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Care and commerce: a rewarding combination

care sector franchises

Running a care franchise offers rewards that will satisfy both your financial and emotional needs, writes Katie Shevlin 

 
If you want to own a business and create a secure financial future for yourself and your loved ones but feel you will need that extra emotional fulfilment, a care franchise may be perfect for you.
By offering both employment opportunities for people in your local community and the provision of high-quality care for the elderly or disabled, your business can be a platform for real change in your local area. As John Kirk, a Home Instead franchisee, so eloquently states in one of the following case studies, to run a care franchise you need a “caring heart and a commercial mind”.
Experience in the care sector is not a prerequisite to owning a franchise in the industry, but passion, drive and being a ‘people person’ is. Although initially the role will demand a more hands-on approach, the main responsibilities of a franchisee will revolve around business development and subsequent recruitment of office staff and caregivers.
As well as the usual benefits that come as part of franchisor support, such as help with marketing, admin and finances, the value of head office guidance increases significantly when you take into account the number of regulations and legal obstacles posed by a business in the care industry; the advantages of receiving assistance when navigating these areas of red tape cannot be overstated.
Here, three franchisees reveal the highs and lows of their journeys from employment to successful business owner.
 
 
SureCare
 
Keith Hume launched his SureCare franchise in Merseyside in late 2014 after identifying a gap in the region for a high-quality, innovative care provider. Chartered management accountant Keith was able to make the investment in the franchise after taking redundancy following more than 25 years working in the manufacturing industry.
  
What appealed to you about SureCare?
I was impressed by SureCare’s approach to developing and delivering care and home services. The company recognises that people’s requirements are changing all the time and that there is a need to provide a comprehensive range of services to meet those needs throughout life’s journey.
What kind of person do you think would suit a SureCare franchise?
The company is correct when it says you do not need to come from a care sector background – you just have to have a passion for business and the determination to make a success ofbeing your own boss.
How was the training and support from the franchisor?
I was impressed by SureCare’s support during my week-long induction and in the months since I opened for business in October last year. The company has an experienced management team who all have their own areas of expertise across CQC, OFSTED, sales, business development, marketing and manyother aspects involved in running a successful franchise.
We are also able to tap into the extensive knowledge of SureCare’s new owner and managing director Gary Farrer, who has previously built a thriving care business with a £5.5million turnover.
What are your plans for the future of the business?
As an accountant, one of the biggest attractions for me in deciding to buy a SureCare franchise was the opportunity to grow multiple revenue channels.
While many other care companies remain very traditional in their approach – perhaps focussing on domiciliary care or childcare – SureCare recognises the opportunity to provide people with the complete range of care and home services.
I am excited that I have the potential – with head office’s support – to offer everything from personal care andsupport for the elderly through to babysitting. We are also keen to provide a mobile crèche service at wedding venues in the area and, in due course, may even consider developing our own children’s nursery.
The opportunities for franchisees are almost endless and one of the things SureCare encourages us to do is tocome to them with any ideas or gaps for services that the company doesn’t currently provide. It is this can-do entrepreneurial spirit that appealed tome so much at the outset.
 
 
Home Instead Senior Care
 
John Kirk is the owner of the Swindon and Vale of White Horse franchise of Home Instead Senior Care. Prior to owning his franchise, John spent a full career in the Royal Air Force Regiment, retiring as a Wing Commander, then moving into food retail management before joining a large provider of premium residential and nursing care. His franchise opened for business in June 2012. 
 
What prompted your decision to look into franchising?
There were two strong points that inspired me to look at franchising. First was the knowledge that franchises are based upon replicating a proven business model. My experience over the last three years has shown that if you follow the model, the model works! Second was my understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses; the support from the franchisor enables me to concentrate on what I am good at and lean on the franchise – including the franchisee network – when I need help.
Why the care sector and why Home Instead in particular?
I had some experience of the sector and it was during my time serving seniors in residential and nursing care that I concluded there must be an alternative to a senior leaving their family home and memories behind with an often traumatic move into residential care. I found that such moves were frequently precipitated not by a need for the close support offered by residential care but rather by a constant struggle for seniors and their families to find and receive quality care in their own homes. This was particularly evident when families tried to find support in the home for people living with dementia. I knew that if we got the operation right, there would be huge demand for our service. Home Instead was the market leader, and its values resonated with my own.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Finding people who share our vision of changing the face of ageing through changing the face of caregiving. We need ordinary people to do an extraordinary job – in short we are looking for superheroes hidden in our midst! Our caregivers are the heartbeat of the business and we have found that often the very best have no previous experience. We hire for heart first and foremost and train them the ‘Home Instead way’. Our biggest challenge is to find enough of these special people every month in order to grow our service.
How is running your franchise rewarding?
There are many aspects of running my own franchise that I find rewarding. Growing a successful business where I have complete control over the investment decisions is a real change from corporate life. Watching the number of people that we employ increase month on month gives me huge personal satisfaction – we are not just having an impact on the lives of our clients but we also contribute to the local economy and provide employment for local people.
The impact upon the quality of life enjoyed by myself and my family also cannot be overestimated. Time spent in the business is time I choose to spend, for my future and that of my family.
What is a typical day like?
A typical day? There is no such thing! That’s what makes it so interesting and fun. In the early days, I was very much hands on and involved in every detailed decision. Now, I am blessed with a great team of managers and caregivers so I can delegate much of the day-to-day operations while focussing on strategic networking and opportunities to grow the service. Really owning my own calendar for the first time in my working life has been liberating. Every day is different but there is always joy to be found in our office, caregivers and clients.
What did the training you received involve and how have you found the ongoing support of the franchisor?
Initial training was comprehensive and the journey thereafter has been one of total support and encouragement. There’s a nice balance between visits to our offices from key members of the franchisor team and returning to national office for meetings and training. My business support manager has been first class and seems to understand intuitively how and when to offer the right support – be that through a quick email, phone call or visit. I have also been encouraged to actively reach out to other franchise owners who have made the journey ahead of me and from whom I can learn. I feel that we are consistently leading the market in respect of training and support and this gives me great confidence.
What type of person do you think a care franchise would suit?
A Home Instead Senior Care franchise demands a commitment on a number of levels – not just financial. It’s a truly relationship-based service where you are given the opportunity to make a difference to the lives of clients, their families and caregivers alike. It’s about people, so the emotional investment that you are prepared to make will determine the return that you receive. The value of the ‘second pay cheque’ – that deep emotional payoff, getting a buzz from having a positive impact on the life of a client through the service you provide – cannot be overestimated. I’ve often said that a Home Instead Senior Care franchise suits someone with a caring heart and a commercial mind, and these qualities need to be in balance. The right potential franchisee will know in their heart that they are a ‘Home Instead person’, but their head will tell them to check out the financials, do their due diligence and talk to as many existing owners as possible before committing. Meet the franchisor’s team and see whether their values align with yours.
What are your plans for the future of the business? Do you have any long-term goals?
I’d like to grow my franchise to be the home-care provider of choice for those seeking the best quality care in the Swindon and Vale of White Horse area.
Approaching three years in business, it’s still relatively early days but we’d like to be part of the Home Instead Senior Care revolution in care locally and nationally – both for our clients and our caregivers.
There is no doubt that the market is deep and growing but we need to get our community to forget what they ever thought they knew about care and join us in taking care at home to a new level.
 
Caremark
 
Richard Magrath runs Caremark North Down, Ards and Belfast with his wife Emily. Before investing in a franchise, Richard was involved in developing businesses across a range of different sectors. Emily worked for ActionCancer for 11 years as health promotion manager.
 
 How did you come to invest in a Caremark franchise?
We had to consider many factors when looking at the possibility of a family business. Emily leaving work and the obvious financial effect of her no longer receiving a guaranteed wage was an important point of consideration. Consequently, we looked at a number of different options and felt that the franchise route would give us a quicker path to success in whichever sector we chose to go into. Having decided that the franchise route was the best way to go and given the current financial climate, the next step was to try and find a sector that would be recession-proof. The care industry was the obvious choice, given that major changes in the way care was to be delivered were widely publicised.
After doing some research into care companies, Caremark stood out at an early stage. We then decided to go to The National Franchise Exhibition and set up a meeting to chat with them. We spoke to a number of care companies who were exhibiting there but felt that Caremark was the only company we would be happy with because their emphasis was on the quality of care delivery and not the profit.
Any other reasons for choosing the care sector?
Emily was very passionate about her previous work at Action Cancer. Naturally, it was important for her to be equally as passionate about her next career move and the care sector seemed to fit the bill.
We are both very involved in social action activities in our local community and the care sector matches our core values. It was a market in which we felt there was a real need and opportunity to raise the bar.
How have you found the franchisor’s training and support?
Having no experience of the care sector, the prospect of setting up and running the business was a daunting task. Emily attended the intensive two-week residential training course held at Caremark’s head office, which gave her the confidence and knowledge to implement the Caremark system successfully. We also have excellent ongoing support available through our regional support manager, whoworked very closely with us during our early days of set-up and is always at the end of a telephone or email. We also have monthly site visits, which are a great opportunity to review our business plans and discuss any issues we have.
How is business going so far?
Our business got off to a great start and after the first three months of trading we were well ahead of our projected target. We put this down to the good foundations and market research that we had in place and, more importantly, following and utilising Caremark’s great model.
What challenges have you faced on your business journey?
Our biggest challenge is the ongoing changes within the care sector in Northern Ireland, where there will be major changes to how care is commissioned in the near future. Understanding your chosen market is important in any business but especially so with care. That aside,we are enjoying the challenge of building a business in a sector new to us, supported by a great team.
Describe a typical day.
Each day is busy but never quite the same! It starts at home getting our three young boys ready for school or childcare. Every day in the office is different, we could be delivering a presentation to groups such as our local Probus club, meeting new clients or sorting out staff rotas. Whenwe first started we were very hands on but now that we have more staff in place we can concentrate on growing the business. Life is pretty full with a family to take care of as well, but we are very happy to put the hours in and see our business grow month on month.
What plans have you got for the future of your business?
Our plans are to continue to grow our Caremark business, whilst raising the bar in the quality and standard of care provided in our community. We want to become not only the care provider of choice but also a company at which people want to work.

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