Jeff Bevis, CEO of FirstLight HomeCare shares how the brand’s franchisees are positively impacting communities throughout the country as well as insight into the booming senior care marketplace.
Listen to the full interview here or download the mp3 version.
Did you know?
Jeff Bevis is one of Franchise Business Review’s Top Franchise Leaders of 2017!
Learn more about the FirstLight franchise opportunity at www.firstlighthomecare.com.
What is FirstLight HomeCare?
We’re a non-medical in home care service company. Non-medical includes three different types of care. The first is companion care things like meal preparation, errand services, transportation, taking someone for a walk, reading just really more companionship. Second is personal care, which includes activities of daily living like assistance with bathing, feeding, and grooming. And third is dementia care, which both the client with dementia and early dementia such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s as well as the families that are coping with it.
What is the in-home care marketplace?
It’s a very high-demand, high-growth market with even more and faster growth out in front of us for probably the next couple of decades. It’s hard to imagine, but with baby boomers there are over 10,000 people a day turning 65 now through 2027. Another 10 years of this type of growth equates 49 million people turning 65. This very dramatic growth increases demand for our services, especially from a senior population. We also serve the disabled population, veterans, and new moms, really anyone over the age of 18. The diversity of our client base not only sets us apart, but gives some added contributions to our overall growth.
In addition to having a diverse client base, what else makes your brand stand out from competitors?
I think it’s a combination of our experience and background. We have literally the most experienced management team in the industry. We have over 130 years’ of collective experience in franchising combined with over 110 years collectively in home care experience. We really leverage that experience. We don’t have all the answers all the time, every time, but it’s pretty tough for us to be stumped with an environment, a scenario, a situation that we’ve never faced before with a franchise owner as far as service goes. On the peer service side, we pride ourselves on being, first of all, the first and only company, even today, in this industry that measures client satisfaction on a regular basis in every office, every single quarter. We are also the leading company in our industry that measures and tracks care giver retention and care giver turnover. There is a correlation between client satisfaction and caregiver turnover since a happy, loyal care giver tends to provide great service to the end user, to the client. Our caregiver turnover for instance, was just under 12% for all of last year, all of 2016, versus our industry average that runs over 70%. It not only sets us apart on a qualitative standpoint, but it also helps our FirstLight HomeCare owners have a lower recruiting cost, lower operating cost as it relates to HR and employees.
What do you think contributes to your low caregiver turnover?
I wish I could say there’s a silver bullet or a specific action, but it’s really a combination of multiple things. We take a different approach to where we recruit for care givers, how we recruit, as well as how we hire, train, and retain them. We do a personality and cognitive testing process as part of the hiring and screening that every caregiver goes through before they’re hired by each individual franchise owner. It gives us a much better feel for their ability to really convey or deliver, not just good but great service to the end user, to the client or to the client’s family. We’re not just hiring a number or hiring a body, we’re really looking at the whole person and trying to make sure they are a good fit.
Do your franchisees have to have a particular background in order to join your system?
They do not. Over 91% have no healthcare related in any way. We really look for people who want to make a difference, servant leaders. People who want to give back to their community, want to help people on a day-today basis, and help families. From a business perspective, we are also looking for people who have very strong organizational skills, communication skills, and presentation skills. We have franchisees from literally all walks of life and occupations across the board who, with our business model, system, and tools, have the potential to be very successful.
You just mentioned your business model and tools, can you elaborate a little bit on the kind of support you provide to new franchisees?
Support is pivotal to us, very important, probably even more important than most franchisors. We feel that we need to over support, really over train if you will, our franchisees especially in the first six, 12 and 18 months. Our support takes many forms, including in-field support. We have a whole team of what we call Business Development Directors, who are essentially business coaches to franchisees in their assigned geographic regions. They’re out in the field 95% of the time working right alongside franchise owners willing to do whatever it takes to help the franchise owner build their overall business. In addition to our Business Development Directors, we do have a complete internal help desk that’s available 24/7 365 days out of the year to give live guidance to any franchisee for any type of problem or concern or question they might possibly have. And then our new owner training process especially it’s very focused on those first 30 days, 60 days and 90 days. We make two visits to every new owner within the first 60 days, and provide them with extended, very focused new owner training preparation and time with us at our headquarters in Cincinnati.
Do your franchisees support each other?
Absolutely. I think that’s kind of the hallmark of any successful franchise system in any sector. We have a series of both formal and really kind of informal structures to help franchisees help each other, everything from our national conference that we do each spring and our regional conferences that we do in the fall all across the country. We match up new franchise owners with existing owners. We are just unveiling a formal mentor program now. Informally, through our national advisory council made up of predominantly franchise owners, franchisees are reaching out in their respective regions to make sure that they are always helping each other, whether it be a new franchisee or an experienced franchisee. Our approach is kind of that we’re only as strong as our weakest link, so we’re all trying to help each other become stronger all the time.
What are some of the things that you hear from franchisees who have been with the system for a while, about what it is that they really enjoy about being in the FirstLight Home Care system?
We hear loud and clear over and over the difference they’re making in people’s lives every day. That they see it, whether it be in the face or the demeanor of an elderly or a disabled client as well as in the family of the client. Where we can give the family a break and some relief if they have been caring for this loved-one themselves previously. So we hear the feel good results of making a difference in people’s lives every single day, making communities better, and really being known or developing a reputation in their communities as a very compassionate, focused, service oriented business and individual.
What is your vision for the brand?
I’ve been a caregiver myself four different times over my life, starting when at 15 my first part time job was actually in a nursing home. I worked as an attendant, delivering meals to seniors. At the same time, in my personal life, I was a caregiver to my great grandmother who lived with us for five years. Over the course of my life since then, I’ve been a caregiver along with my wife to my in-laws who lived with us for eight years. In some cases we were home care company clients and felt that the service just wasn’t as good as we thought it would and should be. Ultimately it lead my son and I to create FirstLight HomeCare a little over six years ago to be a better solution and to provide a higher level of quality, a higher level of client satisfaction, and higher level of caregiver retention than any other company in the industry. We have a pretty strong drive, to not necessarily be the biggest, but to be the best company in this entire industry. We plan to do so keeping ourselves nimble, building and maintaining a very strong culture of care, and really being very selective when it comes to adding franchise owners to our system overall. We see the growth of our FirstLight offering as kind of a service platform. Meaning that we want to expand our services with additional FirstLight extensions if you will, of different services to help a growing senior and disabled population market. So every four, five, six years we’re going to be expanding the FirstLight brand and platform to add additional services for areas that can enrich the lives of seniors and their families.