Build A Home Care Business With Heart

With the population ageing at a rapid rate, the home care industry in Australia is about to explode.

In 2016 Amber Biesse and Matt Fitton were living in Vancouver, Canada when they noticed one of Nurse Next Door’s pink cars driving around their local neighbourhood. Having built and run several successful Build A Home Care Business With Heart businesses from scratch, the serial entrepreneurs were on the lookout for a new challenge.

Identifying that an ageing population was creating compelling business opportunities, they decided to investigate Nurse Next Door further, discovering not only a highly regarded home healthcare provider in Canada and the USA but also a very successful franchise system looking to expand into Australia by way of a master franchisor licence.

“As parents of a child with special needs,” Amber explains, “Nurse Next Door’s core purpose of making lives better resonated deeply with Matt and I. We also recognised the enormous potential of bringing a home care brand to Australia that combined this core purpose, and its associated values, with world-class processes and operational excellence, honed over years of best practice.”

A rigorous process of research and investigation into the opportunity ensued. Living in Vancouver provided a unique set of circumstances as regular meetings were held at HeartQuarters over many months allowing an in-depth working knowledge of the culture, values, brand and Nurse Next Door’s systems.

Australia became Nurse Next Door’s first global partner when Matt and Amber were awarded the Australian master franchisor licence in September 2018. The corporately owned location commenced business in Melbourne a couple of months later and Matt says, “At the rate at which Nurse Next Door Melbourne has been able to penetrate the home care market and build a growing number of raving fans, the success of the brand in North America is being quickly replicated in Australia,” The level of initial inquiry from people interested in the opportunity of becoming a partner in the Nurse Next Door family is further evidence for the couple that this bold pink brand is in the right place at the right time.

The silver tsunami

As the population continues to age, more people desire options. Instead of moving into a nursing home once they are no longer independent, older Australians, and their family members want choices. The statistics speak for themselves. Almost 90 per cent of all older people say that they want to age at home. In Australia, home care is a multi-billion dollar industry, and as baby boomers age, it’s poised to grow exponentially. Today the over 65s make up around 15 per cent of the population (one in seven).  Forecasts project that this cohort will make up 18 per cent in 2027 (one in six) and by 2047 one in five Australians (20 per cent) will be aged over 65.

Even with substantial growth in the last decade, the home care industry is still trying to catch up to an ever-growing demand that will last for at least the next generation, if not beyond. 

Making lives better

Baby boomers aside, the home care market in Australia also provides an excellent option for those living with a disability.  The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has revolutionised disability services and gives people living with a disability more choice and control about when, where and how to get the support they need, allowing them to continue living independently in their own homes, on their terms. 

“We believe people can stay at home. We believe in Happier Ageing.  We believe in possibility, rather than disability. We believe in making lives better,” says Amber. 

Despite its continued growth, the home care industry has resisted significant changes over generations. But it’s no secret that this is an industry in the midst of some major disruption, and the companies that will thrive in the new world are those that embrace change. Thanks to Nurse Next Door’s philosophy of care centred around happier ageing and making lives better — a unique experience designed to get older Australians and people requiring disability support back to doing what they love - no matter what their age or circumstance - the business stands out amongst other home care companies. 

Traditional companies arrange care around basic tasks — meal preparation, cleaning, medication management, assistance with bathing and dressing. But they miss a grand opportunity to meet clients’ emotional and personal needs, which are just as important, if not more so, than the physical ones.

Nurse Next Door builds care on the foundation of each individual’s needs, desires and personality and arranges the care plan around the person instead of trying to plug the person into the package.

Matt and Amber reject — emphatically — the notion that people need to surrender their enjoyment of life because they’ve reached retirement age. “They’ve lived full lives,” Amber says, “and gathered volumes of wisdom and experience. It’s a cause for celebration! Likewise, we’re always looking for the possibilities in life for people who are challenged by disability. They are some of the most inspiring people on our planet.”

Warning: Friendly people inside

Nurse Next Door firmly believes culture is better when it’s the product of design rather than an accident. It’s no surprise, therefore that the company is widely recognised and awarded for its culture, built around the central theme of making lives better. From there, the business is built on four core values: Admire People, WOW Customer Experience, Find a Better Way, and Passionate About Making a Difference. Franchise partners adopt the tone: bright, cheerful, happy, professional and hardworking but fun! 

“It’s why Nurse Next Door chose a particular shade of pink as its primary colour,” Matt  explains. “There’s nothing sombre or timid about it — a bold, brassy pink that grabs you by the lapels and urges you to get out there and enjoy life!”

It gets the franchise partners noticed, too. Often, people encounter Nurse Next Door for the first time when they spot one of the pink wrapped cars. “Pink reflects the energy and spirit Nurse Next Door wants to pass on to its clients, who deserve to feel enthusiastic and happy about their lives.”

Doing what you love

In a society traditionally viewing care as a set of tasks or responsibilities, here’s how Nurse Next Door does home care; they take people ballooning! Well, that’s just one example - Bronwen had always wanted to soar over Melbourne in one of the hot air balloons she regularly saw from her backyard in Melbourne’s inner eastern suburbs. The problem was that none of her friends or family was interested. So, when she had the opportunity to enter Nurse Next Door’s Happier Ageing Dreams competition in March 2019, she jumped at the chance, and Nurse Next Door was happy to help out. On a beautiful crisp, bright morning in April, Bronwen climbed aboard with one of Nurse Next Door’s Care Designers and sailed across the skies of Melbourne. “Bucket list!” she declared on landing.

There’s Donald, who had a love of hobby planes but stopped flying due to failing health until his carer stepped in and helped him get back out in the field.

Eleanor hadn’t swum for 20 years after her diagnosis of Alzheimers, and so her caregiver spent the whole summer getting her back in the water at the local pool, gradually building up stamina until, eventually, she was able to swim in her local lake.

The stories of happier ageing and making lives better are endless, and Matt and Amber say no matter how small or simple when care focuses on the individual emotional and psychological needs of the client it can make all the difference in the world.

“The trust between the caregiver and client is the essence of the service and commitment by Nurse Next Door,” says Amber. “Changing the perception of ageing from one of loss and sadness to a time of celebration and happiness starts with one simple question: : “What did you use to love to do, that you no longer do?” 

Taking care of business

Of course, none of this — great culture, caring and happy employees, revolutionary service, pink cars — would mean a thing if Nurse Next Door didn’t work as a business. As Matt says: “It doesn’t just work. It thrives.”

Minimising the administrative aspects of the business — especially scheduling, the most complicated and time-consuming duty — is a significant drawcard for Nurse Next Door franchise partners, drastically reducing burnout and allowing partners to focus on growing their business.

An around-the-clock Care Services Centre manages all intakes and scheduling requirements to ensure clients, caregivers and franchise partners have 24/7 support. The Care Services Specialists are experts at speaking compassionately about the Nurse Next Door services. From fielding incoming calls to handling caregiver scheduling, setting up appointments and ensuring scheduling changes don’t disrupt client care, they talk regularly with franchise partners to coordinate care and are ready for anything, 24/7. Given the company’s commitment to exceeding expectations, it comes as no surprise that their Net Promoter Score is on par with such renowned brands as Amazon and Apple.

“Most importantly,’’ says Matt, “The Care Services Centre saves our franchise partners a tremendous amount of time and energy that they can spend on building connections in the community.”

Unparalleled opportunity

Nurse Next Door is one of North America’s fastest growing home care franchise systems and represents an exciting opportunity to become part of this successful, proven brand as it expands in Australia. With no requirement for a medical or health care background, Matt and Amber say the ideal Nurse Next Door Franchise Partner has a tender touch and the tenacity of a bulldog.

Its territories provide a protected area for each partner to establish their business. The geographical size of the metropolitan area doesn’t matter much; Nurse Next Door has found that the key statistic is the number of people aged over 65 years. Each territory in Australia averages between 30,000 - 35,000 seniors. Regional markets, while often large geographically, can be great locations for Nurse Next Door because they’re usually made up of tightly knit local communities.

Training and support start with a Franchise Opener program which covers everything from insurance to wrapping the Nurse Next Door car to setting up the marketing and sales systems. Franchise partners also undertake a full week of Franchise Partner Training at HeartQuarters in Melbourne, walking away with a clear, written plan to get started. During the week, various members of Nurse Next Door HeartQuarters team provide interactive training sessions so information can be absorbed and retained easily. They leave training with a solid understanding of the finances and metrics behind the business.

For the critical first six to eight months, an assigned coach guides each partner through the inevitable rough spots. “The coaches”, Matt says, “are part counsellor, part cheerleader, part business consultant”, and the entire HeartQuarters team is available for as long or as often as needed. Understanding that sometimes the hardest part is getting started Nurse Next Door has developed tools such as a 16-week plan to help new franchise partners find their footing and ensure they’re set up for success from the beginning.

This is a franchise opportunity that provides a return on investment, both financially and emotionally. As Amber says: “Franchise partners are not just selling ice cream or sandwiches, they’re helping people find the care to continue living life on their terms.” She notes the calls and letters received from clients are unparalleled to any other feeling experienced in another industry. 

From the brand’s bold pink colour to images of people celebrating ageing, Nurse Next Door is disruptive and a thought leader in the home care industry. It’s one of the main reasons why Matt and Amber believe Nurse Next Door is uniquely positioned for long-term, year-over-year growth that’s unparalleled in the franchise industry.

Want to build a home care business with heart? Contact Matt Fitton 1300 010 247 matt.fitton@nursenextdoor.com.au www.nursenextdoorfranchise.com.au