Over the past thirty years, we’ve gone through three radical revolutions in the way that technology affects our lives. First there was the arrival of widespread home computing, in which people discovered word processing, games, and other tools. Then came the internet, connecting people around the globe, allowing instant communications and access to an inexhaustible pool of entertainment and information. Finally came the mobile revolution, as all that power and potential appeared in our pockets.
The result is a wide range of opportunities for franchises. In a digital age, tech-savvy entrepreneurs can find all sorts of ways to turn a profit. There are now more cellphones than there are people in the US, as well as desktops, laptops, tablets, and gaming consoles. Both individuals and organizations are looking for support in using technology, and smart franchises are helping fill that gap.
These franchises mostly fall into one of three categories.
First, there’s electronic device repair businesses. This sector has been in a slow decline in the US since 2016, as a strong economy allowed more people to invest in new devices instead of getting old ones repaired. Despite this, it’s still worth nearly $18 billion and is expected to grow in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the economic uncertainty this has created.
Next are the business tech consulting companies, which provide advice and support for businesses that don’t have the capacity to do their own IT support. They install and maintain software and hardware for businesses, and can become a crucial part of their clients’ operations. This is a vital service for small and medium sized businesses, allowing franchises to build up a good base of business-to-business clients. This industry is worth $476 billion per year in the US and has been growing for most of the past decade. It took a 4% hit in 2020 due to the impact of the pandemic and its economic impact, but is expected to grow by 3.6% in 2021.
Thirdly, there are the digital marketing agencies. Online advertising is now essential for any business, as we live so much of our lives online and this is where we are particularly vulnerable to being influenced. 54% of advertising spend in the US in 2020 was for digital advertising. Nearly $356 billion was spent on digital advertising around the world in 2020, $121 billion of it in the US. Even in 2020, as the pandemic hit the economy, digital ad spending grew by 2.4% globally, a relatively low amount by the industry’s standards, and it’s expected to grow by 17% in 2021, a figure closer to its recent growth rate.
Effective digital marketing requires a raft of specialist skills, knowledge, and analytical tools. Like IT support, it’s something that many small and medium sized businesses can’t do for themselves in house, and where even large companies may benefit from the specialist skills of outside agencies.
In all of these tech-related areas, franchised businesses can use their specialist skills and knowledge to develop a customer base that is dependent on them. Consulting and marketing have stronger potential for long-term growth than device care, but all represent valuable industries.
The Top Tech Franchises of 2021
1. WSI Digital Marketing Services
WSI Digital Marketing Services offers a full range of digital marketing help to businesses of all types. Services include content marketing, social media marketing, mobile marketing, video marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), PPC (pay-per-click), and just about any other kind of digital marketing you can think of, including web design/optimization.
Founded in 1995 in Canada and franchising since 1996, the number of locations has been declining steadily in recent years from 1,173 in 2011 to the last known reported total of 825 in 2019, of which none were company-owned and 549 were located outside the US.
uBreakiFix is a chain that fixes iPods, cell phones, game consoles, computers, tablets, laptops, and other electronic devices. Diagnostics are free and customers get a firm upfront price for repair services, will beat competitors’ prices by at least $5 (from storefronts within 10 miles), and gives a 90-day warranty on its repair work. Franchisees can develop relationships with businesses, schools, and organizations for discounted repair services on multiple devices.
Founded by Justin Wetherill in Orlando, Florida in 2009 and franchising since 2013, the number of locations has increased rapidly from 19 in 2011 to the current total of 585 (up from the previously reported total of 528), of which 59 are company-owned and 41 are located outside the US.
3. CPR Cell Phone Repair
CPR Cell Phone Repair is focused on cell phone repair, but it also handles fixing MP3 players, game consoles, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. Customers can also sell or trade in their used devices for the company to refurbish and resell them. Repair estimates are worked up for free, and simple fixes can often be done on a same-day basis. The company positions its device repairs as being good for the environment by extending the lifespan of devices that would otherwise be thrown out.
CPR was recently acquired by Assurant, a Fortune 500 company that is a global provider of risk management products and services. Founded in 2004 and franchising since 2007, the number of locations expanded rapidly from 84 in 2011 to a peak of 571 in 2019 but has dropped to the current total of 544, of which none are company-owned and 65 are located outside the US.
4. Computer Troubleshooters
Computer Troubleshooters is all about solving the tech problems individuals and businesses run into, related mostly to computers but also other devices. IT services offered include data backup and recovery, security services, remote support services, and managed services. The chain offers any business a free-of-charge network assessment and will produce a report outlining improvements that could be made for better functionality.
Founded in 1997 and franchising since then, the number of locations has declined in recent years from 460 in 2011 to the current total of 241 (down from the previously reported total of 253), of which none are company-owned and 79 are located outside the US.
5. CMIT Solutions
CMIT Solutions is focused on providing custom IT solutions to businesses. CMIT is an acronym that stands for Completely Managed IT. Offerings include flat-rate proactive IT support, data backup and recovery, cybersecurity services, networking, cloud services, hardware procurement, printing device management, mobile device management, communications (VOIP), virtual CIO/CTO services, and more. The businesses this chain can support are generally those in the 10-110 employee range.
Founded in 1994 and franchising since 1998, the number of locations has risen steadily in recent years from 127 in 2011 to the current total of 239 (up from the previously reported total of 233), of which none are company-owned and one is located outside the US.
6. TeamLogic IT
TeamLogic IT helps businesses who need IT support. Businesses can get supplemental support for their existing internal IT staff/department, or completely outsource all their IT needs to TeamLogic. Offerings include business continuity (keeping systems up and running), cybersecurity, cloud services, data backup, mobility services, unified communications, VOIP, website solutions, strategic and tactical IT planning, remote monitoring, and much more.
Founded in 2004 and franchising since 2005, the number of locations has expanded rapidly in recent years from 50 in 2013 to the current total of 176 (up by 33 from the previous year), of which none are company-owned and one is located outside the US.
Experimax is a bit different from most of the other companies on this list because it is focused exclusively on Apple devices. It’s a buy-sell-trade-fix chain where customers can get their Apple devices repaired, or shop a selection of certified pre-owned Apple devices that have been refurbished. The company is proud to help customers get a lot more life out of their Apple devices when other companies would say it’s time to ditch them.
It deals with Apple desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, wearables, and accessories. Every product it sells comes with the chain’s Experisure Warranty, the length of which varies by location.
Founded by Jim Muir in West Palm Beach, Florida in 2009 and franchising since 2014, the number of locations expanded rapidly to 204 in 2019 but has since dropped sharply to the current total of 93, of which none are company-owned and 25 are located outside the US.
iMechanic has a company motto of “We repair it all,” meaning not only does it work on cell phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops, it will also work on game consoles, drones, watches, televisions, even old radios and just about any other electronic gadget you can come up with.
Repairs can be booked online or as a walk-in to any location. It always strives for same-day turnaround whenever possible. It also lists flat rates clearly on its website for screen replacements on various models of iPhone, iPads, and Samsung phones. It offers both a price match deal (to match any brick-and-mortar store’s repair cost), and a lifetime warranty on its parts/repair work (with a number of caveats that void the warranty).
Founded by Nicholas Helton in Bloomington, Indiana in 2010 and franchising since 2017, there are now 11 locations, of which nine are company-owned and all are located in the US.
9. Device Pitstop
Device Pitstop calls itself a one-stop tech shop to shop, sell, trade up, or repair your electronics, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Locations are also free to develop accounts to provide multiple devices to businesses and schools. Items for sale have been through a careful refurbishing process and come with a 90-day DPS warranty, which in some cases can extended to last a full year.
Its Green Program is the chain’s commitment to extend the life of electronic devices as much as possible through repair and refurbishing. For those devices that have reached the end of their useful lives, DPS recycles them.
Founded in 2013, franchising began that same year and the number of locations grew to 16 in 2016 but has since declined to the current total of eight, of which none are company-owned and all are located in the US.
iDropped is part of the new wave of rapid cell phone repair concepts that have been popping up in recent years. The reason why these kinds of chains are proliferating is simple: If you take your cell phone to the retailer where you bought it, they will likely be able to handle the repair, but you might end up going days without your phone, which is not something people are willing to do these days.
Similar to other companies on this list, iDropped can do the most common cell phone repairs in about an hour, and other electronic devices within 24 hours (iPads, iPods, and laptops). It specializes in repairs of iPhones, Samsung Galaxy phones, and Google Pixel phones.
Founded by Chad Altier (current CEO) and Charles Hibble in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 2012 and franchising since 2014, there were 10 locations in 2018 but the company website currently lists only six locations, of which all are in the US.
An Important Note About Our Methodology
The franchises on this list were ranked according to the number of units in the franchise system. If you are a prospective franchisee searching for franchise opportunities that meet or exceed certain performance benchmarks for sales, profits, and return on investment, please check out this list of America’s Most Lucrative Franchises.