How to Start a Whataburger Franchise 2024 | Cost, Fees, and Profit Margin


Starting a franchise can be an exciting venture for entrepreneurs looking to break into the restaurant industry. Whataburger, a popular fast-food chain known for its delicious burgers and friendly service, offers excellent franchising opportunities for individuals interested in running their own business. In this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to start a Whataburger franchise, including details on the business model, application process, cost and fees breakdown, profit margin, and the pros and cons of owning a Whataburger franchise.

Business Overview of Whataburger Franchise

Whataburger operates as a fast-food restaurant chain, specializing in hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, breakfast items, and sides. The company was founded in 1950 in Corpus Christi, Texas, and has since expanded across the United States. Whataburger has gained a loyal customer base due to its quality food, customizable options, and commitment to exceptional customer service.

As a franchisee, you will benefit from Whataburger’s well-established brand, proven business model, and ongoing support. Whataburger provides comprehensive training programs for franchisees and their staff, helping to ensure consistent quality and service across all locations. Franchisees also have access to marketing materials, operational guidance, and continuous support from the corporate team.

How to Apply for Whataburger Franchise

If you’re interested in starting a Whataburger franchise, you need to go through a thorough application process. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to apply:

  • Research and Familiarize Yourself: Before diving into the application process, it’s essential to conduct thorough research on Whataburger as a company, its values, and its franchise requirements. Familiarize yourself with the brand and its target market.
  • Visit the Whataburger Franchise Website: Whataburger provides detailed information about their franchise opportunity on their official website. Visit the franchise section and gather all the necessary information regarding the requirements, expectations, and benefits of becoming a franchisee.
  • Submit the Initial Application: After reviewing the franchise materials and confirming that you meet all the requirements, complete and submit the initial application form. This form typically requires providing your personal details, business experience, and financial capabilities.
  • Background Check and Evaluation: Whataburger will conduct a thorough background check and evaluation to assess your suitability as a franchisee. This evaluation may include interviews, reference checks, and financial assessments.
  • Discovery Day: If your initial application is approved, you will be invited to attend a Discovery Day at the Whataburger corporate headquarters. This is an opportunity for you to meet with the corporate team, learn more about the franchise system, and ask any questions you may have.
  • Sign the Franchise Agreement: Upon successful completion of the evaluation process and satisfaction of both parties, you will sign the franchise agreement. This legal document outlines the terms and conditions of the franchise relationship.
  • Secure Financing: Before officially opening your Whataburger franchise, you will need to secure the necessary financing. Whataburger offers financing options to qualified individuals, and they can also provide guidance on acquiring loans from external sources.
  • Training and Opening: Once all the paperwork is complete and financing is secured, you will undergo an extensive training program provided by Whataburger. This training covers all aspects of running a successful franchise, including operations, marketing, and customer service. After completing the training, you will be ready to open your Whataburger franchise and start serving customers.

Also Read: How Much Jollibee Franchise Cost 2024 | Profit Margin

Cost and Fees Breakdown

Starting a Whataburger franchise requires a significant investment, which includes various costs and fees. Here is a breakdown of the estimated costs involved:

  • Initial Franchise Fee: The initial franchise fee is not disclosed yet. This fee grants you the right to operate a Whataburger franchise and includes initial training and support.
  • Real Estate and Leasehold Improvements: Finding a suitable location for your Whataburger franchise is crucial. The cost of leasing or purchasing a property will vary depending on factors such as location, size, and local real estate market conditions. Additionally, you may need to invest in leasehold improvements to meet Whataburger’s requirements and standards.
  • Equipment and Fixtures: The cost of purchasing equipment and fixtures necessary to operate a Whataburger franchise can range from $600,000 to $1,000,000. This includes kitchen equipment, furniture, signage, and technology systems.
  • Initial Inventory and Supplies: As a franchisee, you will need to purchase an initial inventory of food products and supplies. The estimated cost for the initial inventory ranges between $50,000 and $80,000, depending on the size of the location and anticipated demand.
  • Marketing and Advertising Fees: Whataburger requires franchisees to contribute to a marketing and advertising fund. The monthly contribution is 4% of net sales. This fund is used to support national and local marketing initiatives aimed at promoting the Whataburger brand and driving customer traffic.
  • Royalty Fees: In addition to the marketing and advertising fees, franchisees are required to pay ongoing royalty fees. The royalty fee is 5% of net sales and covers ongoing support from the corporate team, including assistance with operations, training, and marketing.
Cost/InvestmentEstimated RangeDescription
Franchise FeeNot DisclosedNot publicly available, contact Whataburger for details.
Initial Investment$1.5 million – $2.5 millionBased on similar burger franchises and industry averages.
Real Estate & ConstructionVariesDepends on location, size, lease terms, and build-out needs.
Land & Lease CostsVariesDepends on location, size, lease terms, and potential purchase or lease agreement.
Inventory & Supplies$50,000 – $80,000Initial stock of ingredients, packaging, and other operational supplies.
Marketing & Advertising$25,000 – $50,000Initial marketing and advertising expenses to launch the store.
Training$20,000 – $30,000Cost of attending training programs for franchisees and staff.
Technology FeeUnknownMay apply, costs unknown, contact Whataburger for details.
Royalty FeeUnknownNot publicly available, contact Whataburger for details.
Marketing/Ad FeeUnknownMay apply, costs unknown, contact Whataburger for details.
Local Store Marketing2% – 3% of gross salesMinimum recommended budget for local marketing initiatives.

It’s important to note that the costs mentioned are estimates and can vary depending on various factors. Therefore, it is crucial to review Whataburger’s Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) for detailed financial information before making any financial commitments.

Important Notes:

  • This is an estimation based on limited data and does not represent official figures from Whataburger.
  • The actual cost could be higher or lower depending on individual circumstances.
  • Contacting Whataburger directly for specific information regarding cost, investment, and requirements is essential before making any decisions.
  • Remember, this is not financial advice. Consult a qualified financial advisor before investing in any franchise.

Profit Margin

While the franchise costs and fees may seem substantial, owning a Whataburger franchise has the potential to be a profitable venture. The profit margin of a Whataburger franchise can vary depending on factors such as location, competition, operating costs, and the franchisee’s ability to manage the business efficiently.

According to Whataburger’s FDD, the average annual net sales of a Whataburger restaurant is around $2.7 million. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these figures are averages and can differ based on individual circumstances.

The profit margin for a Whataburger franchise typically ranges from 12% to 15%. This means that for every dollar in sales, a franchisee can expect to retain 12 to 15 cents as profit after deducting all operating costs, including food, labor, rent, utilities, marketing fees, and royalty fees.

It’s worth noting that the profit margin can be influenced by the franchisee’s ability to control operating costs, maintain high-quality standards, and effectively market the business to attract and retain customers.

Pros and Cons

Owning a Whataburger franchise offers several advantages and disadvantages. Here is a list of some key pros and cons to consider:


  • Established Brand: Whataburger is a well-known and respected brand with a loyal customer base, making it easier to attract customers and generate sales.
  • Ongoing Support: Whataburger provides comprehensive training and continuous support to franchisees, ensuring they have the necessary tools and resources to run a successful business.
  • Marketing and Advertising: Franchisees benefit from national and local marketing initiatives funded by the franchise system, helping to increase brand visibility and customer traffic.
  • Profit Potential: With high average annual net sales and a reasonable profit margin, owning a Whataburger franchise has the potential to generate substantial profits.


  • Initial Investment: The initial investment required to start a Whataburger franchise can be significant, potentially limiting the accessibility for some prospective franchisees.
  • Royalty and Advertising Fees: Franchisees are required to pay ongoing royalty and advertising fees, affecting the overall profitability of the business.
  • Operational Challenges: Running a fast-food restaurant comes with operational complexities, such as labor management, inventory control, and maintaining consistent quality and service.
  • Market Saturation: Depending on the location, there may be competition from other fast-food restaurants, potentially impacting sales and profitability.

It’s essential to carefully evaluate the pros and cons and conduct a thorough analysis of your personal circumstances and business goals before deciding to invest in a Whataburger franchise.


Starting a Whataburger franchise can be a rewarding and profitable endeavor for individuals passionate about the restaurant industry. With a well-established brand, proven business model, comprehensive support, and reasonable profit margins, Whataburger offers an enticing opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs. However, it’s vital to carefully consider the costs, fees, and challenges associated with owning a franchise before making any financial commitments. Conduct extensive research, seek professional advice, and evaluate your personal suitability to determine if a Whataburger franchise aligns with your long-term goals and aspirations.


How much experience do I need to open a Whataburger franchise?

Whataburger does not specify a mandatory experience requirement for prospective franchisees. However, having previous experience in the restaurant industry or general business management can be beneficial. Whataburger provides comprehensive training programs to help franchisees learn the necessary skills and knowledge to operate a successful franchise.

Can I open multiple Whataburger franchises?

Yes, Whataburger allows franchisees to open multiple locations, subject to meeting certain criteria and demonstrating the ability to manage multiple businesses efficiently.

Is financing available for purchasing a Whataburger franchise?

Whataburger offers financing options to qualified individuals. They also provide guidance on securing loans from external sources, including banks and lending institutions, which are common avenues for franchise financing.

Do I need to be actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the franchise?

Whataburger expects franchisees to be actively involved in the day-to-day operations of their restaurants. Active involvement ensures that franchisees uphold Whataburger’s standards of quality, service, and customer experience.

How long is the initial training program?

The initial training program provided by Whataburger typically lasts several weeks. The program covers all aspects of operating a Whataburger franchise, including food preparation, customer service, marketing, and administrative tasks.

Remember, it’s essential to consult Whataburger’s official resources, such as their franchise website and Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding their franchise opportunity.

Hey everyone, Vishal here! I'm fascinated by the world of business, especially the exciting potential of franchising and spotting the next big idea. In my writing, expect a mix of in-depth franchise breakdowns, thought-provoking new business ideas, and practical advice to turn those ideas into reality.

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