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Hooking and Helping New Franchisees

help-franchisees.jpgThe troubled economy is a double-edged sword for franchisors. On the one hand, many people who have lost their jobs or who simply want more control over their financial future are thinking about business ownership. On the other hand, many might feel that starting a business is more risky now than ever, and even those who are brave enough to take the plunge are having trouble getting the financing they need.

But instead of sitting back and waiting for things to get better, many franchisors are actively seeking out new franchisees and finding creative ways to help them get started. Here's a rundown of what a few franchisors are doing to encourage and aid prospective franchisees:

  • Church's Chicken has introduced a new modular concept that will allow franchisees to get their restaurants up and running significantly faster and for about $50,000 less than a traditional unit.
  • GNC is specifically seeking out people affected by the recession. Through September 30th, anyone who's been laid off can qualify to receive 25% off the sports nutrition chain's franchise fee.  
  • FastSigns is looking to bolster its ranks by recruiting owners of independent print shops, whose experience should help them weather the current economic climate more easily. As an incentive, the company is offering reduced franchise and royalty fees.
  • Red Mango is going a step further with "Red's Real Deal." Not only is the company lowering its franchise fee and promising $10,000 in local store marketing, it's also offering to buy back stores for up to $275,000 if franchisees change their minds in the first six months.
  • Planet Smoothie is going on tour with "Franchise U", a program designed to educate potential candidates and ease their fears about franchising. Attendees who submit a franchise application will be eligible to win a $25,000 or $5,000 franchise fee discount.
  • Domino's is breaking in prospective multi-unit franchisees with its new "Franchisee-in-Training" program.  Participants get 24-36 months of paid hands-on managerial training, and successful graduates receive $25,000 toward the opening of their first restaurant.

Tracy Stapp Herold is the special projects editor at Entrepreneur magazine. She works on franchise and business opportunity stories and listings, including the annual Franchise 500.
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