The last 10 months for in-home care providers brought challenge upon challenge — most of which arose as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Care providers across the industry took heroic measures to make it through the crisis, from personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement to navigating social-distancing requirements and managing staff on a remote basis. Additional operational hurdles included rapidly learning cutting-edge technologies and implementing new protocols geared toward infection control.
For in-home care operators that struggled through the crisis, the opportunity to join a franchise may be more appealing than ever. Apart from the proven business model, joining a large-scale franchise system also offers support, accreditation and national brand recognition — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“I put myself in the shoes of those independent agencies and think of what it must have been like to go through this pandemic on your own,” says Shelly Sun, CEO and founder of national in-home care franchise company BrightStar Care. “You’re barely able as a small business owner to manage through the changes, let alone position yourself for growth.”
The coming year is bright for in-home care providers for a number of reasons. A national franchise can provide support to not only survive, but thrive in the months and years to come.
Benefits of a national brand
For operators considering an exit strategy in the coming years, a franchise partner can lend credibility, scale opportunities and provide a support infrastructure that is appealing to prospective buyers.
“A lot of individual agencies have become exhausted,” Sun says. “In the next one to three years, maybe they were planning to sell their business. … It’s going to be a lot easier to sell when tied to a national brand with the opportunity to maximize the business model and scale.”
For example, BrightStar Care agencies are Joint Commission-accredited, which can be a taxing undertaking for independent agencies to pursue. Further, BrightStar Care offers a national accounts team to help drive referrals to its franchisees, and has the corporate infrastructure to help franchisees with unforeseen events, such as the need for PPE. BrightStar Care, based in Illinois, invested millions of dollars in PPE procurement and distribution in 2020, storing supplies and providing them at cost to franchisees throughout the pandemic.
Such a backbone of support adds value, with franchisees historically garnering higher multiples in some markets than their independent counterparts when the time comes to sell the business.
The rise of skilled care
In addition to personal and companion care, BrightStar Care franchisees also provide skilled care. With increasing demand for skilled care in the home post-pandemic, being able to offer skilled services alongside non-skilled services will be a key differentiator, Sun says.
BrightStar Care helps its franchisees become equipped to offer those services, which can be a challenging shift for independent agencies.
“It’s a value-based complement to others in the post-acute space to be able to offer skilled and unskilled care,” says Sun, noting the rising cost of labor particularly among the nursing workforce. “It’s an opportunity to layer in additional revenue.”
Having staffing capabilities is also an advantage in securing cross-continuum opportunities.
Hospitals, for instance, are increasingly looking to move acute care into the home. To do so, they need caregivers on the ground — and the track record of well-equipped in-home care organizations.
Recruiting and retention
With staffing cited as the top challenge among in-home care providers year after year, and the pandemic only adding to the difficulties around staffing, the support and name recognition of a national franchisor can provide visibility and credibility to the recruiting process.
Within the BrightStar Care organization, all agencies having Joint Commission accreditation is another critical benefit, both in terms of supporting staff and providing quality outcomes for care recipients. Nurses and caregivers appreciate being a part of a brand focused on providing a higher standard of care.
“There’s an opportunity for agency owners to head into 2021 with the ability to broaden their business model,” Sun says. “Being able to ensure quality programs to keep the workforce and clients safe can help take small businesses to the next level.”
This article is sponsored by BrightStar Care. BrightStar Care is a national private duty home care and medical staffing franchise with nearly 340 locations which provide medical and non-medical services to clients within their homes, as well as supplemental care staff to corporate clients. BrightStar Care franchise locations across the country employ over 20,000 caregivers and over 3,500 nurses who play a unique role in overseeing the care for each individual client. To learn more about becoming a franchisee please visit brightstarfranchising.com.