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After Caregiving for Parents and Son, Family Becomes Right at Home Franchise Owner To Help Others

As parents of a son with autism and caregivers to their own parents, Albano and Rafaela Mahilaj look forward to growing a community-centric business that gives back on a larger scale.

Albano Mahilaj and his wife, Rafaela, officially launched their Rocky River Right at Home* franchise on September 25. The franchise, which targets in-home care to seniors and adults with disabilities, struck a chord with this couple. They have been caregivers for their own parents, and a son with autism, for years. 

When they began considering entrepreneurship, Right at Home, the 700-plus-unit, in-home-care franchise, was the perfect fit. Mahilaj looks forward to serving the Ohio community while providing future opportunities for his own children in this family business.

1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?

Mahilaj: I worked for a local hospital system for several years. After that, I ran a cleaning business for four years. Right before I found Right at Home, I worked as a real estate project manager for government projects, in addition to being a Realtor.

When we started this journey, my wife and I wanted to create something. Not necessarily a legacy, because we don’t want to place that kind of pressure on our kids, but something important that we could pass down. We have two children who are 6 and 4. The oldest is autistic. When you have a child with special needs, you start to think of what the future will look like.

What happens when we’re not here anymore? We wanted to get into a business that would help our own son with resources and also give back to the community. The main goal of Right at Home is senior care, but we also do outreach for adults with disabilities, and that seemed like a perfect fit.

1851: What was your perception of franchising prior to becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?

Mahilaj: We did a little bit of work with a franchise back in 2014. It was a short experience with commercial cleaning, but the franchisor wasn’t what Right at Home is. When you hear “franchise,” you might think of someone taking your money and leaving you alone. That’s not how it is with Right at Home. You feel, well, right at home!

That support, along with the consistent message no matter who you talk to, is what got us into this.

I’ve talked with a lot of colleagues and friends, and the one thing I would want someone to know is that you’ll never really be ready to do it. Most people think about working for themselves and talk about it for three to five years before doing something. There will always be something holding you back, but you’re not going to learn how to own a business unless you just do it. Once you do it and pay the fees, you’re invested, and you’ll do what you have to do to make it work.

1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?

Mahilaj: My wife and I have always had a connection with our parents and grandparents. To date, we take care of both our parents in many different aspects. In addition, we are parents of an autistic boy and will likely always care for him. Being part of the home care industry, to us, is more than a business. It’s giving back to those who need someone by their side at all times.

Through all the research, we were impressed with the level of detail that Right at Home provided throughout the entire process. Providing as much information as possible made our selection process easier. All the owners we have talked to love what they do, and that has made us feel like we found home.

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth? 

Mahilaj: We’re taking it one step at a time. Our goal is to become the go-to provider in our territory. We don’t want to take anyone’s business — we’re friends with everyone in the business. As long as you’re here for the right reasons, we’re your friend. We want to help all of those who are in need — not only the direct clients but also referral resources. We want to help the community achieve its goals by doing our part monetarily and partnering in events they lead. Being here for our community is our number one priority.

In the future, we want to expand to neighboring areas. As far as our longer-term goal, we want to be known as the Right at Home business that will be there for the new franchisees. Of course, growth is only measured with KPIs or value, but we don’t want money to be the only driver. We will focus on growing in the community and let the revenue show up.

1851: What is the one thing about your story you want us to know?

Mahilaj: Taking care of both our son and our parents is an important part of our story. Our parents aren’t elderly yet, but we come from a culture where people usually take care of their parents in their own homes. We realize how important it is to care for those who care for you. We’re doing this for a purpose, and the purpose is to give back to the senior community and adults with disabilities.

1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner?

Mahilaj: Find your purpose. In this business, there’s demand, and you’re going to make money. But if you want to go into the business just for the money, you’ll be trying to get out in a year or two. You need to have a purpose that will drive you when someone is calling at 2 a.m. because a caregiver didn’t show up or a patient has passed away. If you’re not in it for the long ride, this is not for you.

The estimated initial investment to begin the operation of a Right at Home franchise is $88,719-$157,669. If you're interested in taking the next step in making a difference in your community as a Right at Home franchisee, visit rightathomefranchise.com.

ABOUT RIGHT AT HOME

Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home care to seniors and adults with disabilities who want to live independently. Most Right at Home offices are independently owned and operated, and directly employ and supervise all caregiving staff. Each caregiver is thoroughly screened, trained and bonded/insured before entering a client’s home. Right at Home’s global office is based in Omaha, Nebraska, with more than 700 franchise locations in the U.S. and six other countries. If you're interested in taking the next step in making a difference in your community as a Right at Home franchisee, visit rightathomefranchise.com

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.

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