Dairy Queen Franchise Costs, Fees & Owner Salary (2023)









May 2, 2024


Dairy Queen

a franchise?

Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen, an iconic and beloved franchise in the world of frozen treats, has been delighting customers with its signature ice cream and fast-food offerings for over seven decades. Founded in 1940 by John Fremont McCullough in Joliet, Illinois, Dairy Queen has become a cherished part of American culture. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dairy Queen boasts a rich heritage steeped in its commitment to serving up smiles through its delicious and diverse menu.

Dairy Queen started franchising in 1944, marking the beginning of its expansion into a global franchise empire. The franchise is renowned for its soft-serve ice cream, Blizzard treats, classic milkshakes, burgers, hot dogs, and other fast-food options. What truly sets Dairy Queen apart from its competitors is its signature Blizzard, a delectable concoction of ice cream blended with various toppings and mix-ins, offering customers a personalized and irresistible dessert experience. 

Additionally, the brand's iconic "Fan Food, Not Fast Food" motto reflects its dedication to quality and customer satisfaction, creating a distinct identity in the quick-service restaurant industry. With its enduring popularity and innovative offerings, Dairy Queen continues to be a favorite destination for families and ice cream enthusiasts worldwide.

How many

Dairy Queen


are there?

In 2022, there were
outlets in
the United
States, of which
are franchises, and
are corporate-owned.

What are the

Dairy Queen



Advertising fee

5% to 6%

Initial Franchise Fee

The initial franchise fee for a Dairy Queen franchise is $25,000, payable in full upon execution of the Franchise Agreement​​.

Continuing License Fee

For a DQ Grill & Chill restaurant, the continuing license fee is 4% of Gross Sales, and for a DQ Treat store, it's 5% of Gross Sales​​.

Sales Promotion Program Fee

A sales promotion program fee based on Gross Sales is required, with the exact percentage not specified. This fee is collected by the franchisor and is currently transferred to ADQ for use in sales promotion programs​​.

Transfer Fee

The transfer fee is $5,500, with an additional $2,000 compliance fee if transferring to a location in a state or Canadian province where the franchisor must comply with local franchise laws​​​​.

Renewal Fee

A non-refundable license renewal fee of $2,500 is required for franchise renewal​​.

Note: The fees presented here can be found in the Item 5 of the Franchise Disclosure Document. For a complete list of all the fees borne by the franchisee, please consult the Franchise Disclosure Document.

How much does

it cost

to start a

Dairy Queen


It costs between
to start a
Dairy Queen
Type of Expenditure Amount Range
Initial franchise fee $25,000
DQ MT/ND Management Training Readiness Assessment fee $600 - $1,200
Initial training fee $10,800
SERVSAFE course $600 - $1,200
Travel and living expenses during training $7,800 - $14,100
Building construction, site work and leasehold improvements $235,000 - $470,000
Prepaid rent and security deposit $2,500 - $5,500
Building plans, design intent plans and architectural seal $7,000 - $38,000
Equipment and fixtures including signs and EPOS system $220,000 - $360,000
Credit card processing fees $200 - $2,000
Training inventory $2,000 - $6,000
Opening inventory $5,000 - $12,000
Utility deposits, business licenses and government charges $4,000 - $17,000
Insurance $6,000 - $20,000
Professional fees $4,000 - $10,000
Supplies and uniforms $2,000 - $3,000
Additional funds 3-6 months $40,000 - $155,000
Total $572,500 - $1,635,200 for DQ Treat store
$1,539,200 - $2,565,200 for DQ Grill & Chill

Note: The table above provides a snapshot of the main costs associated with starting the most common franchise format (as disclosed in the Item 7 of the Franchise Disclosure Document). For a complete overview of all the expenses involved with the various formats offered by the franchisor, please consult the Franchise Disclosure Document.


Dairy Queen



to its


Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen provides a multi-phased initial training program for franchisees and their teams, designed to cover all essential aspects of operating a Dairy Queen franchise effectively:

Initial Training Components

  • ADQ's Initial Training: This is the core part of the training, divided into three phases. It covers operational procedures, product preparation, customer service, and management practices tailored to Dairy Queen's standards.
  • Management Training Readiness Assessment (MTRA): An evaluation to ensure readiness for management responsibilities within a Dairy Queen franchise.
  • SERVSAFE Course: A food safety training course required for all trainees to ensure compliance with food handling and safety standards.

Training Requirements

  • Trainees: At least three individuals from each store, including the designated manager and two assistant managers, must complete all components of the initial training. Dairy Queen may also provide additional training options, such as EPOS (Electronic Point Of Sale) training, at its discretion.
  • Evaluation: Dairy Queen assesses trainees based on attendance, participation, presentations, progress in initial training, leadership, and other factors. Failure to meet these standards may result in being prohibited from completing the training, which is a prerequisite for store operation.

Training Location and Staff

  • Training is conducted at various regional Dairy Queen locations, depending on the geographical demand and the location of the majority of franchisees and subfranchisees attending each class. The training department is overseen by experienced professionals, including a Director of Training and field training consultants, who have extensive experience in the restaurant industry and are required to complete Dairy Queen's certified trainer training program.


Dairy Queen




Dairy Queen does not as a rule grant a protected territory to any subfranchisee under its operating agreements. Instead, a subfranchisee is granted the right to operate a store or restaurant at a specific location only, with no commitment from Dairy Queen to refrain from establishing new stores or restaurants in proximity to the existing one.

However, there may be situations where Dairy Queen, at its discretion, chooses not to open a new store or restaurant close to an existing one. This approach highlights that while franchisees are given a specific location to operate their Dairy Queen store or restaurant, they do not receive an exclusive territory within which Dairy Queen agrees not to issue subfranchises or operate competing businesses​​.

Can a

Dairy Queen


be run as

a passive


If you are an individual, Dairy Queen does not require but strongly encourages you to participate personally in the on-premises operation of your franchised store or restaurant. However, it is mandatory to have a manager ("designated manager") and the requisite number of assistant managers to ensure full-time and attentive management of the day-to-day operations.

These managers must meet Dairy Queen's prior restaurant or retail management experience requirements. This structure indicates that Dairy Queen expects active participation in the franchise's daily management, either by the franchisee or by a designated manager, which suggests a limited scope for passive investment where the owner is not involved in daily operations​​​​.

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