Franchise opportunities abound locally

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Brent Belch had been in banking insurance for 32 years when his whole company downsized.

"It gave me the opportunity to go out and do something new," he says.  "The problem was, I had no idea what that new needed to be."

What he did know is this: there are opportunities galore in franchising.

"I had been looking at franchises and there are literally thousands," Belch says. "You can't imagine how many yogurt shops there are."

True. But there are other options as well – all kinds of companies that you can buy into in order to be your own boss.  How do you find the right fit though?  Fast-food isn't for everybody.  And where can you get the cash?

"It can appear daunting but financing a small business is not as complicated as it seems to be," Belch says.

Neither he says is finding the right biz.

Belch opened a CPR store – short for Cell Phone Repair – in April. And in the six months that followed, he opened three more.  In fact, he says the whole process happened, "a lot quicker than you think it can happen and with less up front cash."

But Belch has a secret weapon. His name is Mike Hall, and he's a consultant with FranNet who's helped 300 people start franchise businesses in our area. "Ninety-five percent of our clients end up buying something that they either didn't know existed before they came to see us, or never even saw themselves in."

He starts by giving a test.

"We're looking at the assessment and what it says about your personality, about your buyer motives, about your skill set," Hall says. "About what you like and don't like. And then we're combining that with a lot of other questions in a face-to-face meeting. And once we have that information - this is what we call building your business model - then we can go out and start finding the franchise companies that match."

"It does feel pretty good, I have to admit," Belch says. He was one of those guys who knew nothing about CPR before he got into it.

Hall says the best thing about going the franchise route is it's safer than leaping out alone. "For a lot of people, they like the idea of the backup of a larger organization helping them and yet owning a business independently," he says.