Nate Stokes on Building the “Care” into Your In-Home Care Franchise
Before purchasing a Visiting Angels in-home care franchise, Nate Stokes was a superintendent on asphalt installations. But even though he’d spent his career in charge of oil distributors, industrial-grade pavers, and steel drum rollers, Nate knew that deep down he had the tools he’d need to run an in-home care business.
Nate turned that faith into action. In February of 2009, Nate opened his Visiting Angels in-home care franchise, serving the Joplin, Missouri community from offices in nearby Carthage. In the eight years since, Nate’s business has turned into one of Missouri’s most trusted in-home care agencies.
Recently, Nate spoke with Visiting Angels about why home care was the perfect fit for his personality, what qualities have allowed him to succeed as an in-home care franchise owner, and the rewards of owning a care-focused business.
Previous Experience with In-Home Care
Nate’s first experience with in-home care was in 1999, a full ten years before opening his own in-home care franchise’s doors. At the time, Nate’s fraternal grandparents were struggling with living on their own. Nate and his family decided that instead of nursing home care, they would hire an in-home care service to attend to his grandparents' needs. That experience showed Nate how valuable in-home care could be and laid the seeds to what would one day be his calling.
“I had a really pleasant experience with the people who took care of my grandparents,” Nate says. Seeing strangers treat his grandparents with the warmth and compassion of family opened Nate’s eyes to the impact quality care could make in a person’s life. “They became like another member of the family.”
In the late 2000’s, Nate decided that he wanted to move out of the asphalt industry and start his own business. He had heard that the in-home care industry was on the precipice of a major growth period. Once he knew the opportunity was there, he didn’t need to think twice.
“Two things really appealed to me,” Nate explains. “One was that I have an entrepreneurial type of mind. I wanted to be my own boss and have control of my time. The other was that the business lined up with my family values and personal morals.”
Finding the Right Instruction Book
In order to position himself for success, Nate quickly decided that a franchise model business would be best. Having come out of construction work, Nate knew that to transition into home care, he’d need a model and a sense of direction.
“I knew I needed a good instruction manual,” Nate says. “If somebody gave me the pieces and showed me how they went together, I knew that I could build it and do it the way southwest Missourians would like.”
But Nate didn’t just want any instruction book — he wanted the best there was. That led him to research the in-home care franchise market. Nate began to research in-home care franchise models and speak with agency owners who had used different franchise companies.
One of the franchisees he spoke with operated a Visiting Angels agency a two-hour drive away in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After speaking with this franchisee, Nate felt that the Visiting Angels model might be right for his vision of home care. Nate booked a flight to visit the company’s headquarters in Philadelphia. After meeting with Visiting Angels’ corporate directors, Nate knew that he’d found the right fit.
“They were just good, genuine people,” he says.
Eight years later, Nate is sure that he made the right decision. “I would say for anyone considering the business, Visiting Angels is the best franchise model to go with.”
Building His In-Home Care Franchise
Once Nate had committed to Visiting Angels, he immersed himself in the training and materials provided by the company. “Visiting Angels gives you the direction in such a way that it’s very easy to build [your agency] the way you want it built.” Asked what his biggest challenge was in getting his in-home care franchise off the ground, Nate says he only had one.
“I think patience is the biggest challenge,” he says. “I didn’t really find any other challenges. I knew if I built this, and built it right, that things would come together… I really believe that if you’re planned and prepared, there’s no risk with this business.”
Though he found few challenges, Nate put plenty of hard work into building his in-home care franchise. Despite his confidence, Nate says he spent the first two months focused mostly on marketing, walking from door to door and handing out over 10,000 brochures.
But in the end, his efforts and his faith paid off.
“I’m a caring person, and I knew that if I could translate that into my business, the community would respond.”
A Rewarding Business
Aside from financial rewards, Nate says that owning his own business has given him the flexibility and independence he’s always wanted. In particular, Nate values the ability to work his schedule around his family life.
But nothing, Nate says, is quite as rewarding as the work itself. “There’s no feeling like going into a situation where a family feels like their backs are up against the wall and being able to put their minds at ease.”
When asked his advice for aspiring in home-care franchise owners, Nate says that a passion for caring is absolutely essential. “To me, the first aspect is that you have to have the compassion,” Nate says. “It’s just a matter of bringing it out,” he says. “If you want to start in this business, I’d say you should check your motives. You have to be doing it for the right reasons. That’s the only way it will work.”
If you’re thinking of building your own home care business, Visiting Angels can help you put the pieces together. Contact our office today at 800-365-4189 to learn about our open in-home care franchise opportunities.