Given the large senior citizen population in the United States, it makes sense that the demand for senior care franchises is at an all-time high. There are more than 54 million people aged 65 or older in the U.S., and the Baby Boomer generation (ages 55 to 73) represents the second largest age demographic in the country.
Additionally, people are now living longer, as the average life expectancy in the United States is 78.93 years. That is an average increase of more than three and a half years since 1990. People also want to live in their homes as long as possible without moving into a senior care facility. With a sizeable age group that is living longer, there is ample need for in-home service franchises to care for our nation’s seniors.
While the opportunity is there to capitalize on this large, growing market, there are several things franchise prospects should know about senior care as they conduct their due diligence. The first is the types of services that are offered, as there is some variation depending on customer need. There are many kinds of in-home senior care services, but they mainly fall under three main categories:
Personal Care and Companionship – This service is where a caretaker goes to a senior’s home and helps them around the house. The individual may not be able do everything they need, so the caretaker assists in the home, whether it is picking up certain items or moving things as needed. They may take care of the kitchen, prepare food or spend time with the senior. Many franchises provide these types of personal care services.
Home Health Care – This includes personal care with a physical component. An example of this service is assisting a senior to or from their seat or bed. Caretakers may also help with personal hygiene or support them if they need to take a shower or use the restroom. There are also a lot of franchise companies involved in this type of care as well.
Medical Home Care – This involves medical care for the senior in the form of nursing services. This is often longer-term care in which the caretaker administers medicine or injections while monitoring vital signs. This operates on a higher level of care and expertise and requires having a nurse on staff. Most franchises do not need to include these services to build a successful business. Among the franchise companies that include these services, some offer it initially while others allow their franchisees to evolve into it.
A senior care franchise owner does not need to have experience in healthcare, and only those businesses providing medical services involves employing a nurse. Franchisees in this field may have different backgrounds, although many possess strong organizational skills and decision-making abilities. They may have experience in business development, human resources and leading groups of people.
As a franchise coach, I’ve noticed that these owners must have a certain personality and mindset that matches the demands of the job. They should have a positive attitude and outgoing nature to be able to interact with others, whether it is new or current customers and their families. More than anything else, however, a franchise owner in this line of work must have a tremendous sense of empathy.
While it is a rewarding experience, providing senior care services can an emotionally draining endeavor. Workers provide assistance to seniors in various stages of need, from those who are slightly isolated and physically limited to others who require advanced medical care. Good caretakers cannot simply arrive at a home, check off things that need to be done and move on. They must show kindness, patience and caring in everything they do.
The unfortunate reality of working in this sector is that many patients struggle with common needs, are in poor health and will eventually pass away. That is why having a caring approach and sensitivity to their needs is so important. Many senior care franchise owners get into the business after having gone through the experience of needing professional assistance for a loved one and the challenges faced in finding good care.
One of the advantages of owning a senior care franchise is a relatively low overhead cost. Most franchisees and their staff operate in a basic office setup with phones, desks, chairs, and files. These types of offices are inexpensive, easy to find and have a short-term lease. The business does not require a storefront location with an inviting atmosphere because customers are not visiting the location.
Finding and retaining good employees in this field can be a challenge. They need to be hard workers, have a great deal of empathy, be willing to work long or unconventional hours and do it at a relatively low wage. Senior care can take place on evenings, weekends and holidays. If a caretaker misses and appointment, it can create significant consequences.
Even though it is true that there is a tremendous demand for senior care, there is also a lot of competition. That is the case for both attracting customers and retaining good employees. That is why empathy is required for the job and people must feel like it is a calling. If people have the right skills set and proper motivation, then some of the issues like long hours and employee turnover is just seen as the cost of doing business in an industry that serves others.
The outlook for senior care franchises is quite strong with the increased number of senior citizens in the coming years. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise from 16 percent to 23 percent.
These businesses also have tremendous scalability, as they can start as a modest investment and grow into a multi-million dollar operation. If someone has the right outlook and a high degree of empathy, owning a senior care franchise can be a very rewarding and successful business.
Rick Bisio is one of the countries most respected franchise coaches and author of the Amazon best seller, The Educated Franchise – 3rd Edition. Since becoming a franchise coach in 2002, Bisio has assisted thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs nationwide explore the dream of business ownership.