From matron to franchisee

A former mental health nurse and matron has formed a successful homecare franchise after choosing Caremark for her foray into self-employment. Jane Denny reports

Former matron Sue Hills has built her Caremark franchise into a business with an annual turnover of £1.5m in less than four years. Sue’s business covers a large area in mid-Sussex, which she runs from her office in Haywards Heath.

Sue was a Registered Mental Health Nurse before becoming a manager within the Community Mental Health Team and moving towards inpatient services.
Although Sue knew she wanted to run her own business, she had limited business experience so sought a franchise venture that had the maximum chance of success. She recalls: “The idea of being part of a community of other franchisees was appealing as I knew I would always have someone to talk to. My background was in health and social care and therefore the combination of this experience and franchising seemed to offer the perfect match.” She was inspired by CEO Kevin Lewis’ ownership of a previously successful homecare brand and realised the pair had a great deal in common. “I learned that I was very entrepreneurial and I now apply this talent to develop my business – keeping to the system of course.” She said her venture has exceeded her expectations.

“I earn more than I ever have before and work less hours – what more could I ask for?” Sue said her Caremark franchise does not depend upon her “own man hours”, which was key for her. She added: “I knew that I wanted a business that would not require me to be present at all times and that was not dependent on my ‘time’ for ‘money’.” In her position at the helm, Sue has built up an excellent network of staff based on three tenets she considers vital to her business – “initiative, passion and most importantly loyalty.” Sue said she has been able to allow her staff to get on with the day-to-day business while she stands back. “I could virtually retire but I would be bored,” she commented. However, at least this gives her time to put her mind to other opportunities.She attends business group meetings and is inspired by those building successful companies around her. “I do not see attending these as ‘work’. I read a lot of personal development books as well as attending seminars and workshops.”

Sue finds plenty of time to turn her talents to other endeavours. Having gained valuable insight into the world of franchising, Sue is happy to admit that she would do things slightly differently were she given her time over again. “I would have sought more support around the financial aspects of running a business from the beginning, especially regarding cash flow. The saying ‘cash is king’ is so true! Overall, I am very happy with how I have developed the business to where it is today.”

She has just finished writing an eBook about franchising and is about to write another. Sue, who is 55, also undertook the Anthony Robbins ‘firewalk’ last year – walking over burning hot coals and emerging unscathed.