With a large and growing marketplace for franchisees, domiciliary care has been one of UK franchising’s fastest growth sectors in recent years. Heritage Healthcare is one of its up-and-comers, having grown from its North East of England headquarters so successfully that it’s one of just three firms in the running to be named emerging franchisor of the year 2016 by the British Franchise Association.
Founder and CEO Glenn Pickersgill gives Business Advice an insight into the Heritage Healthcare story so far.
Q&A subject: Heritage Healthcare CEO, Glenn Pickersgill
- Franchised since: June 2013
- Network size: ten franchisees across 11 territories
- Network turnover: £850,000
- Typical start-up cost: £27,995
(1) What’s your background in care?
My family has been working in the care sector since 1955, when my grandmother set up a three-bedded care home in Darlington. When she retired in 1970, my parents were placed in charge and the care home also became our family home.
In 1973, my parents bought another nursing home and went on to open another in 1977. After selling my first business, I decided that having lived around care and learning as much as I had at such a young age, it made sense for me to get back to my roots.
I purchased a 12-bed property and began to adapt it in to a residential home for the elderly. Harewood Lodge opened in 1984 in Darlington, with the sale of the business paying for both the property and its alterations.
My parents and I decided to work together in 1985. Together we created Supreme Care Homes, and in 1993 began to provide domiciliary – care in people’s homes. We carried on providing care until 2006, at which point we sold the business.
(2) What was the driving force behind starting Heritage Healthcare and how does that translate to the ethos of the business?
I’d only been out of business for six months when my wife Sally and I began to look for another care home. I missed having a business and wanted to get back to doing what I love most. I looked around a number of homes, but when I really began to think about the future of care, all I could see was care at home.
We purchased our company name, Heritage Healthcare, in 2007 and the following year finalised the purchase of a home care business in Guisborough, North Yorkshire. We then went on to open another three care offices in the North East of England.
Our aim as a company is to transform homecare and be the care provider of choice nationwide. All too often, care homes and home care providers are in the news for failing to look after their clients.
We ensure that each client receives a dignified and respectful service that is delivered with compassion. Alone, we would be unable to grow the business to the nationwide scale it needs to be to meet our aims.
(3) Why did you decide on franchising as your expansion model?
We felt that through franchising, we would be able to grow the business more quickly and still be able to maintain control.
We were extremely confident in our business model and knew first hand, that when followed, it delivered success. Our policies and procedures met international quality standards and between the board of directors, we have a wealth of care experience. We felt that our knowledge, experience and expertise would be invaluable in helping others to develop and run a successful care business.
(4) Who are the team behind the franchise and how does your collective experience help your franchisees? Do you have any awards to highlight your ethical approach?
Including myself and my wife Sally, there are four directors of Heritage Healthcare. Together, we have over 80 years of experience within the care sector and have worked in almost every role.
Michelle achieved her Qualified Franchise Professional certificate prior to our first franchisee joining us. This qualification ensures that, within our business, we have sound knowledge of the franchise industry and are able to fully support franchisees in their due diligence, applications for finance and in general support throughout their time as a franchisee.
Our franchisee owners also have access to in-house marketing and finance department who are on hand daily, to assist them in their business needs.
(5) Do your franchisees require a background in care?
We don’t require our franchisee owners to have a background in care.
(6) We know the UK has an ageing population, does that augur well for your franchisees’ businesses?
The business opportunity really is second to none. Homecare is one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors. Our population is ageing, but our elderly are now more able to remain in their own homes and are choosing to do so, which is why homecare is so important.
Over ten million people are aged over 65 in the UK today. In 20 years, this number is set to increase by 50 per cent. The care industry is currently worth £20bn annually.
(7) Reputation is everything to a care business. How selective are you in selecting your franchisees and what kind of training and support do you offer to ensure the highest standards throughout your network?
We are extremely selective in choosing our franchisees. When we take on a franchisee, we give them our brand and our reputation – this is something we have to trust them with and, in order to do that, we must believe that they want to deliver the Heritage standard of care to their clients.
Franchisees receive a comprehensive ten-day training programme at our head office. We pass on our care knowledge and put them through exactly the same training that our care assistants receive. Training for franchisees is continual, it never ends there are always new things to learn and even as a franchisor we are continually learning.
(8) What are the most important attributes you look for in potential franchisees?
Franchisees must have the business acumen, drive and ambition to run and develop their own successful business. But homecare is all about people, the people we care for, the people that care and all the people in between. To work with us in transforming the homecare market, franchisees must have compassion for people and understand the importance of delivering an expert quality service with respect and empathy.
Read our franchising expert’s view on why attitude and aptitude are two of the most important qualities successful franchisors need to have.
Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.