Lynn Elliott is changing the face of ageing in Northern Ireland as Home Instead Senior Care’s first franchise to open its doors in the province.
Proving there’s a clear demand in Northern Ireland for the brand’s relationship-led care and companionship model with visits that last a minimum of one hour, new franchisee Lynn has seen rapid growth in her first two years of business.
Lynn explains: “70% of the care delivered in Northern Ireland is done via 15-30 minute care visits, that’s what people know. The Home Instead model is different. What we offer, visits that last a minimum of one hour, was received with warmth and enthusiasm. The growth I’ve seen has far exceeded my business plan and that demonstrates what a great market Northern Ireland is for franchisees who want to join a brand that has a clearly defined mission, to change the face of ageing.”
She added: “We’re performing really well and we’re ahead of targets. The business is now supporting me and my family, whilst offering a fantastic service to our population.”
Lynn’s story - from Dubai to County Down
After an 18-year career with technology company IBM, Irish-born Lynn, 42, decided she wanted a change. Spending three years in Dubai in her final role with the company, Lynn felt the time was right to use her extensive business knowledge and experience to do something more meaningful.
It was a keynote speech at a leadership conference that gave Lynn the inspiration she needed. Lynn explained: “The keynote was about changing our views of the older generation. It was the complete opposite of all the negative stories you see in the media; it didn’t speak about older people as a drain on the health service or finances. It was refreshing to hear someone talking about the value older people can add to society and how we should care for them differently. For me, it was a turning point.
“I’d already seen first-hand how positive later life can be. My granny, Olive, came to live with us when she was 83 and she lived until she was the grand age of 103. She adapted so well to living in a new family environment and she lived positively. There was nothing flash but she made the best of her later years; she made bread, she did gardening and she had great relationships right down through the generations.”
Finding the right fit
Returning to County Down in 2015, Lynn started to look at Home Instead Senior Care as a franchisor, the world’s largest and best homecare provider.
Lynn said: “I’d worked for a really excellent company in IBM, I knew what quality looked like. When I made my first phone call to Home Instead, I felt it was the right fit for me and the right calibre of care company to invest in.”
She added: “When there’s so much negativity about the care sector, you have to step up and away from that. You have to ask what care you’d want your own mum and dad to receive. The standards that Home Instead set are what I live by and agree with. We offer calm, person-centred care.”
A gap in the market
As Home Instead Senior Care’s first franchisee in Northern Ireland, the opportunity offered what Lynn was looking for; to do something meaningful with a business model that she knew worked and a brand she believed in. After completing new owner training in August 2015, Lynn opened her Down and Lisburn territory later that year. They now care for 60 clients and employ 40 CAREGivers.
Lynn has proved the strength of Home Instead’s franchise model and the brand, as well as the demand in Northern Ireland to deliver care differently - she hit break even at month 10 and has continued to see strong growth since.
Under the Home Instead franchise model breakeven is at month 12 with turnover of £1million by years three to four, with operating profits of 15-20%.
Invaluable peer support
Lynn found the support offered to new owners invaluable. She said: “The opportunity to train with other new franchisees means you end up with a very valuable peer group. We have a Whatsapp group to ask each other questions or for advice – not every day but you know they are there if you need them.”
Lynn also praises the support received via Home Instead’s Owners Online Forum where best practice is shared, as well as the support given in the first six months by her Business Support Manager. She added: “Having someone who checks in with you and carries out visits has been incredibly helpful.”
Although Lynn had an extensive business background with IBM, she didn’t have any care experience understandably but explains that shouldn’t put anyone off considering a homecare management franchise as a new career path.
She said: “When National Office are recruiting new owners, they choose people who have heart – you have to have the passion. If you look at the Home Instead website or read about what we do and that touches you, that’s the point most of us have started from. It’s about the whole picture, so don’t be afraid if you don’t have a care background – all the support and training you need is right there for you.”