Should You Own a Home Health Care Franchise? – Some Advice From a Home Health Care Franchises Expert

If the idea of becoming a franchise owner in the burgeoning Home Health Care (HHC) industry is beckoning to you, there are some major questions you will want to consider. First, take an honest look at your own attributes. Secondly, assess whether franchising is the best option for you. And lastly, if it is, take time determining what franchise you will choose. To begin with, measure your own temperament and personality against the business philosophy of particular franchise you are considering, and the HHC industry overall. “This is a life-changing decision, and for some, it’s not the right fit,” says Eric Little, Senior Vice President of Franchise Development for Right At Home Healthcare Providers. “It has to be right on both ends of the equation.” Scrupulous franchise managers screen carefully for the attributes they consider vital to a successful franchise owner. Mr. Little says Right At Home works hard to make sure the expectations of potential franchisees are in line with the reality of the challenges and rewards they will encounter, especially in the first few years. They also require prospective owners to interview a minimum of 3 Right At Home franchise owners, usually more, so they can talk to both new and seasoned business owners. “It’s important to figure out your tolerance for risk and how committed you are,” he says. Since the first year will be all business building, you need to be comfortable with the up and down income stream during the startup period. Although owning your own franchise can be financially rewarding, most Right At Home franchise owners don’t come to it primarily for the money. Many want more control and flexibility in their work lives, but in addition, “we naturally attract those who care about others,” says Mr. Little, and often those people have personal experience as caregivers. Little says that the average Right At Home franchise owner is between 40 and 50 years old, has peaked in an earlier career and/or is not fulfilled there, and is entering the next phase of life with a desire to give something back to his/her community. After a long search, and after investigating ten to fifteen other Home Health Care franchises in New Jersey, Brian Maroney chose Right At Home. He fits the profile above – in fact, he had owned another franchise previously, unrelated to health care, and says he “Swore I’d never do franchises again.” But as the father of a young family, he says, “I wanted to make a difference, not just make money,” and so he began looking into home health care. After attending Right At Home’s Discovery Days with his wife, Mr. Maroney says they knew they had found the right partnership. “They had a really solid plan. Everything they told me has come true, and right from the beginning, they’ve been there.” Why choose to own a franchise instead of working for a corporation, or starting your own HHC business from scratch? Owning a HHC franchise may be right for you if: You want to work for yourself, are motivated and community-minded. You are relationship-oriented. “If you’d rather relate to someone over the phone or through your computer, this business is not for you,” says Eric Little. Brian Maroney, now in his fifth month as a Right At Home franchise owner, describes his average day as “getting out and building relationships.” You can be comfortable following a proven program. Following a franchise’s time-tested business plan can keep you from re-inventing the wheel or making costly mistakes. But when you run a franchise, your decisions affect other branches as well as your own. You need a balance between an entrepreneurial spirit and the willingness to follow guidance to the letter. So, if you want to minimize risk and go where you can see that others have been successful, franchising may be for you. But if having to do things the same way as every other franchise makes you feel like you’re in a cage, then going your own route might be a better choice. But even for those with experience in the business, navigating the ever-changing tides of regulation can be daunting. Eric Little says the future trend in Home Healthcare is toward greater and greater regulation at both state and Federal levels. Right At Home has a department devoted to staying abreast of compliance issues and communicating with national and local regulators. Without that kind of knowledge behind him, “I would have been a fish out of water,” says Mr. Maroney. What sets a good franchise apart from its competitors? Proven track record – A company like Right At Home, founded in 1995 by Allen Hager, fine-tuned its business and didn’t start its franchises till 2000. It now manages 155 offices in 41 states. Look at what kind of training they offer. A two-week intensive training period is the minimum at any Right At Home franchise, plus there are on-going learning opportunities. Do they have a training staff and ongoing support? Solid companies like Right At Home offer multi-tiered support structures ranging from financial to operational planning teams, regional meetings once a year, and an annual conference. How much access do you have to the corporate office? According to Mr. Maroney, communication with Right At Home headquarters is transparent and accessible: “I could get anyone from an assistant to the founder himself, and they call right back.” Brian Maroney says the future in Home Health Care franchising is bright for those who have a true vocation. “It’s a real need that will get bigger – so many people need the help that it’s almost as though home health care businesses are not even competing, they’re just all in it together, trying to meet the need.”