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Learning Curve

What one franchisor sees as the most important factor in success

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Description: Computer training and support
2000 Franchise 500 ranking: 156
Number of current locations: 251 (156 in , 95 international)
Investment required: $450,000
Net worth required: $500,000
Franchise fee: $25,000-$75,000

How does a high-tech franchisor deal with the constant changes in computers and software? Ralph Loberger, vice president of North American franchise development at New Horizons Learning Centers Inc., believes the first challenge is finding the right franchisees. Here, in a one-on-one interview with Loberger, he discusses the importance of attracting the right people.

Franchise Zone: What do you look for when prospecting for franchisees: those that are more computer savvy or more savvy?

Ralph Loberger: More business savvy. You can hire computer-oriented people. What we need in our franchisee is business experience, the right amount of capital, the driving desire to succeed and be the market leader, and the ability to motivate employees. These are all characteristics we look for in owners.

FZ: What do franchisees get when they sign up? What do you provide, and what do they provide?

Loberger: The main thing they provide is capital and entrepreneurial will. They're the people who own and operate the businesses. We provide them with the business system they must follow and the training that's necessary for them and their employees. Initial franchise training is two weeks. Franchise prospects have a chance for four different sessions once they're awarded the franchise. Then they go back to their home markets and do the work necessary to open the franchise.

FZ: Do you plan to implement any new support programs in the future?

Loberger: We're constantly doing just that. Nothing here is static.We're always taking a fresh look at all the components of our program and how we support [the franchisee] to see if we can do it better.

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