Why Joining a Senior Care Franchise is Better Than Operating an Independent Business

firstlight home care senior care franchise

Tina Glenn had successfully operated her own independent, in-home care agency for 20 years before becoming a member of the senior care franchise, FirstLight Home Care four years ago. Her business has since exploded, tripling in revenue. As a manager with decades of acute care, nursing home, and home health management experience, Glenn already had the business and health care background she needed to be successful but found that, as an independent business, she didn’t have enough negotiation power to land large contracts.

In 2000, the senior care landscape was shifting in her home state of North Carolina. Referral sources preferred working with large players rather than an independent owner. At the same time, national senior care franchises had begun moving into the state, increasing competition. Glenn and her business partner, Roget de Percin Berendes, knew it made sense to join a franchise. They ultimately chose FirstLight for a number of reasons.

“We interviewed all of the major in-home care franchises and found FirstLight to be the best fit culturally,” she said. “We immediately began seeing more referrals and developed relationships with companies that wanted to contract with us because we were part of FirstLight.”firstlight home care helping individuals with disabilities

FirstLight Home Care provides non-medical in-home care services, helping seniors and people recovering from illness, injury, or surgery; adults with disabilities; those living with dementia; veterans; and anyone over 18 with in-home support. The Cincinnati-based senior care franchise includes nearly 200 locations in 36 states and has plans to double the size of its network over the next four to five years, according to Frank Todisco, FirstLight’s executive director of franchise development. The brand sets itself apart from competitors and describes itself as “leading with a franchisor’s head and a franchisee’s heart.”

“Our leadership team has more than 160 years of franchising experience collectively—including experience as both a franchisee and a franchisor,” Todisco said. “Our entire system is built around franchisee success and unit economics.”

In addition to business and marketing support, FirstLight helps franchise owners leverage their own national relationships locally—increasing their number of referrals and caregiver hours. Best of all, owners and caregivers enjoy being part of the FirstLight family. In a recent survey, 93% of franchisees surveyed said they would recommend FirstLight to others. The company scores particularly high in the Core Values and Leadership categories, which speaks to the relationships and culture of its system. Part of the Franchise Business Review Hall of Fame for 10 years, FirstLight is listed on the Top 200 Franchises of 2022.

Opportunities Abound in the Senior Care Franchise Sector

For those looking to go into business for themselves, now might be an opportune time to invest in a senior care franchise. The demographics show that the demand for senior support will continue to explode, with one in five people expected to be older than 65 by 2030. At the same time, AARP reports that the number of seniors requiring additional care will increase from 14% of the senior population in 2010 to 21% by 2050. Not only will more Americans need caregivers, but an overwhelming majority of them prefer to receive care in their homes. And the cost of assisted living and other facility care continues to be far out of reach for many. In 2022, for example, the national median cost of assisted living is $4,635 per month; however, these costs can vary depending on both location and community type.

“Almost anyone who calls us for services has a story,” Glenn said. “They may have been in a facility somewhere and were unhappy with the services they had, or they can’t afford to be in the facility of their choice. It keeps boiling down to needing care in the home.”

Although Glenn had years of experience in the senior care sector before she joined FirstLight in 2018, she said it is possible for someone with no industry experience to be successful–particularly if they join a franchise system. To be successful, you need to understand that you’re entering a high-touch industry that requires you to hire and retain caregivers, build relationships with referral sources, and serve seniors and their families.

“It’s not like selling a can of hairspray off of a shelf,” she joked. “FirstLight helps you understand the nuances of that. It’s a great way to start your own business, even if you have no experience.”

“Not only do franchise owners receive the necessary guidance from experts on the licensing, credentialing, and business management aspects of their businesses, but they typically have better luck obtaining financing as part of a franchise network,” Glenn said.
“For someone who’s worked at IBM all their life and wants to tap into their retirement plan and so something on their own, FirstLight is a great choice. Their support team can help you understand how it works, how to remain profitable, and how to provide great care,” she said.

Last year, Glenn and de Percin Berendes opened their second North Carolina franchise location and they’re excited to expand into a new territory under the FirstLight name. “If I had to do it all over again, I would have done it sooner,” she said.

Owning a Senior Care Franchise vs. an Independent Business

There are pros and cons to weigh if you’re looking to join any franchise system. However, senior care franchise owners can expect to enjoy the following advantages.

Cost: While you can expect to pay an initial franchise fee and monthly royalties to your franchisor, you might find that you’ll save money in the long run. In exchange for the fees and royalties you pay, you get access to national and local marketing campaigns and proprietary backend systems that can help you maximize leads and revenue.

Operations: When you join a franchise, you get access to a “tried and true” playbook that helps you maximize efficiency and revenue. Instead of figuring out the best hiring, caregiving, and accounting processes as you go along, a franchise like FirstLight provides you with a systematic approach to launching, growing, and scaling your business.

Independence: You won’t necessarily lose your autonomy as a business owner once you invest in a franchise. While it’s true you’ll need to follow brand standards and processes, you’ll still be your own boss in charge of your own employees, clients, schedule, and success. Being part of a senior care franchise like FirstLight allows you to spend more time working on your business and less time seeking out suppliers or trying untested marketing campaigns.

Support: When you open a business on your own, you must seek out your own training and vendor relationships. When you buy into a FirstLight Home Care franchise, you not only receive initial training and launch support, but you can expect ongoing home-office guidance from professionals who have years of experience in both senior care and business.

Financial Risk: Starting any new business involves some risk. When you are part of a franchise, you may have an easier time getting access to start-up capital. You’ll also get support from home-office experts who can help you manage your costs and expenses.

Are You Ready to Invest in a Senior Care Franchise?

Providing care to seniors can be rewarding and lucrative. According to FirstLight’s most recent Franchise Disclosure Agreement, the average gross revenue for a location that has been open for at least 16 months totaled $1.09 million, while units open for at least 82 months grossed $1.5 million.

While you don’t need senior care experience to own a FirstLight Home Care franchise, you must be passionate about serving older adults and their families and meet minimum financial requirements. These include:

  • Net worth of $250,000
  • $100,000 cash on hand
  • A $49,500 franchise fee, with discounts for veterans
  • An initial investment of $113,000 to $197,000 (including franchise fee)

You can also expect to pay monthly royalties on your gross net revenue, including:

  • 5% royalty
  • 2% royalty on local marketing, advertising, and promotions
  • 1% royalty to a national advertising fund

Franchisees are also responsible for obtaining licensure to operate an in-home care business in the states in which they operate.
FirstLight has open territories throughout the United States and is interested in talking to qualified candidates from all backgrounds who are looking to join a business with heart.

Request More Information on the FirstLight Home Care Franchise Opportunity.