Growing Up, Growing Old
Two segments of the population, kids and seniors, caught our attention last year and are still growing in 2005. Children's enrichment and tutoring programs such as The Mad Science Group, which offers science activities, and Huntington Learning Centers, which provides educational services, are continuing to get support from parents wanting the best for their children.
But parental concerns make up just the tip of the iceberg. The tutoring segment received a particular boost when the government passed the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, designed to improve student achievement. As a result, tutoring companies in the K-12 education sector celebrated 2.7 percent growth in 2003, as total revenue rang in at $50.1 billion, according to Eduventures Inc., a Boston-based research firm. This is in stark contrast to the 1 percent growth in revenue that took place in 2002. "Schools are now paying for tutoring programs to get their kids' scores up to meet the No Child Left Behind targets," explains Deborah Stipek, dean of the Stanford University School of Education. "So there's an industry that's developing to provide schools with tutoring in test taking."
On the other end of the spectrum, seniors are causing quite a ruckus. The care and attention this segment requires will only continue to grow as the baby boomers age. After all, by 2010, more than 39 million Americans will be 65 or older, according to career development website CareerTrainer.com. This translates to golden opportunities in the years to come for senior-focused franchises such as Comfort Keepers and Home Instead Senior Care. Overall, senior-care franchises that were ranked in the Franchise 500® saw 24.6 percent growth during the past year.
Interested in franchising but not especially passionate about the industries already mentioned? Here's a look at some other categories that are performing respectably.
- The way to a person's heart is definitely through the stomach-which might explain the perpetual problem with obesity. Despite the weight-loss whirlwind, there are certain delicacies that have consumers salivating. This year, you can bet that franchises serving coffee, ice cream and smoothies will be successful in luring customers back for more with their vast selections of espresso-based beverages, tasty mix-ins and frozen concoctions.
- If you like to organize and don't mind doing it in other people's homes, home organization may just be the perfect industry. Consumers want to get their homes in order and are willing to pay to have it done for them. By offering such services, closet- and garage-organizing franchises like California Closet Company and GarageTek are making a profit by taking the clutter out of people's homes.
- A relatively new category, business consulting and peer groups, keeps growing from one year to the next. Franchises in this category, such as Action International and The Alternative Board TAB, saw a 17.9 percent increase in the number of units worldwide in 2004 and will experience continued growth this year.
- Consumers are fascinated by the new era of a world without wires and have rapidly become dependent on the convenience that comes with it. Feeding off this demand are franchises like @Wireless and Wireless Zone, offering consumers the latest in wireless technology.
- With spending for pets ringing in at more than a whopping $30 billion in 2004, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, this is one industry not to be overlooked. Whether it's providing dog training, day care or treats, give our furry friends some TLC, and you can be sure pet owners will seek out your services.
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This article was originally published in the January 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: All the Rage.
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