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Get With the System Is it a partnership made in heaven or...? Examining the profitable possibilities of becoming a franchise vendor.

By Carla Goodman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Most often thought of as opportunities for new entrepreneurs toget into business, franchises are usually overlooked by seasonedbusiness veterans. Established companies should think again,however, before they leave franchises solely to the newbies.Franchise companies are more than just start-up opportunities,they're also extensively networked buyers of products andservices, and could be your ticket to a giant increase in sales aswell as vast new markets you might not otherwise be able totap.

That's the experience Dianne and Mike Dougherty had whenthey searched for--and found--a way to increase sales for theirAtlanta business, Heavenly Cheesecakes Inc. Selling cheesecakes,key lime pies and other desserts to additional independent outletswouldn't have boosted their revenues much beyond their 1992level of $360,000. "To really grow, we needed a majoraccount," says Dianne.

The account the Doughertys landed was Steak-Out Inc., an Atlantafranchise whose restaurants offer grilled meals. In January 1993,the couple signed a contract to supply 1,000 cheesecakes per weekto the system's 50 franchisees. Within the same year, that onenew account more than doubled Heavenly Cheesecakes' revenues to$893,000.

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