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Craig Slavin's voice crackles with a bit of mischievous excitement when he tells the story of Mrs. Fields and her now-famous cookies: "We have Debbi on tape saying: 'I will never franchise because I don't want to lose control.'"
Slavin, chairman of Franchise Architects. the Chicago-based consulting firm that helped change Mrs. Fields' mind, proudly boasts that his client now has about 400 franchise units nationwide. "And where we've taken company-owned stores and sold them as franchises, the increases in same-store sales have been between 18 and 22 percent," says Slavin. "We literally made Debbi eat her cookies."
More and more entrepreneurs, like Fields, are turning to franchise consultants to help calm their jitters and skillfully chart the course for developing a franchise system for growing their businesses.
The process, which can take more than …