Burger King Franchise Revenue of $1M+ worth the high Franchise Cost?

Written by: Dylan Tymkiw
Last Updated: November 24, 2021
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Burger King store

You have probably heard of Burger King, one of the biggest fast-food companies in the world. They mainly offer a wide variety of burgers and fries. Did you know it is a franchise? Yes, Burger King is a franchise with over 18,000 locations worldwide, of which about 7,000 are in the U.S. alone. Burger King Corporation is an Inc founded in 1954 in Florida and is based in Miami. It is an indirect subsidiary of Burger King Worldwide, located in Delaware. 

Competitors of Burger King include other franchises in the fast-food industry such as McDonald’s, Subway, KFC, and other Burger Kings nearby. We will analyze if the initial cost is worth the potential returns.

How much is a Burger King Franchise?

The standard fee for a 20-year term Burger King franchise is $50,000. The upfront fee must be paid before opening the restaurant. Prices can vary depending on the length of the property control, with the minimum being $15,000. On top of the initial fee, Burger King also has an application fee of $250 per applicant and $5,000 for Entity Ownership. If you were to operate multiple restaurants, a fee of $50,000 is due for every additional unit. 

Burger King Franchise

Burger King franchise cost:

The estimated total investment needed for beginning operation is between $1,877,600 and $3,398,600. That is, if you decide to go the traditional route.

However, with Burger King you can also opt for setting up your location inside another commerce (like a supermarket or a gas station), and can also co-brand to reduce costs. They call these non-traditional stores.

By doing this, the initial investment is reduced to a rough estimate of $220,000 – $1,450,000.

For the sake of simplicity, we will focus on traditional locations.

Additional Cost Breakdown

Additional Cost Breakdown

Type of Expenditure Freestanding Estimated Range Method of Payment When Due To Whom Payment is To Be Made
Low High
Franchise Fee 50,000 50,000 lump sum execution BKC
Travel and Living Expenses While Training 0 25,000 as arranged as incurred vendor
Real Property / Occupancy Charge 400,000 850,000 as arranged as incurred lessor/vendor
Civil & Architectural Drawings / Professional Fees 20,000 60,000 as arranged as incurred vendor
Zoning Expenses 5,000 25,000 as arranged as incurred vendor
Improvements / Construction 900,000 1,200,000 as arranged as incurred contractor
Landscaping 25,000 60,000 as arranged as incurred lessor
Equipment 199,600 294,000 as arranged as incurred vendor
Décor Package 45,000 95,000 as arranged as incurred vendor
Signage & Drive Thru 66,000 166,000 as arranged as incurred vendor
Pre-Opening Wages 57,000 61,000 as arranged as incurred employees
Opening Inventory 6,000 12,000 as arranged as incurred vendor
Cash, Inventory Control and Order Taking System 35,000 110,000 as arranged as incurred vendor
Insurance 14,000 25,000 as arranged as incurred broker
Working Capital / Additional Funds 45,000 90,000
Business Licenses, Utility Deposits, Lease Deposits and Payments 10,000 30,000 as arranged as incurred city, utility, company, lessor
2- Story Interior Playground 0 245,000 as arranged as incurred vendor

Ongoing Costs and Fees:

Royalty fee: 4.5% of Monthly Gross Sales

Advertising: 4% Monthly Gross Sales

These fees are standard for most franchises in the food and beverage industry.

What do you need to open a Burger King Franchise?

Burger King Corporation is continuously looking for multi-unit operators that are committed to providing an excellent guest experience.

The approval process for a Burger King franchise includes:

  • Submission of franchise application.
  • Verification of net worth and liquid assets through a CPA opinion letter.
  • Submission of a business plan containing planned organization structure, operations plan, marketing, growth and acquisition plan.

How much do Burger King franchise owners make?

Annual Sales Level-Range Traditional Non-Traditional
Consolidated Company-owned Franchisee-Owned Franchisee-Owned
Above $1.9M 13.0% 2.0% 13.1% 5.2%
$1.7M – $1.9M 8.9% 8.2% 8.9% 3.1%
$1.5M – $1.7M 14.3% 16.3% 14.2% 4.4%
$1.3M – $1.5M 18.8% 22.4% 18.8% 10.3%
$1.1M – $1.3M 20.4% 16.3% 20.4% 14.6%
$0.9M – $1.1M 15.5% 22.4% 15.4% 19.3%
$0.7M – $0.9M 7.0% 10.2% 7.0% 16.7%
Below $0.7M 2.2% 2.0% 2.2% 26.3%
Total 6063 49 6014 574
Mean Average Sales 1,413,592 1,288,822 1,414,609 1,021,166
#/% Meeting or Exceeding Mean Average Sales 2,667 / 44% 26 / 53 % 2,641 / 44% 261 / 45%
Median Sales 1,350,766 1,298,298 1,351,146 947,585
High Annual Sales 4,791,985 1,910,878 4,791,985 3,901,264

2020 Burger King Median Franchise Sales: $1,351,000

The highest-earning franchise made around $4.8 million in revenue whereas the lowest-earning franchise made less than $200,000. These numbers indicate that potential earnings can vary significantly and it depends on how well the business is run, the location, and other factors. 

We can estimate that based on a net revenue of $1,351,000 and a profit margin of 13%, the average Burger King franchise compensation is $175,630 per year.

Based on a midpoint investment of $2,638,100 with estimated profits of $175,630, it will take about 15 years to recoup the initial investment in a Burger King franchise. Keep in mind that these are just estimates, and your profit will ultimately depend on different factors like what kind of location you pick and how well you run your business.

Is Burger King Franchise Profit Worth the Franchise Cost?

After five years in the business, when you go to sell your franchise based on the median multiple of .34 and net sales average from 2019 of $1,351,000 it would sell for about $459,340. This is considerably lower than the average initial investment of $2,638,100.

Moreover, on average, you will be able to make a profit by selling your franchise iif you own multiple locations, as the median multiple for stores selling more than $5 million is .86. 

If you had 10 Burger King franchises this would be about $13,510,000 in net sales.

Therefore, selling your multi-unit franchise would amount to $11,618,600. Assuming that every additional location has the same initial investment of $2,638,100, selling would only earn you about 44% of your initial investment.

Most Burger King and quick service restaurants franchisees are not making their money from the franchise itself. Rather from real estate!

Franchisees that own the real estate rather than leasing it have the opportunity to sell the real estate along with the franchise which allows for much greater profit than the sell of the restaurant business alone. 

Now let’s take a look at one of the largest Burger King franchisees to see how they make money. 

burger king franchise

Carrols Restaurant Group

Carrols Restaurant Group is a restaurant franchise corporation that is also the largest Burger King franchisee in the world, and according to their website, they currently own and operate over 1,000 restaurants under the Burger King and Popeye brand names. At the same time, Carrols Restaurant Group is a publicly traded company, meaning that it is listed on the stock market under the ticker symbol $TAST.

As an individual investor, on the surface it may seem as if you do not have a lot in common with large corporations like Carrols Restaurant Group. But looking at this franchisee’s financials can provide valuable insight into the success of the franchisor in the industry, as well as projected revenues, costs, and profits. Keep reading to find an in depth analysis of Carrols Restaurant Group and what their stake in Burger King means for interested investors.

Over 1,000 Burger King restaurants

Carrols Restaurant Group is one of the largest restaurant franchisees in North America. It currently operates 1,010 Burger King restaurants in 23 states as well as 65 Popeyes restaurants in seven states. Carrols has been operating Burger King franchises since 1973 and Popeyes restaurants since 2019. Below is a chart of their income statement for Q1, as well as some key takeaways.


Quarterly Earnings (in thousands)

 Three Months Ended
April 4, 2021March 29, 2020
Restaurant Sales$ 389,993$ 351,558
Costs and Expenses  
Cost of Sales$ 113,790$ 102,297
Restaurant Wage and Related Expenses$ 129,646$ 124,575
Restaurant Rent Expense$ 30,314$ 29,454
Other Restaurant Operating Expenses$ 61,419$ 57,978
Advertising Expenses$ 15,369$ 13,876
General and Administrative Expenses$ 21,369$ 20,787
Depreciation and Amortization$ 20,609$ 21,031
Impairment and Other Lease Charges$ 353$ 2,881
Other expenses, net$ 227$ 56,787
Total Costs and Total Expenses$ 393,096$ 373,565
Loss from Operations$ (3,103)$ (22,047)
Interest Expense$ 6,726$ 7,140
Loss before income taxes$ (9,829)$ (29,187)
Benefit from income taxes$ (2,661)$ (9,978)
Net loss$ (7,168)$ (22,209)
Basic and diluted net loss on share$ (0.14)$ (0.44)
Basic and diluted weighted average shares outstanding$ 49,824$ 50,821

Supplemental Information (in thousands)

 Three Months Ended
April 4, 2021March 29, 2020
Burger King Restaurant Sales$ 368,488$ 329,637
Popeyes restaurant sales$ 21,505$ 21,881
Total Revenue$ 389,993$ 351,518
Change in comparable Burger King restaurant sales14.7%(5.7)%
Change in comparable Popeyes restaurant sales0.5%—-
Average weekly sales per Burger King restaurant$ 28,094$ 24,614
Average weekly sales per Popeyes restaurant$ 25,458$ 25,978
Adjusted Restaurant level EBITDA$ 39,484$ 22,797
Adjusted Restaurant level margin10.1%6.5%
Adjusted EBITDA$ 19,866$ 3,972
Adjusted EBITDA margin5.1%1.1%
Adjusted Net Loss$ (6,500)$ (19,317)
Adjusted Diluted Net Loss per share$ (0.13)$ (0.38)
Number of Burger King Restaurants  
Restaurants at beginning of period1,0091,036
New restaurants (including offsets)23
Restaurants closed (including offsets)(1)(11)
Restaurants at end of period1,0101,028
Average Number of Burger King resaurants1,009.001,030.20
Number of Popeyes restaurants  
Restaurants at beginning and end of period6565
Average number of operating Popeyes restaurants65.064.8

In Q1 of 2021, total restaurant revenue increased 10.9% to $390 million, compared to $351.5 million in Q1 of 2020. At the same time, comparable restaurant sales for Burger King increased by 14.7%, in contrast to the 5.7% decrease experienced in last year’s first quarter. 

Burger King franchise makes up the majority of Carrols total restaurant sales, constituting 94.5% in the first quarter. Although revenue increased in Q1, expenses increased as well, from $20.8 million in Q1 2020 to $21.4 million in Q1 2021. Another important metric to look for in a company’s financial statement is their EBITDA, or their earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. There was a significant jump in Carrol’s EBITDA in Q1, from $4.0 million in Q1 2020 to $21.4 million in 2021. In 2020, Carrols lost a lot of their franchises, decreasing from 1,036 restaurants in the beginning of Q1 to 1,028 at the end for a net loss of 8 restaurants in just one quarter. However, for 2021, Carrols was able to retain all of their restaurants from the beginning of the quarter. 


CTA Franchise Specialist 2


Top Burger King Franchisee Makes Over $20 million in Profits: Annual Report

Despite the economic downturn brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic, Carrols Restaurant Group proved their resilience throughout the fiscal year of 2020, as top line restaurant sales grew by 6.5% to about $1.5 billion, thanks in part to their large scale acquisition activity in 2019. 

There was only a modest decline in comparable restaurant sales for both Burger King and Popeyes, 2.8% and 0.1% respectively. Furthermore, their delivery platform served as an important success factor, going from contributing nothing to approximately 5% of restaurant sales by the end of 2020. At the same time, Carrols was able to dramatically improve their operating margins in 2020, increasing their Adjusted Restaurant Level EBITDA by almost $25 million and Adjusted EBITDA by just over $20 million. 

The following charts are a modified version of the financial statements provided by the annual report, and what they indicate about the financial health of the largest franchisee of Burger King.

Annual Earnings: Income Statement

(thousands of dollars)
January 3, 2021December 29, 2019December 30, 2018
Restaurant sales$ 1,547,502$ 1,452,516$ 1,179,307
Other revenue—-10,249—-
Total revenue1,547,5021,462,7651,179,307
Costs and Expenses   
Restaurant Wages and Related Expenses$ 498,127$ 485,278$ 382,829
Restaurant Rent Expense$ 118,444$ 107,147$ 81,409
Other Restaurant Operating Expenses$ 236,059$ 227,364$ 178,750
Advertising Expenses$ 60,735$ 58,689$ 48,340
General and Administrative Expenses$ 84,051$ 84,734$ 66,587
Depreciation and Amortization$ 81,727$ 74,674$ 58,468
Impairment and Other Lease Charges$ 12,778$ 3,564$ 3,685
Other income(1,271)(1,911)(424)
Total Operating Expenses$ 1,543,388$ 1,471,508$ 1,145,952
Income (Loss) from Operations$ 4,114$ (8,743)$ 33,355
Interest Expense$ 27,283$ 27,856$ 23,638
Gain on bargain purchase—-—-$ (230)
Loss on extinguishment of debt—-$ 7,443—-
Income (Loss) before income taxes$ (23,169)$ (44,042)$ 9,947
Provision (benefit) for income taxes$ 6,294$ (12,123)$ (157)
Net income (loss)$ (29,463)$ (31,919)$ 10,104
Basic and diluted net income (loss) per share$ (0.58)$ (0.74)$ (0.22)
Weighted average common shares outstanding   
Basic$ 50,751,185$ 43,421,715$ 35,715,372
Diluted$ 50,751,185$ 43,421,715$ 45,319,971
Comprehensive income (loss), net of tax   
Net income (loss)$ (29,463)$ (31,919)$ (10,104)
Other comprehensive income (loss)$ (5,284)$ (1,268)$ 564
Comprehensive income (loss)$ (34,747)$ (30,651)

$ (10,668)


Cash Flows

Annual Cash Flows Statement

(thousands of dollars)
April 4, 2021March 29, 2020March 29, 2020
Cash flows from operating activities   
Net income$ (29,463)$ (31,919)$ 10,104
Adjustments to reconcile net income to net cash provided by operating activities   
Loss (gain) on disposals of property and equipment(994)(74)312
Stock based compensation5,2235,7535,812
Gain on bargain purchase—-—-(230)
Impairment and other lease charges12,7783,5643,685
Depreciation and amortization81,72774,67458,468
Amortization of deferred financing costs2,1701,6941,202
Amortization of bond premium and discount on debt539(80)(913)
Amortization of deferred gains from sale-leaseback transactons—-—-(1,584)
Deferred income taxes6,026(11,982)(483)
Non-cash loss on extinguishment of debt—-129—-
Changes in other operating assets and liabilities   
Refundable income taxes115(284)55
Trade and other receivables(6,417)(523)(2,275)
Accounts payable(5,927)1,196(926)
Accrued interest(245)(2,917)146
Accrued payroll, related taxes and benefits18,103(538)2,084
Other liabilities10,9932383,998
Changes in operating right of use assets and operating lease liabilities, net10,1963,980—-
Net cash provided by operating activities103,94548,70880,769
Cash flows used for investing activities   
Capital expenditures   
New restaurant development(17,824)(53,596)(23,171)
Restaurant remodeling(15,317)(50,383)(31,951)
Other restaurant capital expenditures(13,064)(18,922)(15,726)
Corporate and restaurant information systems(10,685)(11,978)(4,887)
Total capital expenditures(56,890)(134,879)(75,735)
Acquisition of restaurants, net of cash acquired—-(130,646)(38,102)
Proceeds from insurance recoveries2,071323642
Properties purchased for sale-leaseback(15,537)(1,207)(2,123)
Proceeds from sale-leaseback transactions22,49948,3648,424
Net cash used for investing activities(47,857)(218,045)(106,894)
Cash flows from financing activities   
Proceeds from issuance of Term Loan B and B-1 Facilities71,250422,875—-
Repayments of Term Loan B and B-1 Facilities(4,625)(2,125)—-
Retirement of 8% Senior Secured Second Lien Notes—-(280,500)—-
Borrowings under prior revolving credit facility—-—-17,000
Repayments under prior revolving credit facility—-—-(17,000)
Borrowings under revolving credit facility150,000436,000—-
Repayments under revolving credit facility(195,750)(390,250)—-
Payments on finance lease liabilities(1,617)(2,170)(1,811)
Proceeds from lease financing obligations—-—-2,692
Costs associated with financing long-term debt(3,303)(11,516)(154)
Purchase of treasury shares(10,053)(4,017)(—-)
Net cash provided by financing activities5,902168,297727
Net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents61,990(1,040)(25,398)
Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of period$ 2,974$ 4,014$ 29,412
Cash and cash equivalents, end of period$ 64,964$ 2,974$ 4,014
Supplemental disclosures   
Interest paid on long-term debt$ 24,714$ 29,055$ 23,098
Interest paid on lease financing obligations$ 104$ 104$ 105
Accruals for capital expenditures$ 1,241$ 15,062$ 7,605
Common stock issued for consideration in acquisition(—-)($ 145,333)(—-)
Non-cash reduction of lease financing obligations—-—-$ 2,538
Income taxes paid (refunded) net$ 153$ 144$270

Although Carrols had relatively impressive revenue numbers, they are surprisingly NOT a profitable company as measured by net income. Their net income since 2019 has been at a loss, although in 2020 they were able to minimize this loss by a few million dollars. So why is their net income at a loss? For one thing, Carrols has very high total operating expenses, which takes a huge chunk out of their original earnings. For example, looking at 2020, they made a little over $1.5 billion in total revenue, specifically $1,547,502,000. But total operating expenses amounted very close to this number, at 1,543,388,000. 

Burger King Franchisee makes less than 1% profit margin in 2021

Income after operations expenses is only $4,000,000, a measly number compared to how much they brought in originally. Interestingly enough, Carrols Restaurant Group still recorded positive cash flow, indicating an increase in the company’s liquidity. However, looking at the modified cash flow statement above, it becomes clear that the reason why Carrols Restaurant Group has such a high cash flow relative to their net income is because they borrowed money from a credit facility — this is what “issuances” and “borrowing” means in the above statement.

burger king franchise

Burger King Corporation Income Statement:

Burger King Corporation Income Statement

Issued Common Shares Retained Earnings Other Comprehensive Income (Loss) Noncontrolling Interests Total
Shares Amount
Balances at December 31, 2017 243,899,476 2,052 651 (476) 2,334 4,561
Cumulative effect adjustment (132) (118) (250)
Stock option exercises 7,221,947 61 61
Share-based compensation 48 48
Issuance of shares 225,737 7 7
Dividend declared on common shares ($1.80 per share) (452) (452)
Dividend equivalents declared on restricted stock units 5 (5)
Distributions declared by Partnership on partnership exchangeable units ($1.80 per unit) (387) (387)
Repurchase of Partnership exchangeable units (438) (26) (97) (561)
Exchange of Partnership exchangeable units for RBI common shares 185,333 2 (1) (1)
Net income 612 532 1,144
Other comprehensive income (loss) (297) (256) (553)
Balances at December 31, 2018 251,532,493 1,737 674 (800) 2,007 3,618
Cummulative effect adjustment 12 9 21
Stock option ecercises 4,495,897 102 102
Share-based compensation 68 68
Issuance of shares 236,299 7 7
Dividens declared on common shares ($2.00 per share) (545) (545)
Dividend equivalents declared on restricted stock units 9 (9)
Distributions declared by Partnership on Partnership exchangeable units ($2.00 per units) (382) (382)
Exchange of Partnership exchangeable units for RBI common shares 42,016,392 555 (119) (436)
Net Income 643 468 1,111
Other comprehensive income (loss) 103 259
Balances at December 31,2019 298,281,081 2,478 775 1,769 4,259
Stock option ecercises 2,447,627 82 82
Share-based compensation 74 74
Issuance of shares 469,145 6 6
Dividens declared on common shares ($2.08 per share) (631) (631)
Dividend equivalents declared on restricted stock units 8 (8)
Distributions declared by Partnership on Partnership exchangeable units ($2.08 per units) (336) (336)
Repurchase of Partnership exchangeable units (293) (22) (65) (380)
Exchange of Partnership exchangeable units for RBI common shares 3,636,169 48 (12) (36)
Other (115,273) (4) (4)
Restaurant VIE contributions (distributions) (2) (2)
Net income 486 264 750
Other comprehensive income (57) (40) (97)
Balances at December 31, 2020 304,718,749 2,399 622 (854) 1,554 3,721

Burger King is a highly profitable business for the franchisor with earnings of $775 million in 2019. Compared to 2018’s $674 million, Burger King saw an increase of 15% in a single year which is a great indication of growth. 

However, it is important to note that in 2020 earnings decreased by 20%, most likely due to the pandemic. The company will probably recover, but it is important to keep in mind that it is a business that can be affected by such phenomena.

How many Burger King units have opened and closed?

System-wide Outlet Summary

Outlet type Year Outlets at the Start of the Year Outlets at the End of the Year Net Change
Franchised 2018 7,176 7,280 +104
2019 7,280 7,294 +14
2020 7,294 7,029 -265
Company-Owned 2018 50 50 0
2019 50 52 +2
2020 52 52 0
Total Outlets 2018 7,226 7,330 +104
2019 7,330 7,346 +16
2020 7,346 7,081 -265

Over the last three years the company has seen significant growth, with the exception of 2020, the year the pandemic began. In 2018 there was a growth of 104 units, whereas in 2019 it was only 14. This means that Burger King is growing at a slowing rate, which might be an indicator that stores are not performing as well as they used to or that franchisees are not seeing significant profit. 


Burger King is a traditional fast food restaurant. These kinds of restaurants seem to be losing popularity as more healthy food options rise in the form of other franchises like Tropical Smoothie Cafe.

On top of that, franchisees seem to be making profit through real estate rather than the franchise itself as otherwise it can take you 15 years to recoup your initial investment.

Our suggestion is that you do not open a Burger King franchise if you are looking to make profit in the short term unless you own the real estate. Or you could consider opening one up in a non-traditional location (e.g. airport) for as little as $220k. This would reduce your initial investment cost significantly.

If you think Burger King is the right franchise for you, or  you are interested in other franchise opportunities in the food and beverage industry. Check out our listings page on the Vetted Biz website for thousands of franchises available for your investment.

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