Setting sights on a new market with Home Instead franchise

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Like any successful businessman, a good franchisor is always on the look-out for a new opportunity. Having spent more than a decade developing the Snap Printing and Contours Express franchises in Ireland, Ed Murphy and Michael Kearney have set their sights on a new market with Home Instead Senior Care, which provides services to elderly designed to help them continue to live in their own homes.

Having set up over 30 franchisees over the last 13 years, Ed Murphy knows a thing or two about what it takes to make a franchise business work. “Having someone to help you with all the ‘incidental ’ things, such as employment contracts forms is most helpful,” he said. “I can supply 30-40 pieces of information, contacts, printed materials and negotiated agreements to franchisees, which will save them months of time.”

They own the Snap Printing and Contours Express franchises in Ireland. Having worked in franchising in the US, he joined Snap in the 1990s with two statistics still ringing in his ears. “I had read that 92 per cent of franchise businesses were successful versus 23 per cent of independently owned business after five years,” he recalled. “I also read that 62 per cent of consumers preferred to deal with businesses with a national profile rather than with an independent.”

Central to his winning formula is getting each new business to breakeven as quickly as possible. “We know the pitfalls that stop them reaching break even point more quickly - people underestimate how long it takes to get to break even. We also help franchisees avoid the tasks that are not absolutely crucial to the business by helping them outsource a lot of these functions. We are always revising and updating our documentation for each franchise and we strike the best possible deals with all suppliers so the franchise holder does not need to worry about negotiating with suppliers.”

According to Murphy, there is one word that sums up a successful company – sales - and if the owner has not got the time to network or sell the business will fail. “We do a lot of organisational modeling and benchmarking to see what the business should be doing – what the margins should be, how many staff they should have and what they should be paying them, etc,” he explained.

Franchisees are also encouraged to talk to each other. “A lot of our franchise holders feel the relationships they have with other franchisees is extremely valuable,” he added. “They talk to each other a lot and we have encouraged that by setting up ‘buddy groups’ of people with complimentary skills. We also meet formally every two months.”

Having reached a stage where Muiris Murphy is running Snap Printing and Sharon Cooney has taken charge of Contours Express (with both having become shareholders in their respective franchises) the time was right for a new challenge. His chosen venture is Home Instead Senior Care.

Home Instead Senior Care is an international organisation of over 600 franchise offices across primarily the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Portugal and Japan. The company provides services to the elderly to enable them to live in their own homes for longer than would be otherwise possible. Services include personal care, which might involve assistance with walking, dressing, meal preparation, medication reminders and home care such as light housekeeping, laundry as well as bringing them to medical appointments and shopping. People with early Dementia or Alzheimer’s can also be assisted and convalescent care is available for those who have recently been in hospital.

“Basically, Home Instead provides the non medical care a person needs to keep them out of a hospital or nursing home,” said Murphy. “People often end up having to leave their homes because they have no one there to help them with basic tasks. We directly employ care givers, whose references and backgrounds are checked thoroughly. They then go through an orientation process with the senior person, which is supervised by a healthcare professional who will liaise with the person’s doctor and monitor their general health.”

Central to the success of the service is the relationship between the care giver and the senior person. “We have a full training programme for our care givers that covers all aspects of the job, but we are also sensitive to the personal aspects of the relationship with the person being cared for,” he added. “This is a long term commitment and if they are not completely content, we will change the care giver.”

While at present 12% of the population is 65 and older, that is due to grow progressively up to 20% by the year 2030. This growth is happening at a time when traditional family caregivers are been swallowed up in the Irish workforce. With 27% of our elderly living alone and the hospitals bursting at the seams, it is easy to see why there is a huge opening for Home Instead senior Care.

Having had the most successful first eight months ever recorded by a Home Instead office worldwide, the pilot office in Leopardstown in Dublin was looking after over one hundred older people by the end of February 2006. Murphy says he has received a large number of enquiries from potential franchisees and having interviewed over 30 of them, the first four franchisees came on board in March 2006. Murphy is looking forward to rolling out the franchise throughout the country over the next couple of years. He can be contacted at 01-2068022.