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5 Best Franchise Opportunities for 2013

Stocks in this article: CMG PNRA

1. Hair Care

Hair care is just one industry in the booming personal services sector. The number of franchise establishments in personal services is expected to grow by 1.5% this year, according to the IFA's 2013 forecast, making it the fifth fastest-growing sector (tied with lodging) among the 10 that the association tracks.

Hair salons are a particularly good bet because while consumers might decide to skip the lavish vacations or fancy meals, they always need a haircut.

"Even in our do-it-yourself culture that we live in, people don't want to cut their own hair," says Rhoda Olsen, CEO of Great Clips.

"People will always need their hair cut and, especially in a shaky economy, they're looking for a quality, convenient cut at an affordable price," she says. Consumers are also busy. They want to be able to get in and out of a salon with little wait times. Great Clips' online check-in service alleviates that issue, she says.

On the business side, the franchises are profitable and conducive to multi-unit ownership.

"Most of the time it does not require a hands-on manager and the franchisee can successfully operate multiple locations. The salons are managed by a licensed cosmetologist and the franchisee focuses on working with the manager and providing the marketing and business side. They make a great team," Olsen says.

"Once franchisees get comfortable owning one salon, they typically buy a few more. After the initial learning curve, adding more locations can be a great way to increase overall profitability," she says.

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