In-home care and tutoring franchises suffered during the initial lockdown with government restrictions, but both sectors have innovated and come through the other side in a much stronger position than ever before.
Words by Raghav Patel, digital content writer at Global Franchise
In-home care and children’s tutoring have been mainstays of the international franchising industry for decades, creating strong, recognizable brands whose processes are easily replicated across multiple markets.
However, COVID-19 and the ensuing restrictions dealt a blow to both industries, with both temporarily going dormant for a while. It was an unsure period, with no knowledge when they can restart operations or whether it could be the end of the road.
Fortunately, the world of franchising is too resilient to take a permanent blow from a temporary situation. While in-home care franchises simply could not operate until local authorities allowed them to, a change took place amongst its potential customers, many of whom began to value the comfort of their homes. As a result, the home-care market is only going to grow in the future, paired with an aging population in the U.S.
Children’s education took a sizeable pause during the pandemic, but many tutoring franchises saw this as an opportunity. Whilst many already offered online tutoring, the pandemic saw reason to ramp those services up and put them on par with in-person tutoring.
In-home care franchising has been going strong for decades, providing the ideal method to scale up and provide much-needed services in underserved regions. The value of a trusted brand in this field is impossible to state strongly enough since it concerns the everyday wellbeing of our parents and grandparents.
During the first half 2020, whilst COVID numbers were skyrocketing, many of the positive cases came from care homes. This resulted in a boost in demand for in-home carers. Families were concerned about the safety of care homes for their elderly family members and instead, inquired about the practicality of in-home care.
SYNERGY HomeCare, despite the problems surrounding 2020, managed to sell more territories in 2020 than it did in 2019, indicating the shift in attitude and desire from senior citizens to shift care to in-home.
“Last year SYNERGY HomeCare earned recognition for being the fastest-growing home care franchise in the nation, having sold 38 territories. This was up 35 per cent over 2019,” said Charlie Young, CEO of SYNERGY HomeCare.
“So far in 2021, we have sold 31 territories which is up 34.7 per cent over the same time a year ago.”
The American population is aging. The number of Americans ages 65 and older will more than double over the next 40 years, reaching 80 million in 2040. The rise in popularity of in-home care with the rising aging population makes in-home care a future-proof franchise model in terms of customers available.
“The pandemic brought increased interest in-home care in several ways. The first was on the consumer side,” said Young.
“Aging in place was already a growing phenomenon that only grew during the pandemic. AARP, America’s leading non-profit focused on empowering the 50 plus population, reports that approximately 90 per cent of those 65 and older want to remain in their home as they age.”
Europe is aging too. In 2020 alone, 20.6 per cent of the European population was over 65, and 14.6 per cent of the European population is expected to be over 80 by 2100. Increased life expectancy and decreasing birth rates are contributing to this.
Even with Asia’s growing population, it has begun to age. After the working-age population peaked in 2015, it’s been steadily aging since for the world’s biggest and most populous continent.
“It’s demographics and opportunity. We have an aging society that recognizes the benefits of aging at home,” said Young.
“At the same time, as many begin to need care and assistance, we continuously see the burden falling on adult children who also have a desire to live their own lives, focus on their children and their careers. The demand is there and we expect it to continue to rise.
“We also have many caregivers recognizing the benefits of working 1:1 with clients with more schedule flexibility.”
The future of in-home care franchising is bright with a consistently growing customer base and shifts in culture and attitude that keep lending itself to in-home care, with more and more seniors foregoing the traditional idea of moving to an assisted living facility.
In-person to virtual tutoring
The in-home/in-person tutoring industry has always been a massive one, with parents trying to give their children every leg up they can afford during their formative schooling years. During the COVID-19-afflicted year of 2020, the global tutoring market was worth $123.8bn and is estimated to skyrocket to $201bn by 2026.
Much like in-home care franchises, in-home and center-based tutors were unable to function during the lockdown, which necessitated no non-essential contact between people who are not family members. However, unlike in-home care, it’s possible to provide the service using modern technology.
“We were affected mostly due to government-required closures or restrictions. Mathnasium@home allowed us to maintain service to our customers and dramatically mitigated the more dire circumstances experienced by restaurants, fitness centers, and other retail establishments,” said Shant Assarian, CEO of Mathnasium.
“Our customers were thrilled that they were able to continue Mathnasium in one way or another despite required closures or restrictions.”
It was not difficult either. Many schools around the world have begun integrating modern technologies into classrooms, so students and teachers alike are familiar with how it works. Nadine Molloy, a teacher at the Ardenne High School in Kingston, Jamaica spoke about how pain-free the shift to virtual was, and how students and teachers are becoming more adept and used to online platforms.
“The only difference between a student attending Mathnasium at our centers vs. through Mathnasium@home is that the student and instructor aren’t physically in the same place – everything else is the same,” said Assarian.
“The reason for this is that we are seeking to deliver math instruction at the highest quality using our methods and materials that have been proven highly effective over decades.
“This is a game-changer in the online education space – we are delivering high-quality, live instruction while maximizing convenience to families.”
This was even simpler for tutoring franchises, many of whom have offered online tutoring alongside its in-home service for years. The likes of Tutor Doctor saw this as an opportunity to significantly grow its customer base and be a part of a wider shift. It gave parents a sense of comfort that despite what is happening in the world, their children can still receive access to high-class educators and material.
Virtual tutoring is able to leverage the online platforms many educators have created, and also reduces costs of travel and materials for tutors. Online lessons also give franchisors the ability to learn from the data that comes from lessons and improve on them.
How did they manage during lockdown?
While there were small differences between every nation’s lockdown protocol, they were similar enough that attending school and visiting assisted living facilities were put to a stop. Children were spending time at home with no education and family members were unable to visit their loved ones, who were living in an increasingly dangerous environment.
Many in-home carers were unable to serve their patients due to building or local authority restrictions. While that did result in a dip in business, it was only temporary. Most are back to pre-pandemic levels.
In-home tutors had to suspend face-to-face activities in many regions as the restrictions didn’t allow them to continue offering their services. The few tutoring services that didn’t have a complementary online service found that they needed to very quickly build one and re-train tutors to work online. It was a steep learning curve, but many came through it with a new facet to their offering.
“We are above pre-pandemic levels and have been for several months. Our growth has rebounded to the impressive rates we’re historically known for and we foresee such growth rates to be sustained into the foreseeable future,” said Assarian.
Many schools were faced with having to pivot to online tutoring with little to no knowledge of how to build the platform, let alone complete it in a reasonable amount of time so students don’t go without their education for a lengthy period. Many turned to existing tutoring companies to help build those platforms.
The pandemic was a small blip
These industries were heavily impacted in 2020 by the COVID-19 global pandemic, and probably wondered if there was light at the end of the tunnel. Fortunately, there was plenty for both.
Care franchisors responded appropriately and felt the sentiment from their customer base, that they want more in-home care instead of living in assisted living facilities.
As a result, brands that were able to build their profile during the various lockdowns will forever benefit from being there for its customers during one of the world’s darkest periods. The growth of this industry will undoubtedly lead to more franchises setting up shop in this market.
Tutoring franchises responded even quicker with technology and have ended up permanently growing the virtual tutoring market. It isn’t likely to stop either, parents and children who have had positive experiences with online tutoring are likely to persist with it when there are no more restrictions as a way to augment education.
The pandemic damaged both industries, but they’ve emerged stronger from the other side, and are benefitting from the fact that their brands were able to serve their customers during one of the most difficult moments in modern history.