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Money & Culture

Franchising Beyond Burgers: Kids, Seniors, Fitness, Spas

February 27, 2015
Bounce House

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part Perspectives on Money Culture series on franchising. Read the first.

Ronald McDonald and his fast-food brethren may come to mind when the subject of high-profile franchise opportunities comes up.

But the familiar names are often the realm of larger, corporate-style entities that benefit from pooled resources. An individual, entrepreneurial sort may therefore seek out a fit in other, less obvious sectors. Believe it or not, franchise models span a wide variety of products and services: spas and health clubs, children’s entertainment centers and senior care facilities are among increasingly popular sectors offering a foothold into franchising.

Before you get started, ask an important question: what most interests you, gets your blood pumping? Considering the time, energy, and money needed to make a franchise business viable over the long haul, a passion for the work is vital. Think also about what’s going on in your community. Is the market saturated with spin classes? Or are there some holes to be filled?

That said, let’s look at a few sectors offering franchise opportunities, culled from Entrepreneur Magazine, Fortune, and other sources.

Children’s “Enrichment.” Parents may know this better as “my weekends as a chauffeur.” These days, classes start for infants and continue through high school. This category covers sports and the arts, but among the fastest growing is known as “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, and math). Franchise entry costs can vary depending on whether your franchise pushes into an existing facility, such as a school, or if you need a storefront.

Fitness. Large gym franchises remain popular, but if you’re thinking small and niche-y, kickboxing, Pilates, dance, and barre classes and in-home training are on the list. There’s a wide gap in startup costs depending on whether you need your own facility or can sell and run a program to fit into an existing location.

Adult Learning and Enrichment. Kids aren’t the only target of disposable income. One of the hottest recent trends is adult “paint-and-sip” shops, where the wine and conversation flow and the brushes turn blank canvases into “masterpieces.” Consider these the 2.0 version of make-it-yourself pottery.

Pizza. It’s odd to think of pizza as a trend, but the evolution in fast-casual dining is boosting the popularity of specialty gourmet pizza establishments, including make-your-own places.

Vending. This has long been a popular avenue for those looking to start their own business, yet it has rarely been franchised, until recently. And there’s a 21st century twist—“healthy” vending, which offers non-junk-food lunch options in office building lobbies and cafeterias.

Spa Services. In just over a decade, the massage business has become one of franchising's most competitive areas, according to Entrepreneur. Other spa and beauty services, like waxing, threading, and spray tanning have expanded this business.

Property Management. While home ownership continues a slow improvement from the housing crash, the number of rental units on the market remains elevated. That means there is demand for franchise-style operations to manage those properties.

Senior Care. The U.S. population is skewing older as people live longer and more baby boomers transition into their golden years. This means growing demand for in-home care, as well as for patient advocacy and assisted-living placement.

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