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Unusual Franchise Opportunities

Unusual Franchise Opportunities

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At the International Franchise Expo, you could sample several brands of frozen yogurt, check out a vast array of burger concepts and educate yourself in the various methods that can be used to teach young children. There is, it seems, a franchise for every interest and area of expertise.Including some unusual ones. Tucked among the tried-and-true franchise opportunities -- think fast-food and cafes -- were some new and unique franchise concepts that entrepreneurs were looking grow.“There were a
Photo: Kutay Tanir | Photodisc | Getty Images

At this year's International Franchise Expo in New York, you could sample several brands of frozen yogurt, check out a vast array of burger concepts and educate yourself in the various methods that can be used to teach young children. There is, it seems, a franchise for every interest and area of expertise.

Including some unusual ones. Tucked among the tried-and-true franchise opportunities -- think fast-food and cafes -- were some new and unique franchise concepts that entrepreneurs were looking grow.

“There were a lot of new concepts,” said Steve Caldeira, president and CEO of the International Franchise Association. “As folks decide they want to control their own destiny, they have creative ideas and they want to franchise them. It’s an exciting time.”

More than 14,000 people would agree – attendance at the expo this month was the highest since 2006. With 334 exhibitors on hand to talk to attendees, “there was a lot of excitement,” said Caldeira.

What’s changed in the past few years? “There is a lot of pent-up demand for franchising,” he said. “It allows you to be in business for yourself, but not by yourself. As the country slowly moves out of the recession, franchising is once again on the rise.”

Click ahead to read about some of the more unique offerings from the franchise world at the June 16-18 convention.

By Patricia Orsini, Small Business Editor
Posted 20 June 2012

We Do Lines

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Number of franchises: 10Fee: $15,000Year started franchising: 2009 The three owners of We Do Lines – Daniel Rella, Chris Couri and Tom Darrow – came to the parking-lot striping business somewhat by accident. The men, who owned landscaping businesses in Connecticut, needed their parking lot re-striped, but had a hard time finding someone to do it. So, they started a part-time business that fairly quickly turned into a full-time gig. Eventually they gave up landscaping for lines, and they haven’t
Photo: We Do Lines

Number of franchises: 10
Fee: $15,000
Year started franchising: 2009
Visit the website

The owners of We Do Lines – Daniel Rella, Chris Couri and Tom Darrow – came to the parking-lot striping business somewhat by accident. The three, who owned landscaping businesses in Connecticut, needed their parking lot re-striped, but had a hard time finding someone to do it. So, they started a part-time business that fairly quickly turned into a fulltime gig. Eventually they gave up landscaping for lines, and haven’t looked back.

The Connecticut-based We Do Lines has lined parking lots from Jet Blue’s terminal at JFK to golf courses in Miami. With 10 franchises currently, it is looking to expand.

“We’ll teach you everything you need to know,” says Rella. And you don’t even have to worry about traffic, which are the responsibility of local municipalities. “We don’t do roadways,” says COO Darrow. "But we love to do golf courses.”

K-9 Resorts

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Number of franchises: 3Fee: $450,000Year started franchising: 2011Jason Parker, owner of K-9 Resorts, began his business with his brother Stephen as a dog-walking business back in 1999. By 2005, the siblings had opened their first luxury hotel for dogs in New Jersey. The cage-free environment includes private rooms for dogs with plasma TVs (tuned to Animal Planet), high-end dog food and a window in every room.“People want the best for their dogs,” said Parker. “They want to go away knowing their
Photo: K-9 Resorts

Number of franchises: 3
Fee: $35,000
Year started franchising: 2011
Visit the website
Jason Parker, owner of K-9 Resorts, began his business with his brother Stephen as a dog-walking business back in 1999. By 2005, the siblings had opened their first luxury hotel for dogs in New Jersey. The cage-free environment includes private rooms for dogs with plasma TVs (tuned to Animal Planet), high-end dog food and a window in every room.

“People want the best for their dogs,” said Parker. “They want to go away knowing their pet is safe, healthy and happy. So we offer the Ritz Carlton of dog hotels."

Soccer Shots

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Number of franchises: 109Fee: $12,500Year started franchising: 2005Three former college soccer players found a way to extend their careers after graduation by forming Soccer Shots, which offers kids ages 2 to 8 an introduction to basic soccer skills.“We have franchisees that are young couples, up to retirees,” said Justin Bredeman, vice president of recruitment for Soccer Shots. “You don’t have to be a professional soccer player to do this. But, for someone who has played the sport and wants to
Photo: Soccer Shots

Number of franchises: 109
Fee: $12,500
Year started franchising: 2005
Visit the website

Three former college soccer players found a way to extend their careers after graduation by forming Soccer Shots, which offers kids ages 2 to 8 an introduction to basic soccer skills.

“We have franchisees that are young couples, up to retirees,” said Justin Bredeman, vice president of recruitment for Soccer Shots. “You don’t have to be a professional soccer player to do this. But, for someone who has played the sport and wants to be an entrepreneur, this is a great opportunity.”

Franchisees often conduct programs at preschools, daycares and community centers. The emphasis is on having fun as opposed to creating mini-Ronaldos and Hope Solos, says Bredeman. “Basically, if you love kids and want sports to be fun for kids, this could be for you.”

Batteries Plus

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Number of franchises: 479Fee: $37,500Year started franchising: 1992Where do you go when that battery in your mobile phone needs to be replaced? “Not where you bought the device,” says Rod Tremelling, director of franchise development for Batteries Plus. “They will sell you a new device. Come to us, and we’ll help you extend the life of your product.”This place goes beyond AAs and D batteries – although if you need those, Batteries Plus will sell them , too. It stocks batteries for things you did
Photo: Batteries Plus

Number of franchises: 479
Fee: $37,500
Year started franchising: 1992
Visit the Website

Where do you go when that battery in your mobile phone needs to be replaced? “Not where you bought the device,” says Rod Tremelling, director of franchise development for Batteries Plus. “They will sell you a new device. Come to us, and we’ll help you extend the life of your product.”

This place goes beyond AAs and D cells (although if you need those, Batteries Plus will sell them too) – it stocks batteries for things you didn’t even know had batteries. Like the one inside the casing for automatic blinds. When that battery goes, you’re in the dark. Tremelling said his store owners know how to rebuild the battery and can get your shades functioning again in 10 minutes.

Commercial operations, municipalities and police departments are also big clients, he said. “As a society we have become more and more mobile. Everything runs on batteries. And everyone needs batteries.”

BedBug Chasers

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Number of franchises: None yet; 13 in considerationFee: $25,000Year started franchising: 2012“They’re everywhere,” said Dean Averna of bedbugs. Which is why BedBug Chasers, which has created a proprietary technology for getting rid of the pesky critters, is so optimistic about its business.The process -- a four-hour heat treatment -- is more effective and less time-consuming than chemical applications, Averna says. The company, which is currently speaking to people interested in buying franchise
Photo Left: Biophoto Associates | Photo Researchers | Getty ImagesPhoto Right: Bedbugchasers.com

Number of franchises: None yet; 13 in consideration
Fee: $25,000
Year started franchising: 2012
Visit the website

BedBug Chasers has created a proprietary technology for getting rid of the pesky critters, and owner Dean Averna explains succinctly why he's so optimistic about his business. “They’re everywhere,” he says.

The process -- a four-hour heat treatment -- is more effective and less time-consuming than chemical applications, Averna says. The company, which is currently speaking to people interested in buying franchises, is not necessarily looking for operators with pest-control experience. “We need detail-oriented people who will make sure every square inch is treated,” said Averna. “This is not just about putting a heater in a room and coming back four hours later. And of course, you need someone with business acumen. We are being very selective in who we take on. We’re looking at franchisees as partnerships.”

StearClear

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Number of franchises: 1Fee: Beginning at $37,500 (depends on size of territory)Year started franchising: 2012Had a few too many drinks and you can’t drive home? There’s an app for that!SteerClear founder Craig Sher had never thought much about needing a designated driver. Until the night he and a friend, who had been indulging in a few glasses of wine, wanted to go to the grocery store and realized they were in no shape to drive. “My friend, who was from South Africa, suggested I call for a ride
Photo: SteerClear

Number of franchises: 1
Fee: Beginning at $37,500 (depends on size of territory)
Year started franchising: 2012
Visit the website

Had a few too many drinks and you can’t drive home? There’s an app for that!

StearClear founder Craig Sher had never thought much about needing a designated driver until the night he and a friend wanted to go to the grocery store, after indulging in a few glasses of wine. “My friend, who was from South Africa, suggested I call for a ride. I asked him who I should call. He told me that in South Africa, ride services are ubiquitous. The more he told me about it, the more I realized a ride service could be a good business idea.”

So Sher developed an iPhone and Android app that would allow people to contact a service that dispatches two drivers, so that not only the client, but their vehicle, make it home safely. “So many people don’t want to call a cab, because they don’t want to leave their car in a strange parking lot,” said Sher. “This eliminates their hesitation.”

StearClear has other practical applications. People who have had outpatient surgery can call instead of having someone wait around to give them a ride home.

While business-minded people who are good at operations are the ideal candidates for StearClear franchisees, Sher says, he is also looking for people who “care about their community, and want to keep it safe.”

Resume Hut

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Number of franchises: 1Fee: $10,000 to $25,000 (depending upon territory)Year started franchising: 2012Former human resources executive Neil Pritchard bought Resume Hut in 2005, after he decided he’d had enough of working for big corporations.As a consultant to job seekers, he says, Resume Hut has an advantage over online sites because “we have their back.” By offering everything from interview coaching to career transition advice and, yes, putting together the perfect resume, Pritchard says he
Photo: Reume Hut

Number of franchises: 1
Fee: $10,000 to $25,000 (depending upon territory)
Year started franchising: 2012
Visit the website

Former human resources executive Neil Pritchard bought Resume Hut in 2005, after he decided he’d had enough of working for big corporations.

As a consultant to job seekers, he says, Resume Hut has an advantage over online sites because “we have their back.” By offering everything from interview coaching to career transition advice and, yes, putting together the perfect resume, Pritchard says he has “clients for life” who have sought his advice throughout several job changes.

The Victoria, B.C.-based Pritchard, who has just started franchising his company, is confident that there are other human resources executives in the United States and Canada who would welcome the opportunity to do what he is doing. “Business continues to be strong,” he says. “The job search is always challenging, and I think people who can be a good partner to clients will do well with this type of business.”

SnorePro

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Number of franchises: 22 (not yet licensed in the U.S.)Fee: n/aYear started franchising: 2011New Zealand native Grant Stephen said that once he tried the SnorePro sleep aid, “I liked it so much I bought the company.” SnorePro has been available in New Zealand for 25 years. Stephen, who has owned the company for about a year, is now franchising the concept globally.SnorePro is a custom-made oral device that helps prevent snoring by positioning a person’s jaw so that their airway is less constrict
Photo: Image Source | Getty Images

Number of franchises: 22 (not yet licensed in the U.S.)
Fee: n/a
Year started franchising: 2011
Visit the website

New Zealand native Grant Stephen said that once he tried the SnorePro sleep aid, “I liked it so much I bought the company.” SnorePro has been available in New Zealand for 25 years. Stephen, who has owned the company for about a year, is now franchising the concept globally.

SnorePro is a custom-made oral device that helps prevent snoring by positioning a person’s jaw so that their airway is less constricted. “It’s ugly, but it gets the job done,” says Stephen.

Right now, most of the franchises are in China, but Stephen is looking to bring SnorePro to the United States. His biggest challenge has been getting the product licensed. Each device is custom-made by taking impressions of the mouth, much like a dentist makes casts of teeth. Because it’s considered a medical device, he says, dentists or doctors are his most likely franchisors. “In Australia, anyone can do this, but the U.S. has a lot more regulations,” he says.

Palladium Boots

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Number of franchises: 0Fee: $25,000Year started franchising: 2012The brand known for outfitting the French Foreign Legion and the Israeli Defense Forces is looking for a few good men – and women – to run franchises.The functional, canvas boots known for their durability in the desert have become popular in recent years as urban fashion. You might know the brand from its “Detroit Lives” videoshttp://www.palladiumboots.com/exploration/detroit#part1 featuring Johnny Knoxville. Palladium shoes are s
Photo: Palladium

Number of franchises: 0
Fee: $25,000
Year started franchising: 2012
Visit the website

The brand known for outfitting the French Foreign Legion and the Israeli Defense Forces is looking for a few good men – and women – to run franchises.

The functional canvas boots known for their durability in the desert have become popular in recent years as urban fashion. You might know the brand from its “Detroit Lives” videos featuring Johnny Knoxville. Palladium shoes are sold in retail outlets and company stores, but the company is looking to take a “two-pronged approach,” said Tony Ramo, Pallidium’s Northeast regional director.

“We’re looking for someone who has retailing experience, especially with footwear. We need people who understand how this business works. It’s probably not a good one for a first-time franchisee.”

Mosquito Squad

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Number of franchises: 300Fee: starts at $25,000 (depends on size of territory)Year started franchising: 2009Getting rid of bugs is big business. This franchise focuses on two of the most annoying: mosquitoes and ticks. “We apply a barrier spray that acts almost as an invisible fence,” says David Buchel, franchising recruitment coordinator for Outdoor Living Brands, which franchises Mosquito Squad. The treatments last for about 21 days, after which, he says, “mosquitoes start coming back, and peo
Photo: Mosquito Squad

Number of franchises: 300
Fee: starts at $25,000 (depends on size of territory)
Year started franchising: 2009
Visit the website

Getting rid of bugs is big business. This franchise focuses on two of the most annoying: mosquitoes and ticks. “We apply a barrier spray that acts almost as an invisible fence,” says David Buchel, franchising recruitment coordinator for Outdoor Living Brands, which franchises Mosquito Squad. The treatments last for about 21 days, after which, he says, “mosquitoes start coming back, and people ask for another application. We have an 80 to 85 percent retention rate. Once they get used to not having mosquitoes, they don’t want it any other way.”

Like most franchisors, Buchel says Mosquito Squad is looking for franchisees who are organized, and who have management and sales skills. Learning to keep the bugs away is the easy part, says Buchel. Being able to keep the customers coming back is the real challenge.