Find your way in domiciliary care franchising

With a wealth of experience in the domiciliary care industry earned since the early days of the sector, Caremark Founder Kevin Lewis offers his thoughts to prospective franchisees looking at its opportunities

'The domicilary care market is huge and growing ever larger and the opportunity for new business entrepreneurs is fantastic!' These dramatic claims have been bandied about by an ever increasing number of players in the domiciliary care market since 1993 when legislation brought about the biggest change in the way this country cares for people since the introduction of the welfare state in 1945.

In 1993 and for several years later, I distinctly remember on numerous occasions having to actually explain the meaning of domiciliary care: namely, the provision of care for people in need of care and who choose to remain living in their own homes. Now, 14 years later, most of us understand the nature of domiciliary care and most will acknowledge the realisation of these claims to be fact. Furthermore, with the UK care market currently estimated to be worth around £17 billion per annum and with the demographic changes being experienced in the UK, the market continues to expand, year on year.

However, as a result of the introduction of comprehensive and much needed legislation, bringing about compulsory registration, changes in employment law and increasing competition, entry into the market has become much more difficult and once into the market, achieving success as a provider of care has become even more challenging and often elusive. Hence the opportunity for high calibre franchisors to lend their experience, expertise and in-depth knowledge of the business, to lead their newly recruited franchisees safely through the maze of officialdom and onto developing successful business concerns has never been greater.

A weak franchisor may never actually see his franchisee reach the trading stage, if he does the even greater challenge then begins: to break into the local market - a market which is already swamped with a plethora of providers all of whom are claiming the ability to deliver quality care and the majority of whom have been around for many years and are well established in the local market. So while the potential opportunity remains fantastic, so are the potential pitfalls and prospective franchisees need to be extremely wary and ensure that they conduct their own in-depth investigations before making any rash decisions.

Such essential research should include gaining knowledge both of the franchisor as well as the pilot business. More specifically, this research should include:

  • Checking the CSCI website to see what proportion of the company's franchisees have gained their registration and how long did that process take?
  • Questioning how robust the franchisor's pilot operation, systems, procedures and policies are.
  • Ascertaining the knowledge and expertise of the franchisor and how good his understanding of the market is.
  • Reviewing the history, achievements, failures, strengths and weaknesses of the franchisor, including checking out any claims being made.
  • Verifying the success of existing franchisees - canvassing them for their opinions of the franchisor's support?

Having received satisfactory answers on the above, then the prospective franchisee should cautiously look forward to a very exciting and rewarding future business career - and not just financially rewarding with healthy profits, but the reward that money can't match: making a difference to the lives of vulnerable people in need of care.