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Entrepreneur's 22nd Annual Franchise 500

A closer look at this year's ranking of the top 500 franchises

While you may not hear the word "franchising" very often in casual conversation, franchising itself plays a substantial part in our daily lives. Whether we're dropping our kids off at child care, getting trained on the latest computer program, meeting the new temp, mailing an important package or cruising through the local drive-thru, we can potentially intersect a franchise at almost any given moment. It's been estimated than one of every three retail dollars you spend will go to a franchise.

Obviously, franchise companies are reaping big rewards. Franchising grew 13 percent in 2000, and systems are continuing to expand, according to Franchise Recruiters Ltd.'s annual Franchise Business Development Survey.

As the scope of franchising expands, an inevitable question arises: "How can I get in on the action?" A growing number of prospective entrepreneurs consider franchising more than just a vehicle for everyday convenience-they see it as a vehicle for long-term business success. It's exactly for this reason that 22 years ago Entrepreneur magazine had the idea to create the first-ever comprehensive franchise listing, the Franchise 500.

Because the research phase that takes place before buying a franchise is so crucial to success as a franchisee, our mission is to take the first major step for you. Each year, we gather Uniform Franchise Offering Circulars (UFOCs) from hundreds of franchise companies, simultaneously sending out surveys to every known franchise. We then spend hour upon hour calling these franchises to confirm the information, before inputting their forms into our database. Finally, we apply our exclusive formula to the final information and come up not only with the world's most comprehensive listing of franchises, but also a widely respected ranking of top franchises.

Though we've been doing this for more than two decades now, our information continues to expand. We always marvel at how many new developments crop up with each listing. This year, a few newcomers to our Top 10 jumped dramatically up our ranking-Quizno's went from #47 to #6, while Taco Bell leapt from #21 to #5.

Also, after observing a hot new fast-food franchise industry, we added a new category to this year's listing: chicken wings. Will chicken wings capture America's taste buds and step up alongside hamburger and pizza franchise veterans in the coming years? We'll watch and see.

Meanwhile, a franchise category that used to be one of our hottest seems to be experiencing somewhat of a cooling trend. Last year, eight juice bar franchises were included in the Franchise 500; this year, that number fell to five.

And we're still keeping an eye on tech franchises. Though dotcoms dominated the business buzz (for better and for worse) in 2000, we still haven't seen that trend translate to franchising. Though two major tech franchises, Quik Internet and Worldsites, continue to grow, we've only seen a handful of newcomers in the listing category. Of course, tech is undeniably affecting the way all franchises do business-more franchises have Web sites than ever before; many have even added .com to their names.

There are, of course, too many other trends and surprises sprinkled throughout our ranking to mention here. We invite you to take your time and search through the Franchise 500® for the information you need to begin your personal franchise journey. Once you've become accustomed with the Franchise 500®, e-mail us at entmag@entrepreneur.com to let us know what you like or dislike about our listings. Give us suggestions for information you'd like to see in future years. And 22 years from now, we expect to hear how successful you've become in franchising as well.

Click here to see our franchise listings.

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This article was originally published in the January 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: <i>Entrepreneur</i>'s 22nd Annual Franchise 500.

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