|A new franchise outlet opens somewhere
nationwide every eight minutes, says a survey by the International
Franchise Association (IFA). With over 3,000 franchised
businesses, covering nearly every conceivable industry, opportunities
have grown tremendously, especially for those willing to take the
"I chose franchising because itís more mapped
out," said Bernice Duran, owner of a Worldwide Refinishing
franchise in El Paso, Texas. "I also like the name recognition
associated with a franchise."
Unfortunately, when people think of franchises, they
automatically think fast food. "Fast-food is extremely
competitive, " said Erik Wulff, a partner with Washington, DC,
law firm Hogan & Hartson. "Owners have to rely on a
fine-tuned, workable concept in order to get a good return on their
Whatís so attractive about franchises? Low
entrance fees, backing of a large chainís experience, marketing and
know-how are top attractions. Ordinarily, buying a franchise is a
safer bet than going into business alone since only 20 percent of
franchises fail in the first five years vs. 50 percent of all other
Which franchise trends will bring long-term success?
Franchises selling ice cream, frozen yogurt, ices and soft serve are
popular. Juice bars do well in regions with affluent consumers and a
warm climate. A sister trend to juice bars--wraps--is also growing in
popularity as consumers continue to crave healthier alternatives to
Beyond food, there are day care centers, both for
children and adults. According to the National Adult Day Services
Association, over 4,000 adult day service centers operate nationwide.
Businesses include everything from home health-care services to
centers that specialize in caring for seniors with Alzheimerís
disease. Job training franchises are also high on the list. The U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job training to grow 43 percent in
the next six years.
Fitness franchises range from the typical gym-type
fitness club to individual sports like martial arts and
family-oriented activities such as childrenís tennis instruction.
And donít forget stores like GNC selling the nutritional supplements
these fitness afficionados consume.
Other unique franchise opportunities include the
Visiting Angels, a living assistance service to caregivers of ailing
senior citizens living at home. Or how about selling candy through
Candy Express. And Inches-A-Weigh has created an exclusive market
niche servicing women primarily over 35 with a pragmatic approach to
dieting. There are specialized staffing franchises, as well as those
that blend education with fun, ranging from baseball camps to
Victorian tea parties. As corporations continue to restructure, theyíre
outsourcing services to franchises dealing in accounting, payroll, and
human resources. And thereís also recreation and entertainment
franchises like racquetball, restaurants with video games, and RV
rentals. But the most explosive group is home-based franchises--maid
services, carpet and upholstery cleaning, home remodeling.
Duran chose Worldwide Refinishing, one such
franchise. "Interior decoration and refinishing as an alternative
to replacement are big money makers," she said. "I was able
to start out small in my home and expand to a
But potential franchisees should watch out for
franchises that canít generate enough revenue or are in areas of
"Franchising isnít a foolproof system for
success," said Richard-Abraham Reign, spokesperson for the U.S.
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. ĎMany franchisees often go into
business with too little money to survive the start-up phase and fall
victim to franchisers who promise support but donít deliver."
Lorenzo Lopez , owner of a 7-Eleven franchise in
Long Beach, California, advises working in the same business as the
franchise. "Itís easy when you know the system," he said.
He chose 7-Eleven, long a friend to the Latino community because he
had been working for them for 11 years, working his way up from store
clerk to manager. "When a corporate store became available, I
applied for the franchise," he added. "Itís a different
life for me." Heís currently working to open a second store.
How can potential franchisees find these
opportunities? Duran recommends seeking out the local Chamber of
Commerce. And after choosing a franchise, she recommends talking with
the Small Business Administration and taking advantage of minority
business programs. Those with access to the Internet should hop on
their keyboards and surf. Thereís so much information on
franchising, including much of what franchisers will tell you and some
of what they won't, it can be overwhelming. IFAís site is the
best place to start.