Q and A: Caremark

Gary Rigby, FDS Regional Director, has worked with the Caremark team for more than 20 years and is aware of the high professional standards that Kevin Lewis the CEO expects. Here, Gary talks to David Glover, Franchise Recruitment Manager, to find out more:

Gary Rigby: What can you tell us about Caremark’s training package?

David Glover: The franchise training course is designed to comprehensively cover the delivery of the service, the Caremark model and all aspects of business development, as well as equipping the new business owner with an understanding of the care sector and all its legislation. The course is delivered as a two-week residential course with a written examination at the end.

GR: Describe the support service provision for franchise owners.

DG: Caremark has an ongoing commitment to providing the best support to the network, demonstrated by excellent franchise owner-to-support manager ratios. Currently, the six regional support managers each work with up to 15 offices, ensuring optimum levels of support for each franchise owner.

Support managers carry out regular site visits, resolving any issues, monitoring for compliance, encouraging business development and sharing good practice. The knowledge of the support team is founded on both experience and longevity within the industry, resulting in credible, relevant, targeted support for the franchise network, enabling them to remain compliant with the Caremark system, the Care Quality Commission (the CQC) and to maintain a high quality care service.

GR: Do I need to operate from an office, or is this a home-based business?

DG: You will need to have an office and this is part of the requirements of the Caremark model, but more importantly it is a requirement by the CQC and a pre-requisite for registration with them, that all service providers operate from professional premises. A serviced office is the best option, as this allows for ease of relocation as the business grows and requires larger premises.

GR: Tell us about Caremark’s comprehensive software system.

DG: All Caremark franchise owners receive a customised software package, including a Sage Payroll package. As part of their initial franchise owner training, new franchise owners receive a thorough induction to the system and then further onsite training once they have been registered with the CQC and are ready to trade. The system helps maximise efficiency in running the business, both in regards to rostering care calls and performing the financial and business management aspect of daily business.

GR: What is your profile for a Caremark franchise owner?

DG: We look for professionals who have management experience, are entrepreneurial in their outlook and keen to build a long-term business. Most importantly, we look for people who are passionate about care and who are committed to building a business delivering a high quality service to vulnerable individuals in their local community.

GR: Do prospective franchise owners require experience in the care sector?

DG: No, they do not need to have experience in the care sector, although it is a bonus if they do, as they may have a network of contacts which they are able to access in the future. Full training is given to the new business owner, enabling them to fully comprehend the care sector and the Caremark model.

GR: I understand that you have a very comprehensive Operations Manual; how often is this updated?

DG: The Operations Manual is updated prior to any forthcoming changes in social care legislation, which is then reflected in our policies and procedures. Any changes are then timeously rolled out to the network and supported by relevant training to ensure compliance and preventing any interruption to the service.

GR: Do owners receive help in producing their business plan and with its ongoing revision?

DG: In the initial stages, Caremark utilises the support of a specialist to help prospective franchise owners with their business planning. Thereafter, the appointed regional support manager will work closely with each owner to ensure the business is maximising opportunities, risks are reviewed and growth maintained.

GR: What is the duration of the legal contract?

DG: Five years after which the franchise agreement is renewable on the terms of the franchise agreement at that time.

GR: Can I sell my franchise?

DG: Yes, franchise owners are able to sell their franchise. Any prospective purchaser must be approved by Caremark prior to the sale taking place.

GR: Is there any significant legislation that affects the business activity?

DG: The business operates within the health and social care sector and thus is highly regulated under current legislation. The CQC is the regulatory body which monitors all businesses operating in this sector. Businesses are regularly inspected to ensure compliance with industry regulations and to monitor the quality of the service they provide to vulnerable individuals.

GR: Do Caremark franchise owners have any territory rights?

DG: Yes, each franchise owner purchases the right to operate within their own exclusive territory.

GR: I know that your support services are extensive; what are the ongoing fees charged by the franchisor?

DG: There is an ongoing monthly service charge of 4.5 per cent plus VAT of the franchise owner’s gross monthly turnover.

GR: Who undertakes to research the territory in terms of the demographics of the catchment area?

DG: At the time of enquiry, the prospective franchise owner will be given thepopulation size of any territories of interest by the franchise manager. Thereafter, individuals are expected, as part of their due diligence, to thoroughly research their territory of choice.

GR: Can I borrow money for the purchase of the franchise?

DG: Yes and some purchasers do this via various channels. We work closely with most of the major high street banks who are willing to lend up to 70 per cent of the total start-up costs including working capital.

GR: Caremark’s management team have been involved with care provision franchising for more than 25 years, adding great credibility to your franchise offering. Can you explain how this has helped?

DG: The knowledge base, experience and combined skills set of the management team has ensured that franchise owners have the best possible opportunity to build successful businesses, delivering high quality, compassionate care to the vulnerable individuals in their communities. Their targeted focus on quality and growth has resulted in individuals in the network taking top industry awards at national and local level. This in turn has lent credibility to the franchise offering as an exciting and rewarding investment.

GR: I am aware that Caremark have won awards for its franchise offering, both as franchisor and by franchise owners. What benefit has this had upon the business?

DG: Having external validation is always fantastic, as it reinforces the brand value – the best PR one can hope to achieve. In addition, it builds trust, aside from personal testimonies. Professionals looking for a sound investment opportunity will naturally be drawn to a company with a proven business model which is reinforced with awards.