Right at Home’s Presidential Appointment: Swapping Corporate for Care

If you were to read Shahzad Akhtar’s (right) CV, you would notice ‘Country Head of Whirlpool Home Appliances for India’ as well as ‘Vice-President for Unilever in London’ as two standout positions he has recently held. Needless to say, his credentials render promotional adjectives superfluous. Here he tells TFM Online why he was tempted away from his position to become his own boss with one of the country’s leading domiciliary care businesses, Right at Home.

Having spent a lot of time traveling and in boardrooms, Shahzad wanted to settle down in one place to build a more settled life with his family around him. “Right at Home met all three of my requirements,” he explains. “It (my opportunity) needed to be a growth industry and a sector that I found highly motivating. I also wanted to identify a future leading brand, which offered the best quality of service. I liked the fact that Right at Home was a growing franchise – it has a global presence but it’s in an early phase of UK growth. They also offer one of the largest territories in this sector.”

After Shahzad had chosen to invest with the quality care franchise, he began his initial training, which he states was more than comprehensive. “I have had an initial intensive week at head office, followed by a week of learning on your own and then another week at head office. Overall this covered all aspects of the business, regulation, HR and start-up,” he says. “For someone who had no sector experience, it gave me a very holistic overview as well as specific skills to support the job role. Just as importantly, it gave me the confidence to know that I can access the information to achieve what I need, with the support of head office behind me.”

As with any business, Shahzad has experienced challenges as well as euphoric highs, which he explains are extremely rewarding. He continues: "The early milestones, such as delivering care to your first clients have been very exciting. I love the fact that there is no ceiling to how far I can take this now – I find that highly motivating.” But of course he would not be able to achieve the successes he has achieved without the support of the Right at Home team, which continues to grow in the UK. “The regulatory support is so important and the motivational support is great,” adds Shahzad.

Now far happier in his franchisee’s role with Right at Home, Shahzad is able to manage his work/life balance excellently, giving him far more time with his family, which was a long term goal of his new career. What’s more he is well on track to hit his financial targets. “I most enjoy getting to meet new people in an organised and helpful way, he continues. “It’s also created a structure in my lifestyle which is really healthy. I’m at home every night, my work time and family time are balanced and I can plan my personal life much better.”

With plans to become the best-respected care provider in the area and expand over time, Shahzad is doing very well for himself in his Ealing and Hounslow territory and is well placed to issue his advice for those looking at buying a franchise in this sector: “Right at Home is ideal for someone who believes in themselves, has strong ambition, but is also looking for meaning and social value in what they are doing – wanting something they can feel passionate about. It’s definitely important to have a strong interest in people.

“I left corporate life to do something on my own and create a balanced lifestyle. Franchising offered a combination of independence and a safety net. Care was an industry that I felt very passionate about and I chose Right at Home because it provided the space to grow with the UK network, while having the depth of experience from 400 offices around the world.

“Beyond the training and support, I like the sense of honesty and transparency that we are all in this together – no-one is trying to explain away the gaps. It’s challenging and there is competition, but the market is big and the support from the franchisor and other offices shows us what it is possible to achieve. I think we have got the right combination of commitment to quality and business hunger.”