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After Seeing Her Mother Take on Role of Caregiver When Her Father Got Sick, Local Insurance IT Industry Expert Opens First Seniors Helping Seniors in Lancaster

Kim Harris saw firsthand the struggle her mother had when she became the primary caregiver for her aging father. After he rejected young caregivers, Harris began to think matching him with someone with more life experience would have been a better solution. Now, she opened Seniors Helping Seniors in Lancaster so no one else’s family has to go through what hers did.

By 1851 Staff1851 Staff Contributions
Updated 3:15PM 04/24/23

Kim Harris has wanted to own her own business since the early 2000s. She always kept a pulse on the in-home senior care industry as she wanted to open a business that would have a positive impact on the local community. While raising four young children, however, she did not have the time or the resources to pursue that dream. Her passion for the in-home senior care industry only grew when she saw her mother become a caregiver for her father after he fell ill. Harris and her mother went to a senior care agency but were disappointed when they kept sending caregivers in their 20s who were not empathetic to her father or his needs. Now, Harris has decided to make sure no one in her local community feels that way again as she opens the first Seniors Helping Seniors location in Lancaster. Seniors Helping Seniors is an international senior care concept that prioritizes hiring mature adults to take care of their less active counterparts.

Harris will open Lancaster’s first location this month and hire at least 25 caregivers this year with plans to expand across Ohio in the future.

1851: What did you do before franchising?

Kim Harris: My husband, Dale, and I relocated to Columbus over 30 years ago, which is around the same time I began working for a Fortune 100 insurance company. For 32 years I worked in the IT industry in various roles, the most recent as an engineering manager where I led a team of engineers who support collaboration tools for the company. The vast majority of my career has been supporting others.

I learned a lot about myself and how I work during my time in the IT industry. I really enjoyed supporting and helping others; the satisfaction I received from improving associates’ day-to-day work life was the highlight of my day. However, many years ago, I began to feel like I wasn’t contributing to the greater good of the community with my work in corporate America. I spent hours and hours in the office on top of a long commute and began to think of ways my time could be better spent. I always wanted to own my own business that would have the positive impact I was looking for, but with raising children, I didn’t know if leaving my steady job was feasible. Now, my four children are older and I began to get the itch to open my own business to help others in my community and had the time and resources to do so.

1851: How long from the first time you learned about franchising until you inquired on the franchisor’s website?

Harris: I began to research franchise opportunities in the early 2000s. However, it wasn’t until 2021 that I took a serious look at my options. I was introduced to Seniors Helping Seniors through a franchise consultant and immediately checked out their website followed by an initial call with a company representative.

1851: How did you perform your research/due diligence?

Harris: I researched not only the brands I was considering but I also weighed my own personality and skill sets to see what type of business I would be most successful in. I participated in a survey to see if I would qualify as a “good franchise owner” and received high results as I am task-oriented, motivated, and can follow directions efficiently. I then performed research on the brands through Google, their websites, and talking with corporate team members.

I also worked with a franchise consultant who brought me concepts that aligned with my checklist. My requirements were that the concept had to provide an essential service or product and have a positive impact on people. 

1851: How many brands did you look at? 

Harris: I seriously looked at 5 brands. I did consider going into the food and restaurant industry for a while before discounting it due to the large investment and overhead it required. 

1851: What made you say yes to Seniors Helping Seniors? 

Harris: While analyzing what brand was the best fit for me, I had a few requirements; it had to be a scalable concept with the ability to grow a team of qualified employees. Seniors Helping Seniors stood out immediately.

During the end of my father’s life, my mom took care of him 24/7, and over that time, I saw him become a burden for her. I remember encouraging her to find someone to help him with tasks such as getting ready in the morning so she would have time for herself but she found a lot of difficulties finding a caregiver that was a fit. My dad rejected the younger caregiver that we found for him because they had nothing in common and it was hard for them to relate to each other. I saw firsthand how difficult it was for my mom and I thought it was too bad that the agency didn’t try to find a caregiver that was a better fit for my family.

In-home senior care has always been of interest to me, and years ago, when I began to play with the idea of starting my own business, I continuously thought about how we hire young caregivers to take care of aging adults. 20-something-year-olds with little life experience do not have as much empathy for older adults. They struggle to relate and this leads to a lot of turnover which soured me a bit on pursuing a business in this industry. When I discovered Seniors Helping Seniors, I saw that the concept targets mature adults to become caregivers which I thought was such a smart idea. We’re able to provide employment opportunities for older adults who are more likely to stay with the business long term and care for our clients empathetically. 

1851: What could have scared you away? 

Harris: Risk of the unknown. Leaving behind a comfortable position with a secure company to start my own business is frightening. I am, however, a person of faith and trust in God’s leadership. It was clear to me that I was at a crossroads, I could continue in the same job for another 10 years until full retirement or take a leap of faith and provide a valuable service to the seniors in my community. Through the discovery process, it became increasingly clear that this is the direction God wants for me and my family.

Fear has been replaced with excitement as I have confidence in the Seniors Helping Seniors concept and in the strength of the brand.

1851: What makes you stand out as a unique business owner in the local community?

Harris: I have firsthand experience in helping older adults at home throughout the pandemic. Now that I have a better idea of what their needs are, whether companionship or errand running, I’m much more empathetic and think more about how I can help improve their quality of life. I’m thrilled to be opening three Seniors Helping Seniors territories throughout my local community. Not only is it a proven business model, but the concept truly makes a difference.

I have a large group of friends, and many are entering the stage of life where they are retired and looking for meaningful part-time work or have loved ones who need additional assistance in order to age safely at home. When I shared with people in the community that I was going to bring Seniors Helping Seniors to the market, I received a 100% response that there was a need for this service in the area.

What do you hope to achieve with your business? Plans for growth? 

Harris: I own two other territories for Seniors Helping Seniors other than the Lancaster and Circleville areas. I would like to grow to 50 caregivers over the next 2 years. We are just getting started with our interviewing process and hope to have at least 5 caregivers hired in April.

What do you do in your personal time?

Harris: My husband and I have been married for 32 years and have four children, three adults and the youngest is a junior in high school. As a family, we enjoy vacationing together at the beach, whitewater rafting, and hiking. Plus, we all enjoy dance and theater, whether on stage or in the audience.  We’ve been active members of the same large non-denominational church for over 20 years serving in a variety of ways.  Currently, my husband and I each lead a small group. 

What is the one thing about your story that you want us to know?

Harris: Everyone knows of someone who is caring for a loved one. In many cases, these caregivers are in the sandwich generation, caring for both young children and aging parents which places a heavy burden on families. As a problem-solver by nature, I can see how providing respite care for an aging parent will have a positive impact on the whole family. Pairing an active, caring senior with the aging parent will not only develop a new relationship but will also bring relief for the family from day-to-day tasks, allowing them to enjoy their loved ones in this important phase of life.