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FRANCHISE NEWS
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9 O.C. companies rank among top franchises

Taco Bell, Johnny Rockets, Baja Fresh and others land on AllBusiness.com's list.

By Caitlin AdamsPublished: February 09, 2011 02:08 PM

Nine Orange County companies landed on AllBusiness.com's 2011 AllStar Franchise List, including Irvine-based Taco Bell, which ranked the highest among local firms; Lake Forest-based Johnny Rockets; Cypress-based Baja Fresh; and Orange-based Budget Blinds.

AllBusiness.com's list is made up of the top 300 franchise opportunities that are expected to perform well this year. In compiling the listings, the editors at AllBusiness.com considered a number of key factors, determining companies’ business longevity, growth trajectory, system size and Web visibility. Affordability also was identified as a key indicator for a franchise’s viability.

Franchises with low fees did well on the list – 57 AllStars cost less than $50,000, while 118 cost less than $100,000. Also popular are franchises that offer inexpensive products or services.

Still, finding affordable credit remains the biggest challenge for would-be franchisees.

"In 2010, many franchises announced new initiatives to either bring in new consumer business or to attract new franchisees," said Rieva Lesonsky, editor-at-large and franchise adviser for AllBusiness.com. "Companies that increased franchise units also tended to offer special financing options and incentives."

Subway, which is based in Milford, Conn., held on to the No. 1 spot on the list for the third consecutive year. The company’s “unsurpassed” brand awareness and continued growth were the main factors behind its ranking, according to AllBusiness.com. However, Subway’s financial strength faltered in the past year; that ranking declined from 40 to 210.

Here's a look at Orange County’s AllBusiness AllStar Franchises:

No. 25: Taco Bell, Irvine
Aided by improved financial strength and international expansion efforts, the company has broken into the top 25. Taco Bell has been experimenting with breakfast menus and plans to test fish tacos nationwide in 2011.

No. 43: Johnny Rockets, Lake Forest
The company made its first appearance on the list, earning its place in the top 50 with high marks for financial strength, business growth and Web visibility.

No. 108: Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, Cypress
This fresh Mexican restaurant held steady for two years in a row. Despite a relatively low financial strength ranking, its continued expansion into the Big Apple and its inventive Guest Choice prototype restaurants have brought successful returns.

No. 177: Budget Blinds, Orange
The home-improvement industry has taken a beating in the recession, and this company knows it; but while its growth rank declined, its system size is still good, brand awareness is strong and financial strength is outstanding.

No. 215: Fiesta Auto Insurance and Tax Service, Huntington Beach
A brand-new AllStar, this entrepreneurial company boasts a Hispanic-centric business model to clients who often don’t have bank accounts, credit histories or even credit cards. It’s filling a unique and much-needed niche.

No. 249: Money Mailer, Garden Grove
This franchise offers a fairly low-cost, home-based opportunity, and provides a timely concept for today’s budget-conscious economy: delivering coupons by mails, online, e-mail or text message.

No. 274: PIP Printing and Marketing Services, Mission Viejo
This company earned a franchisee satisfaction award from Franchise Business Review in 2010, and boasts excellent financial strength and business longevity as an AllBusiness AllStar.

No. 290: Sir Speedy Printing and Marketing Services, Mission Viejo
With a dip in its financial strength, Sir Speedy lost a few rankings on this year’s list, but after earning a Franchise Business Review award for franchisee satisfaction in 2010, it maintained a place in the ranking for its brand awareness and system size.

No. 298: El Pollo Loco, Costa Mesa
This tasty chicken concept suffered a huge drop on this year’s list, compared to last year’s position at 116, due to lingering effects of the recession, according to AllBusiness.com. However, the company’s potential remains strong, particularly in the areas of longevity, system size and Web visibility. In 2010, PODER magazine named it one of the Top Franchises for Hispanics.

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