The new world of owning a franchise

Lower startup fees driving franchise growth

With economic recovery lagging and job growth stagnant, Americans are branching out to create jobs and profits. How? They are literally buying them.

The franchise industry is one of the fastest-growing business models in the U.S., with a relatively low investment cost. Franchise businesses, which currently account for half of all U.S. retail sales, offer individuals the freedom to own and manage their own business while minimizing the risks of entrepreneurship via established branding and proven business structures.

Even for investors with substantial capital, low-overhead franchises represent a lucrative option, with significantly reduced risk and a long-standing record of success.

Franchises span a wide range of industries, but perhaps the fastest growth has been seen in the service sector. These commonly overlooked franchises encompass a broad variety of businesses, from health care and fitness to recreation and pet services, many of which can be home-based. In contrast to retail, they have lower startup fees by forgoing pricy real estate and the need for large product storage areas.

Once a business investment for only those with plenty of capital, startup costs for many new franchises are comparatively low, fueling the industry’s growth.

That’s why one growing trend in combatting the subpar job market is franchising. In lieu of graduation gifts, some parents are creating jobs for their children by purchasing a franchise for them, providing young adults with a career, a future and a return on their investment (not to mention allowing the parents to recapture the basement apartment where the adult child has been “temporarily” living and transforming it into home theater, pool room or man cave).

Finding the right fit

Another growing market for franchise ownership is the over-50 demographic. Individuals who have grown tired of the corporate rat race, retired or are having a difficult time landing a job, but who have a little money to invest, are jumping into the franchise scene.

Though the opportunity to own their own business is not for everyone, a new franchise is nevertheless being opened every eight minutes of every business day. More and more people are opting to go into business for themselves, but not by themselves.

There are a number of steps to choosing the franchise that will be the right fit for you and your goals. With literally thousands to choose from in countless categories, it can be a daunting and overwhelming process. It can be equally challenging to analyze all the information provided once you’ve made your choice.

Many prospective entrepreneurs use franchise consultants, whose services are generally provided free, paid for by the franchisor once a deal is complete. These consultants can do the bulk of the legwork and ensure you’re qualified and a good fit before you meet with the franchisor. They will also be knowledgeable regarding trends in the marketplace and which franchises are available in your area.

Samuel Blackford, a principal at Liberty Franchises, Amherst, can be reached at 603-856-4450 or