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New and inexperienced franchisees often feel lost or unsure whenthey're just starting out. To ease the anxiety, King ofPrussia, Pennsylvania-based Maaco Auto Painting and Bodyworks hascreated an annual five-day convention where new franchisees pair upwith veteran franchise owners to network and share ideas.

Lisa and Jeff Brennen, Maaco franchisees in Richmond, BritishColumbia, first met their "mentors" at lastNovember's convention. Charlesan Neugebauer and Jan Marshallwere very helpful, offering advice on subjects from financing toadvertising, says Jeff. "Mentors have been franchisees for aminimum of five years," he explains. "They have a lot ofexperience they can pass on to someone who's just startingout."

Since its inception four years ago, the MaacoMentor program hasbecome a vital element in integrating new owners into the Maacosystem. "The new and established owners often stay in contactbeyond the convention," says Bill Silverman of Maaco.

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