B.E.’S 30 Hottest Franchises For 2006. Is one in your future?

Minority outreach programs and trendy businesses make these franchises the best opportunities for your money

after-school art program, opportunities are available in several investment categories.

Michele Reed is a wife and mother of four children who range in age from 14 to 21. The Marietta, Georgia, resident is also a successful franchise owner. Reed, 37, combined her passion for interior decorating with her management skills to become one of Décor & You’s top franchisees and its No.1 African American decorator.

Formerly a manager at Verizon Communications, Reed wanted to plan her work schedule around her family’s activities. While working at Verizon, she received a certificate in interior design and started her own business, Interiors by Michele. Due to a lack of quality vendors willing to work with small businesses, Reed’s business failed to turn a profit. In 2004, when Verizon downsized, Reed was offered a sizeable severance. She used the money to purchase her franchise and saved the remainder to help support her lifestyle until her business became profitable.

Décor & You has 88 franchisees, 11 of whom are African American. Décor designers help homeowners define and execute their decorating goals — from reframing an old painting to doing a complete living room makeover. Reed’s investment totaled $30,000, including the franchise fee, tra
ining, and samples. With an affordable investment and low overhead, her business rapidly grew, with first-year sales reaching $203,000.

She has since purchased two additional territories and relocated from Maryland to Georgia. She has also moved into a retail location, hired one full-time decorator and a part-time administrative assistant, and aspires to employ multiple decorators in the near future. This year, Reed’s projected revenues are $350,000.

Reed relishes the supportive family atmosphere of her franchise. “The support is incredible and is especially helpful for anyone that does not have business experience. When I first bought my franchise, my regional director welcomed me with open arms. She took me in and helped me get started and is still available 24/7.” Reed reaches out for guidance often, and still enjoys weekly coaching calls with her regional director.

Offering consumers in-demand products or services is integral to your success as a franchisee. “Since 9-11, people seem to be traveling less and spending more time with their families. Homes have become a safe haven, and people are willing to invest in them.” Reed has found that “there are more dual-income families with little time to decorate. There are also many second marriages. Couples are combining lives, and they need a decorator to give them a fresh start.”

The variety of opportunities and wealth of diversity initiatives within the franchising community make 2006 a great year to begin your business ownership journey. You can start your search online. Visit the IFA’s MinorityFran page, www.franchise .org/minorityfran, or blackenterprise.com’s Franchise Center (www.franchisesolutions.com/be). “Do your research and find a franchise that’s right for you,” says Reed. “Have faith in yourself and trust that you can make it on your own. Nothing in life is worth having without a challenge.”


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