The Patterson File: The next step in the franchise industry

With an enviable record of achievement in the franchise industry, Kevin Lewis has founded a new-launch opportunity. Gordon Patterson interviews

Gordon Patterson: So Kevin, you are back in the world of care franchising?
Kevin Lewis:
Yes, I am back and raring to go.

GP: How long have you been in the care business?
KL: I started in residential care in 1987 and, apart from a short break recently, have been in it ever since.

GP: What has been your proudest achievement to date?
KL: I believe my biggest achievement to date has been the growth and development of a domiciliary care business from an office based on the south coast into a national network of franchised offices across the UK, corporately delivering in excess of £50 million of care per annum, and the achievement of market leader status.

GP: How did you launch Caremark?
KL: I launched Caremark from a single office in rural West Sussex in 2005. We are covering 400 square miles of rural area.

GP: So, in this rural setting how has the business developed?
KL: The business has not only grown in line with projections but has exceeded them since the day we started trading.

GP: So you are feeling confident?
KL: Yes, I am feeling over the moon about the business and the franchise opportunity. I feel very proud of Caremark's success to date, for three main reasons. Firstly, having been out of the industry for the last few years, I am ecstatic to be starting again. Secondly, with the Care Standards Act of 2003, I have had to deal with a lot of new legislation, coming through to successfully obtain registration and productively trade in full compliance with the new legislation. Thirdly, despite trading in a very rural demographically challenging area, we are ahead of targets.

GP: What is the marketplace like since you were last in the field?
KL: The market is far bigger than it was a few years ago and is much more diverse. The current market is estimated to be between £12 billion and £17 billion per year and, very significantly, there are different sectors of the market resulting in huge opportunities.

GP: Is this linked to the ageing nature of the population?
KL: The ageing population only accounts for part of that mammoth increase in the size of the market.

GP: So what are the other factors?
KL: I would rather not answer that question because the answer would be commercially sensitive. However, I will say that that the Care Standards Act has, in itself, created immense new sectors of the markets in which we can successfully trade.

GP: So you are about to launch a new franchise opportunity?
KL: Yes, and I am looking forward to it immensely.

GP: In essence, what are you offering in the package?
KL: We are providing a true business format package containing all the essential ingredients to enable the franchisee to launch and develop a very exciting business. This includes: a comprehensive two-week training programme, a full stationery package, quality promotional materials, customised software, corporate uniforms, initial research and marketing of territory, membership of professional body, full Operations Manual documenting the valuable Caremark know-how and licensing rights for a defined territory.

GP: This is a management franchise?
KL: Very much so. I am only looking to appoint people of 'white-collar management' capability who are committed to true business building.

GP: How long does that take - and what kind of earnings are achievable?
KL: The expectation I have for franchisees is that they should be earning an operating profit in excess of £100,000 within the first two to three years of operation.

GP: What kind of support are you committed to provide?
KL: The support is ongoing in terms of telephone support, regular visits to franchisees' offices, regular regional meetings, an annual conference, quality promotional material, updating of appropriate software, keeping franchisees up to date with changes in relevant care legislation and in every way ensuring that franchisees are at the cutting edge of developments in the sector.

GP: I sense you are an enthusiast of franchising?
KL: Yes, I have already proven to myself that successful franchising puts the local business in the hands of a highly responsible and committed business owner. This in turn delivers to the marketplace excellency in the provision of services. A network of franchisees committed to the Caremark corporate standards and ambitious to grow their businesses will enable us to ensure that Caremark enjoys a high reputation in our market sector. This produces good repeat business, as satisfied clients provide the basis to successful growth and development.

GP: What kind of person are you looking to appoint as your franchisee?
KL: Ideally I would like all franchisees to have a passion for this business. However, it is vital that Caremark franchisees genuinely care about other people. It is also important that they be ambitious and want to build a successful business.

GP: What are your aims and aspirations for the future?
KL: In line with our Mission Statement, we want to achieve greatness in the provision of domiciliary care throughout the UK. This certainly means becoming a market leader.

GP: Sounds as though you are really excited about the future?
KL: I am very, very excited.