Anatomy of a career switch at age 60

Like millions of Americans, Richard Kerr suffered an economic blow in 2008. The commercial real estate pro had 30 years invested in a career he believed would be his last. Then the California real estate industry tanked. He had to take action — sooner rather than later.

“It was tough, especially in the beginning,” Kerr says. “I was forced to leave a career that was my passion. At one point I lost over $1 million in accounts in one month.”

Kerr did something he never would have imagined – he considered franchising as a career.  Working with Cari Vinci, president of FranNet West, Kerr launched the process of choosing a franchise. He describes it as life-changing, invigorating and revealing.

“I went through a period of soul searching, prayer and circulating around through networking,” Kerr says. “This is where Cari comes in. She hit a chord with me from the very fist meeting. When it comes down to it, I decided that there are still things I want to do. At 60, I just didn’t think I was done yet, so I began looking for another industry, a new career.”

Kerr responded well to the FranNet coaching process because it gave him time to discover new things about himself – preferences, skills and risk tolerance among them. The personal assessment and evaluation phases were eye-openers.

“We took the time to really nail my skills down,” Kerr continues. “In commercial real estate, I had to embrace and understand long-range planning. I learned how to network extensively with people who don’t share my vision. I often had to navigate complicated land, use regulations and deal with re-zoning. The process can take a long time – years. I also learned how to interface with bureaucrats, push through setbacks and assess a complicated situation for risks and opportunities.”

Like many Baby Boomers and career switchers that seek help from FranNet, Kerr possessed a powerful arsenal of transferable skills. Identifying them and applying them was a challenge, but ultimately “very interesting – and very gratifying,” Kerr says.

During the FranNet coaching process Kerr identified a key – and somewhat unusual – aspect of his personality. He thrives best in an environment with complex challenges. He actually wanted a franchise with high barriers to entry. After several months of coaching and planning, he purchased an urgent care franchise.

“It’s a challenging sector with a lot of regulations, but I believe it can really make a big impact and help a lot of people,” Kerr says. “I now have the ability to employ and mentor a lot of young people right out of school, as well as the ability to impact my local community – not just consumers but employers. If the patients at my urgent care franchises thrive and recover quickly, then it’s going to help everyone. I believe the urgent care model can, in many cases, perform better than traditional models of health care.”

Millions of Americans still find themselves in circumstances similar to Kerr’s. According to a recent article in Smart Money magazine, franchising is seeing a steady spike among people 51 and older. For example, a recent West Coast Franchise Expo saw a six percent increase in attendance from Baby Boomers.  “And they are not just browsing,” the article says. “A sample of Great Clips hair salons showed that its franchise owners over 50 had increased more than 15 percent in the last year.”

Mid-career and late-career professionals over 50 are loaded to the hilt with skills and talents. They need or want a new arena for them. Sound familiar?

About the Author: Jania Bailey is President and COO of FranNet (www.frannet.com) and author of “Thriving – The Journey to Success in the Business World.”  FranNet is North America’s most respected leader in matching individuals with franchise opportunities. Based in Louisville, Ky., FranNet has more than 80 consultants across North America who use a proprietary profiling and consultative process to determine a business model unique to each client’s goals, skill sets and interests, and have matched thousands of entrepreneurs to rewarding small business opportunities.  Recognized by INC magazine as one of the top 500 fastest growing private companies in America in 2011 and 2010, this year marks the 25th anniversary for FranNet.

Jenni Proctor

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