Senior Care Franchises: Opportunities Abound

Senior care is one of the hottest growth segments in franchising today. The demand for services, both and non-medical, has been growing by leaps and bounds, in tandem with the growth of the country's aging population, who are living longer, staying healthier, and remaining more active than any seniors in history.

Within this expanding demographic, seniors increasingly need more assistance in their daily lives as they age, whether at home, in an assisted living center, or in a nursing home. As a result, spending on healthcare services for and by seniors will also increase dramatically in the coming decades, a fact that franchise brands in this sector have recognized for years. More than 100 franchise systems now specialize in this rapidly growing field. And despite their growing numbers, today's franchisors and franchisees are merely scratching the surface of the business opportunities this booming demographic provides.

  •  Follow the people. By 2030, the number of Americans 65 and older is expected to double to 71 million and account for about 20 percent of the U.S. population. Life expectancy in the U.S. is now 78 years, and the fastest-growing age group is the 85-plus population. And the first of the 70 million-plus Baby Boomer generation, born in 1946, turn 65 in 2011.
  •  Follow the money. Another indicator that this market - and opportunities for franchise brands - is on the rise: private equity firms are increasingly betting their investors' dollars in the healthcare services industry, where senior care makes up a significant component. Since the start of 2009, 132 private equity companies have invested in 187 companies in the healthcare services industry, according to research firm PitchBook Data. And the action is heating up: in 2010 private equity investors completed 111 deals in the healthcare services sector, nearly doubling the 57 deals recorded in 2009, according to Pitchbook, and healthcare services continue to be an investor favorite, for 37 percent of the completed deals in the first part of 2011.

As life expectancy increases, perspectives on aging continue to evolve. Seniors have many needs - physical, legal, financial, emotional, social, and spiritual - and franchised services geared to address all of them are growing at a rapid pace. Seniors also prefer to remain at home, to "age in place," which is driving the demand for in-home services, from daily visits to financial and legal counseling. Advances in technology also play an important role in franchisors' ability to deliver ever-higher-quality medical services to seniors. Tests and treatments from X-rays to I.V. therapy can now be performed inside seniors' homes, rather than at a hospital, lab, or clinic.

An important trend for senior care service providers is their quest to organize, manage, and coordinate the multi-faceted needs of seniors under a single umbrella, and many franchise brands are expanding their range of services to meet this goal. It's easier for both seniors and their children to rely on one trusted provider to deliver a broad range of services, rather than deal with half a dozen organizations or more.

Another trend furthering growth in the senior care sector is the growth in family mobility. Children who once cared for their aging parents at home are to different cities, states, even countries to pursue their own lives and opportunities, and franchise brands are moving in to fill this gap.

The franchising model is perfectly suited for this market segment: low overhead, high-quality programs, and no industry background necessarily required, though it is helpful. For franchisees, it means setting up an office (which could be at home) and creating a network of caregivers who can visit homes and provide the day-to-day services seniors need.

With the market for senior care expanding by leaps and bounds, opportunities for franchisees to deliver these vital services continue to grow. One piece of advice from a successful franchisee in the senior care field: "You can't get into this if you're only interested in making money. Most seniors can tell if you are sincere about what you do. If you don't care about elderly people, this is not for you."

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