon. However, there are full and part time employed opportunities available if this is your passion.¹⁷
Knowing your market is key to a good franchise, and so checking out newer or more niched businesses is also a smart option. If you’re in an area not well served by halal stores, take a look at Fmart which operates in the Middle east predominantly and is looking to expand its footprint.¹⁸ Getting in early on a franchise which is growing may be a good strategy if you’re the entrepreneurial type.
Costs: expected to be from USD300,000 and upwards
Franchising isn’t an easy option - running your own business will always be a challenge. However, with a franchise you can access a broad range of support and guidance which is reassuring, along with the well known brand name which brings customers to your door. Find a franchise you’re passionate about, and do your research thoroughly before buying in, to make sure your business is successful. Good luck!
- Ya Kun Kaya Toast
- Old Chang Kee
- SUBWAY - Singapore (English) FAQ
- BreadTalk Group
- BreadTalk Group - Franchising Application Form
- LiHO TEA
- Koi Tea Franchise
- Franchise with Kinderland Preschool | SG & International
- MMI Franchise Opportunities
- MindChamps Franchise Opportunities
- MindChamps - Media release
- Business Times - MindChamps sells Toa Payoh centre to franchisee for S$5.1m
- 7-Eleven Singapore: Franchising
- Franchise – Cheers
- Park Lane – World's Largest Direct Sales Jewellery Company
- Singapore Pools
- Fmart – Halal Convenience Stores
Sources checked on 19 April 2021
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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