Catch The Wave

Personal Touch

If you don't need a lot of experience or money to get into an Internet franchise, what do you need? An affinity for teaching people and a way with customer service. Look for a franchise that assists you in developing both of those skills.

At Worldsites, franchisees get a crash course in computer basics and sales skills. "There's a lot of excitement about the potential profitability of the Net and its ability to tap into a global market, but there's also a lot of anxiety and fear about the Internet in businesspeople's minds," says Monaghan. "We're looking for educators and communicators who can teach people what's good about the Net."

The technical support franchisors provide lets franchisees concentrate on customer service instead of technical issues--something that's key to success.

"Having [Quik Internet] behind us lets us just take care of our customers," says Mike Lyons, 23, a Quik Internet franchisee in Boston. "We can take care of the tech calls that come in [and] keep customers happy."

Even in this high-tech industry, human contact is still the prime selling point. "The average end user doesn't know about hardware and doesn't care," says Lyons. "What they want [is] the kind of handholding we provide them."

The personal touch helps franchise companies stand out from the crowd of competitors. At Worldsites, franchisees are taught to emphasize customer service--not just Web site design. Says Worldsites franchisee Cleveland, "We develop relationships, as opposed to just selling sites."

Along the same lines, Quik Internet franchisees hold regular group meetings with customers. "It's much easier for us to take one or two nights a month to give lessons to a large group than to [teach] each [individual] customer how to use a mouse or Windows 95," says Lyons. "The classes also allow us to meet our customers and make sure they're happy. We get great referrals from them, too; people go home and tell their buddies [about us]."

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