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No Free Lunch

Hard work is a key ingredient for the owners of four Togo's stores.

After 18 years of working for AT&T doing various technical jobs, Chris Lindner witnessed a company shake-up, which led to the breakup of the AT&T offices and made him realize it was time for a career change. The good news: With some of the money he got from his voluntary retirement package, he was able to pursue his childhood dream of business ownership. In 1987, Chris, 53, and his wife, Joan, 51, purchased a Togo's franchise in Fountain Valley, California, for $125,000.

Over the years, the couple opened three more locations in Southern California, including two co-branded Togo's and Baskin Robbins franchises in Corona and Huntington Beach, and a stand-alone Togo's in Corona.

It's a family affair at their Fountain Valley location. Joan takes care of administrative work, while Chris heads up operations, including training employees, handling the cash, doing repairs-even making sandwiches. Their two sons also sometimes help run the shop.

Although the Lindners manage a smooth operation, with 2004 sales projections of $2.5 million for their four locations combined, Chris points out that success as a franchisee doesn't come without hard work. In fact, he believes that's one of the major misconceptions about owning a franchise. "Most people think you must be making a lot of money and don't have to work very hard," he says. "If you're successful, the financial reward will be there, but it's well earned. It's no free ride."

Check out the Baskin Robbins and Togo's franchise in Entrepreneur.com's Franchise Zone.

For people considering buying a franchise, Chris suggests, "Do your homework. Go out and investigate. Talk to other franchisees who are in that particular company you want to [join] so you can totally understand what you are getting into."

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This article was originally published in the October 2004 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: No Free Lunch.

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