Franchises to Boomers: We Want You

October 13, 2010
By Michelle V. Rafter

VictoriaConte2.jpg Rick Cohen spent 25 years working in a family retail business and a dozen more in management and human resources at other companies before deciding it was time to run his own show.

Cohen, 59, bought a Home Care Assistance franchise in southeastern Wisconsin in 2008 and today oversees a staff of certified nurse assistants and home-health aides that cares for about three dozen patients each week.

His retail, HR and management background was great experience for running a people-intensive franchise, Cohen says. He likes knowing he's creating steady jobs for his employees and helping clients stay in their own homes. "That's why I love working this every day," he says.

Cohen is just the kind of boomer-age entrepreneur franchisors are eagerly courting in the current economy.

Boomers have the professional experience and financial assets that franchisors value in a potential business partner, says Victoria Conte, vice president of operations (pictured above) at MatchPoint, a division of Atlanta-based Company.com, which matches franchises with would-be franchisees.

On the flip side, franchises are great opportunities for boomers looking to supplement their retirement income or work for themselves without the hassle of building a company from scratch. "When you get older, you get wise enough to know that you don't know everything and might want to have a proven system" to work with, she says.

According to Conte, the following are five franchise areas especially open to boomers.

1. Senior care. For someone looking for an opportunity to do well by doing good, a senior-care franchise could be a perfect fit. Plus, boomers seem to gravitate toward it. "It's because they can relate," Conte says. Senior-care franchises such as Home Care Assistance, Griswold Special Care, Synergy HomeCare, BrightStar and Seniors Helping Seniors provide staff to assist clients with daily tasks and general housekeeping or with in-home medical care. People with real estate or construction industry experience can buy into senior-care franchises that do aging-in-place remodeling.

2. Business training and coaching. If you've been in sales or management, Conte suggests buying into a business training or coaching franchise such as Sandler Training or Action Coach. Some coaching franchises work with corporations, while others provide one-on-one executive training.

3. Business services. This catchall category includes franchises such as H&R Block and Liberty Tax that provide various consumer services, as well as franchises that cater strictly to other businesses. According to Conte, one popular business services franchisor is WSI, which sets up companies with internet connections, websites, social-media training and other technology services.

4. Tutoring. Boomers who buy tutoring or supplemental learning franchises can do the work themselves or hire paid staff. Some, such as Tutor Doctor, send instructors into people's homes. Others, including the Sylvan Learning Center and The Tutoring Center, provide services through retail locations or online. "It's also very feel-good, and if you're an older individual you've got experience and patience, which is good when working with students," Conte says.

5. Staffing or recruiting. Human resources-related franchisees for Express Employment Professionals, Link Staffing and similar companies run temporary staffing agencies. Franchises such as Cybertary are available for people who want to work from home as virtual office assistants.

Retail and food industry franchises are always looking for new franchisees of any age. But the hours and physical demands of those businesses might not line up with what boomers are  interested in, Conte says.

Use these resources to learn more about franchise opportunities:

  • International Franchise Association: One of the industry's biggest trade groups publishes an annual franchise opportunity guide, maintains a searchable database of 1,100 franchises and provides other free information.
  • FranchiseExpo.com: An online database of franchises in and outside the United States; the database is run by the same company that stages annual franchise conventions in Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C.
  • 2010 Franchise 500: Entrepreneur magazine's annual ranking based on objective, quantifiable measures of franchise success
  • Buying a Franchise: A Consumer GuideAdvice from the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection Business Center