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More Zoom, Less Gloom -- the Franchise 500 Report

Once again it's the economy that is shaping the franchising outlook -- but this time for the better.
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This story appears in the January 2011 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

What does it take to make it to the top of the franchising heap in a time of economic pessimism? As Entrepreneur's 32nd Annual Franchise 500® reveals, it's quality accommodations for frugal-minded travelers (complete with free waffles).

The recession mentality has prompted similar innovation and strategic transformation throughout the franchising world--resulting in some shake-ups and surprises to this year's rankings. In addition to a new player being in the No. 1 spot, a familiar competitor is back in the Top 10 -- after a 25-year absence.

Belt-tightening also has sparked a new, smarter focus on giving consumers what they crave: affordable products and services they can't live without, whether that's a value meal for seniors or a luxury massage for less.

And speaking of good and cheap, check out our 10 promising franchises for less than $20,000 (one is less than $3,000), as well as our guide to making them profitable. We also tell you how to craft a stronger disclosure document and how social media can get your franchise more friends.

Shake-ups are good: It means change is happening. And this year, the theme in franchising is change.

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