SureCare franchisee Tervinder Bhangal provides a variety of services that allow people to enjoy an enhanced quality of life. Trevor Johnson reports
Just imagine that there was someone you could ring up and say: “Could you take grandmother to the dentist. And how are you fixed to tidy the garden, look after the budgie and organise a children’s party?”
Tervinder Bhangal is delighted to get calls like that. SureCare, the award winning home care provider, of which she is Coventry and South Warwickshire franchisee, prides itself on taking on virtually any job that will make life better for anyone, regardless of age or circumstances.
Founded in 1994, SureCare has certainly moved a long way from the days when it was seen as largely a provider of domiciliary care. Now its network of over 30 franchises works with clients from babies to the elderly and disabled on tasks ranging from making beds and shopping to hospice care and gardening.
Care is one of the fastest growing sectors, with a current UK value of £6 billion - two thirds being spent on the over 65s.
SureCare claims to be unique in providing a huge variety of services available to families, all aimed at allowing people to remain in their home surroundings and enjoy a comfortable and enhanced quality of life.
The company says these multiple revenue streams make a SureCare franchise a particularly attractive investment.
It explains: “Changes we have made in the business over the past two years means we are genuinely unique. No other care company offers the breadth of services - we can genuinely say we are there for our clients’ life journey.
“We offer every care and home service that people require. If we haven’t thought of a service and if there is a genuine need, we will introduce it. We listen to our franchisees and our clients.”
This blend of business and caring concern was just what 42-year-old Tervinder was looking for when she decided to take on a franchise last year. She knew all about business - she ran a successful IT consultancy with her husband Jarnail - and had 10 years’ experience as a social worker, leading a Coventry city council team caring for disabled youngsters.
She also started and successfully developed the Birmingham social work recruitment branch of a national recruitment company.
“I couldn’t have found a more suitable franchise,” Tervinder says. Opening for business last November, she plans to have a staff of 30 carers within 12 months. “You’re working with vulnerable people and must respect their rights and wishes,” she adds.
“It’s vital to get the right carers for the job and that means going through a very intensive selection process. Carers have to be versatile because we offer so many different services. A big issue is social isolation and helping people get out into the community.
“A big part of our service is providing clients with companionship, from creating time to chat, through to helping someone attend a hospital appointment or visit a local club.
“We believe in the importance of dignity for our elderly clients and providing them with personal care and support is central to this philosophy. 24-hour live-in care, holiday care and companions for trips away from home are all included in our package. It was the perfect franchise for someone with my background and experience.”
Hottest ticket in town
SureCare was acquired by managing director Gary Farrer in 2014 and offers franchises at £36,000, plus franchise fees and working capital.
Before becoming the owner of SureCare, Gary and his wife Stephanie built a £5.5 million turnover business and now pass on their experience and entrepreneurial skills to their franchisees. Their son Josh is now SureCare’s franchise recruitment manager.
Describing the care sector as “the hottest ticket in town,” Gary says: “We are providing services - and thereby franchise opportunities - which are relevant and in touch with the 21st century. We are stepping back into our communities and providing a range of community services.”
SureCare now has franchisees offering everything from babysitting services, mobile crèches at weddings and collecting laundry to shopping or simply spending time with lonely people. Others specialise in helping people affected by dementia.
The currently expanding care market has resulted in several franchisees reporting annual turnovers of more than £1 million. SureCare aims for a new franchisee to break even within nine months and would expect an established operator to make a profit of 15-20 per cent.
Franchisees come from diverse backgrounds. “You don’t need to have any care experience to run a SureCare franchise,” the company says. “But you will need to be compassionate with excellent people skills and also have the skills and capabilities to manage and lead your team.”
Amrit Dhaliwal bought the Oxfordshire SureCare franchise after caring for his elderly grandfather. Previously, he ran a successful restaurant and tea rooms, but felt strongly about delivering excellent care to the elderly.
Jagjit and Paramjeet Soni, now Hillingdon franchisees, previously ran a hotel and a clothing import business. They wanted to help older people stay independent in their own homes and chose the franchise because of its commitment to quality care.
Michelle Sparks worked in the automotive industry for many years as a business development manager, before taking on the SureCare Rugby and North Warwickshire franchise. She has looked after her 19-year-old son since he was born with cerebral palsy. After seeing him receive various standards of care over the years, Michelle felt he deserved better and turned what she had learned about caring into a business.
Manjinder and Karun Heer are a father and son who run the SureCare North Leeds franchise. Karun, a university graduate, ran a disco and his father was a bus driver and retailer.
Karun says: “My dad and I are passionate about what we do, about improving people’s lives and running the best possible care services.”
Paul Brandrick, who runs the Cheshire East SureCare franchise, worked as a plasterer and ran a restaurant in America while looking after his elderly father and wheelchair bound wife.
“I was drawn to care due to these experiences,” Paul says, who now has over 60 staff.
Franchisees take a week-long intensive training course, plus ongoing mentoring in sales, marketing and recruitment and a thorough grounding in health and safety and welfare regulations.
Tervinder remembers: “When I started the franchise I was very impressed by the experienced development staff and the continued emphasis on ensuring the service offered is safe and the outcome focused on users’ needs.
“The success of the business is based on providing the best possible service to the most vulnerable groups of people in our society.
“For instance, there are disabled teenagers who want to live independently, but because of local government cuts can’t get enough help elsewhere. We come across parents who have children with disabilities, who can’t get enough support to allow them to return to a regular job.
“People have told us they had been crying out for something like SureCare in this area. If you can give people the best quality of life and help them live the life they choose, what more can you ask for in a job?”