When Cindy Miller started searching for the perfect franchise in 1993, she had just one stipulation: "Anything but fast food." After two years spent considering a variety of businesses, she and her husband, Jim, opened a Blimpie Subs & Salads shop in November 1995.
Even though she initially thought fast food wasn't right for her, Miller, who now owns two shops in Terre Haute, Indiana, found that it was the best business for her. "It has been going really well," says Miller. "I'm enjoying the work and we've been very successful. Our first store has done well since the day it opened."
During her long search for the perfect franchise, Miller learned a number of important lessons, including the necessity of keeping an open mind.
"We looked at several businesses, but found that a Blimpie franchise fit our needs the best," she says of the 33-year-old company, which is the second largest submarine-sandwich franchisor in the world. "The market wasn't oversaturated, and the company is established, but positioned for growth."
Miller also discovered that no two franchises are the same, just as no two potential owners are alike. The perfect franchise for one person might be a poor choice for another.
"Choosing the perfect franchise is no simple task," says Mark Siebert, president of Francorp, a franchise-development and consulting firm in Chicago. "The decision should be made carefully, because it's one you have to live with."
While many potential franchisees start out looking for the perfect franchise by examining various businesses, they're looking in the wrong direction, says Siebert. "You don't make a decision by examining businesses first," he says. "You start out by examining yourself."