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Breaking The Mold

Different Strokes

As these new, improved franchisees storm franchising's gates, the entire industry seems to be getting a whole lot smarter. "The reason fast food has dominated the industry for so many years is food lends itself so well to franchising, but in the last 10 years, the service side of franchising has really blossomed," says Wilkerson.

"When we got started in franchising about 20 years ago, the vast majority of companies we worked with were either in food service or traditional consumer service-oriented businesses," says Mark Siebert, president of Olympia Fields, Illinois-based Francorp Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in franchise development. "One of the major trends we've seen over the last 20 years is a horizontal application of franchising to industries we never would have considered before. We're seeing franchises in everything from diamond jewelry retailing to financial services to training for Fortune 500 executives."

Business-to-business services are especially hot. "In the old days, [Remedy employees] used to make sales calls to businesses," says Rhydderch. "Today, it's much more of a business call, where we're sitting down with the decision makers of a corporation and helping them strategically staff their businesses. We find our franchisees who come from high-end positions in corporate America feel more comfortable with this consultative approach than with a sales approach."

The new franchisees differ from the old in another very tangible way--they're computer literate. "They've been working with computers for years and embrace computers a lot more willingly than franchisees did in the past," says Wilkerson.

Considering the savvy of new franchisees, technology is the next logical injection to franchising, both as an upgrade to existing systems and as the basis of future business offerings. "Knowledge is essential to franchising, and the technological revolution has forced us to reconsider how we do business. Franchisors have contemplated this just as much as any major corporation's marketing arm," says Wilkerson. "Technology provides changes by the hour nowadays, and franchising will be a big part of that."

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This article was originally published in the May 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Breaking The Mold.

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