Making care a career

With an ever-ageing population in the UK, there has never been a better time to own a domiciliary care franchise, not only from a business perspective, but also as a chance to change vulnerable people’s lives for the better.

Care is big business in the modern world, and is only going to get bigger. Here in the UK, the population is ageing fast, with advances in living standards and medicine enabling higher life expectancy than ever before.According to the most recent Government figures, there are currently more than 10 million people living in the UK over the age of 65: nearly one in six people. Of these 10 million, it is estimated that some three million are more than 80 years of age, while the Office for National Statistics announced in September 2014 that a record 13,780 people reached 100 during 2013.

With modern advances in medicine and living standards continuing to improve, this is a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. Indeed it is projected that there will be as many as 5.5 million more elderly people alive in 20 years’ time, with a total of almost 20 million making up the population by 2050: double todays’ figure. While a healthier, longer-lived population is, of course, a positive thing, the number of older people in the UK is putting a strain on the National Health Service (NHS) like never before, particularly at a time when the country’s finances are so stretched.

With old age unfortunately often comes afflictions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, lack of mobility and many others, and sufferers need all the help and support they can get to live as full and rich a life as possible. There is also a growing awareness that home care can benefit not only the individual in need, but hospitals and other organisations that are responsible for looking after them by freeing up beds and staff.Thus, the importance of domiciliary care providers and demand for quality care has never been greater, and getting involved with a home care franchise has never been a wiser decision.

Right at Home Managing Director and Master Franchisor Ken Deary comments: “The care sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world, not just the UK. The growth of the ageing population is exponential; it is a sector that relies upon people and cannot be automated or taken over by technology. The sector is also recession resilient. However above all else the increase in age of the population means potential franchisees’ core customer base is likely to grow by 60 per cent over the next 15 years. What other sectors can say that?”

Rewarding

A role as a domiciliary care franchise owner is rewarding in that you can give people a much higher quality of life and be a key part of their recovery from or ability to cope with their medical issues, be they age-related or something else.

Joe Guishard, Owner of Right at Home Cardiff and Newport, is the company’s youngest franchise owner. The 34 year-old was inspired to begin his own care franchise after helping look after his elderly grandparents, recognising an opportunity to make a similar difference to the lives of many others in a similar situation.

“Dom Care is very rewarding,” he says. “It has different challenges on a regular basis but the fact is we are making a difference to someone’s life every day and to me that is priceless.

I enjoy growing and developing the company and delivering quality care to the communities we operate within.”

Jonathan Billington is owner of the Bluebird Care franchise in Elmbridge & Runnymede. He left his job as a Telecoms account Manager and began trading in mid-2010, recognising care as a growth market and one in which his parents had already made a successful career.

He explains: “I found my old job unfulfilling and needed a fresh challenge. Franchising helped me to de-risk the transition from employee to business owner, a huge leap of faith when you have a family and all the commitments that go with it!”

After online research and meeting with the founders and existing franchise owners, Jonathan felt Bluebird was a quality brand that could be a success in his location. He explains: “We wanted to offer a quality product and we felt that the Bluebird Care brand would work well in our area. We felt a real passion for the brand from the founders and we wanted a slice of it!”

Joe discovered Right at Home’s particular offering from a newspaper article case study of the very positive experience of one if its franchise owners based in Wimbledon.

Right at Home’s franchise model stood out both for the individual prosperity of its franchise owners and its leadership, who’s values matched Joe’s own. He says: “I decided on Right at Home as they have a leader right at the top in Ken Deary and after meeting him I knew we shared the same passion and care for the Dom-Care industry.”

Strong support

Former community police officer Joe had made the decision to open his own company, but understanding that he lacked business knowledge, he knew that the proven model of a franchise would be a safer choice that would generate results faster than going it alone.

He explains: “Weekly support was given from Head Office with a weekly time planner which assisted you in preparing for the opening of your business. Two-week onsite training was provided for the owners, which involved sales and marketing training. My care manager was interviewed over the telephone to ensure the correct manager was employed.

“Upon opening the franchise, a site visit was arranged to ensure everything was in order from an operational point of view. Continuous mentor support was given on a weekly basis and further support was always there by a phone call.”

Importantly, the fact that he had no prior care experience was no barrier, as both the franchise owner and manager were given ample training at Right at Home’s Head Office in how to find quality care staff and what qualities to look for from them.

Although the fact that his parents had been involved in the industry meant Jonathan was a little more familiar with care, he too was given similarly strong initial support by Bluebird to get up-and-running as quickly as possible.

He explains: “It started with an induction week at head office where we learnt about the care sector and how our office, once set up, would operate. With the help of our Business Development Manager we then followed a 100-day plan which covered the basic set up and regulatory side up to the point of beginning to trade.

“This is where the real learning began and we had great support at this crucial stage. My advice to anyone building a franchised business is to follow the model.”

In home care franchising overall, it is common for franchisors to not require their prospective owners to have industry experience, making it accessible to all who are interested in making care a career.

Ken Deary comments: We will open our 30th office early in 2015 and not one franchisee comes from a medical or care background. They are all outstanding individuals capable of running a business with a potential turnover of more than £1 million. A care background is not necessary as we provide all the support necessary, including helping recruit a highly experienced local care manager. What is important is that franchisees have a real empathy with the sector and genuinely want to support vulnerable adults.”

Once established, the owners are not left without support either. Joe, for example, has a fortnightly meeting with his franchisor’s Business Support Manager to discuss issues and ensure guidance where required, while Jonathan has benefitted from a dedicated forum set up y the franchisor to encourage sharing of ideas among the franchisee network, as well as regular meetings with other businesses to discuss strategy.

Reaping the benefit As demanding as home care franchise can be, with the customers’ often needing support and assistance around-the-clock, franchise owners are rewarded for their hard work and dedication in financial terms, with Joe identifying “fantastic growth” in the business and a “substantial pay increase” from his previous career.

As well as strong financial performance, Joe has also had the satisfaction of being recognised for the quality of his performance, with a high-profile award from the BFA as the Emerging Franchise of the Year 2014.”

He comments: “It is a privilege and honour to be given such a prestigious award. We have so many fantastic franchisees in the UK and to be nominated overall is something I could only have dreamt of when opening only 20 months ago. I have a fantastic team with a winning mentality which is why I believe we won this year”.

Jonathan says: “It’s very rewarding to have created something from scratch, my two favourite things are to see a great team working well together and to enjoy the autonomy that comes from running your own business.”

While both Joe and Jonathan have through their hard work reaped significant rewards both in terms of finance and work satisfaction from becoming a domiciliary care franchise owner, they are happy to admit that the industry and franchise ownership is not without its challenges.

It is a profession that requires dedication and a genuine desire to make a difference. Challenges noted by both franchise owners include staff retention and the pressure of always being on-call.

Ken says: “Our ideal Right at Home franchisee is organised, ethical, customer-focused and has a social conscience. They are not just driven by the bottom line but understand that profitability comes from quality services. They can manage a team and have the perseverance to battle through the tough early days of opening a business.”

“To be a home care franchise owner, you need to be a caring, compassionate person with strong leadership, organisational and communication skills,” Joe adds. Jonathan agrees: “It requires someone with good people skills, analytical and capable of creating and getting the best out of a great team.”

Both owners have clear and ambitious future plans for the future prosperity of their respective businesses, targeting the continued growth that is there for the taking in a developing industry, while maintaining the core values that have made their enterprises such a success thus far.

Jonathan has aspirations to become a multi unit owner as well as continuing to expand the reach of his existing franchise. He says: “We are looking at new markets for our existing business and would like to acquire another Bluebird Care franchise.”

Joe says: “I aim to deliver 4,000 hours of care over the two territories and to reach a turnover of £5 million within five years, whilst maintaining the highest standards and becoming the market leader in delivering quality care.”

Ken concludes: “Despite becoming a full member of the BFA, winning Emerging Franchisor of the Year and being awarded Five Star Franchise rating for our franchisee satisfaction, we have some really exciting projects coming up that will support our franchisees and further improve our offering. 2015 is a very exciting year for us, as we are now seen as a quality provider of care in the home, a growing force in the market, and we will build on that to ensure that both our franchisees and their clients get the very best support in the sector.”