Since it began franchising in 2006, Accessible Home Health Care has grown to 82 units located across the country and abroad. More than a third of the company’s franchisees are veterans of the U.S. armed forces, and now the number of veteran franchise owners is set to grow through a new program that will waive the initial $50,000 fee for selected candidates.
Coral Springs, Florida-based Accessible Home Health Care has always given a 10% franchise fee discount for veterans, but the idea to do something else took root about two years ago, CEO Aarif Dahod told Home Health Care News.
“With everything going on with [the Department of Veterans Affairs], and seeing how many vets are struggling when they get back from overseas, the advisory board of the company and the management team decided we should go beyond,” he said. “At that point, the idea of establishing a veterans opportunity program came about.”
The idea developed into the Milton M. Rager Veterans’ Franchise Opportunity Program, named for the father of Cheryl Rager, Accessible’s director of quality assurance. It was established almost a year to the day after her father’s passing, she told HHCN.
“He was in the Battle of the Bulge under General Patton,” she said. “He was in the 44th Engineers Battalion. He would talk about his war stories to the family if we asked him, but he never bragged, he didn’t consider himself a hero, just said he was doing his duty.”
A total of four new franchises will be established under the program, with one each in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Recipients are chosen by a panel of four veterans, comprised of three people in Accessible’s management and one board member. In addition to the franchise fee being waived, the recipients will receive entrepreneurial training and assistance in locating and accessing startup capital.
The first franchise already has been awarded, to brothers Nathan and Javon Russell and their mother, Joyce Russell.
“Their grandfather, parents, sister, all have been veterans,” Dahod said. “So, we awarded the first unit to a veteran family. They’re in the process of setting up and opening their unit in the Detroit area.”
The franchise was granted to the Russells not only as a way of recognizing the whole family’s service, but because of their expertise. Nathan has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and human resources experience; Javon pursued business management after his time in the military; and Joyce has a master’s in nursing and is wrapping up a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.
While Accessible is absorbing the cost of waiving the franchise fees, there is a payoff for bringing these franchisees into the company, Dahod said.
“It’s about being good corporate citizens, and if you’re looking strictly from the economical side of it, I know [these franchises] will be successful and the company will get the royalties,” he said. “Seeing the reaction of these two at our annual conference in February, to see those two young men and hear what they had to say, I think they’ll be a tremendous success.”
Accessible also is glad to bring more veterans in as franchisees because vets make up about 30% of its client base, Dahod estimated. The bonds and level of understanding that exist among vets raises the bar on care quality; as an example, he pointed to the company’s Houston location.
There, a franchise owner redid a client’s bathroom, on the office’s dime, to make it wheelchair accessible. That client, himself a veteran, had not been able to take a shower in his own bathroom for the previous three years.
“The franchise owner, who is a vet, brought in his son-in-law, who is also a vet, and completely re-did the bathroom,” Dahod said. “It does add value, to have veterans taking care of veterans.”
Written by Tim Mullaney