"Whether a franchise sells storm doors or hamburgers, whether it runs hair salons or hotels, the problems of operating a franchise are alike," says Baird Thompson, director of public relations for Lums Restaurants in Miami.

For anyone involved or interested in the franchise business, the International Franchise Association (IFA), a nonprofit group representing about 350 franchising companies in the United States and abroad, offers training programs and workshops on the tax and legal matters involved in franchise operations. IFA also helps prospective franchise owners understand how to investigate a franchise before investing in it.

For more information on IFA's programs and services, contact the International Franchise Association, 1025 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 1005, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 659-0790.