• Franchising isn't always the cheapest way to start a business.
  • But there are a growing number of options that come in at under R1 million.
  • At this price point, it's possible to buy businesses like PostNet, Dream Nails, or Battery Centre.
  • Here are some of the cheapest franchises currently for sale in South Africa.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Franchising is often one of the easiest and safest ways to start your own business - but because of this, it's not always the cheapest. Buying into an existing franchise can easily cost millions of rand, particularly if it's a household name that requires expensive equipment, retail space, and a significant staff compliment.

But there's a growing sector of the franchise market that caters towards businesses that are cheaper to set up - including several that cost less than R100,000 in upfront fees. Including establishing costs and working capital, it's possible to start many franchises with household names for under R1 million. Some, particularly those in the educational space, can cost significantly less.

These are some of the cheapest franchises you can currently buy in South Africa.

Motolek

Motolek, owned by the Midas brand, is a chain of roughly 60 auto electrical workshop franchises that operate throughout the country. Motolek franchises offer a range of electrical services for passenger vehicles, trucks, boats, and earth moving equipment.

The upfront franchise fee is among the lowest, at just R25,000. Following this, franchisees will likely need to spend between R250,000 and R350,000 to establish an outlet. The franchisor also recommends a working capital of R250,000, bringing the estimated total starting costs to between R500,000 and R800,000.

Business Doctors

Business Doctors is a small business owner coaching franchise. They help coach small businesses to develop strategic plans, achieve organisational efficiency, and improve supply chain management, among others.

Business Doctors claims to offer a "business in a box" to interested franchisees, with a minimum initial investment in the region of R22,000. Establishing the franchise will cost around R157,000, and Business Doctors recommend starting with working capital of R120,000. The total starting cost of a new franchise is therefore roughly R300,000.

Abacus Maths

Abacus Maths, which uses a Japanese abacus to teach young children the basics of maths, is one of the cheaper franchises available in South Africa. The company is looking for franchisees who are passionate about education and patient with children. The franchisors provide training at their head office and ongoing business management and marketing support through Zoom or Skype.

The upfront fee for an Abacus Maths franchise is R15,000. The franchisor recommends a working capital of R75,000 and estimates the total investment amount to be around R75,000.

MiniChess

MiniChess is a business that teaches chess to children between the ages of five and nine. The company provides structured lessons with detailed plans and project books, and they're looking for franchisees to run branches. In particular, they are looking for community-minded people who are good communicators, and they undertake to train franchisees through a two-day course.

MiniChess requires franchisees to pay an upfront fee of R45,000 and recommend a working capital of just R10,000, with a total estimated investment of R75,000.

3@1 Business Centre

3@1 Business Centres offers the public access to printers, couriers, and the internet. The business has more than two decades of experience in this field, and they are looking for new franchisees to help grow their footprint. 3@1 Business Centre offers a turnkey business solution and provides franchisee training at a separate facility and in the new store.

The franchise is cheaper than many brick and mortar businesses currently available in South Africa. The franchisor requires an upfront fee of R35,000 and estimate a 50 square metre store to cost around R595,000 to set up. Combined with the recommended working capital of R120,000, they estimate a total investment amount to be between R750,000 and R850,000.

Battery Centre

Battery Centre is a business started in South Africa in 1969 that sells and fits car vehicle batteries. It now has an extensive national footprint of 120 branches driven by franchisees. It's also a franchise that has a relatively low total investment amount for a physical store.

The average setup cost for a 100 square metre store is R500,000, while a working capital of R100,000 should cover opening stock.

Tutor Doctor

Tutor Doctor is an in-person and online tutoring franchise with an international footprint. The business started offering franchises in South Africa in 2017 and currently has seven local franchisees on board. They give new franchisees 80 hours of online training and seven days in a home office before opening the business.

A new Tutor Doctor franchise costs R30,000 to establish, and they recommend starting with working capital of R50,000. A local territory license also costs R495,000, bringing the initial total investment amount to approximately R550,000.

Dream Nails

Dream Nails has been around for more than 35 years, and the full-service nail and beauty salon is still looking for new franchisees to join its network. They are primarily looking for people passionate about nails, wellness, and beauty to join their team - and they offer one of the cheaper beauty franchises currently on the local market.

A Dream Nails salon of 30 square metres in size costs about R360,000 to establish, stock and equip. Coupled with a franchise fee of R40,000, you can expect to pay approximately R400,000 as an initial investment.

PostNet

PostNet is an established business with a history of more than 27 years in South Africa. It's currently South Africa's largest privately-owned counter network operating in the parcel and document industry, and they offer a range of copy, print, stationery and various business services.

A new PostNet store costs roughly R805,000, depending on the size of the store, which includes a R95,000 franchise fee. The franchisor requires that 50% of this is available as unencumbered cash.

Battery Clinic

Battery Clinic is a nationwide automotive battery specialist that started in 2006, focusing initially on reconditioned car batteries but expanding into other products in the field. 

There are currently ten franchises that form part of the national network, and they're looking to add to this tally by taking on new franchisees. Buying a Battery Clinic franchise requires a total initial investment of R700,000.

Just Property

Real estate group Just Property offers residential and commercial property sales and rentals and property administration and management services. There are currently 95 Just Property franchises located throughout South Africa.

The establishment cost of a new Just Property franchise is R150,000, with the total investment amount in the region of R650,000.

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