Cincinnati-based FirstLight Home Care, a non-medical home care franchisor, saw 20% growth in gross revenues for franchisees during the first and second quarters of 2017, the company announced Tuesday. Gross revenues reached $41 million for the first half of the year.
The non-medical companion and personal care service provider has been on a growth spurt over the last few years, opening 16 new locations since January—in Connecticut, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, New York, North Dakota and Texas.
Since FirstLight opened its doors in 2010, the franchisor has expanded to more than 240 location in 33 states that are fully operational or under development. At least 10 more offices are set to open before the end of the year.
“From a franchise location standpoint, we’ve almost doubled in two years,” Bill McPherson, business development specialist and executive director of franchise development at FirstLight, told Home Health Care News. “We’ve gone from 130 locations in 2014 to now over 240 locations open or under development. In a competitive space, we’ve been able to grow pretty rapidly.”
By the end of the year, FirstLight expects it will have added up to 35 new locations, and the company is budgeting for as many new locations in 2018, McPherson said. The company is often ranked on various top franchise lists, including most recently securing a spot as a top opportunity and a top low-cost franchise list. Franchisees are on track to exceed $88 million in gross revenues for 2017.
Part of the company’s overall expansion comes from existing franchisees—35% of franchisees own more than one location, according to McPherson.
FirstLight has seen consistent, rapid growth rates; in 2015, FirstLight Home Care saw a 98% increase in gross revenues for its franchisees over the full-year 2014.
To keep up with the growth, FirstLight recently added three more personnel to its corporate operations support team, McPherson said.
“The growing elderly population is driving the demand for the types of services that we offer,” Jeff Bevis, CEO of FirstLight Home Care, said in a statement. “Our depth of knowledge at the franchisor level to support our franchisees in new markets has been a good lever for us. We are certainly a for-profit business, but our service-oriented culture of care and franchisees who are leaders in their local communities have been instrumental in the success we’ve seen.”
As new locations continue to open, franchisees are faced with the same headwinds across the industry and have leaned on the FirstLight business model to boost caregiver recruitment and retention.
Across the company, FirstLight owners see retention rates of or higher than over 80% for caregivers, according to McPherson.
“This industry is notorious for high turnover of caregivers,” he told HHCN. We get very involved with finding caregivers, on-boarding, training, providing health benefits, drug screening and background checks. We’re very hyper-focused because it’s the biggest challenge.”
In addition to offering health care benefits that are compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for the last four years, FirstLight has also required that its franchisees pay caregivers for overtime hours. This requirement was in place before the Department of Labor (DOL) changed its regulations in 2015.
“If we run a business model that’s about integrity and doing the right thing, we think the rest will take care of itself,” McPherson said. “As laws change and other home care agencies are required to pay overtime, they have a huge impact to the business. In our system, we don’t miss a beat. It’s built into the billing rate and pay rates.”
McPherson also emphasizes the management team, which collectively has more than 170 years in franchising and 120 years in the home care space, as a strength that has helped boost the company’s ability to achieve a high retention rate.
Written by Amy Baxter