Wsj what are your guidelines for picking the right

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WSJ: What are your guidelines for picking the right franchise? Do they differ from what you'd suggest in better times? MS. SCHROETER: I tell my candidates to go with a franchiser with a well-tested business and a good success rate. Look for those with thorough training and start-up assistance. Proven marketing also is critical in times like these. Also, look for strong brands. In recessions, Americans are more likely to turn to well-known names. Don't discount service businesses -- such as senior and child care or consultants who help firms reduce overhead -- just because they aren't sexy. They are among some of the best values now, partly due to their low cost of entry, high demand and good margins. As for general guidelines, I advise my candidates to always shop within their means. People assume that it takes a lot of money to make a lot. Not true. There are franchising opportunities with low investments that have some of the strongest [returns on investment] around. The emergency-restoration industry [that services flood, fire and other catastrophe victims] is one. Commercial cleaning also can be a very low-ticket business. Look for franchises that offer in-house financing or have strong third-party financing relationships with banks or other lenders. It's a sign of their confidence in success. Be open to products or services that aren't sensitive to location, such as business-to-business, mobile operations or in-home services. That can lower your investment and your overhead. Finally, consider options where you can keep your job and start a franchised business on the side. That way you have the security of your job and can move into your new business full time when it's financially viable. WSJ: Fast-growing franchises get lots of attention and may seem especially attractive in difficult times. But is it safer to go with a tried-and-true, if perhaps less exciting, concept?
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