Franchise Buying Guide

Prime Time

On the Horizon
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Guidant Financial specializes in helping entrepreneurs purchase new franchises using their retirement funds.

As the needs of seniors change, so do the services offered by senior-care franchises. For more than a year, the Clums have been working with their individual franchisees to obtain state licenses for additional services such as bathing and feeding. Future projects may include introducing electronic devices to help track and locate Alzheimer's patients who wander away from home.

The Internet enables franchisees to better serve seniors by helping them stay connected and access information. In the future, Jerry Clum is considering equipping Comfort Keepers caregivers with laptops so they can give clients the option of using the Internet for recreation or learning. "We think [the Internet] is an incredibly cost-effective way to deliver really sophisticated information to people," says Firman, with The National Council on the Aging, which has created a Web site that explains federal and state assistance programs for older Americans.

As seniors enter a new phase of life, the senior-care franchise industry keeps pace. "Right now, we're serving a segment of the population that is very independent," says Paul Hogan. "They remember the Depression, the World Wars. They are very self-reliant. [The younger seniors], the 60-year-olds, are so much more used to services that when they move into this age of needing care, they'll be more readily accepting of services." The seniors of tomorrow will be looking for providers who are more service-oriented, and they will be quicker to seek help.

They will also be less financially prepared to pay for in-home care. According to a demographic profile of baby boomers compiled in 2003 by MetLife's Mature Market Institute, younger boomers spend 10 percent below average on life insurance and don't seem as concerned about the future. However, the lack of finances doesn't worry those in the senior-care industry. "Even though there may be some different financial challenges for the boomers," says Jerry, "we still feel that, when it comes to our services, it will be important enough to them that they will [find the resources] to help pay for them."

Firman predicts that in the next five years, elder care will replace child care as the number-one family issue of the baby boom generation. Opportunities abound on the not-so-distant horizon.

"If you're going to do this, make the commitment both personally and financially, and go and do it," says Jim. "I'm here on the other end saying it's worth it."

GOLDEN YEARS: If you're interested in starting a senior-care business, check out the following franchises:
(866) 731-2273/(520) 577-4825

ComForcare Senior Services Inc.
(800) 886-4044

Comfort Keepers
(800) 387-2415

ELDirect Homecare
(479) 443-7173

Griswold Special Care
(215) 402-0200

Home Helpers
(800) 216-4196

Home Instead Senior Care
(888) 484-5759/(402) 298-4466

Homewatch Caregivers
(800) 777-9770/(303) 758-7290

Right at Home Inc.
(402) 697-7537

Sarah Adult Day Services Inc.
(330) 454-3200

Superior Senior Care
(501) 321-1743

Visiting Angels
(800) 365-4189/(610) 924-0630

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This article was originally published in the May 2004 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: Prime Time.

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