A Better Solution (ABS) in Home Care is a homecare organization whose principals have deep backgrounds in the sector. Lia Smith-Pratt worked as a nursing assistant prior to founding ABS in San Diego in 2000. Kurt Buske, a medical social worker in the nonprofit world, joined the company in 2015 as partner and president.
“My career has been dedicated to the health and aging industry,” Buske says. “I was a referral source. That’s how I got to know Lia.” Today, ABS is a $4.8 million company that employs 300 nurses and caregivers.
ABS began selling franchises in 2015 and currently has nine. The franchises are largely in Southern California though ABS franchises also have been started in Kansas and Colorado. “We are a young franchisor,” Smith-Pratt says. “We are expanding cautiously.”
Together, ABS and its franchises offer:
+ Personal care for the activities of daily living such as grooming, bathing, eating, mobility incontinence care and medication reminders;
+ Companion care, which includes basic supervision to ensure clients’ safety and well-being;
A Better Solution+ Homemaker service assistance for light housekeeping, laundry and meal preparation;
+ Nursing care – either a registered nurse or licensed vocational nurse – to help with administering medications, wound care, ostomy care, vent and trach care and rehabilitative needs; and
+ Transportation services.
With more than 60 homecare franchises organizations across the country, competition is tough. “It is a crowded space because there are so many opportunities with an aging population all over the nation,” Buske says.
ABS has two major advantages over competitors. First, the company collectively has more than 62 years of experience in homecare space and almost 20 years on the business side.
Second, when franchisees need assistance, ABS is only a phone call away. “We are fully and completely accessible to our franchisees,” Buske says. “Any situation they find themselves in, we are available to help.”
The initial franchise fee is $29,995 to $42,750 with discounts of $5,000 for veterans and $2,500 for those recruited at an expo – plus a five-percent royalty fee and one-percent marketing fee. Franchisees must, however, be well financed with $100,000 available. New franchisees can work out of their homes the first year.
A Better Solution 2Before granting a franchise, Buske personally examines a potential territory to make sure there is a significant percentage of potential clients – at least 500,000 – and a viable number of referral sources. ABS then handles the licensing work for its new franchise. “The majority of the states require licensure for nonmedical homecare,” Buske says. “It can up to six months to achieve licensure.”
After licensure is complete, the new CEO is invited to San Diego for a week of intense homecare boot camp and pre-launch training. “Many of the other homecare companies have gotten so large they do a lot of training in webinars” Smith-Pratt says.
Training includes learning the language of healthcare, marketing, logos, working out a budget and developing a business plan. A public relations person interviews the franchisee to create a biography. ABS helps the franchisee develop an action plan for their first six months in business. The ABS marketing team then goes on-site up to four days to analyze and develop a clear marketing plan.
Weekly corporate accountability calls follow. ABS Corporate trainers give guidance on all operations including hiring key staff members, running employment ads and ensuring business success.
Those most successful in operating a home healthcare franchise tend to be good with other people. “You have to be a kind and caring individual and also know how to direct a workforce,” Smith-Pratt says. “The key to the homecare business is dedication, compassion and integrity. We are looking for people who are committed to the time and effort it takes.” +