What’s the Best Way to Open a Senior Care Franchise?
At Visiting Angels®, new franchisees often ask our directors about the best way to open a senior care franchise. Is it better to market aggressively or slowly develop your brand? Should you hire caregivers first or wait until you’ve built a client base? What kind of services should you offer in the early months?
The answers to these questions depend on your business plan and your local market. In rural markets, the best strategies to open a senior care franchise will be different from those in urban areas. Franchisees with limited budgets may prefer less resource-intensive methods. Those with generous runway might prefer building speed as quickly as possible.
To help you figure out the best way to open your senior care franchise, let’s take a look at some of the major considerations that will inform your opening strategy.
Key Considerations When You Open a Senior Care Franchise
Entry Points to Your Target Market
When you open a senior care franchise, your success rests in large part on your target market. Your ability to identify, reach, and convert this market will determine the viability of your business.
But in the first few months, you might have trouble getting the foothold you need in this market. Without an established reputation and strong word-of-mouth, acquiring your first clients can be tough.
To overcome this problem, you should focus on entry points to your target market. That means identifying the subsets of your target market who are most receptive to a new senior care franchise, or who are poorly served by current care providers.
By targeting entry points into your target market first, you can open a senior care franchise more effectively and efficiently. You’ll be more focused and efficient in your early months, and you’ll develop a foundation for your client base.
Marketing Your Senior Care Franchise
Once you’ve identified entry points to your target market, you need to develop a marketing strategy to reach these entry points. This strategy will be dependent on your resources, your business model, and your local market. It will also depend on the traits and habits of your target market and entry point clients you’ve identified.
Some franchisees prefer to open a senior care franchise with fanfare, drumming up attention and awareness for their business. Others prefer to open quietly and build their reputation and client base over time.
Whichever route you choose, you’ll want to think about how you approach different marketing channels early on. These include...
- Direct Marketing. Do you want to market your services directly to seniors and their families? If so, how do you plan on connecting with potential clients? How will you earn their trust without an existing reputation?
- Brand Awareness. Building a recognized brand can help attract attention and earn trust as a newly opened business. This can be accomplished through local advertising, charitable work, or advocating on behalf of local seniors.
- Referral Sources. When you first open a senior care franchise, developing local sources for referrals can fast-track your business. However, some referral sources will wait until you’ve built a reputation before referring clients.
- Word of Mouth. There’s no better way to build business as a senior care franchise than through word of mouth. As such, many first-time franchisees direct their time and resources toward quality of care. This sometimes means a slow, gradual open, but it lays the foundation for future growth.
Caregiver Staffing & Services Offered
When you open a senior care franchise, you’ll need to make some key decisions about staffing. Some senior care franchise owners launch their business without any additional staff. The franchisee performs caregiving duties for their first clients and handles the administrative workload for their franchise. Once they’ve built a client base, only then do they start hiring caregivers and administrative staff.
Other franchise owners prefer to hire caregivers and/or administrative staff at the outset. This has the obvious disadvantage of increasing their overhead. But at the same time, it gives them more time to focus on growing their business. It also relieves pressure caused by caregiver shortages. By hiring high-quality caregivers at the outset, agencies are under less pressure to find great staff later.
Similarly, there’s the issue of which services your agency will offer. Most agencies open with a limited selection of services, covering basics like companion care and personal care. But if you open a senior care franchise that’s targeting clients with unique care needs, you can differentiate your agency by offering specialized programs.
As with staffing, specialized services like dementia or palliative care can be costly, especially in the early going. They also require a level of experience and expertise that many newly opened agencies aren’t prepared to offer. Given the stakes involved, it’s important that you only offer specialized services if you’re confident that you have the resources and expertise to deliver high-quality service.
Learn more about how to open a senior care franchise with Visiting Angels by calling 800-365-4189 or by requesting information online.