Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ramona Streit's first experience with the home care industry was a personal one, when she made the tough choice to place her brother in a care facility outside her home. While she was intrigued by the industry, she wasn't sure what franchise was right for her. It took research – both online and chatting with her future franchisor and fellow franchisees – to decide that Homewatch CareGivers was the perfect fit. Here's how she made her decision, and what she's learned since becoming a franchisee eight years ago.
Name: Ramona Streit
Franchise owned: I own a Homewatch CareGivers office in Garden Grove, Calif. We provide home care services in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
How long have you owned a franchise?
I have owned my franchise for eight years.
I didn’t really know a lot about home care, but thought that it was a field I wanted to be a part of. I knew that I needed to align myself with an organization that had a proven successful track record and with experts who could teach me about the industry, so franchising felt like the right way to go about doing this.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Before I became a franchise owner, I worked for 29 years in the aerospace industry. I worked primarily in manufacturing, as a purchasing manager and was responsible for a small production department.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I looked into several different home care franchises, and after some research, it was apparent that Homewatch CareGivers had the best training program and support for its franchise partners. I felt that through their education programs and support networks I would not only gain the skills and knowledge necessary to operate a home care franchise, but also that I would have access to the other franchisees, business development experts and the tools necessary to maintain a growing business.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
In rounded figures, I spent about $48,000 for the franchise fee, $5,000 for computers, $2,500 for marketing, $1,000 in state fees, $1,000 on printed sales materials, and $1,000 on phones.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I gathered most of my information about different home care organizations online. I eventually narrowed my list down to five companies that I engaged with to conduct further research into the size of territories, cost of franchising, support and training system. I also found it very useful to speak with the owners of several franchises to get a first person look into how their business worked.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Marketing was, and still is, my biggest challenge. In my previous career I was very much on the operations side of the business, so my tendency is to stay in the office and work. Going out into the field and promoting the business is not naturally within my comfort zone so I have to motivate myself to do it.
I also want to be cognizant of other people’s time. A lot of marketing is making sure that your information is visible and accessible without being over the top. But, I feel like I must be doing something right because I have over 105 employees and 120 clients.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Before you even begin, you must be self-disciplined and have superb organizational skills. Research the company you are about to engage with, as franchising is a long-term commitment. This is a business partnership, so you want to make certain that you are getting what you want from your investment, in a location you want, and with the knowledge you need to get the most out of the opportunity.
What’s next for you and your business?
Currently, we only have one office, but I would like to increase revenue. Most importantly, I want to continue my mission to provide care to elders and veterans by opening a second office within the year.