Look in any magazine that courts budding entrepreneurs as readers such as Entrepreneur, Franchise Times, or Inc. Among the advertisements selling franchises for sandwich shops, convenience stores, tax preparation, and cleaning services are ads selling franchises for home care agencies.

Home care agencies have been around for decades and traditionally have been stand-alone mom and pop operations. The idea of creating a home care franchise operation dates to the mid-1980s with a Pennsylvania company, Griswold Special Care. The tremendous growth of home care franchising came in the mid-1990s when most of today’s nationally recognized franchises started. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, there are currently 36 companies in the United States selling home care franchises.

Should a family needing senior home care for a loved one care if a potential home care agency is a franchise or not? Let’s look at the pros of a franchise home care operation.

First of all, here are the general reasons someone starting a business may consider a franchise.

  1. Turnkey System. A new owner doesn’t have to create systems, figure out the business side of operations, or create a brand and marketing plan. It’s all done for them.
  2. Support. Franchise owners may get support from the national company and other franchise holders in the area.
  3. Brand name. Unlike “David’s Burger Barn,” people recognize the name “McDonald’s” even when traveling far from home, and may stop at one because of familiarity.
  4. Buying power. McDonald’s can offer lower prices because it buys its hamburger patties and cups in huge quantities and gets substantial price reductions.

In home care, the franchise owners I’ve talked to cite numbers 1 and 2 above as the major reasons they bought a home care franchise. Number 4 doesn’t matter much at all because no home care agency gets a discount for hiring caregivers in bulk! There are advantages to purchasing advertising, however.

From a family’s or referral point of view, what’s the advantage of hiring a home care agency that’s a franchise? For some, there may be comfort knowing that a home care agency has the support of a national or regional company with established and tested systems. Because national home care franchise operations can advertise more cost-effectively than smaller independent agencies, they generally have better name recognition, which some consumers prefer.

I know most of the major home care franchise owners in Washington State, and count many of them as friends. You can find the same amount of honesty, integrity, hard work and excellent care at home care agencies that are franchises as home care agencies that are independent.

In Part 2, the disadvantages of a home care franchise.