From the September 1998 issue of Startups

There's no longer a reason to stand on the sidelines while children have all the fun at birthday parties and company picnics. If you're a kid at heart who enjoys obstacle courses, wacky relays, water and parachute games, you can turn work into play with the Ton of Fun 2Go franchising opportunity.

While many amusement and recreation services let their equipment do the entertaining, Ton of Fun 2Go takes its company slogan seriously: "We Stay to Play." You or your employees act as Play Coaches at every occasion, interacting, organizing, supervising and creating Ton of Fun 2Go's unique brand of outdoor fun. "The convenience of traveling to customers' locations, plus the human interaction of our Play Coaches, [makes this] a unique family recreation and entertainment alternative," says founder Frank W. Price.

The $20,000 franchise fee includes comprehensive operations, marketing and service manuals, as well as hands-on training. You also receive a personal success coach who provides assistance throughout the early stages. First-year advertising expenses are included. Additional start-up costs run approximately $20,000 for equipment such as game props, obstacle course materials and the Ton of Fun 2Go airbounce. The company charges a service fee of 7 percent of monthly gross revenue and an advertising royalty of 2 percent to 3 percent. For more details, call (888) 899-7529.

Smooth Operators

Everyone has been the victim of poor parallel parking, a runaway grocery cart, or a hazardous shopping trip that leaves fresh scratches on the car door or bumper. Whatever the damage, Colors On Parade, an automotive restoration service company based in Norcross, Georgia, helps repair it, using patented technology to smooth out scrapes without repainting the entire vehicle.

Since 1996, the number of Colors On Parade franchises has doubled, bringing the total to more than 300 in 20 states nationwide. While some automotive experience is helpful, franchisees learn all technical aspects of the business during their three-week training session in Conway, South Carolina; they also receive management training and learn business basics.

A franchise fee of $5,000 covers a protected territory, serving primarily car dealerships. Other costs include $10,000 to $20,000 for a cargo van and $15,000 for the patented restoration system costs. A 30 percent royalty fee is deducted monthly from gross sales.

Colors On Parade seeks franchisees nationwide, particularly in Chicago and Denver. Call (800) 7-COLORS to learn more.

Is Your Refrigerator Running?

Utility companies and appliance manufacturers tell us regular tuneups are a necessity to keep appliances working efficiently. But many people ignore this advice, and refrigerators and furnaces often go unnoticed.

Not anymore, thanks to entrepreneurs such as Michael Gross, whose Energy Wise Inc. helps consumers maintain home appliances. The Sebastopol, California, company also sells products that ensure appliance efficiency, home safety, and improved air and water quality.

Gross got the idea for a major-appliance tuneup service after stumbling upon some books explaining ways to save energy in the home. He started Energy Wise in 1990; the first franchisee signed on in 1996.

After a one-week training course, franchisees are assigned an exclusive territory with a minimum of 25,000 owner-occupied homes. Franchisees work from home and receive a manual explaining accounting, company procedures and frequently asked questions, plus a toll-free support number.

The $23,500 start-up cost includes a $12,500 franchise fee and estimated expenses for a vehicle, computer, inventory and tools. The monthly royalty is 5 percent of gross sales; there's no advertising fee. For more information, call (707) 824-8775.

Contact Sources

Colors On Parade, http://www.colors.net

Ton of Fun 2Go, http://www.tonoffun.com