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10 Very Unusual Franchises You Didn't Know Exist

10 Very Unusual Franchises You Didn't Know Exist

Many people dream of starting their own business, of turning a hobby or a quirky interest into an entrepreneurial opportunity. For some this means creating a business from the ground up, but for others it's a matter of finding an existing franchise whose products, services and mission align with their own interests. 

With an estimated 3,000 franchise companies operating in the U.S., according to the International Franchise Association, it's only a matter of time before you find your niche. Here's a sampling of some unique franchise opportunities that will let you stand out and even turn a few heads. 

Who hasn't wanted to kick in a door or throw a phone across the room after a particularly stressful day? As an Anger Room franchisee, you provide people with a safe place to do just that. Anger Room facilities provide patrons with rooms staged with donated electronics, furniture, mannequins and tons of other breakable items where they can work out their aggression.  After suiting up in protective gear, patrons use the blunt object of their choice, such as a baseball bat, golf club, crowbar or sledgehammer, to pulverize everything in sight. Specialty smash rooms that recreate a specific setting, such as a supervisor's office, are available upon request. Customers pay $25 and up for sessions ranging from 5 to 25 minutes.

Started in 2008 by entrepreneur Donna Alexander in her garage, the business grew through nothing more than word of mouth until Alexander could no longer handle the demand and had to move to a larger space. Currently, the Anger Room is only open in Arlington, Texas, but according to its website, locations will open in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York in 2016, and franchise opportunities are available.

Are you king or queen of the grill, owner of every BBQ accessory ever made and committed to searing the perfect steak regardless of the weather? If so, you may find your bliss as a Bar-B-Clean franchisee. Bryan Weinstein founded Bar-B-Clean in 2011 after he opened up his grill for the first barbeque of the season only to find grease, mold and food remnants from the last cookout. Realizing that he must not be the only person facing such a mess, Weinstein researched methods for steam cleaning and sterilizing grills and even worked with a chemist to develop a proprietary polish for stainless steel. Today, Bar-B-Clean's 16 franchisees use a professional grade steamer to return grills to their former glory. 

Claiming that 62 percent of grill owners use their grills year-round, Bar-B-Clean is looking to grow its business beyond the summer months. Efforts to add patio furniture and pressure washing are in the works. It is also exploring expanding its cleaning to include fire pits, outdoor heaters and stoves.

If the thought of taking on pests that love to feast on human blood doesn't send you running, you may have what it takes to become a heat-remediation specialist in this $450-million-a-year industry. With franchises in 40 states, BedBug Chasers is a mobile business that uses a specialized heating system to kill off bedbugs, as well as their nymphs and eggs. By bringing the indoor temperature to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, BedBug Chasers provides a nontoxic option for bedbug removal. They bring their system of heaters and fans to a range of commercial and residential customers, such as private homes, hospitals, nursing home facilities, hotels, airlines and property management companies. A BedBug Chasers business can also provide subcontracting services to pest control companies and offer disaster-recovery services, temporary heating and a host of other customized products. 

Franchisees can keep their startup costs in check by renting equipment from an affiliated nationwide rental network instead of purchasing it when establishing their business. In a business where discretion is crucial, uniforms and vehicle signage are not used and the business can be run out of a home office. Given that one out of five Americans has had a bedbug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bedbugs at home or in a hotel, according to the National Pest Management Association, this market — just like bedbugs — will continue to expand with a vengeance.

Driven in part by the demand for high-protein, low-fat snacks, beef jerky is no longer just an impulse buy at a gas station. In fact, it is one of the fastest-growing segments of the snack food industry with sales jumping to $1.24 billion in 2013, according to Information Resources Inc. And, if there is a heaven — and a business opportunity — for beef jerky connoisseurs, the Beef Jerky Outlet may be it. This bricks-and-mortar specialty business includes six founder-owned stores, 44 opened franchise stores, with more than another 100 stores expected to open across the U.S. in the next 18 months. The Beef Jerky Outlet sells more than 200 varieties of jerky, including exotic offerings such as kangaroo, alligator, venison and elk, with flavors ranging from 3 Beer Rub to Cajun. 

The Beef Jerky Outlet credits its success to its "try-before-you-buy" approach, which invites customers to taste-test samples of different products until they find their preferred flavor. Potential franchisees may appreciate that the company will train them in one of their existing booming locations. Additionally, an experienced employee is placed on-site at each new store to assist with setup, training and preparing the store for its grand opening. The Beef Jerky Outlet also offers a fast-track franchise program for veterans.

We've all become amateur forensic scientists after watching one too many CSI episodes, but most of us give little thought to how crime scenes are cleaned up after the police and coroners have finished their work. For those with strong stomachs and a sympathetic nature, a career in cleaning crime and trauma scenes may be a good fit. Bio-One specializes in decontamination and recovery after a suicide or homicide. Their team cleans up blood, sanitizes the location of an accident or crime, and properly transports and disposes of biohazard and medical waste. Additionally, they will remove dangerous and unpleasant odors and clean up homes consumed by hoarding. 

With franchises in 36 states, Bio-One claims to be a recession-proof business. According to its website, ideal franchise candidates will have worked for a restoration company, have a contractor's license or a  background in civil service. (Training as a police officer, firefighter, EMT or paramedic is also a plus.) After franchisees complete training at the company’s Las Vegas headquarters and obtain industry certifications, corporate management will visit their hometown for on-site marketing, launch and grand-opening support. 

Moving is often cited as one of the life’s most stressful events, right after divorce and dealing with a death.  Caring Transitions has created a business that serves people during these vulnerable times. It arranges for the liquidation of a home's contents through an estate sale or online auction; arranges for storage or shipment of items to a new home or family member; or donates unwanted items to charity.  A majority of the Caring Transition clients are seniors and their family, but they also work with people who are downsizing, divorcing, dealing with the death of a loved one or who simple want to declutter their home. 

As a Caring Transitions franchisee, you’ll do everything from sorting and packing personal belongings to staging furniture in a new home to help ease a senior’s transition into an unfamiliar setting. This sort of franchising opportunity may appeal to those who love to organize and declutter and are ready to provide compassionate attention to individuals navigating life-changing events. Caring Transitions have more than 20 years of franchising experience and some 164 franchises throughout the US. Named a Top 100 Franchise under $100k by Franchise Market, it provides franchisees with a five-day training program, on-going marketing and professional support, access to a companywide intranet and the opportunity to launch their business in under six weeks. 

People love their pets, but very few enjoy cleaning up after them. This is where DoodyCalls comes in.  Founded in 2000, DoodyCalls provides year-round professional pet waste removal. DoodyCalls specializes in waste pickup, brown-spot treatment and deodorizing of patios and decks for dog owners. It offers cat owners a litter box service, which includes emptying, cleaning and disinfecting the litter box, and refilling it with fresh litter. DoodyCalls also cleans common areas and sells and maintains pet waste stations, equipment and supplies for communities and parks. Though it specializes in dogs and cats, DoodyCalls franchisees respond to a wide range of requests and have picked up after geese, llamas and even a pot-bellied pig or two.

The self-proclaimed No. 1 in the No. 2 business, DoodyCalls has grown to include 57 franchise territories in 23 states.  The pooper-scooper business is far from glamorous, but it may be a good fit for individuals who love to work outside, want to reduce the impact that animal waste has on the environment and are ready to claim a piece of the $60 billion Americans are expected to spend on their pets in 2015, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.

If you've ever had annoying mosquitoes ruin your afternoon in the backyard, here is your chance to get even.  Mosquito Squad franchises are dedicated exclusively to mosquito and tick control. Mosquito Squad professionals apply a barrier protection spray around homes and throughout backyards. They also provide spray services for one-time events, such as weddings, and install and maintain automatic misting systems for ongoing-mosquito control. For customers who prefer not to use synthetic products, they offer all-natural alternatives. They serve home owners as well as businesses with outdoor seating, such as restaurants, and municipalities that manage parks and other recreational spaces. 

In addition to feeling good about getting rid of nasty pests that carry illnesses, such as the West Nile virus and Lyme disease, Mosquito Squad franchisees get to be part of a company that raises funds to help eliminate malaria in sub-Saharan Africa through its partnership with Malaria No More. With 176 locations and retail sales of nearly $23 million in 2014, Mosquito Squad is part of the Outdoor Living Brand, a franchise corporation that offers a range of products and services for outdoor spaces.

No, it's not what you think. But the founders of We Do Lines knew they needed a memorable name to bring attention to the not-so-exciting business of painting lines in parking lots.  Franchisees benefit from being part of an organization that has garnered unique name recognition and is working to become a national brand. In addition to painting stripes in parking lots and warehouses, We Do Lines paints curbs; repairs asphalt and concrete; and repairs and seals cracks in pavements.

The Connecticut-based company was found in 2008 and has 10 franchises to date. We Do Lines does work on indoor projects, but it is generally considered a seasonal business in cold climates. However, franchisees with multiple territories can move their business south in the winter. After learning the art of painting a straight line at a We Do Lines training center, franchisees are ready to stake their claim on the multimillion-dollar parking lot marking industry.

Who says you can’t turn a hobby into a career? Bird-watching aficionados and nature lovers can open a Wild Birds Unlimited store, which specializes in all sorts of bird supplies, including seeds, feeders, baths, binoculars and books. It even sells its own line of bird feeders. Responding to the company's mission to bring people and nature together, franchisees are encouraged to be active in educational efforts in their communities, partner with environmental and nature groups, and actively participate in conservation efforts. 

Founded in 1981, Wild Birds Unlimited now has more than 270 Wild Birds Unlimited franchise locations across North America. Though they do not need to have a personal passion for birding, the company does train franchisees to become backyard bird feeding experts in their local community. Once potential franchisees submit their business plan to the company, they are invited to an aptly named "Join the Flock" day at the Franchise Support Center in Carmel, Indiana.

Paula Fernandes

Paula is a New Jersey-based writer with a Bachelor's degree in English and a Master's degree in Education. She spent nearly a decade working in education, primarily as the director of a college's service-learning and community outreach center. Her prior experience includes stints in corporate communications, publishing, and public relations for non-profits. Reach her by email.