10 Franchises You Can Afford

We offer a selection of profitable ventures that are within your reach

He says U.S. Lawns assisted his Florida-based franchise in the purchase of the right equipment, administration, the training of employees, and instruction in how to bid for work. “They have a lot of good tools to use,” says Rollins, whose clients include the Broward County School Board, the city of Miramar, and a number of office complexes and condominiums in the Miramar and Fort Lauderdale area. Last year, his company grossed $1.3 million, a figure that includes the gross sales from his existing landscape business. “Before we purchased the franchise,” explains Rollins, “the highest sales we had were about $700,000. With the franchise, we were able to move beyond that.”

In recent years, one of the most significant growth areas for franchisees has lain in the purchase of additional franchises. Rollins, who currently employs more than 30 people, purchased a second U.S. Lawns franchise in Fort Lauderdale for $30,000 this past May. The rise in the cost of the franchise shows the vast increase in the value of a U.S. Lawns business. Jefferson also recently purchased a second The Fourth R franchise with a partner in Dallas.

“That’s a great testimonial to their commitment to their franchisor,” says DeBolt, “that they’re willing to invest more money in the concept. The multiunit owner of a franchise is rapidly becoming the most significant part of our wealthier middle class.”

And most franchises are within your financial reach. DeBolt says there are growing and successful franchises that can be purchased for less than $100,000. In fact, the majority of franchises are under $1 million. Typically, franchises in the automotive, lodging, and restaurant industries cost more than $1 million. However, since most franchisors assist with financing through either internal financing or linkages with outside financial services or institutions, more expensive franchises may also be a viable option.

This year, black enterprise’s annual list of franchises includes businesses in the residential cleaning, maintenance, computer, and education industries. Based on a national survey of franchisors conducted by be Research, the list provides an overview of franchises that have franchise fees and start-up costs of less than $70,000 and that already have black owners among their franchisees. We’ve also included contact information, a description of the business, the average 1999 sales for the franchisor’s units, and other information you should consider when making your decision.

How can you identify a winning franchise? Heed the advice of experts and franchisees.

  • Do your homework. There’s no shortcut for research. Review franchise options that fit your needs and interests. The Franchise Opportunities Guide ($23), available through the IFA, provides information on more than 2,000 franchise concepts. To order, call 800-543-1038 or visit www.franchise.org and click on “franchise opportunities mall” to view options. You can also refer to Bond’s Minority Franchise Guide ($19.95) for a selection of business opportunities.
  • Be realistic about your expectations. Franchisees work long hours, face setbacks, and meet some of the same challenges independently owned businesses do. Although statistics show that franchises have a greater success rate than independent new businesses, your personal
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