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A worthwhile endeavour - the care sector

The care sector

The care sector is a hugely appealing choice for franchising because it is not only a reliable market, but one that involves delivering a valuable service to the community, says Katie Shevlin

 With the average person in the UK now living to 80 years of age, and this life expectancy only set to increase, many prospective franchisees are opting for a business in the care sector because of the growing demand for services. The realisation of this demand and the desire to cater for it is often a result of encountering the need for quality care first hand.

Trevor Brocklebank set up his Home Instead Senior Care franchise after finding it difficult to get the right type of home care for his grandfather. He comments: “Many of our franchisees have had personal experiences of finding care or looking after a loved one, so they both understand and want to provide care as it should be.”

A passion for maintaining a high standard of care services is an important quality in a prospective franchisee, although a background in care is not essential. As Trevor explains: “Our franchisees don’t have to have experience working in the care sector … they will employ a qualified care manager to coordinate their services.”

One of the most attractive benefits of this business model is that it comes with all the experience of the franchisor, something that can be utilised to avoid the teething problems inherent in setting up an independent business. This is particularly relevant within the care sector, as the franchisor will be able to offer guidance through the minefield of regulations and procedures intrinsic to a business built around care – much easier than going it alone.

As well as owning a successful, financially rewarding business, the personal rewards to be had from working in the care sector, such as the opportunity to make a difference, undoubtedly provide franchisees with a large amount of job satisfaction.

Here, five franchisees explain why they chose to invest in the care sector.


Jill Adams launched her SureCare franchise after an extensive background in the care industry. For the past 12 years, Jill has run her franchise in Exeter and East Devon.

Why did you decide to start your own business?
I had worked in the care industry for the best part of 20 years and, as a care manager for North Hertfordshire District Council, was responsible for 24 sheltered schemes and 120 staff.

When I moved to Devon, I became interested in running my own business and considered different options before deciding on a SureCare franchise.

Why did franchising appeal to you?
The franchise model appealed to me because you do not have to reinvent the wheel. I was able to take advantage of policies and procedures already in place and the company kept me up to date with new regulations and changes to the law. When I launched the franchise in 2001, we were regulated by the local social services rather than the Care Quality Commission (CQC), as we are today.

What is a typical day for the franchise?
Together with my very good team, I am responsible for the day-to-day running of the franchise. Because of our rural farm location, there is no such thing as a 15- or 30-minute visit – we don’t carry out any visits of less than an hour. We only provide care services to older people and adults with disabilities, learning difficulties or brain injuries. A lot of the time, we are enabling family carers to have a break, maybe the chance to meet friends or play a bit of golf. Operating a franchise is a way of life and although it is not a nine to five job, it can be a very rewarding existence. Running a farm and a care franchise are similar in that both are a seven-days-a-week business.

What has been your biggest challenge?
Recruiting good people is undoubtedly the hardest, but also the most important, part of running any business. I have deliberately stayed small – there are 20 of us – and have been very fortunate with many of the people I have employed.

What advice would you give people considering investing in a franchise?
Make sure you have the capital to invest and grow your franchise business, and don’t expect returns straightaway – it takes time to build any business. It is also important to make yourself take regular breaks in order to stay fresh and have the energy to develop and grow your business.

What aspect of running a franchise has given you the most satisfaction?
I have enjoyed running my SureCare franchise over the past 12 years; I have a good team and I know our clients very well. We offer a valuable service and it is very satisfying to know that we are making a difference to people’s lives.

Home Instead

Param Toor owns Home Instead Senior Care Wolverhampton and Kingswinford. Param had always worked in the financial services sector until he set up his Home Instead Senior Care franchise in 2011.

What attracted you to owning a franchise business?
I now know there is nothing like being your own boss. Franchising provides the benefits of owning your own business with the security of knowing that you are working to a tried-and-tested business model. Having never run a business before, I was attracted to the fact that the risk of failure is dramatically reduced compared to an independent start-up. Being part of a ‘family’ also takes away a lot of the isolation you feel if you are setting up a business on your own. Support and advice is always at hand from both the franchisor and the other franchisees, which is really valuable as it is based upon their real-life experiences.

Why did you choose a franchise in the care sector?
My reasons were simple. Firstly, I wanted a business that would be fulfilling and rewarding and one that would make a difference to the lives of older people in my community. Having worked in the financial sector for over 27 years, I also wanted to do something completely different.

What are the benefits and challenges of working in the care sector?
As I mentioned before, it is a very rewarding and fulfilling sector to work in, both from a financial and personal perspective. The changes my caregivers have made to the lives of our clients is a joy to see and makes it all worthwhile. Our standards are high and so getting care staff can be a challenge, but at Home Instead we are trying to change the perception of being a carer by focussing on training and providing a career in the industry.

Describe a typical day.
The nature of our business means there isn’t really a typical day. When I first started, I was hands-on with everything, which is typical of a new business. As we have become more and more established, I am able to step back from the day-to-day activities. I have built a very good team around me who take care both of our clients and our caregivers; care is at the heart of our daily working life. A typical day for me would involve getting out and about in the community to raise the profile of my business and make the phone ring.

How have you found the training and support from your franchisor?
The training and support has been exactly as promised, which is unsurprising as Home Instead was recently named the Smith & Henderson ‘Best Franchise’, with five-star satisfaction from its franchisees. I was given the initial grounding that I needed and, since then, there has always been someone to help me when I need it, either on the phone or visiting the office. Home Instead are passionate about training, providing business updates, information regarding care sector changes as well as dementia training for our caregivers. You are supported on an ongoing basis and there’s plenty of opportunities for meetings and conferences.

What are your plans for the future?
Due to the ageing population, the business will continue to grow. Our focus is on quality not quantity, which means that I have never advocated ‘overtrading’ – it is not what we are about and could have an adverse effect on our bid for excellence. We look for steady growth to achieve a strong and sustainable business, as we are in this for the long term.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a franchise in the care sector?
Make sure you do your research carefully and have a very clear vision of how you want to deliver your services, making sure that the franchise you are considering matches that ethos. Choose a franchise with a tried-and-tested business model. You may be tempted to do your own thing when things are perhaps not going quite to plan but don’t – it will work out. Business plans can be wordy and onerous. Mine is simple; it’s about cause and effect. Don’t chase the money; focus instead on offering a great service (the cause) and the money will follow as a natural consequence of the reputation for excellence that has been built (the effect).


Sue Hills’ Caremark franchise covers the Mid-Sussex territory. Prior to running her franchise, Sue enjoyed a varied career that has included working in sales on a monthly women’s magazine, nursing and owning a part-time girls’ pamper-party franchise business – which she then sold to her franchise partners.

What made you decide to look into running a franchise?
I wanted to run my own business and for it to have the maximum possible chance of success. The idea of being part of a community of other franchisees was appealing, as I knew I would always have someone to talk to. Having run a couple of businesses prior to my Caremark franchise, I knew how lonely it could get!

What made you decide on a Caremark franchise in particular?
I liked the idea that Kevin Lewis (CEO) had previously owned a successful homecare business; his knowledge and experience was invaluable. My background was in health and social care – the combination of this and the franchise model seemed to offer the perfect match.

What has been your greatest franchising achievement?
Building the business from a zero turnover to in excess of £1.5million within four years. I learned that I was very entrepreneurial, and I now apply this talent to develop my business – keeping to the system of course! I was able to offer my long-time manager the opportunity of joining me as a franchisee – I believe we make the perfect couple!

Has running your own business met with your expectations?
I would say that it has exceeded my expectations. I earn more now than I ever did before and work fewer hours – what more could I ask for!

Would you do anything differently?
Yes, I would have sought more support around the financial aspects of running a business from the beginning, especially regarding cashflow. Overall, I am very happy with how I have developed the business to the point it is at today.

Why did you choose a franchise in the care sector?
There were a number of reasons. One, I already had care experience having worked for a health and social care trust for many years as a nurse and a senior manager. Two, I wanted a business that had scalability and would offer a good return on investment. Three, I wanted a business that did not depend on me being present all of the time. The care sector met these needs.

What are the benefits and challenges of working in the care sector?
The main benefit to me is obvious – being able to make a difference to vulnerable people’s lives. We care for and support a wide variety of different customers including children, adults with learning difficulties and mental health issues, older adults and end-of-life patients. The main challenge is being able to recruit staff that really buy into our vision and view social care as a career rather than just a job. You also need to be able to communicate effectively with a wide range of people from social services, private customers, families and, of course, your staff.


Sai Visakan is the Bluebird Care franchisee for Hounslow and has been trading since February 2013. With a head for business and a heart for care, Sai is taking homecare in Hounslow to new heights.

What was your previous occupation?
I worked in the IT sector and as a business development manager in the oil industry, so I knew the layers of politics often involved with many corporate giants. I always wanted to be my own boss and delve into something that I was truly passionate about and would fit with my skillset.

What appealed to you most about Bluebird Care?
With in-house training and an invaluable supportive network, Bluebird Care provided me with confidence, and the expertise enabled my business to not merely grow but to flourish.

What training did you receive?
An initial franchise owner course, which was incredibly useful and gave me a realistic expectation of what was to come.

What type of ongoing support have you received?
In addition to head office support and the support of the regional business development manager, the advice of neighbouring offices has been invaluable to my team and me. We often have regional meetings and annual meet-ups so that all Bluebird Care franchise owners can meet each other and share best practice. Furthermore, my wife Rini advises and supports me in the marketing side of the business.

What do you enjoy most about your business? How has it improved your lifestyle?
I enjoy seeing the smiles on the faces of our customers – genuine expressions of thanks and gratitude towards my carers who do an amazing job. Being able to treat my employees the way that I would like to be treated and creating a work ethic to be proud of has given me the greatest job satisfaction.

Briefly outline your day-to-day role.
I hold initial meetings with staff in the office and the rest of the day I will be out marketing the business.

What are your plans for the future?
We are looking to expand our business by diversification into different specialist services including childcare services and developing our live-in care packages.

What sort of person do you think the franchise would suit?
The ideal person needs to have a passion for care, be self-motivated and an exceptional communicator and leader.


Shavina Patel runs her Availl franchise in Hillingdon and Harrow. Before franchising, Shavina worked for seven years as a dietician for the NHS.

What attracted you to franchising?
I wanted a career change. I had worked in the NHS for around seven years and felt that, although I assisted with patients’ diets, I wanted to offer clients a wider range of care services. I also sought the flexibility of running my own business.

What are the benefits and challenges of working in the care sector?
There are so many benefits to working in the care sector, predominantly making a difference to people’s lives and the rewards that this brings. I am constantly learning, which I definitely see as a benefit!
There are challenges but I see this as a positive because I strive to overcome them. With the amount of guidelines and policies that must be adhered to in this sector, making a quick change is out of the question, but I have the franchise team to call upon for assistance.
At all times, I endeavour to provide the best level of care and when I receive testimonials from clients, all the hard work is worth it.

Describe a typical day. 
Working in the care industry means that every day is different. I am on-call 24/7 so I can receive calls throughout the night and early morning from carers and clients, meaning my day can start extremely early! The office opens at 8.45am and a typical day can vary from talking to social services, clients and staff to training new carers and attending meetings. In between these activities, I catch up on emails and ensure that all care shifts are filled. As a care agency, I have to be quick thinking when new shifts are phoned in. I know every member of my team well and this means I can match each client with a suitable carer. The office closes at 5.30pm, after which all calls are directed to my mobile. An average evening running the franchise consists of answering the phone and catching up on new training and guidelines.

How have you found the training and support from your franchisor?
The support from the Availl franchise team has been brilliant; they are available 24 hours a day either on email or over the phone. The initial training I received was very good, the franchise team spent time within my branch to ensure that everything was running smoothly.

What are your plans for the future of the business?
My branch has just turned six months old so I am always working to increase the amount of care we provide. I want Availl to be known as the number one care agency in Hillingdon and Harrow and I am constantly marketing to increase the Availl presence in my area.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a care franchise?
The franchisor needs to offer a high level of training and support to ensure that you will have an understanding of all the care requirements you have to meet. Ask the franchisor if they have all relevant policies and procedures in place so that you will be able to start running a successful business from day one. 

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