Julie Houston: Right at Home Franchisee

An award-winning franchise model from a company that cares; Right at Home delivers exceptional care that helps people to live independently, and with dignity, in their own homes.

Right at Home

In the UK
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Right at Home franchisee Julie Houston launched her business – delivering quality homecare across North Cheshire and Leigh – in April 2017.

Right at Home Franchise

She hit monthly break-even point after just 5 months and now employs a care team of 18, alongside her Registered Manager and two office support staff.

So what does a typical working day for Julie look like?

I generally arrive in the office between 7and 8am. That’s when we tend to get a lot of calls about client care and call coverage, so we need to make sure we have got good capacity to respond.
I’ve recently recruited a part time Deputy Care manager and a part-time Care Co-ordinator, but as they are new into their posts I’m making sure I’m available each morning to support my Registered Manager.
I then have a meeting with her to identify the priorities for that day and review outcomes from the previous day; we’ll look for any training or communication needs and go over the care schedules for the next couple of days.

At this stage it’s quite reactionary, because we took on a lot of care hours in quite a short space of time. That’s been great for getting the business up and running, but it’s meant we’ve needed all-hands-on-deck.

At the start of each week we’ll look at which support packages need reviewing, and which care givers are due supervisions, and allocate responsibility among the office staff. We will also do some in-depth compliance auditing, going through files and records with a specific focus, for example checking medication records one week, staff supervisions the next.
We are extremely responsive to job enquiries, because finding the right carers is such an important part of the business. So we will respond immediately at any time of day or evening, but I will also block off time each day to focus on recruitment marketing and strategy. This might include reviewing our digital advertising campaigns, which Head Office support us with, or updating online business pages.

I will aim to focus on recruiting in a specific area and for times of day where demand is high, but it can be a real challenge sometimes.

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given in business is to make sure you take at least half an hour to yourself each day, so often at lunchtime I will go out for a walk, or for a coffee, or maybe just make a phone call to someone who is nothing to do with the business.

We encourage carers to call into the office at any time of day – we’ve recently expanded into a neighbouring office space which has allowed us to create social space, so the carers can come in and out. It’s an important part of making sure that we have a good team culture, and that the carers feel well supported.

Most days I will have at least one meeting, often linked to disability issues, where I’m focused on networking and raising brand awareness. This is where being part of a franchise really helps – although there wasn’t any local brand awareness, having the brand and a network of 50 offices behind you really helps; it opens doors and gives you confidence because you’ve got a strong set of values and a brand identity, so you can say with authority ‘this is how we do things,’ even as you are just getting started.

At the moment a lot of my time is spent directing the business; looking ahead to pre-empt issues, and I’m in the office every day. But now that the back-office team is coming together, the plan is to create more time for community engagement.
We had a big open day for the team just before Christmas, with a buffet, Secret Santa and various goodies to thank them for their hard work.

I always come back into the office; a typical afternoon may include time spent pricing packages and completing contracts, and tracking the financials. At the moment my husband does our payroll, as well as supporting me on process and strategy, which we set time aside for.

We are just about operating at capacity at the moment, which means we’re pushed when clients ask for additional hours, so it’s not uncommon for me to cover a care shift either. I feel it’s really important for me to roll up my sleeves and help when push comes to shove. Not too often – it’s a fine balance, but I did offer to work on Christmas morning, when only 2 clients needed us, because I would rather do that myself than take carers away from their families.

I’ve never found it easy to switch off and this is no different, especially as it’s a 24/7 service; I’m always aware that we have carers out later at night, sometimes overnight. But at least I’m doing it for myself now.
I try to make sure I am always contactable, but I have taken breaks from the business this year and in 2018, with the back-office team in place, I am looking forward to being able to have a proper holiday abroad, knowing that I can leave the team to look after things in my absence.

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