Starting a home care franchise can be both exciting and trying. While franchisors like Nurse Next Door try to make the discovery and learning process as welcoming as possible, a potential franchisee may also be dealing with the stress of a major life change and a deluge of new information.
Making validation calls is an important part of reviewing a franchise system. By interviewing current franchisees, you’re getting an honest, inside look into the system’s culture, advantages, and challenges. This is a great way to gain perspective and set expectations of what owning and operating a franchise might be like.
For the purpose of this post, we spoke to one of our franchise partners, Lindsay Eldridge, who is the owner and General Manager of our Delta, BC location. Lindsay has been in the Nurse Next Door system for over eight years and has participated in a number of franchise validation calls. Lindsay dedicates about an hour on the phone with each potential partner who calls, and while it “never ceases to amaze [her] how different each call is from the next,” there are some topics that regularly come up.
To paint the full picture of a home care franchise system, Lindsay recommends asking the following five questions during a validation call, and she sheds some light on why these questions are important.
What training, ongoing support, and coaching can new partners expect?
“If you’ve really thought through your first six months at the reins of a startup,” says Lindsay, “even the most optimistic person should be anticipating some hiccups! Knowing what the initial training and ongoing support system is like should be part of your decision making process.”
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in the business so far?
Lindsay wishes more people asked this question. A home care franchise is a major investment. Learn from mistakes made by businesses that have come before yours–”so you don’t have to make them.”
What was your biggest challenge in your first year, and what’s currently your biggest challenge?
While you might think you’re well aware of the pros and cons of the franchise opportunity, sometimes the best information can come from a validation call. “Like any new entrepreneur, you’ll face some mountains in year one,” says Lindsay, whose franchise launched in 2008 and now employs over 70 staff. “So be informed about what they might be.”
How has being a franchisee benefited you, and what are the drawbacks?
You might wonder how being part of a home care franchise system compares to starting a business and brand from scratch. Asking this question should help clarify if you really want to be “a member of the pack” or if, deep down, you’re “a lone wolf.”
What’s your work-life balance like?
“Starting a business isn’t a 9-5 project” says Lindsay. And it’s not something you want to try running on the side of your day job. “Owning your own business brings freedom with it, too”…but you need to be prepared to work hard to kick things off with a strong start.
Aside from these questions, it’s a good idea to ask about client care, performance, marketing, and finance. And don’t be afraid to dig deeper, especially in areas where you aren’t as experienced. Lindsay offers one final piece of advice: “It’s a huge advantage to be an expert, but make sure you know your blind spots, too–and ask questions that pertain to those blind spots.”
If you’d like to know what it’s really like to be a Franchise Partner with Nurse Next Door, download our FREE franchise report to learn more!