Some 50 years ago, fast food as we currently know it was a foreign concept. Today, it is an institution upon which many busy families rely weekly and sometimes daily. In 1955, when Ray Kroc encountered a small, California hamburger stand run by Dick and Mac McDonald, he was inspired by how fast they served their food.
At the time, families ate home-cooked meals that took hours to prepare, but times were changing. Automobile use increased and women headed to work more often. Kroc saw a developing need and jumped at the opportunity to build more restaurants with the same operational plan as the McDonald brothers. Back then, investors considering his franchise might not have guessed that his hunch would turn into a multibillion dollar empire with more than 30,000 locations across the world.
Finding a profitable franchise can be as simple as looking at world trends and asking questions about what services individuals and businesses will need to make life more convenient or enjoyable.
Charting unfamiliar, yet lucrative territory
According to Miriam Brewer, director of education and diversity at the International Franchising Association Educational Foundation, there are more than 175 different industries that have franchised companies, many of which are unfamiliar to most. “When people think about franchises they automatically think about fast food, restaurants, or hotels,” Brewer says.
There are many advantages to investing into lesser-known franchising concepts — a significantly lower franchising fee is one. In rough economic times, people look to entrepreneurship, but many popular franchises will have start-up costs ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 — a price tag that is out of reach for most working-class Americans. However, some franchises in unfamiliar industries have significantly reduced franchising fees.
Take for example, Marietta, Georgia-based ShelfGenie, a franchise that sells custom-designed, glide-out shelving systems. An initial investment of $80,100 to $128,000 will put an investor in business without requiring them to hire staff. ShelfGenie’s business support center receives all customer calls, schedules sales appointments, and makes customer service calls for you, according to the ShelfGenie Website.
“The franchise does all of the business administration, making the franchisee responsible only for delivering the product,” says Matthew Biskup, chief marketing officer at the Ad Engine Franchise Network, the largest franchise recruitment network of Websites in the industry. “All you do is meet [clients], measure, make sales, and install it. It is a huge cost savings to the individual franchisee.”
“Some franchises are overlooked because they are completely not sexy, but as a business model they are viable,” Biskup says. He says FiltaFry, an oil filtration and fryer-cleaning franchise has low competition, but can be labor intensive. The initial franchise fee or territory fee ranges from $76,050 to $83,800, but can run as low as $32,000 if an investor already owns a white Ford E-150 van from which to operate the business. Customers can be found anywhere that food is fried.
Instead of buying one territory from FiltaFry, Stephen L. Bias decided that based on the profitability of the