HomeWell Pivots to Virtual Format to Support Franchisees During Pandemic

October 14, 2020
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In the past, decreased travel and increased time at home might have meant a lack of business opportunities or loss of forward momentum — but that's not the case for home care. The need for this service doesn't stop, and the home care industry — which topped $102.2 billion in 2018 — is more important than ever. Home care is about more than just big business, too. It offers qualified, compassionate individuals the chance to make a huge impact in their community — and making a positive impact starts with adapting to the times.

When our franchised agencies began working from home earlier in 2020, HomeWell responded quickly, developing a virtual format for on-boarding and training. This virtual format started as a temporary measure to help our franchisees through a difficult time, but what HomeWell quickly realized is that the benefits of transitioning to virtual training actually help current franchisees continue to grow their business, and it gives potential franchisees the opportunity to offer a much-needed service in their area.

“We have successfully navigated from in-person training to virtual training out of necessity during this time of COVID," explains VP of Operations, Michelle Cone. "The feedback of content received and my team's ability to deliver with excitement and enthusiasm, while delivering the education promised, was excellent!"

The Discovery Process

In the past, franchisees would have been required to travel for training, orientation sessions and other onboarding activities. If we'd waited around until travel was no longer restricted, several of HomeWell's newer franchisees would not have been able to move forward with growing their business.

We quickly realized that we could offer interest sessions and on-boarding training through a series of virtual events. By making these events virtual, we were able to reduce travel times and expenses for potential — and incoming — franchisees, as well as provide more targeted training for everyone.

1. Meet the Team Days

During the monthly "Meet the Team Days," potential franchisees meet HomeWell's executive leadership team via Zoom. This affords them the opportunity to meet company leaders and learn more about their vision for the organization's growth and impact on home care. We actually found that this format took away some of the awkward formality that often accompanies these kinds of meetings, allowing our new franchisees the opportunity to relax and engage in meaningful dialogue with our leaders.

2. Virtual Onboarding

With virtual training, franchise operators can participate in the onboarding process from the comfort of their home office. HomeWell's traditional onboarding is a multi-step process that includes company orientation, guidance with human resources and all of the appropriate paperwork. Goal setting and regular performance reviews are also a part of the process for newer franchisees. Rather than put these processes on hold, HomeWell's team developed a virtual onboarding process, allowing new franchisees to complete each step online so that they didn't lose forward momentum.

3. Site Visits

In the past new owners could expect three site visits from the HomeWell operations team during their first year of business. Recent travel restrictions made in-person site visits difficult, but rather than put off the required visits — and stall the growth for individual franchises — HomeWell upgraded its operating system to allow our team to conduct virtual tours via Facetime or Zoom. These virtual site visits allow the operations team to see each office, as well as offer evaluations and guidance designed to improve best practices and growth at each franchise location.

4. Discovery Portal

When we talk with potential franchisees, we always encourage them to practice due diligence in learning about HomeWell. We're proud of what we do, but it is important for franchisees to understand our company values and reputation to decide how they can best join us in our mission. To assist with this, we developed the password-protected discovery portal. The Discovery Portal houses all of our educational webinars, downloadable one-pagers and information on topics including training, support, marketing and franchise owner testimonials. When a qualified candidate for a new franchise is identified, they are given access to this portal as a tool toward helping them learn more about HomeWell.

5. CORE Training

In the past, franchisees would attend a one week, classroom-style training, which we refer to as CORE training. This program was designed as an intensive “deep dive” into how to run a HomeWell Care Services office. Traditionally, CORE training has been held on-site at the HomeWell training center in Wichita Falls, TX. When the pandemic hit, and air travel was grounded, HomeWell quickly pivoted to a fully virtual format so that there was no reason to delay our newly awarded franchise owners from launching their businesses.

The CORE training sessions we've held have garnered very positive results. “The time really flew by, which is a testament to the HomeWell team's planning, energy and ability to keep things interesting. Not a given for virtual training," says Franklin, Tenn., HomeWell Care Services Owner Rob Soerns. "My biggest takeaway from this is that I did not make a mistake in signing on with HomeWell!”

Career Opportunities With HomeWell

Demand for home care isn't slowing down. In fact, caring, compassionate and well-trained home care companies are more important than ever. So how does the demand for services meet the at-home, virtual lifestyle so many of us are living right now?

"Despite the challenges of a pandemic, we have been able to grow our business faster than our projections," says Eli Collier, COO HomeWell Care Services Nashville, TN. "We are adding clients weekly and consistently growing month over month. Our long term plan was to expand, and when the opportunity to purchase an additional territory presented itself, there was no way we were going to miss it. We are thrilled with the growth and progress.

Eli continued: "When we considered franchises, we wanted something that would be as “recession-proof” as possible. Opening HomeWell was the best decision we’ve made. We are confident we are on our way to a lucrative business in a shorter time frame than we thought possible."

A year ago, starting a home care business with virtual franchise training might not have been a viable option, but today is different. And rather than shy away from change, HomeWell has met the challenge head-on. By developing in-depth and unique business platforms, we have completely transformed the way we support our potential and existing franchises. We're embracing this new way of doing things because we believe that what we're doing is too important to put on hold.

As one of the country's top home care providers, HomeWell aims to provide high-quality care for seniors and peace of mind for the families who love them. We provide our franchise owners with the tools and best practices needed to cultivate a successful home care business in their hometown. And because the demand for home care continues, our need for qualified franchise owners is greater than ever.

But it's about more than a set of guidelines. At HomeWell, we want to help franchise owners develop a reputation for compassionate care in their community. We don't just lay down a set of rules and then walk away. Our goal is to come alongside our franchisees and create a lasting business model that will serve seniors with a variety of needs.

If you're looking for a way to impact your community — both during the pandemic and in the years to come — we invite qualified candidates to explore a franchise with HomeWell. Contact us for more information.

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