In 2012, we spoke with Chris Seman about his new position as president of Caring Transitions – a national franchise concept with more than 160 locations that provides older adults and their families with the support and services they need to transition to new living situations.
Four years later, we are circling back with Chris to discuss the rapidly increasing demand for Caring Transitions’ services throughout the country and the franchise’s rapid growth.
Franchise Chatter (FC): How do you explain the increasing demand for senior relocation and transition services provided by Caring Transitions and who are your typical clients?
Chris Seman (CS): Caring Transitions is a really timely solution to challenges faced by an aging population. Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated that by 2050 the number of people living in long-term care facilities will double.
As this trend plays out in every community in the United States, seniors and their children are faced with difficult issues that range from disposing of a lifetime of belongings to the logistics of the actual move.
The older segments of our population are increasing by the thousands every day. These new 65+ consumers need appropriate services to support their quality of life for the next 20 to 30 years. At the same time, their children are looking for advice and assistance with parent care issues.
Caring Transitions works with both types of clients. We are hired directly by older individuals who choose to make decisions independently and we are hired by “adult children” who want to show support for their parents, but can’t help as much as they’d like because they live too far away or have commitments to jobs or families of their own.
When the time comes and families are left to make difficult decisions about their parents’ homes and possessions, we are often called in as a skilled resource to help remove some of the emotional burden.
FC: What are your growth targets for 2016 and beyond?
CS: Caring Transitions continues to be a fast-growing franchise. Since I became president four years ago, the franchise has grown by 70 locations around the U.S. and sales have more than doubled. There has also been a dramatic increase in consumer revenue from $7 million in 2011 to $24 million in 2015. We project sales of $34 million in 2016.
We are in the process of expanding our executive relocation assistance programs and we have made strides toward expanding internationally to neighboring countries like Canada.
I’ve worked to share Caring Transitions’ strategy and vision with customers and partners nationwide. So thank you for giving me this opportunity to further share with your readers.
FC: What customer services does Caring Transitions provide?
CS: Caring Transitions is the only national enterprise that supports every aspect of making home transitions later in life, such as moving to a senior living community, relocating across the country or downsizing a home to age in place.
We provide three basic services – 1. Downsizing and decluttering, 2. Selling household goods through estate sales and online auctions, and 3. Move management services for anyone who is moving.
Our clients are typically older adults and families who are looking for help navigating major changes in lifestyle. We specialize in seniors, but support anyone who is considering a change in lifestyle.
Caring Transitions offers a complete menu of services to support older adults and their families, including planning, project management, move management, packing and unpacking, organizing, sorting and downsizing…plus easy, online estate sale services.
FC: When clients need to relocate, Caring Transitions helps with more than just the move. How exactly do you do that?
CS: Caring Transitions understands that when older clients relocate, it is more than just moving. They require skilled professionals who can support more than just their labor needs.
Our employees are security screened, trained and then certified so they are better qualified to help manage age-related issues such as chronic illness, dementia, hoarding, limited mobility or depression.
We are truly prepared to manage a project that includes stress, complex family dynamics and other unique concerns that overwhelm older consumers and their children.
As needed, Caring Transitions also provides professional referrals to support clients. We recognize that successful transitions involve a whole team of experts and so we have established relationships with national partners to help consumers save time and money on related services such as junk removal, shipping and storage.
With over 160 locations, the Caring Transitions network is able to support families around the country. Whether moving down the street or relocating from Ohio to Arizona, clients will always receive the same high quality and seamless service.
At Caring Transitions, our main goal is to take the emotion out of these difficult processes and expertly handle all the steps and procedures so families and clients don’t have to deal with them.
FC: What are Caring Transitions’ key strengths as a franchise?
CS: Caring Transitions offers an unmatched opportunity to help people in a caring environment, with the business guidance and regulatory freedom that position owners for success. The top business-related strengths that come to mind are:
- Growing market segment
- First and only national source of comprehensive downsizing, rightsizing and move management services
- Affordable cost of entry
- Still a young business where you can have an impact
- Step-by-step guidance
- Success strategies
- National cost savings owners can offer to clients
- Credentialing and instruction
- Industry-leading software
But for many of the entrepreneurs we work with, it’s about the opportunity to give back and help others while earning a living. Here are some of those strengths:
- Be rewarded with gratitude as well as profits
- Support older adults and their families
- Remove the threats posed by unscrupulous competitive vendors
- Provide a personalized experience
- Follow your calling!
FC: Can you describe your typical franchise owner? How does the home-based factor impact the demographics?
CS: Our franchise owners represent all walks of life, but our brand naturally attracts female prospects that transition to successful owners. Many women have personal experiences with parents that need to downsize and transition. I often hear our female franchise owners say that “joining Caring Transitions felt like I was coming into a family.” We find that women also want to give back through their business – a CT franchise offers daily opportunities to do that.
The last key factor is that our franchises are easy to manage from a home office, so the flexibility of working from home is a major plus according to our female owners. It’s all about flexibility and being a part of a franchise family – something that’s bigger than you.
We have about 112 franchises that are women owned and operated. This makes up about 64 percent of the Caring Transitions system.
A few examples of inspiring female business owners come to mind. Charlene and Stacy Blanton are a mother and daughter team based in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Carolyn Doer lost her husband and decided she needed her own financial security – owning a Caring Transitions franchise in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania has provided her with stability and sense of purpose.
Kim Peterson and Shelly Volden were soccer moms and after watching their kids play together for years, they launched a successful Caring Transitions franchise in Burnsville, Minnesota.
Jennifer Black is a mom of twins and was a stay-at-home mom before buying a franchise in Seattle, Washington. She still enjoys working from home and spending a lot of time with her twins.
FC: Does each franchise come with an exclusive territory?
CS: Each franchise comes with an exclusive territory that is defined with you as you go through the process. A main advantage of Caring Transitions is the breadth of clientele that potentially needs the services.
The main areas that we look at for locations are the number of seniors, the number of those facing disabilities, the divorce rate, and the relocation rate of the population. As you tie those numbers together, looking at the various economic segments in most of the country, we have found success in small and large communities.
FC: What training and marketing support do your franchisees receive?
CS: Our franchisees take part in a multi-platform training program. They receive guidance in a pre-training module that we call Jump Start, and then head into a five-day training program at our headquarters in Cincinnati that will give them a foundation in the services we offer.
From there, they will be assigned to an onsite training center where they will work with an existing franchisee to get real world experience that builds on the training they receive in Cincinnati.
The next stage of training involves detailed online webinars designed around delivering the services that they will need to provide.
Another key piece to the launch phase is having their assigned Franchise Business Consultant travel to their location after opening to help them with all aspects of the business – primarily networking and in-home consultations.
In addition, we provide other support, such as the National Accounts Program, which is a corporate initiative that develops relationships and alliances with organizations that can help drive clients to our locations.
FC: What’s the initial investment, royalty fees, and profit potential for a Caring Transitions franchise?
CS: Caring Transitions is an in-home business that operates on low overhead, as most of our marketing is not cost-based but time-based. This allows someone to get into the business for about $55K.
We then work with an owner based on their expenses to determine the capital they will need to achieve profitability based on their goals and timelines.
We believe that we have one of the fairest royalty structures in franchising, with a 5% royalty and a fixed contribution to the National Branding Fund of $250 a month.
We don’t provide earnings claims at this time, but let me tell you about Sherri Gillette, owner of Caring Transitions of Southern Arizona. After opening in late 2010, she was the first franchisee to hit one million dollars in gross revenue, and Sherri has been the top grossing franchisee for the last three years.
We strongly encourage our franchise candidates to discuss profits directly with current franchisees. We believe in the earnings potential of Caring Transitions as long as our potential franchisees are dedicated to the programs and systems in place.
FC: What future changes do you anticipate that may help make the downsizing and moving process more efficient for all of us?
CS: Clearly the need for support services continues to grow and Caring Transitions will keep expanding to meet that need. We are constantly developing new technology and new practices designed to help reduce the stress and expense our customers face. We have a state-of-the-art cost estimating technology that allows us to show consumers up front what their expenses and savings may be.
Caring Transitions also strives to offer more resources and information that will help caregivers make the moving process easier on older adults. We continue to work closely with our partners in senior living, real estate and family law to make the entire late-life moving process the best it can possibly be.
Providing solutions to help older adults and their families transition to new living situations is a passion and a calling. I love what I do and so do Caring Transitions franchise owners across the country.
For more information about Chris and Caring Transitions, visit their website.