BrightStar Care Leverages Service Mix to Box Out Competition in New Markets

BrightStar Care is looking to expand its footprint in 2020, specifically into markets such as Nashville, Tennessee, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Cleveland and Seattle. The Chicago-based in-home care franchise is also in the middle of a push to break into the Pennsylvania market.

As part of its business model, BrightStar offers medical-level in-home care, non-medical home care, hospice care and medical-staffing services. Over the past couple of years, BrightStar has also entered the senior living space, with multiple communities located in the Midwest.

BrightStar is active in 39 states, able to reach at least 75% of the U.S. population within a 30-minute drive, founder and CEO Shelly Sun said in January. Overall, the franchise network has about 340 locations and thousands of employees.

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In February, the company announced targeted development plans in Pennsylvania. The company already covers 13 markets in the state, with plans to expand into 15 new markets.

BrightStar is already making progress on that target. In fact, it’s signing an agreement with a new franchisee this week, Peter First, BrightStar’s vice president of franchise development, told Home Health Care News.

“That’s an area where we have some established franchisees that are doing really well,” First said. “It’s great to grow off of that type of success. There are several markets that are open in Pennsylvania that are key for us. The Philadelphia area still has quite a bit of availability.”

In addition to Philadelphia, the targeted markets include Mechanicsburg, Harrisburg, Reading, York, Williamsport, Willkes-Barre and Scranton.

Last year, BrightStar added 25 new franchisees across 16 states. The goal is to be able to reach as much of the U.S. population with its services as possible, which is why the focus this year will be on Nashville, Cleveland, Albuquerque and Seattle.

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Another key market Bright Star is looking to grow in is Boston, First said.

“It just all ties together with being able to provide even greater service on the national account side,” First said. “We’re working to develop relationships with the providers versus making this a transactional-type relationship. So really being able to provide a greater service to those national accounts and make sure that we are the first call, whether it’s with centralized intake or the relationships that our franchisees are building with those providers directly in the field. That’s an area that was definitely a focus for us.”

As BrightStar expands, there are a few things the company looks at. For example, First and his team try to find markets that are relatively open in regard to competition.

Even if markets are saturated, BrightStar may still pursue expansion in some cases.

“We definitely look where the competition is, [but] that’s not a deterrent,” First said. “It’s great when we can go into a market and see that we have several other competitors there, because … we can provide skilled care. We go beyond companion care, and can get into more of the skilled aspects of the business, which allows the clients to stay in their home even longer. And that is pretty appealing to families.”

As for the challenges that BrightStar will face while expanding in 2020, they’re similar to the rest of the home-based care industry. The caregiver staffing issue is one that the company will try to manage for the foreseeable future.

It does have somewhat of an advantage there as well, however. Because of the staffing segment of its business, BrightStar is able to plug its employees into new positions in between caregiving assignments.

Nationally, the median caregiver turnover rate was at 82% in 2018, according to the latest data from market research and education firm Home Care Pulse. In January, Sun said that BrightStar’s turnover rate was around 20%.

“I think we’re on a great path,” First said. “We’re getting interest from candidates and inquiries from all across the country … the market is there and we have the capabilities to fill it — and that’s what we’re looking to do.”

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