Match the business with your expertise or passion.
The only reason Manuel Fernandez didn't end up destitute is that he didn't have the stomach for acquiring additional debt. After less than three years, he sold his Minuteman Press franchise in 2007 at a loss.
Given his experience in financial management, Fernandez believes that he may have fared better if he had had stronger connections with the local print industry and expertise in marketing in that area. He now works as a project manager for a tech firm in Tampa.
Choosing a business within their expertise has made franchising a success for Blanca and Teodoro Quirino, 50 and 51, of Texas. In 2007 they bought a MaidPro instead of, say, Great Clips. Blanca, who worked as a hotel housekeeper for 15 years, knew what a high-quality cleaning service entails. Hair, not so much. "The first year, I was working about 10 hours a day," says Blanca, who didn't spend that time vacuuming but rather scheduling and hiring.
"Now, I work five or six hours a day. I want to retire before 70." She plans to buy two more MaidPro franchises and hand the businesses off to each of their three children.
Seek a company that offers a strong support system.
Ramiro Cruz, who is 55 and lives in Missouri, considered efficiencies when he chose his new franchise. He had been a project manager in information systems for 30 years, until he was laid off for a second time in 2008. A widower with a grown son, he realized he didn't need as much money to live on as he used to, he says. He mulled over handyman, pizza and IT companies. In the end, he chose CertaPro Painters because the company had a strong support system, and he could maintain a lean operation with subcontractors.
"I've given myself a five-year plan to get the business to a certain level, and then I'll see where it's at," he says. "If it makes sense, I'll sell. If not, I'll look at expansion. Ultimately, I'd like to have a business that runs itself." Or almost runs itself.
That's just what most franchise owners hope for.
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