Archive for the 'Seattle/Bellevue Franchise' Category

Indoor Beach Volleyball – New Franchise Concept?

February 25th, 2012

Buy A Franchise Unlimited, Buy A Franchise Bellevue, Buy A Franchise Seattle, Buy A Franchise Blog

This article was run courtesy of the Bellevue Reporter, and the concept may just evolve into a new Franchise Concept.  Stay tuned to see.

Bellevue is known for a lot of things – diversity, good food, its bustling downtown, but sunny days of beach volleyball isn’t one of them.

But in true Pacific Northwest fashion, a couple of Washington natives have adapted the game to fight this area’s grey existence.

Brian Park and Brian Boyer opened up East Beach Volleyball late last year, an indoor beach volleyball retail company and academy. The facility features three courts in the warehouse location on Northeast 116th Avenue, a store area and a tropical style where players can cool off with a Gatorade after a tough game.

The store has been a plan for Boyer and Park for years. Previously, with a store on Alki Beach, business didn’t last all year round. Seattle is not replete with beach volleyball courts, and even then, players have to brave the traffic, and parking issues at Alki or Golden Gardens in Ballard.

“The biggest thing is there’s not a whole lot of public courts for beach volleyball,” said Boyer, who played volleyball during his time at the Naval Academy. “To really put in a nice, quality court costs a lot of money, and there’s not a lot of public money there for developing volleyball courts.”

So Boyer, who has been playing volleyball since 2001, and Park decided to fill that void. East Beach operates as more of a training facility than a recreational space, though open gyms happen on Friday evenings.

Boyer, along with three contracted instructors run several group classes as well as individual sessions. They teach players the game, from the basic concepts, to advanced skills. They can also help players get up to speed with a limited gym and workout supervision. Though the academy doesn’t operate a lot of leagues, players get chances to face off with similarly skilled opponents multiple times.

Instruction in the area is limited, Boyer said. Most players can’t learn a lot about volleyball after the youth level, and these classes will help generate more interest in the game.

“We have a passion for teaching people the game,” Boyer said. “We believe the more people who play, and are given an opportunity to play and learn will allow for the game to get more popular.”

This training not only helps the players get in shape, it allows people to gear up for games during the summer months, when the limited courts in the area are in high demand.

Boyer said the business has thrived during the cold winter months, but summer could be a question mark. Boyer felt confident that people will still want to learn to play, even if it is inside during the warmer months.

East Beach Volleyball Academy

2120 116th Avenue Northeast, Bellevue.

(206) 462-5282 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (206) 462-5282     end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Lessons – Individual sessions range from $25 to $60. Group classes are $288 for doubles, and $440 for four players.

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Popularity: 6% [?]

Zeeks Pizza to Open Redmond Location

July 13th, 2011

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Rendering of the new Zeeks Pizza location in Redmond, slated to be open in late August or early September.

Seattle-based Zeeks Pizza is preparing to launch its 10th store in the Red 160 apartment complex at 16015 Cleveland Street in Redmond.

Interior construction is under way at the location, and it is slated to open in late August or early September, said Danielle Zarella, a spokeswoman representing the pizza company.

At 3,800 square feet, the store will be one of Zeeks’ larger locations and will accommodate up to 145 people, not including the large patio.

Zarella says Zeeks has been popular on the Eastside, and Redmond has been one of its target locations for expansion. She said the company was pleased to find a spot near Trader Joes and other commercial activity, and to have room for a full bar in addition to the restaurant’s dine-in and delivery service.

The new store will employ between 18 and 24 people full time, and as many as 40 people overall, depending on demand once the restaurant is open.

Doug McClure and Tom Vial founded Zeeks and own most of the company’s 10 locations, including the planned Redmond Zeeks, though a franchise location opened in Bellevue in October 2010 and there is another franchise location in Issaquah.

Zeeks serves a variety of pizzas with catchy names, such as the “Quentin Florentino,” which includes goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, spinach, parmesan, and an olive oil glaze. It also sells salads and starter dishes in single or party sizes.

Zarella said the new location will emphasize both dine-in and delivery services, and will have two centralized call centers for delivery orders, as well as online ordering.

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Popularity: 9% [?]

Beyond Fast Food Franchises – Consider the Service Industry

May 19th, 2011

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So you’ve decided that you want to be your own Boss, set your own hours, and work closer to home.  Your next step would be to decide what kind of franchise you want to buy. 

Now, there are lots of Franchise opportunities from which to choose.  Have you thought about a Service Franchise? Here are just a few Service Franchises to consider: Automotive, Cleaning, Education, Financial, Healthcare, Home Improvement, Personal Care, Pet Care, Real Estate, Technology and Travel.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Did you know that the International Franchise Association says there are over 1500 franchise opportunities!?!  Wow…how do you choose the right one?  Well, we’ll get to that.

You may have noticed that I didn’t include Food Franchises.  I have nothing but good things to say about Fast Food franchises; but I’d like you to put that idea on the back burner for right now and think about Service Franchises.

One of the great things about a Service Franchise compared to a Food Franchise…and I’m talking in general…is that your “Open for Business” hours are shorter.   And you’re more apt to work “normal” hours, whereas fast food Franchise owners sometimes work 15-18 hours per day. They’re up preparing for the morning rush, working through lunch and dinner, and then cleaning up the kitchen to start again the following day.

People love their pets and this is a great lifestyle business for people.  You may not get rich, but you’ll love what you do and can very easily make a very good living with the right Pet Franchise.

Also, most Franchises (in just about every category) offer the opportunity to add locations, area development contracts for expansion in cities or states, at a reduced cost.  These opportunities are called area development or Master Franchise Agreements.  So, theoretically a person could start small with a single site, and then grow their business and income through area development or Master Franchise Agreements

All right! SO, how are you going to choose the right Service Franchise?  What are you passionate about?  Is it numbers, or cars, or education? Do you like working with seniors, such as home care or health care? Do you enjoy working directly with your hands – like painting or fixing furniture or as a handyman?  Or you love to clean – but at what level?  Would it be residential, commercial, or restoration after a fire or flood?  You love to travel…what about sharing that experience and showing other people how to do that less expensively?  Or maybe you’re more interested in the personal care area, such as hair salon, fitness, or a nail shop.

Now you’re ready for the next step in taking charge of your future.  But you don’t know what you don’t know.  What are the right questions to ask, and to whom do you ask them? How can you get past those hurdles? Ask an expert!  Ask someone who is in your corner, on your side, and wants you to succeed!

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Popularity: 8% [?]


May 12th, 2011

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The International Franchise Association (IFA) announced it has partnered with the Professional Athlete Franchise Initiative (PAFI) to connect the professional athlete community to the franchise industry through education, research and interaction in advance of the 2011 PAFI Franchise Summit, July 10-12, in Atlanta, Ga. 

As the oldest and largest organization representing franchising worldwide, the International Franchise Association is dedicated to promoting and protecting franchising through educational programs such as the PAFI. IFA will be a leading sponsor of the 2011 PAFI Franchise Summit, the premier event designed to introduce professional athletes to the basic architecture of the franchise industry. The summit also serves to educate franchisors about how to leverage athlete participation in their franchise growth initiatives. The classroom curriculum is crafted by franchise leaders and supported by franchisors and others geared toward tooling the professional athlete for transition.

“PAFI’s mission to educate athletes about value of franchise ownership as a second career supports IFA’s mission to raise the awareness of franchise ownership for all individuals as part of our strategic plan,” said IFA President and CEO Steve Caldeira. “Professional athletes are strong leaders on the field who understand the importance of working as a team and as part of a system to achieve success – many of the same characteristics of successful franchise systems.”

The 2011 PAFI Summit is hosted by Stan Friedman, CFE, senior vice president, FranConnect, and 2011 IFA Ronald E. Harrison Diversity Award Winner. Summit host committee members include IFA members Geoff Hill, vice president, Roark Capital Group, Kay Ainsley, managing director, Michael Seid Associates, Miriam Brewer, director of education and diversity, IFA, and Nick Powills, CEO, No Limit Media Consulting. For a complete list of speakers and education contributors to the summit, or for more information about PAFI, please visit

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Popularity: 6% [?]

Tennis Star Venus Williams Joins Jamba Juice Franchise

April 26th, 2011

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Jamba Juice announced that tennis star Venus Williams has joined the company as a franchise partner and will help the brand enter the Washington, D.C., market.

James White, chairman, president, and CEO of Jamba Juice franchise, told QSR in an exclusive interview that the Williams family had been fans of the brand in their native California, and that Jamba has been in discussion with the camp for the last year about a partnership.

“The D.C. marketplace was a high priority for us because of the makeup of the consumer opportunity that we saw there,” White says.

“We thought that Venus would be the ideal franchise partner; she epitomizes, from our vantage point, a person that leads a healthy, active lifestyle. She’s one of the most recognized athletes on the planet, so we couldn’t think of a better partner to enter the D.C. marketplace with.”

The franchise deal with Williams calls for five stores in the next two years in the D.C.-Maryland market. The first store is slated to open in the summer.

White says the D.C. marketplace will be used as a launch pad for further East Coast franchise growth, and that the brand has plans to grow in Connecticut and Boston. In the meantime, Jamba Juice franchise plans to promote health and wellness activities through Williams’ D.C. stores, White says.

Williams, who has won 41 Women’s Tennis Association titles and 7 Grand Slams in her career—and whose sister, Serena, is also a tennis star—was looking for entrepreneurial opportunities, White says. A mutual acquaintance of Jamba Juice and the Williams camp introduced the two parties.

“I have been a long-time fan of Jamba Juice and its mission to help inspire and simplify healthy living,” Williams said in a statement from the company. “Regardless of the venue—whether I am on the tennis court or on an interior design project—keeping fit and eating healthy are critical to ensuring I maintain peak performance.

“Jamba offers a fantastic line-up of tasty, better-for-you products that I can feel good about eating. I am excited to be a part of Jamba and, through that partnership, to be bringing a healthy lifestyle brand to the D.C. metro area that can offer others an easy way to maintain their focus on staying active and eating right.”

White says Jamba Juice franchise is a good fit for athlete partnerships because of its healthy, active brand image. Former National Basketball Association star LaPhonso Ellis is a franchisee in South Bend, Indiana, and the brand has a partnership with the Women’s National Basketball Association, as well.

“It’s a business [athletes] understand, it’s a product they love and use, so it’s a natural fit for us to have this kind of relationship with an athlete like Venus Williams,” White says.

There are no plans for Williams to act as a spokeswoman for Jamba Juice franchise, White says, but he expects the relationship with the tennis star to grow in the coming years.

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Popularity: 8% [?]

Seattle’s Best Coffee launches Brew-lanthropy Project

April 8th, 2011

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Check out this interesting article on

“Seattle’s Best Coffee has launched the Brew-lanthropy Project, an initiative that works to provide nonprofits with an opportunity to fuel their purpose. The project was launched in an effort to continue the philanthropic work of parent company Starbucks.

As part of the project, Seattle’s Best will award nonprofit organizations with a breakroom makeover, free coffee for a year, $5,000 to continue to brew more good and a chance to tell their story.

“Our mission is to provide great coffee anywhere it’s needed, and the Brew-lanthropy Project is a great way to extend that mission,” said Michelle Gass, president, Seattle’s Best Coffee. “Providing a great cup of coffee to those who quietly and courageously transform their communities every day is just one way Seattle’s Best Coffee can show appreciation for their hard work.”

The First Brew-lanthropy Project Award: Blackstone Bicycle Works

Seattle’s Best Coffee began the Brew-lanthropy Project by awarding a coffee makeover to the staff and volunteers at Blackstone Bicycle Works, a nonprofit organization on the south side of Chicago. Blackstone teaches neighborhood kids life lessons through bike mechanics and healthy living through fun.

Blackstone’s full story is available on Seattle’s Best Coffee’s Facebook page.

Which organization is next?

To find the next deserving organization, Seattle’s Best Coffee is asking its Facebook community to become Brew-lanthropists. Anyone can nominate a nonprofit in need of a coffee break makeover. The winning organization will receive:

• A coffee break area makeover by HGTV’s “Design on a Dime” star Frank Fontana

• A Seattle’s Best Coffee Premium Office Brewer, which delivers an individual cup of coffee made from freshly-ground beans in less than a minute

• A year’s worth of Seattle’s Best Coffee

• A $5,000 donation to brew more good in the community

• A chance to tell their story in a short, shareable documentary film that will be featured on the Seattle’s Best Coffee Facebook page

Nominations can be made by submitting a 250-word essay about the organization at the Seattle’s Best Coffee Facebook Page. Entries will be accepted through April 29.

Beginning May 11, fans can cast their votes for which organization will receive the coffee makeover. Seattle’s Best Coffee will narrow the field to four finalists for voting, allowing nonprofits to rally support and votes. Each finalist will be awarded $500 worth of Seattle’s Best Coffee.

Later in May, the Seattle’s Best Coffee team will visit the hometown of the nonprofit with the most votes and bring the coffee makeover and its story to life.”

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Popularity: 6% [?]

How do Franchise Territories Work?

March 31st, 2011

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This one of the most important and contentious topics in the franchise industry over the past 20 years.  This answer has been provided by Jeff Elgin of FranChoice. 

Many, but not all, franchises grant an “exclusive territory” to their franchisees as part of the rights given under the franchise agreement contract. The purpose of doing this is to assure the franchisee that they will have some area in which they can market and operate under the franchise brand without any competition from another franchisee or even the franchise company itself. This territory is normally described in geographical terms (area code, street or waterway boundaries) though it can also be described as a specified radius originating from the actual location of your unit.

Regardless of the method used to define the boundaries of the territory, the message implied by the territory grant is always the same. In a nutshell, you’re being told that this area is large enough and has a sufficient number of potential customers to enable you to build a successful business for yourself. This is where the conflict can come into play.

As the franchise system continues to grow, the franchisor will often desire to increase their number of distribution points by adding as many additional units into the market as possible. Sometimes these units can cannibalize the sales of existing units, temporarily or permanently. That “encroachment” can cause a lot of ill will among the existing franchisees.

Whenever you are evaluating any franchise, be sure to ask the existing operators whether they feel that the territory structure is fair and reasonable, and ask them as well as the franchisor whether there is an appeal process in place to allow for the resolution of any new unit impact conflicts without having to resort to litigation. These types of steps can help ensure that you are selecting a franchise with a strong sensitivity to these sorts of potential issues.

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Popularity: 6% [?]

Own a Franchise with Few to No Employees

March 18th, 2011

Always wanted to own your own business, but held off because you were weary of the headaches that can accompany hiring, paying and managing staff? You might find the perfect fit in these five franchise business models, all well-suited for franchise owners who are seeking to go into business solo.

1. America’s Swimming Pool Company

The country’s largest provider of swimming pool service and maintenance, America’s Swimming Pool Co. (ASP) has 58 franchise locations spanning seven states. Founded on a commitment to superior swimming pool service and solutions, ASP serves both residential and commercial properties.

An ASP franchisee is not required to have any past experience in swimming pool service and the franchise owner can be the sole service provider. CEO Stewart Vernon said the qualities that make an ASP franchisee successful are having a business mind and service mentality.

Potentially one of the greatest testaments to the ASP franchise model is that none has ever failed. Vernon attributes this to ASP’s commitment to franchisees to “act as their corporate backbone and provide the stability necessary to achieve success in the world of self- employment.” Additionally, ASP provides dedicated training through “Pool School,” which provides everything the franchisee needs to run the business. The total investment for a single ASP franchise ranges between $50,000 to $60,000, which includes the franchise fee and all necessary capital.

ASP fully discloses revenue numbers and the top and bottom producing locations. Vernon stated that the company is poised for its strongest growth yet in 2011, with plans to continually reinvest in its franchisees.

2. Stroller Strides

Recognized as one of Entrepreneur’s “Fastest Growing Franchises in 2009,” Stroller Strides is a postnatal group exercise program that allows moms to work out with their babies.

Founded by Lisa Druxman, a fitness industry pro since 1990, the idea was inspired after the birth of her own son. Lacking a viable fitness option that would accommodate having an infant, she created her own workouts using the resistance of the stroller with her son in it. Stroller Strides now offers franchise opportunities in 45 states.

Druxman noted that while Stroller Strides is a great option for anyone passionate about fitness, it’s particularly great for entrepreneurial-minded moms who want to run a successful solo operation.

“There are so many moms out there who want to work, contribute and to have something stimulating and rewarding in their life, but who also want to have it fit with their family,”  Druxman said.

Stroller Strides franchisees are home-based, and most work just a few hours each day.

In addition to a flexible schedule, the franchise program also allows for creative locations. Classes can be held anytime, and anywhere, a mom can walk with a stroller, whether that is outdoors, in a park, the gym or a mall.

Depending on the size of the territory, a Stroller Strides franchise investment ranges from $3,700 to $6,050. From there, the size and scope of the franchise varies. Some franchisees care to teach just a few classes each week, while others offer several weekly classes at multiple locations throughout the franchise territory.

“We totally support both desires so long as the classes are great for the clients,” Druxman said.

3. Lawn Doctor

If the thought of a lawn service conjures images of a dump truck and mom-and-pop operation, you haven’t encountered Lawn Doctor. The 45-year-old company has carved an industry niche through a focus on innovation, both for customer lawn needs and franchisee operations.  In addition, franchise owners can work a flexible schedule, and provide services as a solo operation.

With 450 franchise locations, Lawn Doctor is the nation’s leading lawn service and care company.  Scott Frith, Lawn Doctor’s VP of marketing and franchise development, advised that potential franchisees who are outdoor-loving, goal-oriented business people with some prior sales experience consider it as a franchise opportunity. In a lagging economy, consumer demand remains strong for the service, with 2010 sales up 17 percent over the year prior. Further, Frith noted that “franchise owners maintain a system wide gross profit margin of 68 percent.”

Because the industry is founded on repeat service, franchisees are well-poised to “mushroom” business for continued growth. Frith said that Lawn Doctor has “the highest retention rate of any company in our industry at approximately 80 percent, which indicates a high level of satisfaction in our services and creates a platform for selling additional value added services.” Lawn Doctor’s goal is for franchisees to break even by year two of operation.

Owning a Lawn Doctor franchise requires a total investment of $80,000. The company also offers in-house financing to aid potential franchisees.

4. Safeguard

For more than 50 years, Safeguard has supplied businesses with needs ranging from checks, forms and filing systems to full-color printing, promotional products, apparel and online services. A subsidiary of Deluxe Corp., a $1.4 billion company, Safeguard currently has nearly 250 franchisees.

Scott Sutton, vice president of franchise development for Safeguard, said that the most successful franchisees are those that thrive on building and maintaining strong, solutions-based business relationships.” The nature of the business imposes no geographical limitations to the brand and each market in the country is a target market, Sutton said. Safeguard recommends that potential franchisees have about $75,000 of available capital to get started. 

One particularly appealing feature Safeguard offers franchisees is the ability to work solo from home, while leveraging constant support. Through “Base Connection,” franchisees are connected with skilled customer service reps who are housed in Safeguard’s corporate offices. Franchisees can route their customer service numbers to Base Connection, ensuring that a person is always at the ready to address customer needs.  Further, it allows franchisees to spend time building the business instead of handling administrative issues, and ensures that Safeguard’s 73 percent annual customer retention rate stays intact, Sutton said.

Safeguard franchisees are also free to maintain the kind of business they choose. Sutton noted that the company provides significant levels of support to each type of franchisee — those that want to grow and those that want to remain smaller.

5. Mom Corps

If you’re seeking flexibility in a franchise, Mom Corps is founded on that very philosophy.  The company bills itself as a national staffing firm that connects progressive employers with experienced talent looking for flexible work. Mom Corps currently has 14 franchise markets, and is quickly expanding into other metro areas.

The company is focused on matching established employers with experienced, highly skilled candidates who seek flexible work alternatives for optimal work-life balance.

CEO Allison O’Kelly started Mom Corps out of her own personal experience juggling the demands of corporate life and family. Realizing the need for an alternative work scenario, she started her own practice serving small businesses in a consulting and financial planning capacity. Seeing the demand for her services, O’Kelly was eventually driven to fundamentally change the way companies fill their intermittent staffing needs and founded Mom Corps, she said.

The startup cost for a Mom Corps franchise is $25,000. As a staffing business, franchises have low operating costs and overhead.

“The biggest investment is made upfront to get up and running,” O’Kelly said. She also said the most successful franchisees have sales experience as well as a background in professional services and should thrive on working independently (but with the support of a great team and franchise network behind them). The brand has been nationally recognized in media outlets like The New York Times, CNN and “Today.”

Popularity: 9% [?]

Out of Work? Invest Time, Savings, in Franchises!

March 7th, 2011

(Buy A Franchise Unlimited)

As job growth continues to sputter, some frustrated or laid-off workers are taking an alternative route to finding new employment.

They’re opening their own businesses, often through the world of franchising, in which they take someone else’s successful business concept and run with it toward the goal of becoming financially independent.

Jumping into business by buying a franchise doesn’t come without risks, though. Costs can run from $20,000 to several hundred thousand dollars to get started. And not all franchise parent companies offer their offspring the same level of marketing, back-office and sales support.

“Fire Your Boss!” screams a banner over several booths in the Nashville Convention Center during a recent two-day Franchise Expo, an event designed to put would-be small-business owners in touch with franchise opportunities.

“A lot of people are tired of working for someone else — and tired of the uncertainty that comes with that,” said Judy Moreland, coordinator of the Nashville event. Franchise opportunities range from sandwich and yogurt shops to quick oil change outlets. The least expensive options often attract first-time business owners who may be less savvy about the financial risks and only dream of the possible rewards.

At a marketing booth for Yogurt Mountain, the chain’s franchise vice president, Brian Robinson, said that about 40 percent of would-be entrepreneurs inquiring about opening one of the Birmingham-based company’s stores “are people who have lost their jobs and are down to the last of their savings.”

The company came to the Nashville expo because it hoped to find its first franchisees in Middle Tennessee, said founder David Kahn, who started selling yogurt in late 2009 after getting out of a Blockbuster video rental business.

Franchising is an idea I’m ready to embrace,” said Lewis Cleaton, who took early retirement in 2008 after 31 years with General Motors to avoid being laid off at the automaker’s Spring Hill plant. He’s been looking for some other line of work since.

“I’m not ready to retire, but I am at a place in my life where I want to find something I’d enjoy doing,” Cleaton, 55, said. He was visiting booths at the expo to see which franchises might fit his key criteria: something simple, inexpensive and not too time-consuming that he could do from home.

Some first-time franchisees use Small Business Administration loans to get started, but business analysts say tight credit during the past three years has slowed the rate of growth that the franchise world typically sees.

“The SBA had been the lender of last resort in the past, but lately it has become the primary lender,” said Alisa Harrison, spokeswoman for the International Franchise Association, a trade group. “We’re trying to get the banks more comfortable about making loans. Once we get credit flowing again, we will see franchising begin to grow as it did in previous recessions.”

Ideas abound, but costs vary.

Franchise ideas are almost limitless, with more than 3,000 companies now offering franchises, according to the Washington-based International Franchise Association.

Many franchises are quite well known — such as McDonald’s, Subway and Pizza Hut — and some of the most famous ones come with expensive buy-ins. Others are less visible, but they may offer modest startup costs and the ability to work from home in some cases.

Among the possibilities are senior-care services, one of the fastest-growing franchise fields because of the aging of baby boomers and their need for health care, said Joel Buckberg, a franchise attorney with the Baker Donelson law firm here. He coordinates quarterly franchise conferences.

“There are some franchises as low as about $5,000, and some that go into six figures,” he said. “The frozen-dessert segment is hot now, along with any kind of services that can be provided from your home. Those include such things as employment agencies, cleaning services and business consulting.”

Although Lisa and Bill Meek of Murfreesboro had good jobs, they started searching for a small-business opportunity in hopes of becoming their own bosses. They found a unique (if somewhat stinky idea) in the Charlottesville, Va.-based DoodyCalls, a pet-waste pickup service that offers franchises.

The business involves removing dog waste from people’s yards or cleaning litter boxes for people with cats. Anyone calling the company to inquire about the service is greeted with a tongue-in-cheek phone message: “We’re No. 1 in the No. 2 business.”

“Yes, we heard a plethora of jokes when we told our friends we were going to do this, but we’ve been at it for a little over two years now, and I’ve already quit my other job,” said Lisa Meek, who used to be a physical education teacher. “I’m already making more money.”

She said her husband read about DoodyCalls in a newspaper ad.

“When he first told me about it, I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ But we fell in love with the idea, and it’s perfect for us.”

It cost the Meeks roughly $25,000 to start the business, besides buying a truck to drive to clients’ homes. They took out a Small Business Administration loan to help.

One key to a successful franchise business is finding a parent company that provides marketing, accounting systems and other key services. The Meeks rate DoodyCalls as a good partner in that respect.

“We have done our own marketing, but we get lots of referrals from the company’s website, and they pretty much taught us everything we needed to know to make our business a success,” Lisa Meek said.

Buckberg advises clients to check out a franchise carefully before signing a contract.

“There are a lot of concepts that have done well, and some that have not done so well,” he said. “I always suggest that you talk to people already in the business to find out about their experiences.”

Franchisors often give potential new owners help finding a good location, along with other training. Many franchise parents take new owners to a training site at the corporate headquarters or a flagship store for a few weeks to drill business routines into them.

“With a franchise, you benefit from the learning curve of people who came before you,” Buckberg said.

Some people choose to buy an existing franchise location, but most owners start from scratch.

That’s exactly what Scott Snover, who operates a FastSigns location in Antioch, did.

He moved to Nashville from Dallas in 1994 to open the business, having scouted around the country for a good location. Today, he’s the largest FastSigns franchisee, and his business making signs and banners of all descriptions grossed more than
$5 million in sales last year.

“I was a tennis professional after college, but I didn’t want to do that forever,” he said. “I stumbled across FastSigns, and because I had a computer background in college, decided it was the right business for me.

“I came to Nashville for the first time to scout out the area, and after eight hours decided this was the place. I didn’t know anyone here, so I started from scratch with an investment of about $150,000.”

Even with the more liberal lending rules of the SBA bolstered by last year’s federal Jobs Act that raised the limit on small-business loans to $5 million (up from
$2 million), “financing remains a challenge for everyone,” Buckberg cautions would-be franchisees.

But the SBA has a program specifically to help people seeking loans to start franchised businesses, said David Tiller of the agency’s Nashville office. The SBA has a “franchise registry” that lists companies whose business plans the agency has reviewed and approved.

“All of our loans are open to franchisees, and they range from $5,000 to $5 million,” Tiller said.

The SBA recently made two large franchise business loans, including one for $4.95 million to a company setting up a DirectBuy warehouse in Brentwood, Tiller said. Community First Bank & Trust in Columbia facilitated the loan through its Franklin office.

Jerry Woods, Community First’s senior vice president and chief lending officer, handled the paperwork. He said the bank actively seeks good candidates for small-business loans, especially those seeking to open franchises.

“The first thing we do is make sure they’re on the SBA registry,” he said of the business concepts. “If they’re not, that doesn’t mean we can’t get them registered, but the SBA has to review their documents. Most experienced franchisors know this, and they make sure they’re preregistered before they go out to market.”

The amount of a loan “depends on the type of industry,” Woods said.

“A popular sandwich shop franchise can run in the tens of thousands, but we’ve done hotel franchises, too, and those can run into the millions. It’s really all over the board.

“If it’s a startup and an owner has no direct experience, I like to see the borrower put in a third of the project’s costs,” Woods said. “If we don’t do that, it’s just too highly leveraged.”

Also important is a good business plan, he said.

“We have to plan for the unforeseen. I need to see their projections on income and profits for the next two years, and cash flow needs for the first 12 months. We work hard with people to determine what their cash-flow and marketing expenses will be. Sometimes they underestimate that, and it can cause them to run into trouble.”

Subway sandwich shops are among the most successful franchises, especially for people with smaller amounts to invest, Woods said. “They have done a spectacular job of selling franchises,” he said. “They have a relatively low cost of entry, and they do a pretty good job of supporting franchisees.”

The SBA’s Tiller said prospective borrowers need “reasonably good credit,” but the approval criteria vary widely and are set by individual banks reviewing the loans. SBA guarantees the small-business loans.

“Some require really high credit scores, but each one has a different outlook on what is considered good credit,” he said. “All of them require a business plan and a thorough package of franchise information.”

(Buy A Franchise Unlimited)

Popularity: 8% [?]

Bark Busters

February 18th, 2011

(Buy A Franchise Unlimited, Seattle Franchise, Bellevue Franchise)

After years working in the food-service business, Mike Haley of Newburgh was ready for something different.

“I wasn’t real happy doing it and wanted to do something that (my wife) Dianne and I could do together.”

Haley had experience as a dog trainer and liked the idea of becoming a franchisee because of the built-in network of materials and support.

Through online research, he learned about Bark Busters, an Australia-based dog training Franchise company. He talked to franchisees and met with company executives at the company’s North American headquarters in Denver.

“I really liked what I saw, I liked what I heard,” Haley said.

In 2006, the Haleys became Bark Busters franchisees.

They paid an upfront franchise fee, and 10 percent of their revenue goes back to Bark Busters.

One big plus of being a franchisee, Mike Haley said, is being part of a support network. Bark Busters has a franchisee-only website where franchisees can connect with each other.

“Any time I have a difficult situation with a dog … there’s about 500 people you can reach out to.”

As franchisees, the Haleys are in good company.

According to the International Franchise Association, a Washington, D.C.-based industry association, 901,093 franchised businesses operated nationwide in 2010. Those businesses employed 9.6 million people and generated an economic output of $868.3 billion.

Simply put, franchising is a system in which individuals (franchisees) pay a company (the franchisor) for the right to do business under the company’s name. A franchisee typically pays an initial franchise fee plus ongoing royalties and sometimes advertising fees. In return, the franchisee receives business assistance and support from the franchisor.

“Owning a franchise allows you to go into business for yourself, but not by yourself,” said Matt Haller, director of communications for the International Franchise Association. The association represents franchisees and franchisors.

Franchising is perhaps most strongly associated with fast-food restaurants, but franchising setups exist in a wide range of businesses, from hotels to real estate agencies to auto shops and service-based businesses.

For more information on the Bark Busters Franchise Opportunity, please contact me.

(Buy A Franchise Unlimited, Seattle Franchise, Bellevue Franchise)

Popularity: 6% [?]

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