Affordable Franchises

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year they expanded from six service areas/auto repair bays to 10.

The downsizing proved profitable: the 11-employee company (eight hourly and three managerial) has ranked among the five highest-grossing Meineke locations (out of 900 nationwide) for the past five years. It posted nearly $1.3 million last year, and is already 6% ahead of where it was at the end of the second quarter last year. The franchise also offers a variety of under-car care services, including a full range of exhaust and muffler services, struts, brakes, and factory-scheduled maintenance. The shop services individual customers and commercial accounts.

Love, formerly a human resources manager, chose Meineke because of its one-month training program, the opportunity available in his area, brand recognition, and nationwide advertising program. “Having George Foreman as our spokesperson is a huge advantage,” says Love. “When we opened the doors we were somewhat assured that we’d already have more business than if we’d had a nonfranchised start-up.”

Look around your community, and don’t ignore inner cities and downtown areas. These are markets that are emerging economically and, according to Seid, are hot right now in terms of business growth, an
d accessible to potential business owners in urban areas.

“The emerging markets are the most exciting jewels in the economic crown today,” Seid says. “There the buying power per capita for certain items is even higher than those franchisors have found in the suburban markets. The economic stature of those markets has increased, the labor pool is phenomenal, and there are resources like tax benefits, community resource programs, and training programs at your disposal.”

“To put it in perspective, the nation’s emerging market of all ethnic makeups is larger than the entire retail market of Mexico,” Seid continues, or approximately 7% of total retail spending in the United States. Studies have shown that approximately 25% of retail sales in the emerging markets are not provided by inner-city retailers, he says. In some markets that number reaches as high as 60%: it’s about 30% in Boston, 40% in Chicago, and 60% in Harlem.

Magic Johnson is one African American who has already discovered this: his Starbucks in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles is one of the highest grossing in the nation, and his movie theater in the same neighborhood is among the top 10 highest-grossing chains in the country.

But if an urban market like Harlem, south Dallas, or north Philadelphia doesn’t rank high on your list of possible locations, then don’t let a franchisor steer you there. “If it’s not the market that you want,” Seid says, “don’t let your ethnicity drive you into it.”

The key to choosing the right franchise opportunity, says Seid, is selecting a franchise that you can be proud of and that you truly would like to get involved with for the long haul–not just for a year or two. “Pick something that makes you want to thump your chest and say, ‘It’s all mine!'” Seid advises. “As a new franchisee, you’re going to be working very hard

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