What is a “protected territory?”  A:  That is a great questions and one that highlights one of the unique aspects of Always Best Care Senior Services’ franchise ownership opportunities.  The answers center around managing the interaction with the referral source and the services provided to the clients coming from the referral source.

Many franchise concepts will ‘protect’ a geographic area for its owners.  This means that residents (or in some cases, businesses) of that geography cannot be marketed to, approached or served by another owner in that franchise system.  This can work for some home-based services like maid services or mini-blind installation  – marketing is targeted, and services are provided, within a defined geography.

A protected referral source, on the other hand, allows an Always Best Care franchise owner (and the referral sources) to feel comfortable knowing there will be a single point of contact, a one-to-one relationship; multiple representatives for the same company will not be calling on the referral source. If an Always Best Care franchise owner has a large hospital, skilled nursing facility, a number of successful elder law attorneys or financial planners, those referral sources are protected from any other owner marketing to them. This is a business based on trust and relationships.  Allowing our owners the ability to focus on their protected sources and build those relationships is a key component to their growth and development.

Better yet, clients referred by the protected source may be served outside of the owner’s territory.  Any opportunities generated from those sources, regardless of location*, are available to the owner.  For example, if Mrs. Doe is discharged from Megaplex General Hospital, the local owner who has developed the relationships with the hospital would have the opportunity to serve Mrs. Doe.  If she happens to live in an area outside the local owner’s geography, he can still provide services to her because she came from his protected referral source.

Protecting the referral source is the ideal way to manage the flow of clients in a system that is based on trust and relationships.  Referral partners know who their primary contact is, and the franchise owner can build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with them.  The ability to follow a client from the referral source allows the franchise owner to remove the limitations of protected geography.

These differences may be too subtle for those outside the industries of franchising and senior care, but they are key, important differentiators for Always Best Care franchise owners.  As always, if you have someone interested in the concept, we will be happy to discuss the details and answer any questions.

*Full Disclosure: some states have licensing restrictions that may limit some services is the referred client lives out of state, county or licensing region.  Those are likely to be a small minority of the referrals.

How do I …  Invest more directly in a growing industry?     A: Franchise ownership is a way to be directly involved in a growing industry and have the opportunity to create a return on your investment.  In today’s uncertain investment climate, investing in one’s self and/or business ownership could be a viable option.

How do I…. Start a business while I’m working 60+ hrs/week for someone else?     A: Many franchise concepts can work well for ‘absentee’ owners.  Most require the hiring of a general manager

How do I …  Create options for my future?     A:  Investor/owners have the option of transitioning into their business upon (early?) retirement or career junction.

How do I ... Leverage my talents and experience?     A:  Managers and executives are great candidates for franchise ownership as either owner/operators, or as investor/owners.  As leaders of teams, they are accustomed to delegation, goal setting, coaching, etc.  In many franchise concepts, Always Best Care included, industry experience is not required to be successful.  Many of our owners are from industries other than healthcare.

How do I … Continue to be involved in community service?     A:  If your career has involved personal or corporate-led community service, that spirit of giving back to the community fits perfectly with the Always Best Care delivery of much-needed services to people in need.

How do I … .Find the guidance needed to succeed in something new?     A:  In many markets across the country, including Tampa Bay, Always Best Care has dedicated in-market resources to help new owners start, build and grow their business.  In addition, initial classroom training, field training, continuing education and on-going coaching – all help owners be prepared to succeed.

How do I … Work on the business, not in it?     A:  Building a balanced team with diversified skill sets is a solid foundation upon which an owner can rely on to have the daily operations managed, allowing the owner to out in the community building valuable relationships.

How do I … Find opportunities that fit my needs and skill set?     A:  Franchise brokers are a great resource for people looking for help in determining the best match to their skills and strengths.  If you know exactly what kind of opportunity you are looking for, most franchise concepts have the ability to discuss the opportunity directly with those interested.  Always Best Care’s local Area Representative are available to answer questions and help with the process.

How do I … Manage all the investigation and due diligence?     A:  All franchise concepts should follow a formal process of Discovery and Validation, as well as provide a Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD).

How do I … .Get started?     A:  Talk with a local Always Best Care Area Representative, or contact a local franchise broker to learn more about options available that meet your goals.

WHAT services do ABC franchisees offer?

ABC franchisees help families make informed decisions about senior care. They provide care at home, as well as, advice and counsel to those seeking the right choice for a senior living community.

IS healthcare industry experience required?

No, ABC provides you with the training, tools and technology to grow a successful business. Plus we provide LOCAL support through our Area Rep system with a local mentor and business coach to guide you through start-up, daily operation, and strategic planning.

HOW can I decide if franchising is good fit for me?

We facilitate your learning and discovery – at your own pace – to help you determine if an ABC franchise is right for your and your family.

March 2015 Open House Questions

WHAT support will Always Best Care (ABC) be able to offer at start-up and during operations?

Each owner is unique and brings his/her/their own talents, but ABC provides an array of training, national and local support to help optimize operations.

In regions that have an Area Representative that support will be relatively close (in state).  Where no AR is present, support is provided by regional field trainers and/or Field Support Office personnel).

Locally, around Tampa Bay, we help with Pre-training and Field Training; provide access to our network of local industry contacts and our relationships with both referral sources and communities.  On an ongoing basis, we will provide help with marketing and operations.

In addition, there is an array of marketing materials and programs to utilize; as well as, Field Support Office (FSO) personnel to help with technical

WHAT training is available?

New owners will do a substantial amount of internet- and webinar-based ‘pre-training,’ before attending five days of classroom training at company headquarters.  Soon after, the owners will have at least three days of ‘field training’ with their local Area Representative, or field trainer.  Additional mentoring and coaching is provided as needed on an ongoing basis.

HOW will clients be obtained?

Ours is a referral-based business, supported by additional, traditional marketing methods.  Networking plays a big role in building a base of referral sources, as does marketing directly to local hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.  Social media are utilized, as well, to find the right mix that works for the specific territory.

WILL anyone be available to help obtain clients during start-up?

Absolutely!  Our local, Tampa Bay area “pre-heating” strategy has proven effective in shortening the time between joining the company and booking the first client.  Our newest owner handled a placement opportunity during the first day of Field Training – talk about learn by doing!

HOW will caregivers be obtained?

e use a number of relationships, tools and networks to find the caregivers who are vital to the growth of the new owners’ businesses.  Details are discussed and practiced during classroom training, so owners have prospects, if not employees, when they return and prepare for Field Training.

HOW soon to profitability?

There is no one answer, as each territory is unique and each owner brings different skills, teams and capital to the task.  Area Representatives will work with new owners on office set up and structure, P & L planning and tracking, business generation and most everything else associated with creating profit.  In the end, the timeline is a function of the new owner’s own goals, drive, networking and leadership skills.

IF the business is so good, why is the territory still available?

This question has many facets: demographics, the award process, the economy, … .

It takes a special set of skills, capabilities, motivations and funds to start a Home Health Agency in the state of Florida.  We “award” territories to individuals; it is not just a sales transaction.  We get to know the potential new owners, just as they dive into their due diligence on us.  If someone is looking just to make quick and easy money with little connection with the clients, then this is not the business or industry for them.

When economic times are tough, the funds available for this investment may not be available to some; when times are good, there may not be motivation to leave a steadily paying job, no matter how unsatisfactory it is.

Locally, we seek talented individuals with “fire and heart,” the desire to grow a business coupled with the compassion to care for people in need.  This is a rare combination, but one that should provide the basis for a successful senior care business.

February 2015 Open House Questions

What does a typical owner look like?

I could start with 5’ 6”, but that’s not the information you are looking for.  Always Best Care owners are an interesting cross-section of America.  We have executives from Fortune 100 companies, small business owners, husband and wife teams, and a few from the nursing or pharmaceutical sales.  Most owners have come from industries outside of healthcare.

WHAT are the Keys to Success?

This is an industry and business built on caring and building relationships.  First and foremost is a focus on leading your team to provide exemplary care and service to clients.  Those clients will very likely come from relationships with various referral sources and partners.  Establishing and nurturing those relationships is the basis to growing the business.

WHERE are Opportunities and Openings?

We currently have territories open in and around Tampa Bay, as well as other parts of Florida, the US and Canada.  A territory consists of contiguous zip codes with a population totaling around 225,000.  Between the territories we attempt to balance the number of major referral sources, like hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.

A differentiator with Always Best Care is that the referral sources are protected within a territory, and owners can ‘follow’ a client from the referral source (hospital, for example) to the home, even if it is outside the territory.  Other concepts protect the residents in the territory which can create confusion at the referral source if multiple representatives are calling on the source.

Employment opportunities will vary with each office, depending on the owner’s strengths and office organization.  In general, the office staff will consist of a scheduler, a marketer/care coordinator, and (in Florida) an administrator/RN.  To provide services to clients, the owner will pull together a team of part-time caregivers.

HOW does someone go about buying a franchise?

Franchising is regulated by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) which has spelled out guidelines for how franchise opportunities are offered and awarded (see our “Awarded versus Sold” blog post for more on “award.”)

Simply put, the process starts with a quick interview to determine the level of interest of the interested party.  Next, is a structured Discovery phase where the franchisor provides overview information about the industry, the business and the franchisor’s approach to support, marketing and operations.  This phase can last from a few weeks to months, depending on the candidate’s level of interest.   During this phase, the candidate is provided a copy of the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), which contains everything you would ever want to know about the franchisor – as defined by the FTC.

After learning about the franchisor, the candidate is strongly encouraged to “Validate” what has been learned in Discovery, by talking with actual franchise owners.  These discussions provide an opportunity to ask questions about ‘a day in the life,’ sales, margins, challenges, and successes.

After Discovery and Validation, candidates have an opportunity to visit the company headquarters for a Discovery Day and meet the leadership team and support team.  Given all that information and interaction, the candidate should have all the information necessary to make an informed decision.

Assuming I am comfortable with franchising, WHY Always Best Care?

Great question, and one that should be asked.  Company founder, Mike Newman, started Always Best Care in 1996 and began franchising the concept in 2007.  Unlike some other home care companies, Always Best Care is born from the industry and based on a deep understanding of how to care for seniors.  Another key differentiator for Always Best Care are the more than 20 Area Representatives around the country who provide direct, ‘in the filed’ marketing and operations support to franchisees.  This level of support is not common in home care. The company has grown steadily since 2007 – we recommend starting the Discovery process to learn more and obtain a copy of the FDD to get all the details.

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