From the May 1999 issue of Entrepreneur

Recent figures from Dataquest Inc. show that half of all U.S. households owned a PC in 1998, up from 27 percent in 1995. This rise in computer ownership is helping fuel a new trend in franchising: computer repair and education. Take a look at the following franchises for a peek at where this trend is headed.

Aberdeen, South Dakota-based Computer Doctor Franchise Systems Inc. has 15 stores and 55 more are in the works. Founded in 1992 by Lonnie Helgerson and his brother, Phil, Computer Doctor began franchising in 1996. With an estimated initial investment of $117,900, it's an affordable hardware retail and repair business for the right candidate. "We're not looking for technicians," says Lonnie. "It's easier to train someone to manage technicians than it is to train a technician to be a good store owner."

Meanwhile, PC Professor, based in West Palm Beach, Florida, is on the verge of taking its franchise system national. There are currently two South Florida franchises that combine training centers with full-service retailing, repair and support. Requiring $100,000 in liquid assets and a $40,000 to $60,000 franchise fee, PC Professor is a "one-stop center for computer users," says Rob Fellman, who with his brother, Steve, helps run the company their brother, Howard, founded. At PC Professor, customers can purchase a computer, take a basic or advanced training course and have access to unlimited phone support.

These insiders believe this trend in franchising will grow as demand increases among consumers. "People need to know how to use a computer," says Rob Fellman, "and if they don't, they'll fall behind."

Contact Sources

Computer Doctor Franchise Systems Inc., (888) 297-2292, http://www.cdfs.com

PC Professor, (888) PC-12345, http://www.pcprofessor.com