At one point in your life, you have probably eaten some sort of fast food like burgers, and you probably see different fast food brands every day on the road.
One of those most famous fast-casual restaurant chains that you can see in most parts of the USA is Culver’s.
They are a great business with high brand awareness and with over 800 stores across over 25 states. It is also one of the best franchises that you can own.
Because they are such a profitable and great business, you might think to get a piece of it through franchising and owning one of their stores.
Luckily, this is a possibility that you can do with Culver’s, and it could provide you with a great return on investment.
This article will take a look at the Culver franchise, how you can open it, how much it costs, and other important details.
About Culver’s Franchise
Culver’s is a fast-food restaurant chain known for its signature ButterBurgers, frozen custard, and Wisconsin cheese curds.
They strictly use fresh, high-quality ingredients in all the food in their restaurants which is a pride point for them.
In addition, they make all their food from scratch, including fresh beef that is never frozen. Culver’s menu includes a variety of options such as sandwiches, salads, soups, sides, and desserts.
They also offer limited-time specials that often incorporate seasonal ingredients.
Culver’s is one of the popular brands in the United States, operating in about 26 states altogether as of 2023.
They have both company and franchise-owned stores, but they strive to provide the same service, hospitality, and quality across all their locations.
They boast over 850 stores and only looking to expand more in the future without stopping.
The first Culver’s restaurant was opened in 1984 in Sauk City, Wisconsin, by Craig and Lea Culver, along with Craig’s parents, George and Ruth.
The Culvers wanted to create a restaurant that offered fresh, high-quality food in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.
Initially, the restaurant was just a small drive-in that served butter burgers and frozen custard.
However, it quickly gained popularity, and the Culvers began to expand the business. By 1990, they started to franchise the business to grow the company faster.
The first franchise was again in Wisconsin, in their headquarters city. Craig led the company as the CEO until 2015, when it was founded in 1984.
Today, Culver’s is a rapidly growing restaurant chain with 899 locations in 26 states in the United States.
Culvers sold a minority share to Roark Capital Group in 2017, but the company is still family owned and operated by them.
Both Craig and Lea Culver are still taking part in the daily operations of the business most of the time.
Culver’s Franchise Model
|Initial Investment||$2.3 million-$5.7 million|
How Much Does It Cost To Open A Culver’s Franchise?
Opening a Culver’s franchise has many varying costs. In total, with everything included, you can expect to spend between $2.3 million to $5.7 million.
This initial investment includes the $55,000 franchise fee that you have to pay in advance.
The biggest differentiator in the initial investment is real estate, whether you will own it or not.
Real estate costs could be as low as $185,000 or as high as $2 million if you decide to purchase the land.
If you purchase the land, you also will need to show higher liquidity when applying as a franchisee.
Other than that, you will have to pay for the travel, living expenses that occurred during the training, inventory, systems, and other operational costs in the initial investment.
Culver’s Franchise Requirements
Culver’s requires the potential franchisees to own a certain amount of financial amount, but there is no certain requirement on the personal background side.
This means that if you can comply with the financial requirements, you are likely to get approval. They do not specifically look for a professional background in the industry or with Culver’s.
The financial requirements state that you and other potential investors must collectively have a minimum of $500,000 in liquid assets to qualify for ownership. This is the case if you lease the real estate and the equipment.
If you wish to own the real estate, building, and equipment, you will need $750,000 in liquid assets. There is no net worth requirement.
Culver’s Franchise Training and Support
Culver’s offers both extensive training and ongoing support to franchise owners before and after they start their operations.
Their training covers everything in the restaurant operation and also teaches you how to open the restaurant.
All of their training happens both at one of the company-owned stores in Wisconsin and Culver’s ButterBurger University.
The fee for this training is already included in your initial franchise fee. You just have to pay the extra occurring costs such as travel expenses, meals, and other things.
There is also a sanity program that adheres to either national or state sanity regulations.
The management team, at least six people, must take this and complete this training, and get certified.
In addition to this initial training program, Culver’s will support you by sending a team to your restaurant to work with you before and after your restaurant opening.
Culver’s Franchise Terms of Agreement and Renewal
When you sign the franchise agreement for the first time, you will have to pay a $55,000 fee, and this initial agreement will be for 15 years.
It’s a basic 15-year term where you get to keep the name for 15 years unless you breach the contract. After this initial 15-year period, you will have the option to renew.
However, you have to qualify for renewal by the franchisor and seem fit to manage the restaurant for another period.
The renewal will happen for an additional ten years and will cost you $30,000 in the franchise fee. Once the renewal gets approved, you will get to run the branch for another ten years.
Culver’s Franchise Obligations and Restrictions
Culver’s expects their franchise owners to spend no less than full-time, hands-on engagement on each of their franchise stores.
As an owner-operator, you are obligated to work in the restaurant with your team to ensure excellence in execution.
Culver’s believes that this is the key to delivering Culver’s famous hospitality and delicious food.
The franchisee has to have at least %50 of the ownership of the franchise business or have at least 25% in both business and real estate.
This person must be involved in the daily operations full-time. However, if you get written consent from the franchisor, you might be able to delegate someone else for the daily operations.
In addition to this, you are restricted from selling any items that the franchisor doesn’t approve of beforehand in written format.
Culver’s Franchise Financial Assistance
Culver’s doesn’t have any kind of financing, whether direct or indirect, through third-party sources.
This means that the potential franchisees will have to look for any kind of financial assistance they need themselves.
Culver’s has no other obligation to consider any kind of financial help in leasing, equipment, or other financial obligations.
You can receive the necessary financial assistance through third-party sources on loan if you wish to.
Culver’s also doesn’t get involved in how you get the financing, whether in cash or through loans.
If they see that you have adequate resources or you legally secured the funding, they will have no saying.
|Company||Franchise Fee||Royalty Fee||Initial Investment|
|Dairy Queen||$25,000-$45,000||4%||$1.4 million-$2.4 million|
|Culver’s||$55,000||4%||$2.3 million-$5.7 million|
Culver’s is one of the most profitable fast-food restaurant chains per store, and they take great care of their quality.
They are in 26 states with a total of 899 stores, and they offer their own signature dishes along with classic fast-food options.
This makes them a viable business option, no matter if you have prior experience or not.
You can expect to make an investment of somewhere between $2.3 million to $5.7 million for a Culver’s franchise.
This includes the initial $55,000 franchise fee and other operational costs. An average Culver’s franchise store makes about $3 million annually.
Who is the CEO of Culver’s?
Enrique Silva is the current CEO of the business. He has been holding this spot since March 2021.
How much does it cost to open a Culver’s franchise?
The total investment required to open a Culver’s franchise is between $2.3 million and $5.7 million.
The reason why it varies so much is whether you will own the real estate or lease it. It’s more expensive if you own it.
Can I fail with a Culver’s franchise?
Just like running any other business, you can also fail when running a Culver’s franchise. It all depends on your skills and ability to maintain a business.
However, it’s a little bit harder to fail than compared to owning your own business because of brand awareness.
Amit Gupta is an experienced expert in digital marketing and co-founder of DrFranchises. With more than 11 years of knowledge in franchise digital marketing, SEO, email marketing, and social media marketing, Amit has helped many brands achieve incredible success online. As a passionate entrepreneur and owner of 7 franchises, he continues to study franchise models, looking at costs, revenue, and profitability to guide brands toward profitable growth. When he’s not working on digital marketing, Amit enjoys spending time playing with his beloved dog.