WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
Chad Case had been managing nutrition stores for a few years when he decided it was time to strike out on his own.
He considered setting up his own shop but worried about the expenses that would come with finding products and distributors. On top of that, he knew he needed names and products that people would recognize if he wanted to get customers in the door right away.
His solution? Franchising.
In 2005, Case opened a Max Muscle Sports Nutrition store in Lincoln, the first franchise in Nebraska for the California-based company. The business grew steadily, and four years later, he was running three other stores in Omaha, Bellevue and Papillion, and serving as the company's regional director of franchise development. For the last five years running, he's been named the top franchisee in a company that has 150 stores in 39 states.
Case's success is the kind most franchise companies and franchisees would like to replicate. But putting the pieces together — the right franchise, the right franchisee, the right timing in an economy that's just beginning to rebound — can be a challenge.
Now, several national franchisors are working together to share information about the business of franchising in a series of online roundtable discussions. Executives from some of those companies said they're joining in the discussions because they're ready to grow — including in Nebraska and Iowa — and they see franchising as an important part of getting the economy moving again.
"Franchising, when there's a down economy, is a significant catalyst for expansion," said Scott Frith, vice president of franchise development at Lawn Doctor, a New Jersey-based lawn care company. "People look at (the economy) and they say, 'I don't want to work for corporate America anymore, I want to go out on my own and I want to mitigate my risk.'"