A business that’s been built over 20 years, Visiting Angels is a care franchise done differently
In a competitive market such as the domiciliary or home care sector, it’s important that a franchisee is able to differentiate their business. One established international brand believes it has something different to offer the UK market.
Visiting Angels is already one of the largest home care providers in the United States, with almost 600 franchised offices. The business has been built over 20 years with strong ethical and community values at its core.
The lessons learned from 20 years in the private care sector are now being brought to the UK, as the Visiting Angels franchise is offered in the UK for the first time.
Managing director, Dan Archer, explains: “One thing we learned in the US is the importance of structuring the business as a carer centric organisation.
“Many care businesses pay lip service to their carer focus without carrying that through to the structure they operate. We have built the business by asking the question: ‘What does that mean for our carers?’
“Our proposition puts the caregiver at the heart of the business and this has allowed us to build a niche in our market, when most providers do not publicly take this approach. We are differentiated as a caring employer. Indeed, our mission statement is to become the UK care sector’s employer of choice by 2022.
“We have found that our marketing messages, which are focused on the company being carer centric, have helped us to stand out from our competitors. Our clients choose Visiting Angels because we look after our caregivers and they understand that by doing so we enable our carers to provide a better service.”
A franchise with Visiting Angels will deliver experience on day one. Almost 600 franchisees regularly provide best practice content that new UK franchisees will gain access to.
Dan continues: “Our business is new in the UK and our early franchisees will benefit from being part of a close knit group and having a real influence on the direction of the business in the UK.
“At the same time, we have a wealth of experience in the US that we can call upon. Many of our successful caregiver recruitment and retention initiatives have been proven for many years in America.
“Most UK providers say finding carers is their biggest challenge. It made sense for me to import a proven, successful formula to address this key challenge - and it works, as our caregiver turnover is half the average for a UK care provider.”
Dan also feels the business is coming into the UK at the right time: “We are following in the footsteps of other established US home care brands, who are now successful in the UK.
“The UK is far more prepared to entertain private home care now. 10 years ago it was a newer concept, but the continuous pressure on the UK social care system and the ageing population has meant the private care sector is showing growth.
“Many of the families we speak to have come to realise that if they want better quality care, they have to choose a provider who works differently.”
Wealth of knowledge
Dan has a wealth of franchise knowledge, having been in franchising since the 1990s. He is also a former British Franchise Association director, having served on the bfa board for nearly six years.
He has extensive knowledge of the home care sector, having had a brief spell at Home Instead Senior Care in 2011 and more recently being in part responsible for turning around live-in care specialist Promedica24 as franchise director and latterly managing director for the UK business.
“I have had some fantastic teachers in franchising,” Dan says. “I have worked with remarkable people in both franchise and care businesses and I’m looking forward to bringing my experience to bear on the development of Visiting Angels in the UK.”
The Visiting Angels franchise was launched at The National Franchise Exhibition at the NEC in October 2018 and the business is seeking five exceptional candidates to join the business as the founding franchisees.
“We are looking for five franchisees to join us and work with us as development franchisees,” Dan says.
“These development franchisees will benefit from being first into the business and, as a result, will be part of defining the future success of the franchise and will work closely with the team at head office.
“Our model is already well proven in the US and we have made the necessary legislative adjustments before piloting the business in the UK. When I launched the business, I didn’t know how well the brand would be received, but I am delighted to say our clients refer to their caregivers as angels and the brand has become very familiar in our local area.
“After 12 months, we have exceeded our business plan in terms of turnover and care delivered. In January 2018 we secured our CQC registration and could accept our first clients.
“We currently have just under 40 clients in our pilot business and, more importantly, a loyal and reliable team of amazing caregivers. The business has a healthy turnover and key members of the community surrounding our pilot branch regularly refer potential clients to us.
“We are also often told that what we do is different and our approach to our caregivers is market leading. In less than 12 months we have been nominated in the Great British Care Awards as one of the top employers for our region.”