Nurse Next Door has been expanding in North America and in December 2018, the very first Master Franchise signed in Australia.
We recently got to connect with our Australian Master Franchisors, Matt Fitton and Amber Biesse! We asked them to share what they’ve been up to. This will be a two-part series, where in Part 1, the duo shares their journey of discovering the Master Franchise opportunity, how they built their team, challenges they have overcome in the first year and more! In Part 2, they give us a deeper look into projects they’ve been working on to build the brand in their local community. Read on!
What made you choose home care?
In 2016, we (Matt and Amber) moved to Vancouver so our daughter could attend a highly regarded school for children with learning disabilities. Without a work visa we were unable to be employed in Canada so we used our time away as a mid-life “gap year”, skiing, hiking, travelling and reading. It also created the headspace to reflect on the last 25 years of business ownership and reset business goals and aspirations and ask themselves what next?
In our 20s and early 30s we were restaurateurs, late 30s and 40s, property developers and designers and, whilst all very successful businesses, we were determined that the next business venture should be scalable to allow us to grow a bigger business. Identifying that an ageing population was creating compelling business opportunities, the pink Nurse Next Door cars driving around our local Vancouver neighbourhood caught our eye and we decided to look them up. Discovering that Nurse Next Door was not only a highly regarded home healthcare provider for seniors in Canada and the USA, but also a very successful franchise system looking to expand into Australia by way of Master Franchisee Licence – this was the perfect opportunity for us.
A rigorous process of research and investigation ensued to ensure that this was going to be the right fit for both groups. Living in Vancouver provided a unique situation whereby meetings were able to be held face to face with the leadership team at HeartQuarters over many months and strong relationships formed as a result. Being parents of a child with special needs, our whole life has been about making a positive difference in our daughter’s life so Nurse Next Door’s core purpose of Making Lives Better resonated deeply with us.
Further, we recognised the enormous potential of bringing a home care brand to Australia that focused on Admiring People, providing the WOW Customer Experience, Finding a Better Way and being Passionate About Making a Difference. Combining these values with world-class processes and operational excellence, honed over years of best practice, it felt like the stars had aligned and this serendipitous opportunity to become Nurse Next Door’s first global partner was a match made in heaven.
The Australian executive team is a family effort—and it’s awesome! Can you introduce everyone’s role and relationship?
Whilst we were researching and understanding the opportunity in Canada we saw straight away an opportunity to bring Amber’s sister Sacha Biesse who is an Registered Nurse, into the executive team.
Sacha is a partner in the corporately-owned Melbourne franchise. With a Bachelor of Nursing and a Post Graduate Diploma of Perioperative Nursing, Sacha has over 25 years of Nursing – Clinical and Management experience in Melbourne, interstate and international health services. More recently, Sacha has held several high level management positions at various Melbourne hospitals including The Alfred and Eastern Health.
In her role as Director of Operations, Corporate Franchises, Sacha’s focus is developing and implementing strategies to grow the corporate franchise while also ensuring operational excellence. She brings a proven track record of leadership development, strong processes, and delivering results through building a culture of accountability.
We’ve also got Matt’s sister, Sarah onboard which has been more a process of evolution. When we came back to Melbourne and started talking about the Australian launch we spoke to Sarah, who has a background in marketing and PR as well as a couple of her own start ups under her belt. Working part time Sarah assisted Amber to drive the marketing, PR and communications. More recently, with the Melbourne (corporate) franchise in full operation, we’ve shifted gears and were looking to put someone on full time who can support us in this next phase of growth. It seemed like a natural fit to bring Sarah in full time and she’ll now be continuing to manage our communications but also work closely with us to support new Franchise Partners, and assist Matt and Amber on day to day administration.
In terms of Matt and Amber, as co-CEOs and founders of Nurse Next Door Australia, we are what you might call “serial entrepreneurs”, having run multiple successful businesses over the past 25 years. In 1993, we established and operated the award-winning Wildflower Restaurant in Canterbury, Melbourne, winning not just industry awards but also the 1995 Victorian Government’s Small Business Award for best small business, recognising best business practices and systems. After 8 years of glowing reviews and a loyal customer following we sold this business as a going concern and were excited to watch it trade successfully for a further 10 years.
Subsequent to Wildflower, we owned and operated Tin Shed Holdings – an award-winning boutique property development firm, specialising in high end luxury homes, which also later incorporated award winning Amber Hope Design, an architectural and interior design practice.
At the foundation of each business has been our commitment to excellence across all aspects of the operation, an awareness of developing and adhering to good operational and financial systems and an unwavering work ethic to do the best job possible. Partners in life and business with complementary skill sets, we have found this to be an incredible strength, one that has allowed us to build profitable, well respected businesses across several different industries.
Now that you’re a year into the industry, is it still what you imagined?
Absolutely. We’ve learnt a lot since launch but we had the opportunity to do much of our research long before we started so we knew what we were getting into in terms of the industry itself. It’s an interesting time in Australia with a Royal Commission into Aged Care currently now almost a year into with key findings and recommendations due in November 2020. The much needed scrutiny of industry standards and regulations is creating a period of change that is actually highlighting the need for private home care and certainly laying the ground work for a much needed reframing of the possibilities of ageing in your own home, on your own terms.
What have been 3 rewarding things so far since your launch?
The way the brand has been embraced by everyone it has touched so far. From clients to industry peers, media to local government, we really haven’t met a person yet who hasn’t loved the brand. It has been great validation that Nurse Next Door is a brand that resonates strongly with Australians.
Granting Bronwen’s dream was by far a stand out. If you see the video you probably need no further explanation but it was so exhilarating to actually see the results when you set about Making Lives Better. As our first client experience I guess that will stay with us for a long time.
Working hand in hand with the various people in Nurse Next Door HeartQuarters has seen us already forge what we imagine will be life-long friendships. The guidance and input from Cathy, Arif and the leadership team in Vancouver has been inspiring to say the least and we continue to be delighted every day that we’re an integral part of Nurse Next Door’s global expansion.
What have been 3 challenges you have faced so far? How have you overcome them?
The distance can be difficult from time to time. Sometimes it would be easier to walk into the office of the people we’re working with in Vancouver and discuss questions and concerns, as they arise. Needless to say both our communication skills, and our use of Google Hangouts, have stepped up exponentially.
It has been interesting to see how small cultural differences such as Australians steering away from words like “senior” or “elderly” impact the brand’s ability to connect with the local psyche. The Australian market is lagging a little behind Canada in the way it embraces private home care for seniors. Whilst federal, state and local governments are all keen to see Australian’s age at home the focus of older Australians is still heavily geared towards residential and facility-based care. They want to age at home but they haven’t quite come on board with the idea that private home care is an option. We’re excited about this challenge and the opportunity to disrupt and own this space, just as Nurse Next Door has done.
Probably the biggest challenge, like all start-ups is the energy required in starting from zero. For example, adjusting systems around Australian regulations, building brand awareness from the ground up, “Australianising” the incredible amount of brand assets that Nurse Next Door provide their franchise Partners. Things such as the website, the operations manuals, policies and procedures manuals, E-Learning and marketing materials have all had to be edited to varying degrees, such as changing spelling from “aging” to “ageing”. We have also had to set up from scratch our own Australian version of Care Central which has been a huge job! We love it, but we won’t say there aren’t days we fall into bed exhausted.
You are looking to start franchising in Australia! What are the top markets you’re looking to expand too? What do you look for in a potential Franchise Partner?
In terms of Franchise Partner we look for the same things as Canada:
Tenacity and the grit to start a business from the ground up.
An aptitude, if not experience, in sales and marketing and the understanding of how best to raise the profile of the brand in your local community
A love for people. A Nurse Next Door Franchise Partner is building a team of Caregivers who are inspired and engaged and motivated to care for their community. Any Australian Franchise Partner must be excited about building and managing a team of high-performance people who are Making Lives Better.
When all is said and done we would expect, just like Canada and the US, that our Franchise Partners align with our purpose and core values – building a business with heart. It’s an understanding that we’re equal parts purpose and profit and owning a Nurse Next Door franchise must be about more than making money.
The greater population of Australia resides on the East Coast – particularly in Victoria,New South Wales and SE Queensland, so we would be looking to expand across Sydney and Brisbane as well as looking to grow across Victoria, where we’ve already seen strong interest in the brand.
Do you want to join Nurse Next Door Australia in #MakingLivesBetter? Let’s Get In Touch!
Or are you looking to bring Nurse Next Door to your country/community? Learn more about our available markets or fill out the form in the sidebar!