Already established in the United States, the Visiting Angels home care franchise is being offered in the UK for the first time
Visiting Angels is already one of the largest home care providers in the United States, with over 600 franchised offices. The business has been built over 20 years with strong ethical and community values at its core.
Currently employing over 10,000 caregivers across the world, Visiting Angels has championed caregiver recruitment and retention best practice. Many care providers say the biggest challenge facing the sector is the availability of care staff.
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 how important their carers are without carrying that through to the structure that they operate. We have built the business by asking the question: ‘What does that mean for our carers?’
“As we move into franchising, we will be taking the same approach: ‘What does that mean for our franchisees?’”
A franchise with Visiting Angels will deliver experience on day one. Over 600 franchisees regularly provide best practice content 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 we can call upon and we are following in the footsteps of other established US home care brands who are now established in the UK. It is a genuine win-win.
“I was in Philadelphia in June this year for the annual conference and there were over 550 people there sharing years of practical knowledge in recruiting and retaining caregivers.
“Our unique approach is the way we recruit and retain caregivers. We have structured the business in a very particular way to give our franchises a competitive advantage compared to the more traditional style of care providers.”
Dan has a wealth of franchise knowledge, having been in franchising since the 1990s. He is also a former British Franchise Association main board 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 as head of marketing 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.
“What I know about care franchising is that supporting a franchisee to run a care franchise is challenging, but not too difficult. Where the challenge comes is that all care providers struggle to find and keep enough quality caregivers.
“Our business model is built differently to the majority of care franchises. We have focused specifically on differentiating the business as a desirable employer.”
This focus is clear from the mission statement of the UK business, which is to ‘Become the UK Care Sector’s Employer of Choice by 2022’.
“I want our caregivers to want to work in care and choose to work for a Visiting Angels office,” Dan says.
Many care workers are underpaid and poorly rewarded, but the approach taken by Visiting Angels is different.
“We want to ensure our caregivers are amongst the best paid in the care sector,” Dan says. “We pay more, we incentivise training and development, we reward loyalty and we offer excellent benefits.”
Visiting Angels believes that by focusing on its caregivers’ needs they company will be able to ensure its franchisees have a ready supply of caregivers.
Dan adds: “It requires the business model to be structured differently, the mission and focus to be clear and the financial model to be different to traditional care franchises - happy caregivers are best placed to ensure clients are delighted.”
Launched in 2017, the Visiting Angels franchise is seeking five exceptional candidates to join the business as the founding franchisees.
“Our model is already well proven in the US and we have made the necessary legislative adjustments before starting the piloting of the business in the UK,” Dan says.
“Our piloting is going really well and the business is outperforming our budget projections. We are now looking for five franchisees to join us during 2018, to work with us as development franchisees.”
For many franchise businesses, the most important aspect for a franchisee is the brand they will operate under.
“The most satisfying thing from our successful piloting has been the way in which families have reacted to the brand,” Dan says.
“Sons and daughters are thanking us for sending our ‘Angels’ to care for mum and our clients are referring to our caregivers as angels. It feels a natural way to refer to our amazing care team, but it also reinforces my decision to launch Visiting Angel in the UK.
“I knew the brand worked well in the USA, as it is regularly referred to as America’s choice for home care. What I know now is that the brand translates well and has become familiar to our clients and their families in South Yorkshire.”
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 work closely with the team at head office. A reduced franchise fee is being offered to the development franchisees.