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Changing Perceptions

Changing Perceptions

By putting the carer at the heart of the Visiting Angels model, the UK business will replicate its international partners, managing director Dan Archer says

For many business people considering becoming a franchisee, there can be a number of questions that need to be answered.

What sort of business do I want to run? Which sector provides the best opportunity? What are the returns on my investment?

We talk to Dan Archer, managing director of Visiting Angels, about a question that is often overlooked: what do you want your business to stand for?

20 years’ experience

With 20 years’ experience in franchising, Dan has been working with new business owners since the 1990s.

He explains the different approaches people take: “I’m quite often asked what is the best franchise opportunity to invest in. This is a challenging question because the answer is, in my opinion, the one which suits you best. If you are not a people person, working in retail may provide a great potential return, but you would not be likely to be successful.

“I usually start with the basics. Is there a proven market for the business? Is the investment affordable without stretching yourself? And most importantly, what do you want to do with your days?

“Self-employment through franchising should allow you to design your perfect working situation and work-life balance. You have far more control when it is your business than you would ever have working for someone else.”

Due diligence

There are hundreds of franchise opportunities and it’s important that you have a clear understanding of how you will approach your due diligence.

Many new franchisees go to franchise exhibitions and search on franchise opportunity websites, but knowing what questions you need to answer will make the process easier.

Dan continues: “Our business operates in the social care sector, which is a market where the demographics of the UK means there is huge demand. More importantly, we are a private care provider and we do not do work for the local authority.

“The chronic decline in funding through local councils means my belief is that there is little opportunity for growth in the socially funded marketplace. There are thousands of care providers, but only a small number who only provide private funded care.

“So to the uninitiated, it appears our market is competitive, but the reality is there are very few providers with the ability to address the private pay market.”

Dan feels the support that is provided by a franchisor is important to helping a franchisee: “Because the opportunity for growth in the care sector is in private pay, the franchisor should be able to support the franchisee to address this market.

“The franchisor should be able to help the franchisee put a marketing plan together, to structure a promotional campaign, to build a local brand and to communicate with potential clients. I would expect a franchisee to be given a clear understanding of how the franchisor can help.”

Embrace the mission

It is also important that the franchisee embraces the mission of the franchise group. The collective influence of passionate and motivated franchisees is a key ‘X Factor’ for business success.

Dan explains: “The mission of the business is the key element - what do you want the business to stand for? “Our mission is to become the UK care sector’s employer of Choice by 2022. I want people to choose to work in care and to choose to work for Visiting Angels.

“I also need my franchisees to be passionate about changing the perception that society has on being a carer. If they share our mission, we will be successful. The problem in the care sector is that people are poorly paid, poorly rewarded and often exploited. We have taken a stand to say no to the received wisdom on care.

“By paying more, focusing on building loyalty and employing market leading recruitment and retention strategies, we have built one of the UK’s first carer centric businesses.”

Well known

Dan believes that by putting the carer at the heart of the Visiting Angels model that the UK business will replicate its international partners.

“Operating in five countries and with over 600 franchisees, the Visiting Angels brand is already well known and respected in the US,” Dan says.

“We have drawn on many of the excellent caregiver recruitment and retention strategies used in the USA when we put together the UK business. Our successful pilot has benefited from the 20-year heritage of this established business.

“Our UK Angels are the most important people in the business - without them we are not able to deliver the excellent care private clients expect.

“I want my franchisees’ businesses to stand for a change in how carers are treated. Treating caregivers better reduces staff turnover and increases the consistency and continuity of care we provide.

“If we do this well, we can justify charging a little more for the service and this also allows us to be profitable. I firmly believe it is good to make a profit if you are also changing peoples lives and making a difference to both carers and clients.”

UK launch

The Visiting Angels franchise was launched in the UK in 2017 with an extensive pilot operation.

Visiting Angels is seeking 10 franchisees during 2019 with the first five - founding franchisees - benefiting from more influence on the direction of the business and a reduced franchise fee of £9,995.

The regular franchise fee is £24,995 and franchisees interested in this opportunity will need £25,000-£30,000 in liquid capital in order to secure bank funding for the total investment, including working capital of up to £100,000.

A substantial, premises-based, management franchise, the potential exists for a six-figure turnover in year one and a projected million pound-plus turnover by the end of year three.