Laura Baggott, Franchise Recruitment Executive at Bluebird Care, discusses some of the questions raised by potential franchise owners
Q. What does Bluebird Care do?
Laura Baggott: We provide care to people in their own homes. The care varies from helping people get out of bed, personal care, making meals, shopping, washing...basically everyday things that people need to stay safely in their own home.
Q. So who does Bluebird Care actually provide care to?
LB: Our customers are not just older people as many believe. We also provide care for those with physical or learning disabilities of any age. Some of our franchise owners are expanding into the area of child care too. Our business is all about offering a realistic alternative to residential care.
Q. Does this mean your franchise owners need to have care experience?
LB: No, far from it. The vast majority of our fast-growing franchise network have no care experience and come from a wide variety of backgrounds. We seek skills and experience relevant to running your own business more than care experience. Very interestingly, the success our franchise owners have is not connected to their background.
Q. What do you look for in your franchise owners?
LB: We are very much a people business so we seek franchise owners with people skills and good communication skills. Clearly they need to have an empathy with the care sector but a number of our franchise owners have come into the business after personal experience of finding care for a relative and not being impressed with what they have found. They also need to have real passion and determination to be successful.
Q. What makes this business attractive to potential franchise owners?
LB: When potential franchise owners look at growth areas of the economy sooner or later they will find care - we provide a service that people actually need, not just what they want! We estimate the market to be some £20 billion annually and growing. Our franchise owners' businesses are growing well, with a number showing phenomenal growth and excellent profitability in a short space of time. A major strength of our business is repeat business - once you start providing care to someone their need for care does not go away and can often increase.
Q. There are a number of franchises in this sector. What makes Bluebird Care different?
LB: Let me give you two main reasons. Firstly, experience. Bluebird Care's Managing Director Paul Tarsey has been operating in the provision of care since the early '90s, while Franchise'Director Simon Dalziel brings 20 years of experience in the franchise sector having previously developed two successful franchise networks, including one in the home care sector.
Franchise owners know they are joining a company where the Directors have the experience of having run franchise businesses and care businesses before. People ask why are we so successful. It is because our franchise owners are learning from our vast experience and they are translating this experience into their own success. We very much have an ethos of business partnership with our franchise owners.
Secondly, Bluebird Care is a business model designed for the 21st century and we update the business model as the market changes and diversifies. Many care businesses are operating with outdated business models.
Q. How big can a franchise owner's business grow?
LB: I genuinely believe that business growth is limited only by our franchise owners' ambition. We are seeing franchise owners' businesses growing faster than the original pilot scheme, which itself is a successful business. The Bluebird Care business model has now been proven to work in all parts of the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The model is very profitable and we are seeing franchise owners who expect to reach the magic £1 million turnover within three years of starting their business.
Q. What support does Bluebird Care provide?
LB: We see this as the most important role we have as a franchisor. We have a very experienced team here so we can support our franchise owners in all aspects of their business. The initial start up phase is vital to get right, as it means we will help our franchise owners get up and running as soon as possible and then once they are trading we will support in sales and marketing, staffing issues, care issues - basically anything our franchise owners need help with. We work in a regulated environment as well, so a key role we play is to ensure our franchise owners' businesses meet any legislation changes, etc.
Q. Can you tell us about the new marketing initiative with Boots?
LB: We are very excited by this development! Each of our offices is now working closely with their local Boots stores to help customers take their medication safely at home. In turn we now have marketing opportunities within each Boots store, giving customers the comfort of knowing they can have care from a company they can trust.
Q. Finally, how do you see the future for Bluebird Care?
LB: We are very optimistic about the future as the market continues to grow. Our franchise network is now at 50 territories and as we grow we are seeing plenty of opportunities - our working relationship with Boots is a good example of how we are now viewed in the UK and Ireland. Bluebird Care provides a high quality care service and offers proven and profitable business opportunities to franchise owners.