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This story appears in the May 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Looking for a way to speed up the franchise growth curve? In an aggressive move toward expansion, Cleveland-based ProForma Inc. is encouraging its franchisees to consider mergers and acquisitions through a research database that connects its franchisees with competitors who are looking to sell or who may be enticed to phase out their businesses over a short time. A distributor of document, multimedia and promotional products, ProForma has added a mergers and acquisitions department to keep up with the leads.

"We don't have any company-owned [units], so we aren't buying anyone out ourselves," says Al Miano, chief marketing communications officer. "We're playing matchmaker." ProForma encourages franchisees by doing the research for them, training them on handling acquisitions, and providing the capital needed to buy other businesses.

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