How to Become a Franchisee After Age 50
There can be a stigma attached to over 50s, meaning some career options can be limited. A franchise is an attractive alternative.
The beauty of franchising is that franchisors like franchisees to stick to the proven model – their ‘old tricks’. The great thing about taking a franchise over the age of 50 is that the ‘old dog’ does not need to learn any new tricks. All he or she needs to do is follow the system as laid down by the franchisor.
Olderpreneurs in many respects are the preference when it comes to franchising. Faced with poor job prospects, over-50s account for the largest sector of those starting new franchises, and they are holding on to them longer as the average length of time that South African franchisees retain their franchise has increased to over ten years. In contrast, anyone in their 50s would know the frustration of job seeking –employers, though legally forbidden to discriminate by age when recruiting, appear to do so anyway. In this digital age, computer logarithms exclude their application based on age without anyone even reading their experience and qualifications.
The attraction of over-50s
Many over 50s have decades of productive life ahead of them, but many may not want to spend years learning new skills to establish a new career. Franchises offer aspiring entrepreneurs a proven business model, so they can get into business fast. Age can be an advantage: Over 50s will have a wealth of experience, especially if they have run a business, where they will have picked up a lot of knowledge, experience and contacts. In addition, many over 50s have financial resources available to them.
Don’t assume it’s too late
It used to be that when someone turned 55, he or she was considered on the slippery downhill slide towards retirement and death. But with improved health awareness today, 55 is the new 35. People in their 50s now realize they’ve got a lot left to offer in the ‘second half’ of their lives. Few people genuinely retire today: almost all have a sideline. It’s a standing joke today how many times an individual retires.
In fact, there’s a history of this dynamic in franchising: Ray Kroc was in his 50s when he started growing McDonald’s; Colonel Sanders was over 65 when he started KFC. Many franchisors routinely seek new franchisees who are over 55 for all the above reasons.
If you’re wondering whether franchises might be a good match for you as a mature franchisee, consider your alignment with the following elements of franchise success:
- Understanding the franchisee role. It’s important to know what you’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis. It may have little to do with delivering the product or service to the customer, since your focus may be on other management functions of the business. So remember that after years of having a boss, you’ll be in this role yourself, and need to be accept that responsibility.
- Take your energy levels into account. After spending years in the corporate world, you may be used to delegating many tasks, so you need to carefully consider whether you’ll be happy doing anything and everything from the CEO to the janitor, depending on the workflow at any moment.
- Putting your personal assets at risk. Most people have accumulated some assets by the time they’re in their mid-50s and may be unwilling to put those at risk. Carefully consider what sources you’re willing to use in financing your business – especially your retirement benefit.
- Being ready to learn: When people think that they are old, they can put up barriers to learning new skills. Running a business forces you to do new things, so you need to have the urge to learn new things – it keeps you mentally alert. But don’t treat a franchise as a way to ‘wind down’ into retirement. In the early days in particular, it takes a lot of hard graft to get a business off the ground, so you must be prepared to put in long hours at first.