Bubble tea, or boba tea, is a popular beverage originating from Taiwan. It usually includes tea, milk, tapioca balls and sometimes other toppings. There are many franchises available in the US for entrepreneurs interested in building a business around this drink. Here are a few to consider.
What is a bubble tea franchise?
A bubble tea franchise is an independent business that sells bubble tea, but uses a franchise model. This means that the larger brand is owned by one company, but the individual store is owned by a local franchisee. The franchisee pays a fee and royalties for the ability to use the brand’s business systems.
Why you should consider a bubble tea franchise
If you are interested in starting a business in 2023, here are some reasons to consider a bubble tea franchise:
- Stand out in a crowded beverage industry: Bubble tea is a unique offering in many US cities. Although many of these businesses also offer other specialty beverages such as coffees and teas, a bubble tea shop is likely to attract attention.
- Build brand recognition: Thanks to franchises in other markets around the country, some people are likely to already be familiar with major bubble tea brands. So you don’t have to work so hard to build trust and recognition.
- Get up and run fast: Franchises offer proven systems and support with tasks such as site selection and training. So you don’t have to figure these things out on your own.
- Access to proven business systems: Once you get started, they also provide support with purchasing marketing materials, inventory and equipment.
- Extend your offers: Bubble tea shops often provide additional food and drink options. So this might be the ideal way to enter the world of drinks with a small shop.
Top Franchise Bubble Tea
If you are ready to start a bubble tea business, there are many brands offering new franchise locations in the U.S. Here are some top bubble tea franchise opportunities to consider.
1. Chai Kung Fu
Kung Fu Tea is a popular brand with over 2,002 stores in the US. The company offers a ten-step process to start your own bubble tea shop. And they offer many store models, from traditional storefronts to those located in airports and malls. Upfront costs range from $140,000 to $422,000 for a traditional store.
2. Tapioca Express
Tapioca Express currently has approximately 29 franchise locations in the US, primarily along the West Coast. The company provides a wide range of start-up support services, from site selection to employee training. It costs from about $200,000 to $527,000 to get started.
3. Gong Cha
Gong Cha is a bubble tea franchise originally launched in Taiwan. The shops offer fresh tea sourced from Taiwan and tapioca pearls from the finest ingredients. The company is currently looking for new franchisees in various states, primarily in the Northeast. Estimated startup costs range from $177,430 to $335,400 for a unit.
Bubbleology is a small franchise business that offers boba, waffles and various fruit flavored milk teas. The brand is seeking experienced retail operators to develop exclusive territories in the US. The company only has a few locations right now, so there are plenty of open areas available, with the estimated initial cost falling between $205,850 and $458,950.
Sharetea offers a variety of drinks including traditional tea, milk tea, mixed drinks and fruit juices. The company was originally launched in 1992 and has more than 150 stores across North America. Startup costs vary, starting at around $300,000.
6. Koi tea
Koi Tea offers a bubble tea franchise opportunity for those with food service and/or retail experience. Each boba shop offers a variety of tea drinks, as well as ice cream rolls and other treats. The initial investment ranges from about $200,000 to $500,000.
7. Chai Ding
Ding Tea is a global brand offering franchise opportunities in the US. The company simply requires franchisees to be at least 20 years old, have some business experience and be passionate about the tea industry. The initial investment ranges from approximately $123,000 to $422,000.
8. CUPP Bubble Tea
CUPP Bubble Tea is a UK based bubble tea brand. There are currently no US locations, but the company offers an international master franchise program for those interested in opening their first bubble tea franchise in a new country. Costs for a new store start at £80,000. However, international franchises are likely to incur additional costs as they are responsible for entire territories.
Bambu is a dessert and tea franchise offering boba tea, coffee and exotic fruit smoothies. There are many locations across the country, but there is still room for growth in many markets. The initial investment falls between $137,000 and $321,000.
HTeaO first launched in Texas in 2009. The stores focus on flavored iced teas, blended drinks and coffee. And the initial investment ranges from $289,200 to $859,000.
How to Choose the Best Franchise to Start Your Bubble Tea Business
If you’ve decided that a bubble tea franchise is right for you, there are several businesses to consider. Here are some tips to help you make the best decision for your goals.
Consider your budget
How much money should you spend on a franchise fee and other upfront costs? Many companies also require new franchisees to have a certain net worth to cover running costs until the store becomes profitable.
Research your local market
Which bubble tea businesses already have a location in your area? If you can offer something new, your franchise may be more likely to stand out. Additionally, if you’re interested in eventually expanding with a multi-unit development, consider a brand with multiple open locations near you.
See Support Systems
Each franchise system offers different types of support, from marketing to store layout planning assistance. Think about the elements of a business you need the most help with and look at opportunities that provide help in these important areas.
Look in finance
In addition to your initial investment, research the running costs for each franchise, along with potential profits. Each model should provide financial data in the franchise disclosure documentation.
How much does it cost to start a boba tea franchise?
Each boba tea franchise has its own cost, which also varies by location. However, most brands estimate that the initial investment will fall between $200,000 and $500,000. You probably won’t find many bubble tea shops when you look for franchises under 10k or even franchises under 20k. Some franchises that offer a kiosk or mobile model may be close to the sub 50k franchise range.
Is a bubble tea franchise profitable?
As with almost any industry, some bubble tea franchises are profitable, while others are not. However, this business model can certainly generate significant revenue. Many franchise owners report profit margins of 20 to 30 percent. Check out the list above for some of the most profitable franchises in the bubble tea industry.
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