As you begin your search for a Caregiving agency, you may come across various types. Some are local and privately owned while many others are franchises. In a franchise, the individual owner (who may be local or may not be) has agreed to pay a franchise royalty fee to the parent company in exchange for use of the name, national sales and marketing support, and behind the scenes operating systems. Each franchise owner is responsible for a specific geographical territory and can only service clients within that territory.
The Franchise Model
McDonalds, Merry Maids, Anytime Fitness and Chick-Fila are franchise companies. One thing you will notice when visiting or using these services is that you receive the same (or almost the same) options at each and every one. The same product or service delivered in the same fashion at the same price. The primary goal of a franchise is that while each one is independently owned and operated by individuals, the franchise business model provides the same information to all of the owners, and therefore your experience with each should be practically identical. This same rule applies with home care franchises – they strive for consistency in all of their locations.
There has been a drastic increase in the number of home care agency franchises in the last several years due to quickly increasing demand as our aging population skyrockets. This trend will likely continue into the next decade or so as 10,000 people turn 65 every day in the United States. Some of the most popular ones include Home Instead Senior Care, Right at Home, and Comfort Keepers.
Privately Owned And Operated Models
Privately owned companies are usually started from “scratch”, meaning the owners developed all service lines, process, procedures, marketing strategies, etc. and set their own pricing structure. Many are small businesses located in one area, while others may be part of a larger corporation, with multiple nationwide locations, and corporate oversight/support.
One major commonality that many private home care agencies share is that the owners tend to come from a background of working in the senior care industry. Many are clinicians such as physicians, registered nurses, or clinical social workers, who decided to go out on their own after working in various branches of the industry. This level of experience and knowledge base allows them to start out ahead of the learning curve with their home care businesses.
Some Challenges With Using A Franchise
Because of the objective of consistency amongst franchise companies, you are less likely to experience flexibility and customization with a franchise company. Privately owned companies set their own service lines and pricing, and have the ability to adjust them on the fly without having to “go up the chain” for a decision. They can get creative and adjust service lines based on market, and feedback from their clients.
As mentioned before, franchise owners own a certain geography (usually zip codes) in which they can serve clients and hire caregivers. Most work well together and refer business back and forth. However, there are situations in which neighboring franchises do not work well together, and are in fact more competitive in nature with one another. We have had instances where a client is moving from one zip code to another, and the franchise they are currently with had to “pass off” the client to the neighboring franchise, and the neighboring franchise wasn’t as accommodating or didn’t provide the same level of service, causing a negative client experience.
Not All Agencies Are The Same
Regardless of franchised or privately owned, not all home care companies are the same. There is a wide variety in the market, and the benefits of using each different type vary. It is not a one size fits all kind of purchase. Be sure to ask a lot of questions of the agency you are engaging with to you can learn about how they operate and what they can offer that is different from their competitors. Inquire about their licensing, insurance, corporate culture, time and attendance policies, payroll processing, overtime and holiday policies, caregiver screening and training, staffing and on call procedures and emergency planning. A reputable company, franchise or private, will gladly explain all of the features and benefits prior to your signing up with their service. Knowing the answers to these questions helps you to choose the agency that is a best fit for you, and to know what to expect while working with them.
About the Author: Pam Reynolds, CMC is the President and co-owner of Allegiance Aging Care Services. Pam has spent almost fifteen years working in senior care including long term care facilities and home health care. Her higher education is in Social Work, and she has been credentialed as both a certified Geriatric Care Manager and Licensed Assisted Living Administrator. Read more about Pam and her team of Aging Care Professionals here.