Facing redundancy? Consider franchising

Redundancy is a word that unfortunately most of us now hear a lot of. With redundancy on the rise, we should see it as the window to opportunity

Redundancy is not a word that most of us wish to hear during our careers. For many it can mean the end of a particular professional path, with all the years of effort and experience that goes with it. Yet, being made redundant brings new opportunities and possibilities. Perhaps if you have been in a particular industry working as an employee over a number of years, you would not automatically consider looking at a career in franchising, let alone buying a franchise in the care sector.

However, as an industry, care is attracting the attention of many – those who are forced to re-consider their future career because of redundancy, as well as entrepreneurs looking for a great business opportunity. For some, buying a care franchise is a rather a question of changing horses and spending their working life doing something which will bring personal rewards, not just financial success.

In today’s uncertain economy, this sector of the market is proving resilient and is increasingly attractive to investors. The current need for quality care and support services across all sectors of society has never been greater. Caremark franchisees operate in a total social care market worth in excess of £20 billion per annum, one that is expanding as more individuals requiring care and support choose to remain living in their own homes. Industries may come and go, but there is one thing for sure – the care industry is well and truly here to stay.

Reflecting on the care industry, Caremark Franchise Manager, Patrick Thompson, comments: “This is a time of austerity, but this is also a resilient market place, where cautious public and private spending brings opportunity to provide new, innovative, person-centred services which are cost effective while maintaining our high quality.”

This fact did not escape the attention of two professionals who were previously working in social care and found themselves facing redundancy. Helan Graham and Stephanie Doherty found themselves having to re-think their future careers and decide ‘where next?’

Following extensive research, they chose to leave the relative safety of future employment and take the plunge into the world of business. However, starting a business in today’s uncertain economy is not without significant risk. Statistics show that businesses often fail within the first 18 months of opening. With this in mind, Helan and Stephanie realised franchising seemed to be the wisest route to go and would provide them with a degree of security, which ‘going it alone’ would not necessarily deliver. Their natural inclination was to look at buying a care franchise and having experience in the social care field, both knew that there would be very real benefits to being part of a franchise in this industry, rather than start out alone and from scratch. The legislation in the care sector is complex and having an experienced franchisor guide you through these complexities is preferable. Happily, their combined skills and previous professional contacts placed them in a great position for maintaining associations and forging new ones having spent a number of years working for a local authority.

The principle benefit of buying a franchise from a respected franchisor is that one buys a proven model and operating system. “We have bought a system which we follow and which works, and once you have put the business together in the right way, you can then enjoy running it and reaping the rewards of all that hard work,” says Franchisee of the Year 2012, Graham Precious of Caremark (East Riding).

While being two skilled professionals within their own field, Helan and Stephanie were under no illusion that running a business was going to be simple. This was an area in which neither had much knowledge. For Caremark franchisees, the first part of their business journey starts with receiving significant and intensive initial training, which is designed to comprehensively cover the delivery of the service and all aspects of business development. This is further underpinned by ongoing support from their dedicated Regional Support Manager out in the field, as well as having access to a wealth of experience and skills at the office based support team. Being part of a respected brand is an important element for franchisees, giving them the security of knowing that their investment is unlikely to vaporise overnight through attaching themselves to an inexperienced franchisor.

Helan and Stephanie reflected on what brought them to Caremark in 2011. “We have worked together for the past 10 years in a local authority within children, young people and families’ directorate. Following redundancy we are delighted to become the newest recruits to the Caremark network. Having previously considered other franchisors within the domiciliary care sector, we came to the decision that Caremark was the one for us. This was due to the quality and professionalism shown at every level of the organisation.

“Since signing a franchise agreement with Caremark, we have been fully supported by the team at head office in preparing for our roles and the launch of our new business. This has recently included attending an intensive two-week training course at Caremark’s head office, which has covered all aspects of the business. Although the training was extremely hard work, we found the course very thorough and the whole process enjoyable and will certainly be invaluable to our future success. In addition, we have found the standard of training and training materials to be excellent.”

The good news is that professionals interested in considering a franchise in the care sector do not necessarily need to have had a previous career in health and social care. It is more a question of the candidate having a passion for the industry and the necessary ambition and desire to grow a significant business, with the necessary management experience to aid them manage a team of staff. The likelihood is that many have transferable skills that will equip them very well to own and run a successful care business.

From a commercial point of view, the opportunities to grow a significant business in the care sector are numerous. Contrary to common thinking, home care is not simply a service for older people. Indeed a broad range of people benefit from the support a high quality service provides. Today, Caremark’s franchisees provide a service to people of all ages, abilities and ethnicities. The reduction in council spending has meant the control of purchasing home care has been put back squarely with the individual concerned, rather than being controlled from within the local authority. Consequently, people can now purchase exactly the care and support they would like, decide when they would like it and from whom. Naturally, this has meant more opportunities for Caremark franchisees by giving them the possibility of a broader business mix. Being able to diversify one’s services, continues to strengthen the business and means that more people are able to access a quality home care service in their community, that they both need and want.

So, it’s not all bad news then. Redundancy can, in some cases, be a gift rather than the spectre of doom and gloom. Those looking to start a new career would be wise to look at franchising in the care sector. They might just be pleasantly surprised at the business opportunity they find.

Written by Mark Wardell