The senior market is hot. Just look at the numbers: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2007 and 2030 the number of Americans age 65 and older is projected to grow by 89 percent (compared to just 21 percent for the overall population).
This growing market has created a big opportunity for franchise companies that cater to seniors. One of the hottest franchise business concepts is nonmedical home care. Nonmedical home care companies handle tasks like personal care, light housekeeping, meal preparation, taking seniors to their appointments, monitoring their diets, grocery shopping, and simply providing companionship. The goal is to help seniors remain independent as long as possible.
With more seniors wanting to “age in place” -- that is, stay in their own homes as long as they can -- the demand for nonmedical home care services will only increase. Boosting the industry, the Census projects the “oldest old” population (people age 85 and up) will grow by more than 50 percent by 2030. This age group is more likely than younger seniors to have disabilities that require in-home help, and more likely to live alone with no one to assist with daily activities.
But not all seniors can age in place, or want to stay in their big houses as they age. That has given rise to another hot senior-care franchise business: senior transition services (also known as senior relocation services). These companies provide a range of services associated with moving seniors to a new location, including choosing among various residence options, packing and unpacking, helping to dispose of unwanted items, and planning and overseeing a move. According to Mary Kay Buysse, executive director of the National Association of Senior Move Managers, this industry is mushrooming; since 2006, NASMM's membership has grown from 80 to more than 500.
Buysse says senior service providers are benefiting from a "perfect storm." First, as 76 million baby boomers age, the United States is rapidly shifting to an elder-focused society; second, “we’ve become a society [that] seeks out service providers for virtually everything.” Even in a slow economy, Buysse says, NASMM members are finding new clients by emphasizing how they can help seniors downsize and organize possessions for a better quality of life even before they move out of their homes.
Another growing senior-related franchise industry is adult day care. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, in the United States there are at least 43.5 million caregivers providing unpaid care to a family of friend age 50 or over. Adult day care provides companionship, socialization, and supervision for seniors outside the home, and costs less than nursing-home or in-home care.
Franchise opportunities can offer a simpler way to get into business than launching a senior-care company on your own. But do you have what it takes to succeed in this industry? Whether you’re considering senior care, adult day care, or transition services, there are certain skills and qualities successful franchisees have in common:
- Good people skills and a desire to help others: You will be dealing with seniors and their families during a stressful time in their lives, so you need patience, tact, and good listening skills.
- Management experience: Senior care is an employee-intensive business, so you’ll need to be able to find and hire qualified employees and train them to succeed.
- Sales skills: You need the ability to market yourself and your company in the community as the local experts in senior care. This requires energy, enthusiasm, and the ability to “sell” the concept.
For those with the right stuff, this industry promises a bright future. "To succeed in the senior-care franchise industry, a candidate needs to fully understand the bulk of opportunity has not even surfaced," says Trey Malicoat, consultant for Homewatch CareGivers, a home-care franchise with locations worldwide. "Baby boomers will demand a much higher level of customer care and program customization. The 'one size fits everyone' mentality is no longer going to work. Success in this market will rely on a deep commitment to meeting the needs of clients as they define them. The people who succeed will truly understand radical customer service."
For a list of senior-care franchises, visit the Senior-Care Franchises Directory at AllBusiness.com.
Karen Axelton is chief content officer at GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.