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This story appears in the March 2000 . Subscribe »

The Maids Inter-national Inc. recently revved up its residential cleaning service program by offering multiple-territory "Mega Markets" to interested franchisees. A single territory is defined as 10,000 homes with incomes over $50,000; a Mega Market multiplies that by four.

In July 1999, Terri Stull-Higgins, 43, and Lee Higgins, 47, decided to not only join the company but to take it a step further and start a Mega-5, a group of five markets, north of Dallas. If their franchise stopped taking new clients today, it would still make $312,000 per year, but the couple won't be slowing down any time soon. "We just started," Lee points out. "This business has the potential to be high-dollar and high-volume in a short amount of time."

So why go for the Mega Market instead of starting out small? "The start-up costs aren't really that much more than for a single market," reports Lee. "Either way, you'll still need a couple cars, an office space and an advertising program. The expenses are generally the same whether you have one market or five." Start-up costs for The Maids International range from $163,000 to $235,000 for a Mega Market franchise; additional markets slightly increase the price.

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