While franchisees felt the pinch of the credit crunch, independents have fared much worse when it comes to obtaining financing. As a result, franchise growth is expected to outpace expansion among independents this year. Franchises benefit from an existing support system, and lenders tend to look a bit more favorably on franchise companies, said independent research company FRANdata. "Networked businesses tend to recover at a faster pace than other businesses and tend to sustain businesses more effectively than nonfranchised businesses," says John Reynolds, president of the IFA's Educational Foundation.

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