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Senior Helpers unveils franchise opportunities

Friday, 4 February 2011 | By Michelle Hammond

Franchise veteran Paul Wheeler has reentered the industry by setting up an Australian branch of US-based aged care franchise Senior Helpers.


Wheeler, the creator of successful global franchise Cartridge World, has joined forces with his former managing director Mike Fuller to establish an international franchise consultancy.


Following the launch of their consultancy business Group 7 last year, the duo has announced its first master franchise deal with US group Senior Helpers. The business plans to open 12 franchises across the country in 2011.


Senior Helpers, an in-home aged care franchise, was established in the US in 2001 and now has more than 300 franchises.


The deal comes three years after Wheeler and co-founder Bryan Stokes sold down their share of Cartridge World for a reported $70 million.


After selling Cartridge World, Wheeler went into retirement but says he wanted to get back into the franchise industry because he “knew it and liked it”.


“I like to grow small businesses into franchise systems and I have an interest in bringing unique franchise systems into Australia,” he says.


“We researched about 14 different aged care franchises in the States, and undertook a study here in Australia.”


“The [aged care franchise] industry exists but it is really stagnant. There is a plethora of single- owner businesses but there is nothing Australia-wide.”


According to Wheeler, the statistics around aged care indicate the sector will experience phenomenal growth as a result of Australia’s ageing population, making in a highly lucrative industry.


“People are living longer. Once upon a time, no one reached 85 so there wasn’t the need for people to go into nursing homes like there is now,” he says.


“It’s also become apparent that elderly people want to stay in their homes… Senior Helpers is a fabulous business designed to help do just that by offering trained essential companion and personal services,” he says.


According to Wheeler, Senior Helpers franchisees are not carers but instead take on a HR role, employing carers to attend to clients in their homes.


He believes Senior Helpers will be an attractive business proposition for potential franchisees in Australia and is hoping to establish 12 franchises across the country this year.


The first Australian Senior Helpers franchise is being launched in Adelaide next week, and Wheeler says other parties have already expressed interest.


The turnkey cost for a Senior Helpers franchise is between $75,000 and $85,000, which includes $25,000 of working capital.


Franchisees and carers are also provided with ongoing training and business development, which means they don’t have to come from a background in aged care or be of a certain age.


“A marketing-oriented person [would make an ideal franchisee] – someone who is outgoing. I’ve met a lot of people involved in aged care and they’re all ages,” Wheeler says.


He says clients are typically drawn to an aged care franchise model because they know and trust the brand.


According to Wheeler, the company’s ultimate goal is to establish between 75 and 100 Senior Helpers franchises in Australia and New Zealand.