Easy start-up franchises offer retirees a fast track to a second-act career

Based on two recent Pew Research Center reports, the pandemic nudged many 55-and-older Americans into an unexpected early retirement and prompted self-employed workers to downsize their enterprises. Both groups could consider franchising as an enticing second-act career or as an alternative for being the boss while enjoying support from a franchisor with a proven system.

Pew Research reported that as of the third quarter of this year, 50.3% of 55-and-older Americans said they left the labor force to retire. In the third quarter of 2019, before the pandemic gripped the nation, 48.1% of adults in that age group were retired. In the 65-to-74-year age group, 66.9% were retired in the third quarter of 2021 versus 64.0% in the same quarter of 2019. The retirement increase is important because, before the pandemic, adults ages 55 and older were the only working-age population segment since 2000 to increase their numbers in the labor force. 

Regarding the self-employed, Pew Research found 14.9 million self-employed among the total workforce of 150 million right now. That’s a nice rebound from the 12.7 million self-employed in the second quarter of 2020, during some of the darkest days of the pandemic. But a worrisome flip-side statistic is that in 2019, the self-employed had 31.4 million employees on their payrolls; this year that number is only 28.3 million. 

Pew didn’t spell out conclusions on reasons behind these changes or whether they’re likely to be permanent. It may well be that retirement jumped because Covid-19 is more dangerous for older age groups so these workers felt more at risk of contracting the virus if they went to work. Some might have cared for grandchildren who were out of school or whose day-care arrangement went away. Federal government stimulus payments and increased unemployment benefits might have given others the financial capability to stay off work for a while. 

Among the self-employed who have downsized, it’s possible they’re being cautious, not wanting to over-extend for fear of another Covid-19 surge. Or maybe they’re having trouble finding qualified help amid what’s been dubbed the Great Resignation. Perhaps they want to slow down and smell the roses after sampling a less-frantic lifestyle during forced shutdowns. 

Whatever the causes, franchising might be an option if older Americans want or need to rejoin the workforce after an unexpected early retirement. And the franchise industry might be a tantalizing alternative to the out-on-their-own, all-by-themselves self-employed; as franchisees, they can still be the boss but have the support and resources of a franchisor backing them up with training and creative solutions during the next economic hiccup or full-blown crisis. Some franchises can even serve as a side hustle or seasonal gig for both groups: retirees who don’t want to work full time or for self-employed workers who want to increase their earnings. 

Today’s franchise opportunities run the gamut for potentially rewarding and interesting second-act careers. Here’s a look at a few easy start-up franchises that appeal for their fast launch capability and/or low-cost buy-in:  

  • As its name suggests, Blue Moon Estate Sales consists of running estate sales. The work is satisfying because it helps people who are moving to smaller quarters and heirs who need to shed excess possessions. A franchise fee is about $50,000, and it takes roughly two months after Discovery Day to open a franchise.
  • Claimtek’s training gives you the expertise to run a billing business for medical and dental practices. Your buy-in is as little as $25,000. It takes about six months to get the business up and running.
  • Work as a travel agent to set up your Cruise Planners clients with the trips of their dreams. You earn commissions on travel that you sell: cruises, car rentals, tour packages, lodging and travel insurance, for instance. The current franchise fee is $6,995. It’s affiliated with American Express Travel.
  • Niche franchise The Dentist’s Choice repairs the handpieces used by dentists. Territories include 400 or more dentists, each with an estimated 15 to 20 handpieces that need service about every 10 to 12 months. Start-up costs are about $55,000 to $60,000.
  • From signing on the dotted line to start-up is just four to six weeks for Dog Training Elite franchisees, who offer all types of canine training, from obedience to personal protection to service animals. Start-up costs, including franchise fees, run about $75,000 minimum.
  • Grand Welcome franchisees sign up property owners willing to rent their homes as vacation accommodations and then manage the properties, earning fees for doing so. Start-up costs are $65,100 and up. After signing your franchise agreement, you can be operational with this easy start-up franchise in 30-90 days.
  • Men in Kilts crews clean windows, gutters and outside walls (services include pressure-washing) of building exteriors. The franchise fee starts at $17,000, which includes the cost of the base inventory.
  • N Zone Sports operates youth sports leagues and training for ages 2 and older. Franchise fees start at less than $30,000. 
  • Technicians with Screenmobile repair the screens in doors and windows. To start one of these businesses, you need about $92,000 or more, depending on territory size. You can launch this easy start-up franchise in eight to 12 weeks.

Mary Vinnedge November 9, 2021