More Zoom, Less Gloom -- the Franchise 500 Report

Once again it's the economy that is shaping the franchising outlook -- but this time for the better.

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This story first appeared in the January 2011 issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

What does it take to make it to the top of the franchising heap in a time of economic pessimism? As Entrepreneur's 32nd Annual Franchise 500® reveals, it's quality accommodations for frugal-minded travelers (complete with free waffles).

The recession mentality has prompted similar innovation and strategic transformation throughout the franchising world--resulting in some shake-ups and surprises to this year's rankings. In addition to a new player being in the No. 1 spot, a familiar competitor is back in the Top 10 -- after a 25-year absence.

Belt-tightening also has sparked a new, smarter focus on giving consumers what they crave: affordable products and services they can't live without, whether that's a value meal for seniors or a luxury massage for less.

And speaking of good and cheap, check out our 10 promising franchises for less than $20,000 (one is less than $3,000), as well as our guide to making them profitable. We also tell you how to craft a stronger disclosure document and how social media can get your franchise more friends.

Shake-ups are good: It means change is happening. And this year, the theme in franchising is change.

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