Right from day one, First Light Home Care was as accommodating as possible with franchisee Eric Friedrich.
As he was approaching his deployment date with the Air Force, where he was an Intelligence Officer, Friedrich contacted numerous franchises and explained that he was set to deploy, but planned on separating from active duty upon his return. So, he wanted to get as much of the franchising process done as he could before leaving so when he returned, it would essentially be ready to start.
First Light Home Care was one of the few that were more than willing to work with him, letting him do as much as he could prior to deployment so it would be ready to pick up and begin once he returned. (Most other franchises simply told him to contact them after he returned from deployment.) Due to a leg injury, it turned out that Friedrich didn’t end up deploying, so he was able to put his franchising plans into action even sooner than anticipated.
A lot of what Friedrich had read about franchising warned him that franchisors can be accommodating up front, but disappear when they get their franchising fee. That’s why he feels especially fortunate to be with First Light.
“They all just sounded genuine and sincere and they actually cared about me and my well being,” Friedrich recalled during an interview at his office in Brunswick, GA.
Although based in Brunswick, Friedrich’s franchise does most of its business on St. Simons Island.
“We provide non-medical home care to seniors, new mothers and people with disabilities,” Friedrich explained. “Non-medical meaning personal care and companion care.”
Personal care is when someone needs assistance with the activities of daily living, like mobility, getting out of bed, getting in and out of cars, using the bathroom, basic hygiene, eating, bathing and more.
If clients don’t need hands on care, they can still provide companion care to keep the person company and drive themaround on errands and grocery shopping.
While in client’s homes, caretakers will also help with light housekeeping work and some light cooking.
Friedrich moved into his current office in March 2014, but there was a state licensing process to go through, so he’s been in operation officially since July 2014.
His initial contact with the franchise happened in August 2013 via a program through Veteran’s Affairs that helps veterans get set up with a franchise.
After looking into several different types of franchises, the more he researched, the more the non-medical home care business appealed to him.
This makes sense, as Friedrich was born and raised in a medical family with a father who was an ear, nose and throat doctor while his mother worked in his father’s surgery center. It was wanting to spend as much quality time with his parents, who are both seniors now, that brought him back to Brunswick, St. Simons Island where he was born and raised, to open his franchise.
Friedrich described himself as passionate about the area. He is equally as passionate about how much he learned from his time in the Air Force. In fact, he’s still in the Air Force reserves and serves from time to time.
Through the Air Force, he said, he was able to travel the world, do some amazing things and meet amazing people. His service also provided him with the work ethic, organization, and people management skills to make his franchise a success.
And if his work-life balance is any indication, it’s a successful franchise. As with all businesses, Friedrich had to work long hours to get it off the ground, but now that the business has hit its stride, he has much more free time. Currently, he has three office staff managing 40 caregivers.
“Things that used to take us four hours at the beginning, we can do in 20 minutes now,” he noted.
Quality Corporate Support
Part of that success with getting the business established involves the support he receives from First Light, which was a lot when he was getting things going.
“My first few months of business, I was on the phone with them every single day,” he said.
Any unfamiliar situations that popped up, and there were many at the beginning, the First Light staff would talk him through it.
Headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, First Light keeps a registered nurse on staff for consultation. And while Friedrich’s franchise also has a registered nurse on staff, the one at headquarters has been doing it for so long, her insight is invaluable. Additionally, the knowledge of the First Light technology expert who can walk him through every single accounting issue and through any issues with their scheduling software is equally as important.
First Light has staff to help with marketing, they are continually building national alliances with big name companies and they have monthly franchise calls to share news and touch base with everyone.
Right from the beginning, the company has been active with their help, analyzing the site Friedrich had picked out and giving him insight into the demographics in the area.
Once Friedrich signed the franchise agreement, First Light provided him with a two-week new owner training course where they taught him everything about best practices for hiring and using the scheduling and tracking systems.
The training was so extensive, it included role playing of scenarios that he would be likely to run into in that sort of work environment. It also included tours
of complimentary businesses like the emergency care call center for seniors. One thing Friedrich especially likes is First Light’s use of a third-party quality control company that the franchisees are required to use for evaluation.
That third party company calls clients and care givers and gives their ranking based on that.
“That’s a good way to gauge how we’re doing,” Friedrich said.
In a business that’s all about being accommodating to clients, First Light Home Care showed Friedrich just how accommodating they could be with their franchisees.
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