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Jim Stevens - President of Caring Transitions Inc.

1. What is the home care market in the US like?

The home care market has become very competitive as more and more people enter the industry. Some folks believe that you just need a phone and a couple of friends to provide care. They do not realize how complex it has become with more and more states requiring licensure and an increasingly complex regulatory and legal environment in which to operate. The good news is that the demographics are shifting in our favor as people are living longer and often choose to stay at home as long as possible. While people are living longer, they still get afflicted by diseases such as arthritis, alzheimers and diabetes which can impact their need for assistance. We are also seeing more and more younger people under the age of 65 needing care. In fact, 31% of those people receiving assistance with activities of daily living fall into this younger age bracket and their needs can often last decades.

2. Let us talk about your franchising opportunity?

We are the world's oldest multi-national non-medical home care company. In our 25+ years in this unique business, we have only opened up 95 offices in 17 states plus South Korea and Mexico. We are highly selective in who we bring in to be franchisees. Some companies are in the business of selling franchises which happen to be in the home care industry. We are a home care company that happens to provide services by way of franchising. In fact, for many years we charged no franchise fee at all. People kept questioning why we would do it and assuming that our franchises could not be any good if we did not charge for them, so we started charging a modest fee of $9,000 well below half of the industry average. Even at this rate, people still wonder why. But we have always felt we wanted the best people and would make our money through their success, not selling them something. We also don't take any royalty for the first six months to allow our franchisees to invest further in their office development and quality. AND, we even give back up to $5,000 of the $9,000 initial franchise fee when they hire their first office staff person during that first year in order to support their growth and quality and peace of mind.

3. What kind of support do you offer your franchisees?

Franchising is a great way to be your own boss and yet still get the training, guidance and assistance from a team that over more than 25 years has already made a zillion mistakes so that you don't have to make the same mistakes. Our corporate office has unmatched resources such as a general counsel who is also a nurse with a graduate degree in gerontology who can answer questions pertaining to legal and medical issues and how they can impact the business and our clients. We do an initial week of training in our corporate offices near Philadelphia and then provide follow-up on-site support at no charge to get our franchisees off to the right start. We have Executive Committee Meetings twice a year which include sessions on a variety of topics to help our offices and their staff. Our Quality Improvement Program has been very well received and recognizes our top performers from a quality perspective. These are also excellent networking and mentoring opportunities. We provide all brochures, billing slips, contracts, business cards, etc. and access to over 300 third party payers. We have an excellent website, which has been optimized to drive more traffic to our offices. We have lots of wonderful unique programs such as Legacy Tree,, our new charitable equipment donor site, and HomeCare Academy which is developing numerous disease specific training modules for our caregivers in conjunction with national organizations such as the National MS Society and the ALS Association.

4. Is it something that would attract women?

Absolutely. More and more men are becoming franchisees, but most of our franchisees are still women. The health care field is generally dominated by women especially in the caring professions. The vast majority (95+%) of our caregivers are women, and the majority or our clients are women (they tend to live longer than men). The flexibility offered by ownership allows many women to structure their work obligations around those of their families. And more and more often, we have female directors who grow their businesses and then bring their husbands on board to help them. We also have a number of mother/daughter teams who have been very successful.

5. Any model franchisees?

Our best franchisees are likeable. A somewhat strange word to focus on, but since we are a people business and deal with all levels of individuals from the caregivers to the clients and their families to the professional referral sources, this likeability is key for getting caregivers to go the extra mile and getting clients to choose us over other options and getting referral sources to trust us. Familiarity with the health care industry is also a plus as well as good organizational and management skills. One of our most successful directors is a former realtor who was always dealing with people, reading their needs, and finding a good match. We have lots of nurses and social workers, but more and more successful business people who have succeeded in business and are now looking to "give back to society" while still running and building a very successful business.

6. How successful is your franchsing business today?

From our start in my mother's dining room nearly 26 years ago, we have grown to a business with nearly 10,000 highly screened professional caregivers giving 10 million hours of care each year. Our franchises are highly sought after and our reputation is rivaled by none. We have been recognized by Forbes, Entrepreneur and The Today Show to name just a few. We were named the largest home health company in the Delaware Valley this year by the Philadelphia Business Journal and were named for the 7th time to the Philadelphia 100 list of fastest growing companies in the region.

7. What in your opinion does it take to make it in the home care business?

Caring, compassion, commitment, intelligence, ambition, creativity, organizational skills and likeability. Being part of a great company with lots of experience also helps!

8. Any advice for our mompreneurs?

Family is number one and always should be. You don't want any big regrets. Make sure you are in a position to get assistance early on to give you that flexibility since building a business can in many ways be like raising a child. Even with one, you are out-numbered. Be patient and don't panic. Don't answer the phone when the kids are screaming in the background. Always make sure that dinner hour is family time. Love what you do and your kids will have a great role model that they will emulate, respect and love.

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