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DeSio: Franchising Attracts Entrepreneurs in Time of Corporate Downsizing

Press release from the issuing company

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 1 - In this age of corporate downsizing, with new layoffs announced almost every week, franchising has become an attractive option for many executives. "Downsizing and layoffs are ironically good for franchises,'' says Don DeBolt, president of the International Franchising Association, which saw record attendance at its annual convention this year. "The middle management, who tend to be entrepreneurial, often take their severance and invest it into acquiring a franchise.'' Anthony DeSio, the franchising mastermind behind the success of Mail Boxes Etc., says economic downturns often lead to increased franchising activity. "One of the most difficult times to sell franchises is in a full employment economy, because everyone is working,'' he says. "The best time to sell a franchise is during an economic downturn, where you find high quality, higher echelon managers looking for new opportunities.'' DeSio first experienced this phenomenon during the recessions of 1989 and 1994, when he saw increases in qualified candidates at Mail Boxes Etc. "When higher-level people are laid off, they tend to lose faith in working for someone else,'' he explains. "The feeling is, 'I want to control my own destiny and be my own boss.''' DeSio knows firsthand the appeal of starting a business in the wake of a layoff. It was not until he himself was displaced that he started what became the most successful non-food franchise in history. DeSio's new franchise, Image Arts Etc. (http://www.iaetc.com), has seen a significant increase in inquiries from qualified candidates during the current economic downturn. Executives from Silicon Valley and large corporations like Time Warner and Hewlett Packard have attended packed franchising seminars to learn about the concept, which utilizes digital photography and printing technologies to combine a photography studio, frame shop, sign shop, and art gallery into one retail location. Franchising holds such strong appeal because, as DeSio says, "You're going into business for yourself, but not by yourself.'' He notes that the retail landscape has changed dramatically over the past ten years. "Franchising now accounts for 50% of all retail sales in this country. Franchising dominates the retail field because it offers an unbeatable combination of individual ownership and economies of scale.'' Howard Bassuk, chairman and founder of FranNet Group, a firm that helps match people's skills and interests with the right franchise, has seen a significant upsurge in activity in recent months. "People today feel less secure, and there is no greater security than owning your own business. You can't be downsized or acquired. For people who have never built a business before, franchising is a kind of corporate Halfway House. You have the support of a system and the strength of a brand, with real ownership.'' A key to success as an entrepreneur is to find something you enjoy doing. "All other things being equal, people are most successful doing what they enjoy,'' says Blaine Roberts, president and CEO, Image Arts Etc. Many potential franchisees have gravitated toward Image Art Etc. because of an interest in photography, art or computer graphics. "We principally sell services: studio photography, framing, printing, and reproduction. Photo hobbyists are particularly attracted to that.'' As corporate downsizing continues -- and with the job market today made up of a higher percentage of skilled jobs than ever before -- more and more people may be turning layoffs into franchising success stories.