From the April 1998 issue of Startups

If you're searching for a business custom-fit for your schedule, try Babies `N' Bells Inc., a custom card printer specializing in birth and wedding announcements and children's party invitations.

Babies `N' Bells helps franchisees set up stations in national retail chains, including Babies `R' Us, to ensure constant sales traffic. You need to be at the station to assist customers only on Saturdays, the busiest shopping day. The rest of the week, customers can look through the product albums and call in orders to you or give store clerks orders to fax to you. You personalize blank announcements and cards for customers using your home computer and laser printer.

The $5,000 franchise fee includes five to seven days of training in Dallas, where you'll learn about sales, accounting and establishing relationships with retailers. The fee also includes ongoing support, a protected territory, sample albums and software. There is an 8-percent royalty fee and a 2-percent marketing fee per month.

Other start-up costs range from $7,000 to $19,000, depending on whether you already own some computer and office equipment, and include inventory, retail stations (about $1,000 each) and travel expenses for the training.

For more information, call (888) 418-BABY, ext. 0, or visit http://www.babiesnbells.com

Woodn't It Be Nice?

Homeowners often increase the value of their homes by adding decks, gazebos, fences and exterior wood, but it can be difficult to keep the wood looking good. Some homeowners lack the time and know-how to properly care for it. That's where you can save the day with a Deckare franchise.

As a Deckare franchisee, you can target both consumers and businesses. Expect plenty of repeat customers, because most exterior wood needs to be serviced every two years.

The $14,500 franchise fee includes eight days of training, a protected territory, marketing materials and ongoing support. Additional start-up costs of about $10,500 include equipment, start-up capital and a down payment on a required van. There is a 5-percent royalty fee remitted monthly on gross sales.

For more information, call (800) 711-DECK or visit http://www.deckare.com

Ounces Of Prevention

Every business owner wants to cut his or her losses, but restaurant and bar owners have a double concern when it comes to liquor shrinkage. Not only do they suffer financial losses from spillage and theft, but they can also be held liable if a customer has an accident after drinking too much as a result of a bartender overpouring.

Bevinco, a liquor inventory auditing system, helps business owners control alcohol losses. As a franchisee, you obtain contracts with restaurant and bar owners to do weekly, biweekly or monthly audits using Bevinco software and scales.

The $20,000 franchise fee includes a protected territory, software, training and ongoing software updates. A $10-per-audit royalty fee is automatically tracked through the software. Additional start-up costs average $5,000 and include a laptop computer, electronic scales, a printer and a bar-code scanner.

For more information, call (888) 238-4626.