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The business of care

Home Instead Senior Care UK was established in 2005 and the strength of its growth so impressive that the original US founders, Paul and Lori Hogan, bought the UK network when it came up for sale. The Franchise Magazine caught up with Paul, and UK managing director Martin Jones, to find out more about what’s at the beating heart of Home Instead

Home Instead Senior Care UK was established in 2005 and the strength of its growth so impressive that the original US founders, Paul and Lori Hogan, bought the UK network when it came up for sale. The Franchise Magazine caught up with Paul, and UK managing director Martin Jones, to find out more about what’s at the beating heart of Home Instead

What are Home Instead Senior Care’s origins?

Paul Hogan: We started in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska. My grandmother was 89, lived in a one-bed apartment and got to the point where she was too weak to get out of her own chair. We had a big family meeting and agreed that, one, she wouldn’t go into a nursing home and, two, we’d chip in to keep her comfortable for what looked like her last little bit of time. That ‘bit of time’ turned into 11 years – she regained her strength, her will to live – and we saw first-hand you don’t have to be a doctor or nurse to have a huge impact on a senior’s life. We set out to do the same for others and began Home Instead Senior Care. Today, it’s made up of over 1,200 franchise locations in 12 countries, delivering about 80 million hours of care a year.

You then grew through franchising, including in the UK. Tell us about that...

Paul: Franchising is a wonderful way to get the best of both worlds. You get local ownership – that’s where the passion is – plus the value of an extended network of people doing the same thing, so through collective operation and sharing of experiences, you learn how to do things better and create best practice. It’s an environment where there’s continual improvement.

We’ve a long history here in the UK. In 2005, we awarded the master franchise rights to Sam and Trevor Brocklebank and they did an outstanding job – attracting great franchisees and building an immensely talented team we’re so proud of. So when the opportunity came up to purchase Home Instead in the UK it was an easy decision because our cultures align perfectly, and rather than see it diminished by, say private equity, or another organisation buying the franchise, we wanted to preserve that culture and jumped on the opportunity.

The success here has gone way beyond my expectations. I’d never dreamed we could win something such as a Queen’s Award for Enterprise and the Princess Royal Training Award for our dementia training.

This exemplifies what a great job the team here, and the franchise owners throughout the country, are doing.

The UK is imperative to the success of our global brand because there’s a tradition here for quality; a high standard of doing things right. It’s so important that we learn from each other; that’s the beauty of our organisations becoming even closer. The awards, the recognition for things that are done extremely well – we learn and benefit from all the countries we operate in. The UK business is vital to helping us understand how we do things better. It’s a great opportunity to share at an even deeper level.

Home Instead is regarded as a disruptor – has this been instrumental in your growth?

Martin Jones: The way homecare was traditionally delivered – typically 30 minutes, or quarter of an hour, short, sharp calls and very task driven – the client wasn’t part of the thought process. It was “How can we get quickly in and out of someone’s house?’’ Home Instead Senior Care does the precise opposite of that – clients have to come first. A minimum one-hour call, plus matching CAREGivers [Home Instead Senior Care’s care providers] with clients – the way we do it – may sound obvious but that’s not how care has been delivered – not as standard, anyway – in the UK.

Franchising is a great way to achieve this in the sense that all our owners have that passion to make a difference. They’re not doing it just to make money. Yes, profits are a reward, but they’re buying a business to make a difference. That commitment puts you in a completely different place, and I firmly believe that’s why we have 40 ‘outstandings’ from the Care Quality Commission – head and shoulders above any of our competitors, public, private or third sector.

What are the benefits of running this kind of business as part of a franchise network?

Martin: When they join, that person has bought into our mission, our culture, and they become part of our family. Every year, we have a national conference – it’s a great opportunity to bring all our franchisees and their key players together to collaborate on how we can share best practice and move the business on. We also have business update meetings halfway through the year, local owner group meetings, and training sessions; we have people who are always available, whether virtually or face-to-face, in order for us to get better and better. One of the beauties of franchising is sharing best practice. Great ideas come from the network. The aim is to find that great idea and share it with everyone else.

Paul: One of the unique things about franchising is that when you’re the business owner, you’re at the top and it’s lonely. In franchising, you get an opportunity to develop a peer group of other franchisees going through the same thing and that lends a lot of support and encouragement. You can be in business for yourself, but you’re not by yourself. So there’s a lot of comfort and that’s what lends a high degree of success to the franchising model.

What are you looking for in a franchisee? Martin: They’ve got to have heart – because what we do is so important in terms of looking after seniors. They need to have entrepreneurial spirit and be someone who’s really got that passion and drive to succeed. They don’t work for us, they’re buying their own operation, so they’ve got to get up each day, drive their business and be a great leader. Most of all, they’ve got to believe in Home Instead as a brand, and what we’re trying to achieve in the UK and the world.

You don’t have to come from a health and social care background. We have a comprehensive training package, right from day one, so they come here for a residential course that teaches them how to run a Home Instead Senior Care business. They are supported by both a business performance manager and a quality support manager, and they have a suite of people here [at national office], from marketing to finance to legal, who can help and support their business growth, plus 192 other offices to draw on.

We’ve been there, done that, worn the T-shirt and encountered every single problem, query and challenge imaginable. Being a leader can be lonely, but when you’ve got that suite of people to help you succeed, it makes it easier.

Our franchisees come from all backgrounds – lawyers, chemists, nurses, a footballer, financial directors, former managing directors, you name it, we’ve got them. We’ve even got a pop star! They don’t have to have a care background, but they do need to be commercial people who can run a business, that have drive and can be great leaders. They’ll recruit people who can manage for them, but the most important aspect for the franchisee is to be able to run the commercial side of the business.

What level of investment is required, and what are the rewards?

Martin: The investment overall is about £110,000, and that’s without any director’s drawings for yourself. Our break-even point has actually come down to 12 months – it used to be 18 – I’m delighted with the performance of that. In terms of the emotional investment, that’s probably the biggest win. Making a difference in people’s lives in your local community – you can’t put a price on those rewards, it’s one of the most satisfying things for franchisees.

We conduct a survey every year of every client and CAREGiver and 96 per cent of our clients would recommend Home Instead; 92 per cent of our CAREGivers would recommend Home Instead as a great place to work and 94 per cent of our key players think that Home Instead is a great place to be. That’s really powerful when you’re running a network this size, giving 458,000 hours of care every month across 12,000 clients. We also canvass our franchisees – 92 per cent of our owners participate – and our franchisee satisfaction levels are high, resulting in a five-star rating. We’re giving a great quality of service to our clients, our CAREGivers and our franchisees.

Home Instead franchisees hold a place within their community, which is important to them. They have a thought leadership place they wouldn’t have gained with any other business; it makes them a go-to person within their community for older care advice, for help and support for a loved one – that’s so valuable. So yes, they’re getting personal satisfaction and the financial rewards, but also a legacy within their community.

How long does it take to hit the £1million mark?

Martin: To hit £1million turnover – one of the pinnacles franchise owners set themselves – it’s usually about three years now. That’s come down significantly from around five years because the brand’s gaining traction within the UK and because what we are doing is so different to our competitors; we have a service that makes a huge difference to people’s lives. As a result, we’re attracting a different calibre of franchisee.

What are Home Instead’s core values?

Paul: The founding principles of the company are to treat others with dignity and respect, to encourage growth in ourselves and others, and to build value in our service to others. These principles have guided us in our
decision making over the years and have served the organisation so well. They are, I believe, at the bedrock of the culture that’s so special at Home Instead.

Martin: Those principles are something that you live out every day, that guide every decision you make. It’s not something you can fake, it comes from the heart. If you believe in the mission, in changing the face of ageing, and the values that Paul and Lori put together 25 years ago, then, as a leader, when you’re out there talking to CAREGivers and clients, and to franchisees and their key players, they believe in you, they believe in themselves and they can actually make it happen in the communities they serve. We’ve got the culture and values that make us very, very different. There are people within the franchise arena and beyond who are trying to copy what we do, and that’s absolutely fine, but they’ll never copy who we are, because they don’t understand the why – they’ll never copy our culture, our values or our people.

For us, it’s not about what we do but why we do it, and that’s what makes us fundamentally different in terms of our competitors. It’s having those strong values and brand identities that were built up 25 years ago, that have carried from Omaha, Nebraska, to Blackpool up the road, and to Brisbane – you get it from every person you speak to around the world.

What lies ahead for the future of the business?

Martin: Well, we have an ageing population in this country and Home Instead is slap-bang at the heart of the social care sector; we are influencing policy and direction. How do we do that? Because we’re number one. The CQC has rated more than 20 per cent of our network as ‘outstanding’, compared to just three per cent across the sector as a whole. That’s shocking. Because if we want to change the face of ageing – which is what our mission is – it’s not just about Home Instead and the clients we serve, it’s about changing it within the entire industry.

We’ve got to influence the whole sector with regards the way care is delivered, and our client-based, relationship-based model is the way forward.

In terms of the future and our growth, we see development opportunities across the UK.

Paul: The vision for Home Instead is so exciting, the future is very bright. We’re 25 years in, and in 12 countries, but there’s so much ahead. Our vision is to change the face of ageing, to help seniors live life on their own terms, and a big part of that is them living in their own home. Helping your loved ones stay in their home is not easy – it takes a team, it takes outside resources to help the family achieve these goals. Right now, we offer companionship and light housekeeping, medication management and errands, but there’ll be other needs in the future that we’ll need to meet in terms of how we address their social isolation and more. So the future is bright, and our vision is so inspiring that many people will identify with it and will be passionate about Home Instead Senior Care
far, far into the future.

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