Latinos may be the fastest growing segment of the population in the United States, but in the franchising industry their presence is rather low, with Latinos owning only 5.2 percent of franchise businesses, according to a December 2011 study by the International Franchise Association.
“Hispanics, by nature, are very entrepreneurial,” said Jose Torres, founder of BuscaTuFranquicia.com and English-language sister site Franchise4Hispanics.com, which link aspiring franchisees with franchisers. “However, many think franchising is only fast food and retail. We try to educate Hispanics on the broad options available to them.”
So where are Latino franchisees in highest demand? FOX News Latino found 5 franchises looking to expand in the Latino market.
CruiseOne is a travel agent business with 980 franchises, of which 10 percent are Latino. Franchisees operate mainly out of their homes, earning a commission on sales of cruise packages, travel insurance, all-inclusive resort packages, and a variety of other travel-related services from CruiseOne’s partnership network.
Entry-level franchisees can expect to pay $9,800 in fees and are not required to have prior travel experience.
The company is in the process of developing a Spanish-language site geared at consumers and Spanish-language marketing material for franchisees.
“The strongest travel markets also have the highest concentration of Latinos,” said Luis Zuniga, vice president of marketing and communications at CruiseOne. “We have found that a lot of our customers are Hispanic and see a lot of opportunity there.”
Yogurtland first appeared on the self-serve frozen yogurt scene in 2006. Today, the company has 170 locations throughout the U.S., Guam, and Mexico, with stores opening in Puerto Rico and Venezuela this year.
In the U.S., Yogurtland has four Latino franchisees in their system, but management is seeking more.
“I would love to get Hispanic operators,” said Larry Sidoti, vice president of development and operations at Yogurtland. “Some of our most successful stores are in Hispanic neighborhoods, but finding operators from the community is always difficult. One thing about Hispanic markets is that they are typically under-served so the opportunity for success there is huge.”
The estimated initial investment for a Yogurtland franchise location ranges from $352,000 to $695,000 and includes a $35,000 franchise fee. The company is looking to expand in new target markets, such as New Mexico, Illinois and South Carolina.
Soccer Shots is a children’s soccer education franchise founded by two former college athletes in 2000. Since it began franchising in 2005, the company has grown to 100 franchisees in 30 states.
Franchisees sign a five-year commitment and pay a $12,500 franchise fee, plus a 7 percent monthly paid royalty on topline sales. Franchisees start out owning one territory, which consists of half a million people, and can expand once certain company-set criteria are met.
Soccer Shots has four Latino franchisees in the system. Management is looking to grow that number as it attempts to expand in New York, Houston, Chicago, Seattle and Orlando.
“By and large the Latino community is very passionate about soccer and it is great going into business doing something you love,” said Justin Bredeman, vice president of recruitment. Bredeman looks for franchisees with a “teachable spirit, a passion for children and who can take initiative and connect with people.”
WSI, or We Simplify the Internet, is a Canadian-based provider of digital marketing solutions for small and medium-sized businesses.
Founded in 1995, WSI started its push into Latin America in 1997. The company has 25 Latino franchisees in the U.S.,154 in Mexico and 85 in the rest of Latin America. Franchise fees start at $29,700 in Latin America, with a total initial investment between $5,000 and $10,000.
While 83 percent of WSI franchisees have university degrees, backgrounds in technology are not mandatory.
“We want to make sure that they [franchisees] like systems and like learning. Unlike burgers and fries, our system is continuously evolving at break-neck speeds,” said Valerie Brown-Dufour, vice president of international development for WSI.
Elements Therapeutic Massage
Elements Therapeutic Massage is a massage therapy business that launched 5 years ago. The company has 90 locations in 30 states and is looking to open 50 more locations this year.
“We’ve really put a heavy push in certain markets and have had tremendous growth in primary markets like Houston, Phoenix and southern California,” said Scott Wendrych, Element’s chief franchise development officer.
Through the E2 Investor Visa program, Elements is working with a Mexican franchisee to open locations in McAllen, TX. Other Latino franchisees are also just starting to enter the system.
Franchisees are dissuaded from being licensed massage therapists, as the company wants them to operate as area developers and manage multiple locations.
Cindy Vanegas is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She can be reached at VanegasMargaret@yahoo.com.