How Much Does It Cost to Start a McDonald’s Franchise?

McDonald’s is a globally recognized fast-food brand that has been operating for over 70 years. The brand has a strong presence in more than 100 countries, serving millions of customers every day. McDonald’s franchise is a popular option for entrepreneurs looking to start a business in the fast-food industry. This article aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the various costs associated with starting a McDonald’s franchise, including the initial franchise fee, ongoing fees, equipment costs, and other miscellaneous expenses. In doing so, we should be able to provide an adequate answer to the total cost of opening a McDonald’s franchise as well as some insight into the possible return on investment. In total, readers will have a better understanding of the financial requirements needed to start a McDonald’s franchise and whether it’s a feasible investment opportunity by the end of this article. We’ll cover the following topics in detail in this article:

Costs of Opening a McDonald’s

The initial franchise fee for opening a new restaurant is $45,000, which closely resembles the industry standard. Popular fast-food chains like Burger King and Taco Bell have slightly higher fees in the $50,000 range, but many other chains like Subway have lower franchise fees. Therefore, the McDonald’s franchise cost alone, even if high, should not deter investment.

In addition to the initial franchise fee, McDonald’s franchisees are required to pay an ongoing royalty fee of 4% of the restaurant’s gross sales. This royalty fee is on the lower end of the industry standard spectrum of 4-5%. McDonald’s also has a 4% marketing fee to help with their international ad campaigning. This number is also in line with the industry standard. Therefore, while 8% of all revenue is a steep fee, it is also in line with similar restaurants in the industry and not as high as some chains (like subway) which exceed a 12% royalty plus marketing fee.

Franchisees of McDonald’s are also required to purchase equipment, opening inventory, and supplies from approved vendors. The cost of these items can vary depending on the size of the restaurant and the menu items offered. Operational expenses for McDonald’s include monthly rent, utilities, wages, insurance, and advertising. The cost of these expenses can also vary depending on the location and size of the restaurant. Therefore, the estimated range can be large, especially when McDonald’s does not publicly disclose the exact cost. Nonetheless, we can estimate the equipment investment costs to be from $150,000 to $700,000, depending on the size and scope of the restaurant, while inventory and supply costs can range from $500,000 to $1.2 million, depending on the restaurant’s size and menu offerings.

Overall, franchising a McDonald’s requires a significant investment, which includes the franchise fee, equipment, inventory, and operational expenses. The cost of franchising a McDonald’s can range from $1 million to $2.3 million, depending on the location and size of the restaurant. Additionally, the annual cost of operations and inventory can range from $500,000 to $1.8 million. Most business owners will have to tap into some form of financing to cover all of these expenses, which is a natural step in opening an expensive and substantial business.

  • Franchise Fee: $45,000
  • Initial Investment: $1 million to $2.3 million
  • Minimum Liquidity: $500,000
  • Royalty Fee: 4%
  • Ad (Marketing) Fee: 4%

History of McDonald’s

McDonald’s is one of the world’s most iconic fast-food chains, recognized for its golden arches delicious big-macs and golden french fries, and the famous slogan, “I’m lovin’ it.” The company has a rich history, dating back to 1940, when it was first established in San Bernardino, California, by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald.

Initially, McDonald’s was a simple drive-in restaurant that served barbecue food, but the brothers soon realized that they could streamline their operations by simplifying the menu and using assembly-line techniques. They focused on making hamburgers, fries, and milkshakes, which were quick and easy to prepare, and soon became known for their speedy service and affordable prices.

In 1954, businessman Ray Kroc approached the McDonald brothers with an offer to franchise their brand. Kroc had seen the potential of the fast-food industry and believed that McDonald’s could become a national phenomenon. The brothers agreed to Kroc’s proposal, and in 1955, the first McDonald’s franchise opened in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Over the next few years, McDonald’s expanded rapidly, with hundreds of franchises opening across the United States. The company’s success was due in part to its innovative business model, which included a focus on consistency, quality, and speed. Customers knew that they could expect the same great-tasting food and fast service at any McDonald’s restaurant they visited.

By the 1960s, McDonald’s had become a household name, and the company had begun to expand internationally. In 1967, the first McDonald’s restaurant opened in Canada, and by the end of the decade, McDonald’s had a presence in more than a dozen countries.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, McDonald’s continued to expand, introducing new menu items and innovations such as the drive-thru window. The company also began to focus on advertising and marketing, launching memorable campaigns such as “You Deserve a Break Today” and “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.”

In the 1990s and 2000s, McDonald’s faced increased competition from other fast-food chains and criticism over its menu offerings and health effects. The company responded by introducing new menu items, such as salads and healthier options, and by promoting its sustainability and community initiatives.

Today, McDonald’s is one of the largest fast-food chains in the world, with more than 38,000 restaurants in over 100 countries. The company continues to innovate, introducing new menu items and technology such as mobile ordering and delivery. While it has faced challenges over the years, McDonald’s remains an iconic brand that has had a profound impact on the fast-food industry and popular culture.

Advantages of a McDonald’s Franchise

Franchising is a popular business model that has allowed many entrepreneurs to start their own businesses with the backing of an established brand. One of the most successful franchisors in the world is McDonald’s, with thousands of franchise locations in over 100 countries. In this section of the article, we will enumerate the advantages of franchising a McDonald’s over other fast food chains.

McDonald’s has a proven business model that has been refined over decades of operation. The company has perfected its systems and processes, which means that franchisees can benefit from a streamlined operation with clear guidelines and protocols. This can lead to increased efficiency and profitability for franchisees.

Trusted Brand: McDonald’s is a well-known and trusted brand, with a strong reputation for quality and consistency. This can help franchisees to attract and retain customers, who know that they can expect the same high standards of service and products at any McDonald’s location. The company’s brand recognition can also help to attract potential franchisees, who may be drawn to the prestige and recognition associated with the brand.

Training Program: McDonald’s provides comprehensive training and support for its franchisees. This includes an initial training program that covers all aspects of running a McDonald’s restaurant, ongoing support from a dedicated franchisee consultant, and access to a range of resources and tools to help with marketing, operations, and other aspects of the business. This can be especially valuable for first-time business owners, who may benefit from the guidance and support provided by McDonald’s.

Strong supply chain: McDonald’s has a strong supply chain and purchasing power, which can help franchisees to save money on equipment, supplies, and other essentials. The company’s purchasing power means that franchisees can benefit from economies of scale and lower costs, which can help to increase profitability and reduce expenses.

Loyal customer base: McDonald’s has a large and loyal customer base, which can help to drive sales and revenue for franchisees. The company has invested heavily in marketing and advertising over the years, which has helped to build a strong brand identity and customer loyalty. This can help franchisees to benefit from repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals, which can be an invaluable source of revenue.

Flexibility: Another way in which McDonald’s has shown flexibility is in its approach to restaurant design and layout. While the company has a recognizable brand identity, it has also been willing to work with franchisees to customize the design and layout of individual restaurants to better suit the needs of local markets. This can include everything from adapting the menu to include local favorites to customizing the decor and signage to reflect regional tastes and preferences.

McDonald’s has also demonstrated flexibility in its approach to franchise ownership. While the company has traditionally required franchisees to have significant capital and business experience, it has also been willing to work with first-time business owners who may not meet these criteria. This can include offering financing and training programs to help new franchisees get up and running, as well as providing ongoing support and guidance to ensure their success.

Finally, McDonald’s has shown flexibility in its approach to franchise agreements. While the company does have certain standards and requirements that must be met by all franchisees, it has also been willing to negotiate terms and conditions on a case-by-case basis. This can include everything from adjusting royalty fees to providing additional marketing support or training resources.

High AUV: McDonald’s is one of the most successful and profitable fast food chains in the world, with an Average Unit Volume (AUV) of around $2.8 million as of 2021. This AUV is significantly higher than the industry average AUV for fast food restaurants, which is around $1 million. McDonald’s has consistently ranked among the top performers in the industry in terms of AUV, and its success can be attributed in part to its strong brand recognition, global presence, and iconic menu offerings.

Other major fast food chains also have high AUVs, but generally not as high as McDonald’s. For example, Subway, the world’s largest sandwich chain, had an AUV of around $400,000 as of 2021. Other popular fast food chains like Taco Bell and Burger King have AUVs of around $1.4 million and $1.3 million, respectively. Even though certain fast food chains like Chick-Fil-A and Raising Caines have a higher AUV reaching into the $4 million+ range, it is important to note that these are chicken-dominated chains. Therefore, McDonald’s reigns supreme in terms of AUV among immediately analogous burger-dominated chains such as Wendy’s, Burger King, etc.

Disadvantages of a McDonald’s Franchise

While franchising a McDonald’s restaurant can be a profitable and rewarding venture, there are certain disadvantages that franchisees may face, some of which may be more specific to McDonald’s as a brand compared to other fast food chains. Here are some disadvantages that a franchisee of McDonald’s may face:

Strict menu requirements: McDonald’s has a strict menu requirement, which means that franchisees are not allowed to deviate from the standard menu items or introduce new products without the approval of the franchisor. This can limit a franchisee’s creativity and ability to adapt to local tastes.

High equipment and supply costs: McDonald’s requires franchisees to purchase equipment and supplies from approved suppliers, which can be more expensive than sourcing from other suppliers. This can increase the initial investment required to start a franchise and can also impact ongoing operating costs.

Required remodels and upgrades: McDonald’s requires franchisees to periodically remodel and upgrade their restaurants to meet new brand standards. These upgrades can be expensive and time-consuming and can also impact a franchisee’s ability to generate revenue during the remodeling process.

High operational standards: McDonald’s has high operational standards and requires franchisees to adhere to strict rules and procedures for food preparation, service, and cleanliness. Failure to meet these standards can result in penalties or termination of the franchise agreement.

In sum, while McDonald’s has demonstrated financial flexibility as it pertains to the financial situation of their franchisees, McDonald’s has strict operational requirements, which can place a burden on franchisees.

Process of Starting a McDonald’s

Starting a McDonald’s franchise can be a complex and lengthy process. It requires significant capital, time, and effort to get a franchise up and running. The following is an overview of the steps involved in starting a McDonald’s franchise.

The first step in starting a McDonald’s franchise is to meet the company’s requirements. These requirements include having a minimum net worth of $500,000 and liquid assets of at least $250,000. These numbers are on the lower end of requirements at analogous fast food-chains. For example, to open a Wendy’s both of these numbers have to be doubled. That is, a million dollar net worth and $500,000 in liquid capital. Other less concrete requirements, such as that Prospective franchisees must also have experience in managing a business and possess good credit history, also exist.

Once the initial requirements are met, the next step is to submit an application to McDonald’s. The application requires detailed information about the prospective franchisee’s personal and financial background, experience, and the location where they would like to open a franchise.

After submitting the application, the approval process begins. McDonald’s evaluates the prospective franchisee’s application and conducts a thorough background check. The company also reviews the proposed location and determines if it meets the company’s criteria for a successful restaurant.

If the prospective franchisee is approved, McDonald’s presents them with a franchise agreement. This agreement outlines the terms and conditions of the franchise, including the franchise fee, royalties, and marketing fees. The franchisee must sign this agreement before moving forward with the franchise.

Once the franchise agreement is signed, the franchisee is required to complete a comprehensive training program provided by McDonald’s. This program covers everything from restaurant operations to customer service and management. The training program ensures that the franchisee understands and can execute the McDonald’s system and standards.

After completing the training program, the franchisee can begin the process of site selection and build-out. McDonald’s has strict criteria for location and design, and franchisees must work with the company to ensure that their restaurant meets these criteria. This process can take several months to complete.

Finally, the franchisee can hold their grand opening and start serving customers. However, the work does not stop there. Franchisees must continue to adhere to McDonald’s standards and systems to ensure the success of their restaurant.

How Profitable is Opening a McDonald’s Franchise

McDonald’s is one of the most well-known and successful fast food chains in the world. As a result, it is natural for many aspiring entrepreneurs to consider owning a McDonald’s franchise as a potential business opportunity. But the question that arises is, how profitable is running a McDonald’s franchise?

To begin with, the initial total investment required to open a McDonald’s franchise ranges from $1 million to $2.3 million. This includes the franchise fee, equipment, real estate, and other start-up costs. While this might seem like a hefty price tag, it is important to note that McDonald’s offers extensive support and training to its franchisees, including ongoing assistance with site selection, store design, and operations.

Once the restaurant is up and running, there are several factors that can impact its profitability. One of the key factors is location. McDonald’s franchises located in busy and densely populated areas tend to generate more revenue than those in rural or less populated areas. Additionally, the size of the restaurant and the number of employees can also impact profitability.

In terms of revenue, the average annual revenue for a McDonald’s franchise in the US is around $2.8 million, according to the company’s 2020 franchise disclosure document (FDD). This figure, however, is not a guarantee and can vary widely depending on a number of factors.

To determine profitability, it is important to consider the costs involved in running a McDonald’s franchise. In addition to the initial investment, franchisees are required to pay ongoing fees, such as a royalty fee of 4% of gross sales and a marketing fee of 4% of gross sales. There are also operating costs, including labor, food and beverage costs, and other overhead expenses. These fees will result in around $225,000 in annual fees. Because the annual cost of operations and inventory can range from $500,000 to $1.8 million and an AUV of $2.8 million, a McDonald’s franchisee can expect to turn a profit even with paying a quarter million in fees.

A 2020 report by Franchise Business Review confirms this intuition. According to this report, the average McDonald’s franchise owner makes around $150,000 per year. However, this figure can vary widely depending on factors such as location, competition, and management efficiency.

It is important to note that running a McDonald’s franchise requires hard work, dedication, and attention to detail. Franchisees must adhere to strict operational standards and brand guidelines, and failure to do so can result in penalties or even termination of the franchise agreement.

In conclusion, while the initial investment required to open a McDonald’s franchise may seem daunting, it can be a highly profitable business opportunity for those who are willing to put in the time, effort, and resources required to succeed. With the right location, management, and operations, a McDonald’s franchise can generate substantial revenue and profits, making it a potentially lucrative investment for entrepreneurs.

The McDonald’s Training Program

The McDonald’s corporation is one of the most well-known fast food chains in the world, with over 38,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries. As a result of its success, McDonald’s has developed a comprehensive training program for its employees to ensure consistent and high-quality service across all locations. In this essay, we will explore the key elements of the McDonald’s training program and its impact on the company’s success.

One of the most important aspects of the McDonald’s training program is its focus on customer service. McDonald’s recognizes that its success depends on its ability to provide fast, friendly, and efficient service to its customers. Therefore, the training program emphasizes the importance of creating a positive customer experience. This includes teaching employees how to greet customers, take orders, handle complaints, and maintain a clean and welcoming environment.

In addition to customer service, the McDonald’s training program also focuses on food preparation and safety. All employees are trained on the proper handling and preparation of food, as well as the importance of maintaining a clean and sanitary kitchen. This training includes topics such as food temperature control, proper cooking techniques, and safe food handling practices.

Another key component of the McDonald’s training program is its emphasis on teamwork. McDonald’s recognizes that its success depends on the ability of its employees to work together effectively. Therefore, the training program includes team-building exercises and emphasizes the importance of communication and collaboration.

The McDonald’s training program is also designed to be accessible and inclusive. McDonald’s offers a variety of training methods to accommodate different learning styles and schedules. This includes online training modules, in-person classroom training, and on-the-job training. Additionally, McDonald’s has developed training materials in multiple languages to ensure that all employees can participate in the training program.

One of the most impressive aspects of the McDonald’s training program is its impact on employee advancement. McDonald’s encourages its employees to develop their skills and knowledge through ongoing training and education. This includes opportunities for employees to advance through the company and take on leadership roles. Many of McDonald’s senior executives and franchise owners started as entry-level employees and worked their way up through the company.

Overall, the McDonald’s training program is a critical component of the company’s success. By emphasizing customer service, food preparation and safety, teamwork, accessibility, and employee advancement, McDonald’s has created a comprehensive training program that sets its employees up for success. As a result, McDonald’s has been able to maintain consistent quality across its global network of restaurants and continues to be one of the most successful and recognizable brands in the world.

Terms of Agreement and Renewal for McDonald’s

Territory: The franchise agreement will specify the geographic territory where the franchisee has the right to operate a McDonald’s restaurant. The franchisee is typically granted an exclusive territory that is protected from other McDonald’s restaurants.

Term: The franchise agreement has a specific term, usually 20 years, during which the franchisee has the right to operate the franchise. After the term expires, the franchisee may have the option to renew the agreement.

Franchise fee: The franchisee must pay an initial franchise fee to McDonald’s, which covers the cost of training, support, and the right to use the McDonald’s name, trademark, and operating system.

Royalties: The franchisee must pay ongoing royalties to McDonald’s, which are typically a percentage of gross sales. This covers the cost of ongoing support, advertising, and other services provided by McDonald’s.

Advertising fund: The franchisee must contribute to an advertising fund, which is used to promote the McDonald’s brand nationally and locally. The amount of the contribution is typically a percentage of gross sales.

Operations manual: The franchisee must follow the McDonald’s operations manual, which outlines the procedures and standards for operating a McDonald’s restaurant. This manual is regularly updated by McDonald’s to reflect changes in the industry and the company’s practices.

Training: The franchisee must complete McDonald’s training program, which covers all aspects of operating a McDonald’s restaurant, including customer service, food preparation, marketing, and management.

Franchise Renewal Terms

Renewal options: The franchise agreement may provide the franchisee with the option to renew the agreement at the end of the initial term. The renewal may be for a specific period, such as 10 or 20 years, and may be subject to meeting certain conditions, such as achieving certain sales targets.

Renewal fees: The franchisee may be required to pay a renewal fee to McDonald’s to renew the agreement for their existing restaurant. This fee may be a percentage of the initial franchise fee or a fixed amount.

Renewal terms: The terms of the renewal agreement may be different from the initial agreement. McDonald’s may update the operations manual, change the royalty rate, or modify other terms of the agreement. The franchisee must agree to these new terms in order to renew the franchise.


In conclusion, opening a McDonald’s franchise is an exciting venture that requires significant financial investment. The cost of starting a McDonald’s franchise is substantial, and entrepreneurs need to have access to significant capital to get started. The total cost of starting a McDonald’s franchise is subject to various factors, such as location, size of the restaurant, and equipment needs, but should range from $500,000 to $1,200,000. With annual sales estimated at an average of $2.8 million and annual costs of less than $2,000,000 on average, the prospects of a positive return on investment are fruitful.

Entrepreneurs interested in opening a McDonald’s franchise should consider the franchise fees, equipment, rent, and other expenses involved. However, despite the high initial cost, owning a McDonald’s franchise can be a lucrative business opportunity for entrepreneurs who are willing to put in the hard work and dedication required to make the business a success. In sum, compared with other franchise opportunities, McDonald’s offers lower entry requirements with standard annual fees and standard franchise and start-up fees.

With a lower entrance price and higher average revenue compared with other fast food franchises, McDonald’s may be among the best franchises to invest in. That being said, a general rule is not always applicable to specific situations. Therefore, further research is necessary on your specific case before deciding whether or not investing in a McDonald’s franchise is right for you.


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