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Senior care, it seems, is a growth market. And of all the places where geriatric care, whether in the home or in an assisted living facility (ALF) is needed, there are few locations more promising than Marco Island and Naples.  

The management of Homewatch CareGivers, an international home care provider franchise company, has zeroed in on Marco Island as an ideal location for a franchisee to open up an independently-owned office.

“The demographics on Marco Island are very well suited for us. With Homewatch, you can impact the lives of people in the community, make a difference and also enjoy strong return on investment,” said Homewatch President and CEO Julie Smith from her office in Denver.  

In Collier County, 26.4 percent of residents are age 65 or over, compared to 17.3 percent for the state as a whole, according to State of Florida census data. In the City of Marco Island, the percentage is over 45 percent. Collier County’s per capita personal income of $78,473, using numbers from 2015, the most recent available, compares to $44,429 statewide. 

Not only does Southwest Florida have a large number of seniors, many living far from their families, but it also is home to a large number of retired or close-to-retirement entrepreneurs and business executives who may have left managerial careers, but aren't ready to spend all day on the beach or golf course.  

The company offers franchisees exclusive protected territories, and considers Naples and Marco Island to be one homogeneous market, so it would not sell more than one franchise in Collier County, said Chip Baranowski, director of franchise development for the company.  

Baranowski is confident that one of these seasoned managers will find owning a Homewatch franchise to be the opportunity they have been seeking, whether or not they knew it. In all, Homewatch operates 200 franchises, owned by 107 franchise partners in North, Central and South America, with the greatest number in the United States, Baranowski said.

“Everybody has choices. To be part of a mature franchise network is a win-win,” Smith said. “Your area definitely has a good pool of potential franchisees. Bringing in the right person is critical” to having the local operation succeed.  

“You have to have compassion, a passion for helping people. You have to have a caring heart,” Baranowski added. “You can’t just want to make money. And you need to get out into the community for business development. We say, ‘We don’t have a drive-up window.' We look for good people management skills.” 

They also look for someone with the resources to see a startup business through; according to Baranowski, a successful franchisee candidate will have a networth of at least $350,000, a credit score of 680 or better and cash on hand of $60,000 or more for operating expenses. 

“It doesn’t take a lot of clients to build a successful business,” he said. “You only need 47 clients to have a viable franchise. In Naples, there are over 42,000 seniors who could use care. In the next five years, the market will grow 38 percent – it’s not stagnant. There will always be clients.

"There will always be fads, but you look at sustainability to get into a business. This industry will continue to grow.”  

A mature franchise, he said, might have an office staff of five to seven, and 40 to 120 caregivers. Those caregivers are responsible for personal grooming, bathing or dressing, medication reminders, helping patients move around – including in and out of bed and the shower – errands such as grocery shopping or prescription pickup, and helping a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia by grounding and orienting them. 

“Ten thousand seniors turn 65 every single day,” Smith said. “That will continue for the next 19 years. Over 90 percent of those people want to be at home. The tailwinds are very strong for this sector.” 

For more information, visit homewatchcaregivers.com

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