Trudi Jameson from Durham
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying a franchise business?
I was working for Sunderland Council as a Community Support Manager, managing a range of social care services across the city. I’ve worked in care since leaving school, in a variety of settings and providers, from charity to council and private providers.
What attracted you to franchising versus started starting up on your own or finding employment?
I liked the idea of a ready-made package that I could tailor to the needs of my own business, all the policies and procedures, systems and infrastructure had been tried and tested and had been proven over a number of years. And buying into a brand name was important to ensure recognition on a wider scale.
The fact that support was available from the initial enquiry phone call and is on-going was a big plus for me; each franchise office is independently owned and operated, so there is the scope to develop the business in my own way, whilst adhering to the stringent standards set by the franchisor.
Why did you choose your particular franchise business? What research did you undertake?
I already knew that I wanted a business within the health and social care sector, choosing a franchise business that mirrored my own value base and ethos was my guide. I gathered plenty of literature from different care franchises, and as I narrowed my search down, Home Instead kept coming to the top of my pile time and time again, they had captured in a business the exact quality and ethics that I was looking for.
How did you raise the finance for funding your franchise? Did you use any financial support (grants etc.) specific to business start-up?
HSBC bank have a franchising department offering support and finance to businesses who are part of a franchise, having already financed previous Home Instead franchises they understood the model.
I used a combination of savings and a loan from HSBC to finance the purchase of the franchise and for working capital.
Did you take advantage of any support available to women looking to get into business? E.g. member of a women in business network, attend any specific women business events?
I went to a few different women’s networking meetings and still attend regularly
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing from your franchisor?
I spent an afternoon with the franchisor learning about them and the model as part of due diligence, I then carried out lots of research, spoke with some existing franchisees and met more of the team at the national office. Once I and Home Instead decided we wanted to go ahead I was invited to a ‘getting started day’. This is the first part of the training, where I and other new owners spend a day looking at the preparation needed in the weeks before the business starts trading. After that there was a 1 week residential training programme which covered all the basics of running a business within the care sector, followed by a Care Manager training session. Once we had opened we had further training at 90 and 180 days, plus face to face support within the business. That support is on-going, plus regional training days and a national conference each year.
What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
I arrive at the office at 9.30am; we have a morning briefing with the office team for 10 minutes, to ensure we all know important things that happened the day before, any updates from on-call and to be clear about the plans for the day ahead. I respond to any emails and telephone calls. We have an open door policy to encourage our CAREGivers to call in when they are passing, so we have a steady flow of visitors.
Every day is different; I like to conduct the induction training for new CAREGivers myself, so I can share my passion and ensure they take on my vision for care of older people. I run free workshops for the wider community on senior fraud protection and family workshops on dementia.
What challenges have you faced?
Moving from managing care services to owning a care business has been a huge learning curve, the times when I’ve needed to switch on the business head rather than the caring heart has been and continues to be a challenge.
The biggest challenge has been educating people that we are very different in our approach to home care compared to most care companies and showing that care can be of high quality and bespoke to individual’s requirements.
Learning to trust others with my business has been difficult and accepting that others will do it differently but with the same high outcome and recruiting the right people continues to be a challenge, we turn more candidates away than we take.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
My life has changed considerably, I now run my own successful business which I’m so proud of. I’ve created 50 jobs for local people and will continue to do so and know that what my business, my team and I do on a daily basis is changing the lives of the older people we support. My hours are flexible; I don’t start before 9.30am but frequently work late in to the evening because that suits me.
In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
Someone with drive and motivation to succeed, with the ability to strategise and to plan short and long term goals to develop your business, whilst working to the standards of the franchise agreement and to be able to think quickly to react to situations that you cannot plan for.
What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give other women looking to start their own business through franchising?
Believe in yourself and your dreams, if you want it enough, you will overcome all the obstacles along the way. I knew if I waited for the right time to leave a steady job and start my business, I’d be retiring first.
What are your plans for the future?
As we enter our 4th year, I’m keen to maintain our position as one of the best home care companies in Durham, having just been awarded the highest rating from the Care Quality Commission, that of Outstanding, our focus over the next few years must be to maintain our exceptionally high standards, to change the face of ageing and to become the local employer of choice.
Would you do it again?
Yes without hesitation, seeing the difference my business makes to the lives of older people, makes every day worthwhile.