I’m getting a little concerned. I’m starting to wonder if there will continue to be enough senior citizens to go around.
Recently, I contributed a post over at Business.Gov in which I discussed the popularity of the senior care segment of franchising. I stated that “there are over 30 different home health care franchise concepts that are actively seeking franchisees.” That’s one of my concerns.
That concern can be balanced with the fact that there are huge numbers of people all over the United States who are nearing retirement age, and they’ll need both medical and non-medical care.
William Frey of the Brookings Institute says that “by 2030, a record one-fifth of the total population will be over 65. That will increase demand for everything from health services to so-called active adult communities.”
Most people who are considering franchise ownership are familiar with senior care franchises, even if it’s not a segment of franchising that they’re interested in. It’s a category in franchising that’s hard to ignore, and it happens to be one of the Top Franchise Trends For 2010 .
I’ve been reaching out to executives in the senior care franchise industry in an effort to get a better feel of the trends that are shaping their segment of franchising.
Eric Little, Senior Vice President of Franchise Development for Right at Home  Inc., told me, “In home care, companies that rely on just the traditional referral sources are going to suffer. It’s no secret that this is a good business. Senior care has documented, solid demographic growth built in for the next 25 years. And most senior care franchisees have done well up to now, for the most part. But, as is the case for most businesses, those that do well over the long term will be the ones that evolve their businesses as conditions change. They try new ways of finding and educating customers.”
I had a strange feeling that the words “social media” would be coming up. I was right. He goes on:
“As an example, we recently hired a full-time social media specialist at Right at Home. Social media has a lot of people scratching their heads right now, just as the Internet did some years ago. We believe it is going to be critical for success, so we’ve committed to it at a corporate level. Franchisees can be as active or as passive as they wish. Making the decision in home care is still a very, very personal one – but if we have the opportunity to make a positive first impression with someone on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, we’ll be ahead of the game by the time the phone rings.”
Shelley Sun, the CEO of Brightstar Healthcare, is a Chicago powerhouse who’s been adding awards to her mantle for the past few years. Here’s what she shared with me:
“With 30 million more people expected to enter the health care system in 2013-2014, the care of adults with disabilities and the care of children with medical needs will significantly increase. Franchise companies that are making large investments today in technology, quality of care and care outcomes as well as accreditation will be ready for this surge. The impact on the revenue potential for franchisees could be huge.”
So, according to Shelley, there’s even more potential in the coming years. She also added that “health care reform is partially funded through reductions in Medicare, which will drive more services to be paid for privately or through Medicaid-waiver programs. BrightStar is ramping up initiatives in quality, technology, Medicaid-waiver and more, to ensure our franchisees capture the lion’s share of the opportunity. “
In-home care is definitely a dominant part of the industry, but don’t forget another growing segment of senior care: senior mobility. Senior mobility is something that’s being talked about a lot lately, and for good reason. Today’s seniors want to be mobile. Really mobile.
Dr. Stephen Stricker, rehabilitation specialist with the University of Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital, says, “Wheelchairs and other mobility products have come a long way in being able to help patients achieve independence. Mobility products  are key in doing this.”
One franchise company that’s trying to capitalize on the senior mobility trend (which is a growing part of the senior health care market) is 101 Mobility, based in Wilmington, NC, which recently converted its already successful and growing business into a franchise.
According to CEO Dave Pazgan, “the population is aging at a rapid pace and the increasing number of seniors represents a growth opportunity for businesses of all kinds – especially accessibility equipment. Due to the current economy, a growing number of elderly relatives and the aging Baby Boom population are opting to remain at home or move in with family members, creating tremendous demand for mobility products.”
So far, there aren’t too many senior care mobility franchises, but that will probably change.
It will be interesting to see how all the things mentioned above, like technology, accreditation, social media marketing and mobility, will play into health care reform.
I’m starting to get convinced that the demand for senior care services and products will actually continue to grow. Are you?