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Franchise Country

We hit the road and went in search of the hottest trends in franchising, from the mountains to the prairies.

This story appears in the June 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

I'm in danger. My car is rocketing south through the heart of Texas, on I-35, one of the busiest highways in the country. This ugly, congested slab is a huge distribution channel connecting Mexico to the heart of the United States. It's a place where countless pickup trucks blast past hardworking drug dogs, amid a sea of looming 100-foot-pole signs, screaming for business. My orders from Entrepreneur were succinct: Go forth into the countryside, perform reconnaissance on "hot trends," and file a scouting report about my firsthand look at the franchise landscape.

The fuel light is blinking, and my stomach growls. I'm on a road trip from Dallas to San Antonio, Texas, to attend the International Franchise Association's 43rd annual convention. My own road rules have put me in danger--namely, that during my travel odyssey, I would not patronize any franchise brand that I had previously patronized. That's why I'm hungry and running out of gas, just four hours into my quest. It is both a tremendous privilege and an incredible burden to report on franchise trends. The IFA says franchises exist in no less than 75 different

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