We speak to Dan Archer about how Visiting Angels and its network of UK franchisees have faced the challenges of 2020
Established in the US in 1998, Visiting Angels is a global care giant with community-based values. Today the franchise is one of the largest care franchises in the world and supports 600-plus franchisees across five countries.
Since it was launched in the UK in 2017, the business has experienced phenomenal growth.
Dan Archer, managing director of Visiting Angels, explains: “Before launching the franchise, I wanted to launch and run a pilot business in the UK. I felt it was important that I was able to support our franchisees from a position of first-hand knowledge.
“My business in Sheffield is now turning over more than £1.4 million per year and supports 100 families, employing over 70 staff.”
The solid foundations of the pilot business have also led to the expansion of a network of franchisees. “We have nine offices across the UK and we had a socially distanced training course in May 2020, with eight new franchisees attending,”
Dan says. “I’m delighted our model is one of the franchise success stories of the past 12 months.”
Dan feels the global health crisis has presented opportunities for those in the care sector.
“Our business was built on valuing carers better than other care companies,” he says. “What has happened with the COVID-19 outbreak is that society has also started to realise that carers need to be valued better. The clap for carers initiative is a sign that the rest of the population is catching up with something that we have always believed.”
Visiting Angels call this approach being carer centric. The focus is clear from the mission statement of the UK business to: ‘Become the UK care sector’s employer of choice by 2022.’
“I want our caregivers to want to work in care and to 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 among 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.”
By focusing on its caregivers, Visiting Angels has found it’s able to ensure the company has a ready supply of them.
“We have also found that the culture of caregiver support we have built in our offices has protected us from high staff turnover, meaning the clients who we support get the same caregiver each week - happy caregivers are best placed to ensure that clients are delighted,” Dan says.
He feels society is also changing its view on the type of care provided: “Research conducted by Hanbury Strategy, with support from the charity Independent Age, during April-May 2020 showed that around a third of people polled said they were now less likely to want to put their relative in a care home.
“Residential care has been at the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak. In our pilot business in Sheffield we’re receiving calls from relatives who are deciding that they would rather keep their loved ones at home to avoid the risks within care homes.
“A backlash against residential care was already driving demand for care in the home. If COVID-19 is increasing the feeling that people are safer at home, the demand for the Visiting Angels service is set to keep rising. “ With many other businesses struggling to survive, the home care sector is proving to be both resilient and essential.
“At the start of the lockdown, we received a notification from the government that 50 per cent of everyone passing through the hospital system for COVID-19 treatment would need social care support in the community as part of their rehabilitation,” Dan says.
“In our Sheffield office, April was a record month, with over £100,000 of turnover in the month. Since the start of the crisis, our business is 20 per cent up on the number of hours of care being delivered.
“We’re supporting our community, doing more, contributing to society and making a difference at the most crucial time in our recent history. I’m very proud of everything our caregivers and franchisees are doing and we’re keen to speak to anyone who is interested in joining our business and making a difference in their community.”
Since launching the UK business, the Sheffield office has grown to a monthly turnover of over £100,000, with a regular influx of new clients each month. In addition, the franchise opportunity was launched in October 2018 and eight new franchisees are in the process of launching their businesses this month alone.
They’re joining a worldwide network of over 600 franchisees and Dan says the Visiting Angels family provides a huge benefit: “The initial franchisee training is in Philadelphia and I noticed straight away that there was a culture of sharing in the business.
“The management team are hugely knowledgeable, but many of the best practice initiatives in the business have been proven over many years and from the experience of hundreds of franchisees. When we do the second week of training in Sheffield, we’re providing the knowledge that is specific to running a home care business in the UK.”
The 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.
At a glance Visiting Angels
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Dan Archer. 07584 178458 visitingangelsfranchise.co.uk