Texas-based HomeWell Senior Care, a private duty home care franchise company, has a new owner with a background in hotels—and big plans to ramp up growth.
Bruce Haase has acquired a majority stake ownership in the company for an undisclosed amount, while founder Joshua Hoffman retains one-third ownership.
The company, which was founded in 2002, started franchising in 2003 and now has 32 franchise owners, with 75 units across 17 states in the U.S. and Canada. With new ownership, HomeWell is aiming to add 20 to 25 new units in 2018, with eight contracts already signed, according to CEO Lori Yount.
“[We have] ambitious growth plans,” Yount told Home Health Care News. “In HomeWell’s history, we’ve taken the slower approach to growth. With Bruce coming in, it’s a different level of resources, if you will. It straps a rocket to our back in terms of development.”
In addition to growing out franchise locations, HomeWell is making investments in its infrastructure to support new franchisees, with education, technology and other programs, Yount said. These investments aim to avoid other pitfalls HomeWell has seen competitors make, such as growing too quickly to scale quality services.
“We’re really trying to add quality franchisees to the system—the quality of the individual that comes in [must be] true to the mission and value with the level of service we want,” Haase told HHCN.
The investment is the most recent example of rising interest in the private duty franchise model. Private equity firms are striking deals to acquire franchises, both as total corporations and single site acquisitions. Most recently, SYNERGY HomeCare, a franchisor with 300 locations, was acquired by private equity firm NexPhase Capital. Other recent acquisitions by private equity firms include ComForCare, Caring People, Homewatch CareGivers and Senior Helpers.
Across the country, larger national home care companies are making aggressive growth plans in the years ahead, with some, like BrightStar Care and FirstLight Home Care, taking aim at converting independent operators to franchisees. Homewatch CareGivers and Executive Care Home Care are also ramping up their franchise presences.
Haase, who comes from a hospitality background, originally became interested in the business after transitioning out of a CEO role with Woodspring Hotels. While he was first potentially interested in purchasing a franchise, he grew to know Hoffman and saw an opportunity to grow the entire franchise system. He has previously held roles with Choice Hotels and Marriott.
“If I’m an expert in anything it’s franchising,” he said. “That’s what I can bring to the party here. Everyone [at HomeWell] has the home care knowledge but they don’t necessarily have the franchise [experience], and I bring that to the table. I wouldn’t have made the investment without the management team.”
For Yount, who will remain as CEO of the company, and Haase, the new ownership structure is a ”natural marriage,” they agreed.
The ownership stake acquisition also marks a transition for Hoffman, who will remain invested in the company in an entrepreneurial spirit, but not in an operational role.
“We had explored these opportunities previously, and it really came down to the right fit for our organization and Joshua,” Yount said of the timing of the sale. “This is something he took very personally. He started this company on a wing and a prayer, putting is blood, swat and tears into getting this company to stand where it is today before taking a minority stake. It took time for him to find the right person to trust to raise his child, if you will.”
While there are no immediate plans to implement other services lines such as home health care, HomeWell franchisees are not closed to taking on Medicaid or VA care. The company is also looking into other opportunities related to the synergies with Haase’s hospitality background, though there are no concrete announcements at this time.
“We’re going to be a lot more visible in the industry, in trade and in letting the world know what we’re up to,” Haase told HHCN.
Written by Amy Baxter