15 Great Low-cost Franchises

If you thought buying a franchise operation was out of reach, think again. We offer profitable ventures that will make you, not break you.

In 1984, Agnes Davis made a decision that would change her life. Armed with four years of experience as a sales representative for a travel agency and more than 20 years of “customer service” experience as a registered nurse, Davis attended a presentation by Travel Network, a travel company, geared to potential franchisees.

“I was discouraged that I wasn’t getting the information I needed to succeed at the travel company I was working for,” Davis says. “But I was impressed with what Travel Network had to offer and the amount of information they’d given. They made us feel we could be successful agents if we worked the program the way they had it laid out for us.”

After raising $25,000 in start-up capital and undergoing weeks of extensive training, Davis was in business three months later as the owner of Senga Travel d/b/a Travel Network in Staten Island, New York. Today, it is a $3 million operation.

If you’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, you may want to consider franchising too.

There are about 600,000 franchised small businesses in the U.S., which account for $1 trillion in sales each year, according to the International Franchise Association (IFA) in Washington, D.C. This business sector is attractive for several reasons. Franchises exist within many diverse industries, and for their money, franchisees get a proven business concept within a structured system that offers the extensive and ongoing support they’ll need to succeed.

For more than a decade, black enterprise has provided a list of the franchise companies that offer some of the best opportunities for African American business owners. This year, be’s 15 Best Franchises list is based on a national survey of franchisors conducted by be Research. The companies we chose were culled from lists of franchises that can be purchased for less than $70,000. Additional factors we considered in making our selections included franchise fees, start-up costs, the number of existing black-owned units, support services and the average sales per unit.

As trends indicate, be’s list has some of the hottest industries in franchising: fast food, industrial/residential cleaning, education, business-to-business services and personal services. “The personal and business-to-business services are particularly hot because people have such a limited amount of time, and these businesses help people get things done quickly and efficiently,” says Debbie A. Smith, IFA vice president of public affairs and emerging markets.

Co-branded and multiconcept franchising are also on the rise. “The new entrepreneur may form a consortium with other partners and put together a multifranchise concept of franchises in different but complementary industries,” says Ronald Harrison, chairman of the board of trustees of IFA. “Co-branding, where you have a couple of concepts within one storefront, offers a new era of opportunity, along with e-business, which will be exciting to watch over the next several years.”

Indeed, technology has made Travel Network one of the leading franchises in the U.S. The franchise, which had more than $1.5 billion in U.S. sales in 1998 and has more than 500 agencies in 24 countries, has a

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