5. Jared Jeffries
ZIPS Dry Cleaners

Pro basketball player Jared Jeffries signed his first franchise agreement in July. The New York Knick, along with business partner Shawn Strader, agreed to open a ZIPS Dry Cleaners in northern Virginia by the end of 2012.

"Owning a franchise was the next logical step for me and Shawn, and ZIPS provided a safe and promising way to ease into the industry," Jeffries said in a July press release.

ZIPS Dry Cleaners launched in 1996 and began franchising in 2006. The company has more than 35 locations on the East Coast and is proving to be popular with customers due to its same-day service and fixed price of $1.99 for any garment to be dry cleaned and $1.39 for any shirt to be laundered.

The company adds that, because it is a prepaid business, its helps keep prices down and inventory steady for owners. ZIPS says less than 10% of total costs go toward supplies and inventory.

"It's a good fit, because franchising parallels sports," he said. "Athletes are executors. You follow prescribed movements put together by a coach and organization to win a ball game. In franchising, you have the game plan and business model put together by the franchisor. Like an athlete, the operator has to come in and execute the plan."

Jeffries, who has also played for the Washington Wizards and Houston Rockets, has been business partners with Strader since the two started their own company specializing in residential real estate investment in 2007. The company, JV Management, currently owns properties throughout Florida, New York and Washington D.C., as well as freestanding land in Ohio.

"We couldn't be happier about investing in an exciting franchise that is poised for tremendous growth," Strader said, referring to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that highlighted dry cleaning as one of the next decade's hottest industries.

"We've had our eyes on ZIPS from afar and have been impressed with the incredible amount of leadership and industry experts they have assembled. We look forward to being part of the team," Strader added.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

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