By Yasmin Noone
Community-care provider, Just Better Care, has beaten a long list of successful Australian companies to the professional punch, achieving recognition as the country’s 10th fastest growing franchise by leading business magazine, BRW.
Boasting a 66.6 per cent growth rate and $2 million in annual revenue from 2010 to 2011, the Just Better Care franchise empire of 21 outlets outranked 30 other top Aussie businesses to come in at 10th on the BRW 2012 Fastest Growing Franchises list, published in late-February.
The 24-hour gym, Jetts Fitness, occupied the number one spot for 2012, raking in a cool $43 million in revenue and 403.3 per cent growth during the same time frame as the for-profit community care provider.
Following Just better Care on the list was the chocolate retailer/cafe, Chocolateria San Churro, which came in at number 11 with $18 million in revenue and 64.2 per cent growth.
Just Better Care was also named as Australia’s fastest growing franchise in the home and community health care sector in the 2012 BRW list.
The company’s founder and director, Trish Noakes, said she was delighted with the recognition from both 2012 titles.
“The reason the model is such a good one for the current times and more importantly, for the future, is that aged care and disability services are going to go through a process of massive reform and change,” Ms Noakes said.
“At moment, all the [large] organisations have the power and control.”
But, she said, following reform and an expected move to a more customer-focused, market orientated system of aged care, “the power and control will shift from the organisation to the person receiving the care themselves, and their family”.
“…Franchise owner operations buy a business because they want to succeed and they make sure they do a good job. Customers come to them to have their needs met. That is no different in community care.
“I think up until now, [the sector] has been treated like it’s based [on different principles that other companies and industries are based upon] but it really isn’t.
“We provide a service and our customer focus is specific to the individual.
“I think our franchise model of community care provision is a very suitable one for the future, where people will shop around and say I have this entitlement of care and they want the provider to show how they can best meet their needs with good, quality services that are flexible and individual.”
The BRW 2012 Fast Franchises reveal the Australian franchises that have grown at a faster rate than the rest of the economy, and ranks franchisees by their average annual revenue growth and average annual outlet growth.
The franchises that make it on the list not only demonstrate their ability to survive the toughest economic times, but their aptitude to continue to grow and prosper.
The Just Better Care network of locally-owned agencies, which started in 2007, offers personal, palliative and dementia care, nursing, medication, wound care, domestic assistance and social support services across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT.
It provides home care services to more than 2,350 clients per week (more than 14,000 hours).
According to the BRW list, the company also generates around $95,240 of revenue per outlet and its indicative franchise entry cost is $220 000.
Above: Trish Noakes
Ms Noakes believes the organisation’s franchise model of community care provision, which is quite popular in the United States, has been successful in Australia because of it offers a “local touch”.
Although each franchise is connected to and receives support from head office, she explained, they are also embedded within a community. This gives the company an advantage over other big providers, Ms Noakes said, which don’t have that same local focus.
“Community care is a relationship business,” she said.
“So there is an advantage to having a franchise located close to where the organisation is offering services. We see our staff regularly and offer face-to-face ground support – not distance support through electronic mobile phones.
“I’ve heard of organisations which chose a central location to operate from and think that they can [adequately] support staff from there. [But with that approach], the personal touch is lost because staff are running all over the city or doing things remotely.”
Having proximity on their side, also allows the franchise staff to “know who the local GPs are who are good, who the chemists are that will deliver blister packs and who the supermarkets are that home deliver”.
“You get to know who’s who is in your local area and what do they do. Then you start to provide a wholesome, balanced service. As much as we source information from the web, there’s nothing like knowing the information from your own backyard.”
“We centralization systems like IT [etc] which helps keep us efficient but… it’s the face-to-face contact that can never be replaced.
“A lot of our growth has been made possible because of word of mouth recommendations. Our owner operators are very customer-focused. They go out of their way to ensure the services are working for the person receiving them.”
Ms Noakes also attributes her company’s growth to the ageing of the population and an increase in the number of opportunities that currently exist in the sector.
“We believe that the provision of health services is a major future growth industry for Australian businesses, with the country expecting to experience a huge increase in the proportion of the ageing population due to baby boomers becoming ‘greying boomers’, as well as the expected increased industry spending.
“Franchising models in particular are a compelling choice to take advantage of this boom, with strong business models that works for the present and also most importantly for the future.
“We have seen a steady growth at Just Better Care, with a lot of business-savvy people interested in getting involved with our franchising model to take advantage of this boom. In a traditionally not-for-profit sector, franchising is a clever option for those looking to capture the grey dollar where other institutions are failing.”
Just Better Care is looking to expand operations and set up another five franchises very soon.
“We are very selective. We are looking for people who are passionate about running in-home care but they need to have enough business acumen.
“We are really fussy with who we choose because we know they will, as franchisees become leaders and meet with people in the community.
“We don’t just want investors. We want people in this business who want to be here long-term, who want a make a difference in their community.”