Care professional pursues business ownership dreams and spreads her wings

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Care professional pursues business ownership dreams and spreads her wings

Care is the blood that runs through Lynn James’ veins. Right from the age of 19, it’s a sector she’s been involved with – starting her career as a nurse and working her way up to launching and running her own care franchise in 2020.

Whilst working for another care franchise, Lynn realised that she had ideas of her own about how true quality care could be delivered, and how caregiving staff could be recruited and retained. Then she discovered in-home care franchise Visiting Angels and realised it gave her the solution to do things her way. In the year that brought with it the pandemic and the worst economic crisis in over a decade, Lynn launched her Visiting Angels business in North Surrey.

“I suspect a lot of people think I am mad to launch a care business in the middle of a pandemic. The reality of it is that it just highlighted the important role that caregivers play in communities across the UK. I was so sure Visiting Angels was the best route to delivering quality care in my community, instead of placing things on hold and waiting out an economic downturn, I decided to launch my business when demand was high.”

The passion for care was evident right from Lynn’s youth. After spending many years in nursing, she secured a job with the Alzheimer’s Society, responsible for directly supporting families affected by dementia and developing support services that made an impact. It was in this role where Lynn came into her own and, after 15 years, she was ready for a change, becoming an Activities Coordinator at a care provider. Her passion grew stronger, and she knew she could make a difference in the care world.

Lynn has experienced all aspects of care, spotting opportunities for improvements as she progressed. When she was searching for a solution to issues with underpaid and underappreciated caregivers, rushed client visits and a stretched workforce, Lynn came across a franchise opportunity that resolved each and every one.

“When I started to research Visiting Angels in more detail, I realised that it was the answer I was looking for. The main issues I had identified throughout my career could be fixed by one simple correction: placing caregivers at the heart of the community. It’s engrained into Visiting Angel’s culture to value the staff and that resonated with me massively. I was sold.”

Established in the US in 1998, Visiting Angels is one of America’s largest care franchises, with over 600 offices operating in five countries. The first UK office launched in late 2017 and became the country’s first ‘carer-centric’ in-home care provider. Dan Archer, UK franchisor and Managing Director of the Sheffield pilot franchise territory, spearheaded the brand’s presence after demonstrating great success. Within a year of launching, Dan and his team were awarded ‘Best International Office’ at Visiting Angels’ annual conference in Philadelphia, cited as the fastest-growing office in the brand’s history. It’s this success that franchisees are championed to replicate.

“In my previous role with another care franchise I learned about the world of franchising. I saw how well it worked, recognised the support on offer and understood the benefits of investing in a much larger brand. Not only would this give me the best foundations to build upon, but I would also have an existing network to look to for guidance, advice and support throughout the life of my business. Everything was pointing towards Visiting Angels.”

Even when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the entire world to shut down, Lynn was even more determined to proceed with her plan. With the backing of her husband Chris and the passion for making a difference in her local community, she attended her franchisee training in June 2020.

“I was excited to get on with the initial training and set the wheels in motion for something that I had been considering for so long. It was great to get a grasp on how the business works, what it involved and how I could follow in the footsteps of the success of the Sheffield franchise. It just made me even more eager to start changing lives.”

In preparation for her business launch, Lynn was equipped with all the business know-how to hit the ground running. Whilst waiting for approval to operate from the Care Quality Commission, Lynn focused on generating a buzz around the business arriving in the community and what support they could offer to local residents. On July 7th, her registration went live, and Lynn wasted no time in securing client contracts.

“After six months, we had signed 10 clients and were comfortably delivering over 350 hours of care a month. I had also created my own goal of 25 recruitment opportunities within the first year – halfway through, I had 15 carers and two office team members. Once we’ve hit a year milestone, I’m confident that all targets will be exceeded.

“The future of the business is looking extremely positive. It sounds corny, but I’m constantly looking forward to meeting the next client and providing them and their loved ones the support I know will make such a difference to their lives. That’s what really puts a smile on my face.”

It’s not just Lynn’s passion for care that has increased, it’s also had an impact on her overall sense of purpose and wellbeing. After investing her life savings into something she believes in, it’s given her the confidence and drive which is working wonders for her personal life too. With Chris supporting the day-to-day running of the business too, it’s made the world of difference to their relationship.

“We make a great team and complement each other well with our varying skills. When we’re not working, we enjoy spending time with our youngest son and dog, going on walks and getting out and about. I’m also part of three book clubs and I absolutely love it. I understand that the first year of my business will require a lot of time, but once the foundations are built, I know that’s when I’ll be able to reap even more benefits.

“I don’t see what I do as work, it’s more of a vocation. I’m finally pursuing my dream of running a business and I’m confident that I’m targeting my passions in the right direction. Visiting Angels is here to make a change in the provision of care and I’m proud to be part of the team who’s leading the way.”

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