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Hair Apparent
A hair-removal chain takes off.
Carlye Adler

(FORTUNE Small Business) - Chiropractors Rick Mikles, 49, and Joe Acebal, 48, sensed that they could build a business with staying power by focusing on laser hair removal. After all, the process for removing hair permanently is the top nonsurgical cosmetic procedure for folks under 35. In 2005, Ideal Image's sales grew to $50 million from $8 million the year before.

LASER'S EDGE: The co-founders had been selling Ideal Image franchises one by one since 2004. That approach "now seems about as smart as selling individual sticks of chewing gum instead of the whole pack," says Acebal. The Tampa entrepreneurs soon switched to a cluster strategy requiring franchisees to simultaneously open numerous stores--a more efficient use of marketing dollars.

ZAPPY ENDING: The former school pals expect franchisees to nearly double the number of units, to 75, this year. Company-owned units will grow from six to 25. Bald really is beautiful. Top of page

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