When Julie and John Davids decided to start their own non-medical home care agency, they chose a franchise approach. They incorporated in 2015 as Grandpa Ray’s Home Partners, doing business as Home Care Assistance–Fox Cities. Most of their clients are frail elders with some mobility challenges. More than half have some issues with forgetfulness, and more than one in ten has dementia. In spite of that, “We get compliments on how well we’re able to keep them engaged with life,” John said.
Personal experience led Julie and John to choose this business niche. It started with the loving care Julie received from her mother while battling cancer. “That taught me what mattered,” she said. “I thought, when I get better, I’m going to help people.” Then her grandfather suffered a fall in his basement and spent an excruciating two days alone before help arrived. “That propelled me even more,” Julie exclaimed.
Neither John or Julie had owned a business before, but his work experience in sales and hers in human resources were assets in this labor-intensive, highly competitive field.
Choosing a franchise focused on caregivers
“We wanted the support and a playbook we could follow,” Julie said. That led the couple to research franchisors. To narrow down the candidates, the couple focused on competitive differentiation. “They all said good things, but Home Care Assistance was the only one that led with ‘we start with our caregivers because if you have great caregivers, you’re going to have happy clients. And if you have happy clients, you’re going to have a successful business.” That playbook has worked: The Davids have received national awards as both Employer of Choice and Provider of Choice for the last two years. They employ a full-time recruiter and screen potential hires carefully. As a result, their employee retention rate is far better than industry averages. “I’d rather do my due diligence up front and have a stable workforce,” said John.
SBDC made the complex, simple
The Davids began working with Colleen Merrill, Director of the Small Business Development Center at the UW–Oshkosh, in 2015 when they began evaluating franchises. Julie said, “Starting a business is very overwhelming! Colleen helped us wrap our heads around the big picture and then chunk it down to what we needed to do.” The Davids were planning to self-finance, but Colleen made them aware of more options. John said, “You take on a lot of overhead at the start. She helped us see how to get started without draining our resources.” Colleen recalled, “I helped them understand what lenders would be looking for.” The Davids received a line of credit that allowed them to launch without draining their personal resources from the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce (Oshkosh Area Economic Development Corporation) Revolving Loan Fund Program.
Accomplishments with the SBDC UW–Oshkosh:
- Business plan
- Secured funding
- Sounding board
Standing out through support for the staff
As their business entered its third year, the Davids returned to Colleen for guidance with marketing, financial controls, and employee engagement. “The collaboration is great,” John said. “She comes up with ideas we can implement.” At Colleen’s suggestions the Davids plan to start a Caregiver Council that will meet to exchange ideas and provide feedback. “How you keep great caregivers depends on how you help them do their work, so they get the gratification of serving seniors one-on-one,” John said.
Colleen observed, “They are both completely dedicated, kind, generous, and passionate about what they’re doing. That is why their business has grown so quickly.”