"A year. Twelve whole months. Sounds like plenty of time to find a senior home care franchise opportunity and get started, right?"
According to Jenny Sonderman, North American Franchise Development Manager for Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead® network
"That year will fly by, and there are several things a potential franchisee can do now to improve their chances of meeting their goal."
In a past survey, one third of the Advantage newsletter subscribers said they are hoping to become a franchise owner in the next year. Sonderman, who has helped hundreds of new Home Instead franchisees over the past 12 years, says there are several things prospective owners can do to make their goal more realistic and avoid surprises that may cause delays.
Start talking to potential franchise companies right away.
While you can get a lot of information about a franchisor online, that first conversation is the only way to get a true sense of the company and whether you'd be a good fit for each other.
"The company will ask about your interest in the senior care industry, your background and your goals," Sonderman says. "This is also a chance for you to inquire about the company's philosophy, operations and franchisee support. So, do your Internet research, but don't put off calling. It's such a valuable tool that can reveal so much and keep you from starting off in a wrong direction." Remember, you're choosing a business partner for years to come, so making a choice that is right for you is critical.
Find out what territories are available.
Make sure the company you're interested in has an opportunity that makes sense for you. Is it in the town or city you currently live in or will it require a move, which usually requires more lead time? For those looking for a Home Instead franchise in the U.S. or Canada, visit the Territories page to check out current opportunities.
"I recommend starting there, where we list new and existing franchise opportunities," advises Sonderman. "Our first quarter of the new year is a busy time, so it's always a good idea to call us, because there may be territories available that haven't been published yet."
Understand the total investment required.
The cost of starting up a senior home care franchise can vary depending on the location, current economic conditions and whether you're opening a new territory or purchasing an existing business. Sonderman recommends paying detailed attention to what is or is not included in fees when gathering information from various franchisors.
"The initial franchise fee for a Home Instead franchise includes costs of Home Instead, Inc. in providing you with new owner training and developing initial marketing materials. A reputable franchisor won't downplay the costs, but make sure you're aware of all fees, costs for space, insurance, working capital, etc., so you'll have a realistic understanding of the total dollar amount needed. Once you have a good idea of that total, you can begin the lending process, which requires lead time, so the sooner you can get started, the better."
Explore the funding options.
"We find that most Home Instead franchisees, even if they have seed money to start their new business, do prefer to use financing in order to keep working capital at hand," notes Sonderman. She says these loans are handled primarily through Small Business Administration (SBA) lenders directly to the franchisee. "Home Instead, Inc. works with prospective franchisees to help them find and secure financing and, we are a SBA-preferred franchise network, which can expedite the lending process."
Start inquiring about state licensure and regulations.
Be sure to check with the state and county in which your franchise will be operating so you'll be aware of any required licenses, as well as the processes and any fees involved. "Licensing is different in every state or province," reports Sonderman, "and we always suggest potential franchisees look into this early on so there won't be any surprises that might affect the timing."
Sound decisions come from good information.
While a year may seem far down the road, asking questions and informing yourself early on will ensure you have realistic timeline expectations. It will also help prevent any delays and keep your momentum as you move forward into franchise ownership. "If you're considering a senior home care franchise with the Home Instead network, it's never too soon to get the conversation started," Sonderman says. "And if you haven't completed our online Confidential Application Form yet, that's also a very important step, no matter what your ultimate timeline may be."
For more information on joining the Home Instead network, send us a request for more information.