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.
Right at Home, a franchise system founded in 1995, offers in-home companionship and personal care and assistance to seniors and disabled adults who want to continue to live independently. Caregivers are thoroughly screened, trained and bonded/insured before entering a client's home. That's a level of comfort and security that Modesto, California, franchisee Diane Carson can relate to, as someone who's battled breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2002 and currently cancer free, Carson credits her church for its loving care: "I was impressed that for four months, I never had to cook," she says. "The people of the church always brought food for me. This made me realize how important it is to care for people who are hurting . . . The simplest thing can seem overwhelming, and I feel like for seniors this is true. They will often just eat a can of soup instead of a fresh, cooked meal."
October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is a good time for entrepreneurs to think not only about the wealth of small business opportunities available but the wealth of love and support they can offer those are ill or otherwise in need. Diane Carson knows this well. "In relationship to the business," she says, "I am able to give comfort to people who are going through cancer, and they see hope in the outcome for their cancer."
Name: Diane Carson
Franchise owned: Right at Home, in Modesto, California
How long have you owned a franchise?
We opened our first location in January 2009.
We had owned many businesses in the past, all of which we created on our own. We decided it would be great to have support from a company that had already created the business model, and worked out the details of how to make it successful.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
My husband and I owned many businesses, most in the construction field, and I often did the books for those businesses. I have been working full time at Right at Home for the past three years. Prior to this, I worked at my church full time Monday through Thursday, and Fridays at Right at Home doing billing. This was a challenging time; however, it was very rewarding.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
We liked the things Right at Home offered and the “no-pressure” approach to the purchase. They wanted to make sure we were confident that this was the right thing to do. Right at Home seemed to be a good fit.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
We needed to have $75,000 available for running the business.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
We learned about the company online and got advice by calling other Right at Home owners, to be able to see how their businesses were going. We also asked people in the senior community lots of questions.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
The length of time it took to get things going was challenging. We opened at the height of the economic downfall, and many people who normally would have paid for service were out of work and unable to use us as a resource.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
I would recommend being flexible and doing a lot of research. I’d also recommend planning for the process to take longer than you want, because it is always better to be surprised by how quickly things are going than to be disappointed by a long wait.
What’s next for you and your business?
We are always looking for ways to better the business and expand it.