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In 1990 Walter Turner started his milwaukee-based Coverall Cleaning Concepts franchise, Turner Coverall Cleaning Concepts, with a personal investment of $2,500 and one $99-a-month account on the books. Last year, 30-employee Turner Coverall Cleaning Concepts posted $1.2 million in sales servicing office buildings, medical clients, manufacturing facilities, and the sewage district of Milwaukee. Turner, owner-manager, bought the franchise after seeing an advertisement for Coverall Cleaning Concepts, meeting with a representative, and reviewing the company’s Uniform Franchise Offering Circular (UFOC) with an attorney. He then completed the franchisor’s 14-step training course, where he learned about the use of chemicals, machinery, and the business itself.
Already running an independent home cleaning business at the time, Turner, who wanted to break into the commercial arena–where clients now pay $125 or more each month–says he knew a mom-and-pop start-up wouldn’t cut it.
“Most of the proposals from Joe Blow who owns a cleaning business go right in the trash,” says Turner of the difficulties of finding new clients. “As a franchisee, you come in with a nice portfolio and a name brand behind you, which gives you a much better chance of getting your foot in the door.”
Aspiring business owners have three choices: start from scratch, buy an existing business, or purchase a proven business concept known as a franchise. For some, either of the first two options might make the most sense. But for the owners of the more than 300,000 franchised small businesses, whose companies generate about $1 trillion annually, according to the International Franchise Association (IFA), in Washington, D.C., franchising is the right option.
Leon J. Oldham, chairman of IFA’s Minorities in Franchising Committee, has noticed an upswing in the number of African American entrepreneurs who have discovered franchising as a viable business option. “I’ve seen a very positive swing in the last few years,” he says, “as more African Americans take an active role in trying to find out more about franchising opportunities.”
The opportunities these entrepreneurs are reaching out for include restaurants, hotels, automobile dealerships, and various service-related industries like Mail Boxes Etc., says Oldham. “There are many franchises that don’t require a great deal of upfront money to invest,” he says, “though they still gain the protection of a franchised concept.”
This year, as in the past decade, BLACK ENTERPRISE presents our list of franchises that offer some of the greatest opportunities for African American business owners. Our 15 Affordable Franchises list is based on a national survey of franchisors that are members of the International Franchise Association (IFA), the existing number of African American franchise units, and companies that have franchises within three price ranges: $10,000-$50,000, $50,000-$150,000, and $150,000-$350,000 (inclusive of total start-up cost and franchise fee). The survey was conducted by BE Research.
In the following pages, we’ll look at franchising as a business opportunity–from the very definition of the term to what will be expected of you and what you can expect in return, and from how to choose the right opportunity to fit your lifestyle to markets that are