The right opportunity knocks

When Alastair Shanks made the decision to invest in his own Right at Home business, it was because he was in a position where he wanted to build something for himself. Gareth Samuel reports on how two years on, he is enjoying the ‘daily excitement’ of developing his own business in Surrey, which is well on the way to yielding a small fortune.

In 2011, Right at Home was an upcoming domiciliary company with a reputation for exemplary personal care. Meanwhile, Alastair Shanks had recently sold the business which he had run with his father and was exploring a number of options for a new professional direction.

Alastair explains: “I found Right at Home and it just fitted with what I wanted at the time. It was in a growing sector and was available at the right sort of investment level. I looked at others but when I went in to meet the Right at Home team, they were all really friendly and to me that’s really important, the people.”

Alastair looked at a number of different franchises, not all of them in the care sector, but felt that Right at Home just fitted in with his aspirations perfectly. It must be pointed out at this point that Alastair was no stranger to management. “After studying civil engineering at university and five years with the Unilever Graduate Scheme, I joined my father’s business which I eventually ended up running,” adds Alastair. “The business had 13 branches, all management run. When we sold the business I did a few odd jobs before looking at doing something on my own.”

One of the biggest appeals for Alastair of joining Right at Home at that time, was that he would be only the company’s seventh franchise owner in the UK: “I liked the idea that I was one of the first franchisees. It might be slightly higher risk and you don’t get quite the finished article, but I wanted to be part of something from the beginning rather than tag along at the end.”

The training that Right at Home provide is, Alastair assures, suitably comprehensive. When he went to head office for his two weeks initial training he returned equipped with all the knowledge and skills he would need to initiate his business. He adds: “The support has continued throughout and was especially useful when it didn’t work out with my first care manager. Right at Home stepped in and helped me sort things out.”

The Right at Home network has steadily developed and now has 20 operational franchise owners across the UK and Alastair, now well into his crucial second year of operation, is beginning to see the fruits of his investment: “My business is definitely on the right track now. I am not quite up to the earnings I had when I was running my father’s business but I am getting there.

“We try to set ourselves apart from other care brands by insisting on one-hour visits, which is a centralised policy. We strive to build up a relationship between the carer and the client which helps us with customer retention.”

As our aging population continues to demand greater availability from domiciliary carers, Alastair’s business – and his turnover – is set to grow and grow. When asked, it is clear that his impressive turnover is not his only objective. “I guess my favourite thing about Right at Home is the excitement that running your own business provides me with on a daily basis,” he succinctly concludes.