From the February 2003 issue of Startups

Known throughout Flagstaff, Arizona, as the "Map Man," Norman Mayes wears his Discovery Map shirt with pride, drives a truck with "FLAGMAP" on the license plate and carries a camera, always ready to capture candid pictures of tourists using his map. "It is my map, and I tell people that," Mayes says.

In the summer of 2000, Mayes, 61, and his wife, Barbara, 58, purchased a Discovery Map franchise. As franchisees, their primary responsibility is to sell advertising space on the map. The franchisor then produces and prints a free, detailed map of the city, complete with listings of local businesses, hotels and attractions.

Although the Mayeses were marketing a product that would enhance tourism, they faced resistance their first year. Potential advertisers were reluctant to spend money on an unfamiliar product, and wary because a scheme the previous year had sold the same concept but never produced the map.

But Norman had some factors working in his favor: He had resided in Flagstaff for more than 20 years and knew the people and community well, was semi-retired and therefore accessible to advertisers, and had a sales background. "There was some degree of trust, which helped us the first year," he says.

Advertisers were also reassured when Norman hired a local artist, Roberta Rogers, to illustrate the map. Discovery Map hires local illustrators for each of its 19 destination cities in the United States, a service included in the initial investment of $18,000.

The Mayeses have projected their 2003 sales to be about $90,000. Their operating costs are minimal, because they work from home, and their only commitment to Discovery Map is an annual investment ranging from $35,000 to $50,000, depending on the number of maps they purchase. They work approximately four months out of the year finding advertisers, proofreading and distributing the map. Although they stay in contact with advertisers throughout the year to ensure they're always supplied with maps, the Mayeses still have enough free time and the financial means to travel and visit their grandchildren.

Norman is happy to remain active in Flagstaff. "I consider the map not only a business," he says, "but a service for the community."