From the November 1998 issue of Startups

Helpless furnishings everywhere sport battle wounds from the occasional moving mishap. If you have a knack for restoring their natural beauty, consider Furniture Medic LP, the Memphis, Tennessee-based franchisor that calls itself "the prescription for damaged furniture."

According to president Todd Vieyra, top Furniture Medic accounts include moving companies, the insurance industry (restoring flood- or fire-damaged furnishings), commercial properties, and government properties (refinishing furnishings in courthouses and federal buildings).

A franchise fee of either $11,400 or $16,400, depending on territory size, buys your license to practice furniture medicine. Franchisees receive extensive training, including a two-week home study course, two weeks of training in Memphis, and a mentor program pairing new franchisees with established ones. Annual regional meetings and national conventions help polish skills, as does a yearly training-video update.

Additional start-up costs, beginning at $3,500, cover an equipment package and start-up marketing tools. A company van is required; if it's purchased through Furniture Medic, the company handles the $500 down payment. The monthly royalty fee is $200 or 7 percent of gross sales; advertising royalties are $30 or 1 percent of gross sales.

So far, approximately 425 franchisees in North America have found success as furniture "M.D.s." Those grossing less than $250,000 per year typically run their franchises from home; higher revenue usually requires a commercial location. To aid furniture in distress, call (800)?77-9933.

Sail Away

Modern-day vacationers are far worldlier than their predecessors. To keep up, many holiday-handlers, such as CruiseOne Inc., are specializing in various types of travel.

CruiseOne franchisees, known as "cruise specialists," help clients select the cruise of their dreams. New franchisees attend a six-day training seminar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, covering everything from marketing to making reservations. Franchisees also dine aboard docked vessels and tour their cabins. "When you go on different ships, you recognize they're as different as a Days Inn, a Hilton and a Waldorf-Astoria," says Charlotte Luna, president of the Deerfield Beach, Florida, company.

Start-up costs of $11,730 to $22,170 include a $7,800 franchise fee, plus various equipment and marketing materials. There's also a service fee of 1, 2 or 3 percent, based on volume. To get your sea legs, call (800) 892-3928.

Risk Factors

By Shara Lessley

With potential hazards lurking near every staircase and power outlet, today's parents are doing more to ensure home safety than simply putting up child-proof gates. But while some safety products are available in supermarkets and hardware stores, many families count on experts to point out less obvious dangers, such as scalding water and excess cords that can trip up tots.

Enter Safe & Sound, a Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, firm whose company-certified franchisees inspect and secure homes with a complete line of protection products. The result? Parents are freed from worry and kids from the confinement of playpens. "Creating a positive environment lets children explore their world safely," says company president and founder Richard Shandelman.

Start-up costs of $30,000 to $43,000 cover a $19,500 franchise fee, office equipment, marketing materials and inventory. Backed by a Safety Advisory Council comprised of physicians, engineers and safety specialists, franchisees are covered both generally and professionally by the company's liability insurance program. A 2 percent advertising fee helps maintain a national call center that introduces company services to potential clients. There's also a monthly royalty fee of 5 percent. For details, call Ron Sommers at (800) 332-2229.