The Aging And The Restless

Dating Services

Not only do boomer women reject cleaning the house, they're not hanging out there much, either. Single boomer women are more likely to spend weekends sipping cocktails in nightclubs than downing prune juice at their kitchen tables. But finding eccentric old bachelors who aren't just looking for 20-year-olds named Bambi can be a bit of a challenge, especially for those who've been out of the dating scene for a while. That's where The Right One comes in.

After merging with Together dating service in 1999, The Right One is now the largest franchised dating service in the country, with nearly 100,000 members and 100 locations. The company doesn't target boomers so much as boomers target it. "The majority of our customers are boomers. They're the driving force behind our growth," says Paul A. Falzone, CEO and founder of The Right One. "[My company's sales are] up 38 percent from a banner year last year. Our revenue currently exceeds $40 million, and that's an extremely low estimate."

You don't have to board the Love Boat to find romance. Read "Date With Success" to start your own Internet dating service and wait for the sparks to fly.

The growth boomers are spurring in franchises such as The Right One is partly due to sociology. While their parents may have giggled at the notion of going to dating services, boomers are signing up without hesitation. "They're more open to accepting help," says Falzone. And for those who once thought of settling down as old-fashioned, the thought of retiring alone now looms as an equally unattractive option. "Once they have the corner office or the vice presidency, they want someone to share it with," says Falzone.

While boomers might need help re-entering the dating scene, their generation prizes its independence, which is a double-edged sword for franchising. For every boomer who zigs, another one zags. Pinning them down is a demographics nightmare. Still, boomers are united by one common bond: age. And as they near retirement, successful franchisees are stepping in when boomers want to step out. Those tapping into this wealthy, active and educated market should enjoy "booming" franchises for the next 30 years and beyond.

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This article was originally published in the October 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Aging And The Restless.

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