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How two franchisees grew a £1 million Walfinch business

How two franchisees grew a £1 million Walfinch business

Tracy Lezar and Kathleen Plough have hit a six-figure turnover since opening their home care business in Kingston and Weybridge

Three and half years ago, Tracy Lezar and Kathleen Plough decided to open up a Walfinch home care franchise in Kingston and Weybridge.

The area is fairly affluent and it’s common for residents to pay privately for high quality, bespoke care, which the duo hoped to tap into.

Since then, Tracy and Kathleen have accumulated 40 clients, which has contributed to the home care business achieving a turn-over of more than a million.

“We love our business and work hands-on in it every day, says Tracy. “One of us goes out to meet each new client, and they know that they can all us any time.

“I used to be in recruitment and Kathleen was in retail banking so our communication and customer service skills make home care our perfect business.”

Tackling the ongoing issue of carer shortages

Although Tracy and Kathleen have been able to create a successful business, they found national carer shortages had the potential to restrict their progress.

“We solved this partly by recruiting carers in South Africa, where high unemployment drives demand for overseas work,” says Tracy.

“Kathleen and I are both South African, and still have extensive networks there, so people get to hear that we can offer new careers here.”

Kathleen adds: “We also put advertisements on Facebook and people message us asking about coming to the UK to work in our team.”

The business partners interview applicants online and conduct background checks and references, before arranging visas for successful candidates.

Providing support to emigrating staff

Carers from South Africa have helped Tracy and Kathleen plug the British carer shortage. However, this means additional support is needed for staff as they transition to working in a new country.

“Our carers arrive in a new country, often having left their family behind, to take up work that is usually new to them, because there is no formal home care industry in South Africa,” says Tracy.

“We provide emotional and practical support, and they know that they can call us any time if they have problems.”

Tracy and Kathleen have invested in three cars that new carers can use before they buy their own.

“It’s wonderful to see them discover the rewards of caring, and our clients love them,” says Kathleen.

One recently recruited carer, who came to the UK from South Africa, says: “Kathleen and Tracy saved my marriage, my house, and my car by giving me a job here and I thoroughly enjoy working with them.”

Growth through live-in care

Recruiting carers from overseas has helped Walfinch Kingston and Weybridge expand its domiciliary care, but also its live-in care service.

“The market for live-in care has grown fast, and live-in suits carers coming from abroad. Now about 25 of our 43 carers live-in, and we expect that number to increase,” says Kathleen.

Live-in care has not only helped grow the income of Walfinch Kingston and Weybridge but has benefited the local community.

“It goes to show that in home care you can build a thriving business while earning the rewards of making a tangible improvement to your community,” says Tracy.

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