Caremark: 'The potential is limitless!'

With the first wave of Caremark franchisees preparing to launch in 2007, Stuart Anderson interviews two individuals who are full of enthusiasm about building a business which gives something back to the community

With the pensions crisis bringing to the fore people's concerns about providing for their later years, the profile of domiciliary care has been raised as people search for 'quality of life' alternatives to elderly care institutions. By providing in-situ non-medical care services, domiciliary care providers such as Caremark enable and empower the elderly to remain living in their own homes and communities.

The industry is now estimated to be worth up to £17 billion a year, and with the aged population in the UK due to grow by 58 per cent in the next 20 years, strong growth is a significant prospect. Caremark was launched in 2006 by Kevin Lewis, who has over 20 years' experience of operating in domiciliary care and has previously developed one of the most successful care franchises in the UK.

'When I saw an advert for Caremark and discovered Kevin had launched a new care industry franchise, I decided it was a good time to start up with him again,' says Amarjit Gill, who with his wife Gurcharn owned and operated a franchise under Kevin's previous venture. 'His business plan works wonders. In the previous venture, starting from cold, we built the business up to providing 1,500 hours of domiciliary care a week. We were generating a yearly turnover of £500,000 in less than two years. When Kevin moved the company on to a large corporation in 2002, the new owners offered us a good deal to buy us out of our franchise.'

Signing up for a franchise territory covering Bromsgrove and Redditch, Amarjit is looking forward to launching a new business with Kevin's guidance. 'His business approach is so professional and he's so passionate about care its untrue,' he reflects.

'The way the previous business grew was phenomenal, and all the while he provided support which was second to none. With the new franchise Kevin has already helped me to find a Care Manager and to locate suitable business premises. He's currently helping us get registered with the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), and once that's done we will commence the induction training and launch the business.'

All franchisees must register with the CSCI, a process which takes approximately 12 weeks, to enable them to provide care services. 'It's important because most of the work comes from the Social Services,' says Amarjit.

'We're looking to launch in February and should achieve 1,000 hours a week in our first year, which will generate a turnover of between £250,000 and £300,000. The potential is limitless - you get a good return and the satisfaction that you are putting back into the community by helping people to live in their own houses. We're all getting old and I would certainly like to live independently in my old age.' With his CSCI registration confirmed, Carl Ward is preparing to launch his business in January after signing for the Kingston franchise in mid-2006.

'I'd owned my own motor dealership franchise in central London for 20 years, which I sold in 2002, and was looking for a new franchise to invest in,' he reveals. 'I attended exhibitions, read magazines and searched the internet but couldn't find the 'gold nugget', so I contacted Franchise Development Services consultant Gordon Patterson and engaged him to research the market for me. He spent half a day with me taking note of my requirements, and presented some opportunities to me including Caremark.

'Kevin's enthusiasm and professionalism impressed me, and the growth potential of the business convinced me. The pilot was up and running with a manager and supervisors on board. It has been growing its client base and staff steadily and is a carefully controlled business, which I plan to emulate.' After his initial visit in March, Carl bought the Caremark franchise and took the two week initial training course in July. 'The training covered the care industry in general; care in the community; the legislation and regulations behind the industry; staff induction, control and allocation; and payroll... pretty much everything in depth,' he says. 'It helps in preparing you for your application to the CSCI, which judges you on your own knowledge, understanding and professionalism, as well as checking your office security and systems.'

With his office base established, Care Manager recruited and staff sourced, Carl is looking forward to getting on with his business. 'I'd like to think we'll achieve profitability within 18 months and be at the stage where I can expand and take on a second territory by the end of year three,' he reflects. 'That would create a meaningful business which also makes you feel you're doing a bit of good for the world. It's certainly not selling motor cars!'