How do you know how long a franchise will last? Will bagel stores, for example, go the way of muffin shops or become mainstays like Burger King and Wendy's? "No one really knows the answer," DeBolt admits.
How can you avoid investing in a business franchise whose product or service is a fad? "Research the market," suggests DeBolt. "Within any given industry, there are several different franchise concepts. Carefully look at each and see where they are in their growth and development. Check out the franchisees' experiences and draw some conclusions that are meaningful."
"Go with a product that has been established in the marketplace and is going to fit with the demographic trends and basic American tastes for the next 15 to 20 years. One trend that will remain solid is services for people in and around their homes. Home-delivery services are an example," suggests Caffey, citing Take Out Taxi, a franchise which delivers restaurant meals to people at home. "It's part of the baby-boomer trend with people turning age 50 and then age 60. There's a market for franchises providing services that are key to their needs."
Andrew A. Caffey, 3 Bethesda Metro Center, #700, Bethesda, MD 20814.
Franchise Masters, 1000 Shelard Pkwy., #320, Minneapolis, MN 55426, (800) 328-4158.
International Franchise Association, 1350 New York Ave. NW, #900, Washington, DC 20005-4709, (202) 628-8000.