With over 160 centers in 35 states, FirstLight Home Care franchise is a leading provider of non-medical home care across the U.S. As part of a renewed effort to spark national growth, FirstLight began actively pursuing conversion development initiatives in 2018, recruiting independent care facilities to join the brand, To date, the brand has successfully converted one independent home care agency into a FirstLight franchise with a few more in the process, laying the foundation for the development strategy to take root in the year ahead.
Larry France, Director of Franchise Development for FirstLight Home Care, said he sees conversions as a viable development strategy because they allow the brand to expand its footprint on a national basis with experienced home care operators and help to establish an immediate presence in markets FirstLight has yet to enter.
“Having an independent home care agency convert to our franchise model gives us instant business and an established employee and client base,” France said. “Additionally, independent home care agencies already have a strong operational knowledge base, making training that much easier.”
That being said, independent businesses stand to gain just as much from conversions as franchisors like FirstLight do.
“Converting to a FirstLight Home Care franchise carries with it many benefits,” France said, noting many independent home care agencies simply don’t have the necessary bandwidth to continue growing their business. This was the case for independent care facility owners Tina Glenn and Roget de Percin Berendes. Their business, Hearthside Home Care, had been serving the Greensboro, North Carolina community for almost two decades when the two recognized the evolving market meant partnering with FirstLight’s national franchise network gave their business the best opportunity to thrive.
“It’s the fastest way to grow,” Glenn said about their decision to join the brand. “FirstLight leverages their national network and relationships on our behalf, which will really help us stand out among the competition. They also offer national marketing and operational support for franchise owners that will help us strengthen and expand our programs so we can continue to provide the best care for our clients.”
In September 2018, Hearthside Home Care became FirstLight’s inaugural conversion franchise, continuing business as FirstLight Home Care of Guilford.
“The franchise model allows these businesses to join a national company with brand recognition,” France continued. “Converting their existing business into a FirstLight franchise is a fantastic way to continue growing without compromising the things they really care about or without lessening the entrepreneurial spirit that helped them achieve their current success. Being part of FirstLight gives them access to resources that will enhance the quality of care they provide and help them continue building their business.”
To begin the conversion process, FirstLight focuses on educating the independent care business about the brand’s Culture of Care promise and people-first philosophy, then about the advantages that come with joining a franchise.
“We take them through a very methodical process of converting their business over to a franchise and also offer financial incentives for qualified independent home care operators to convert,” France noted.
The brand’s extensive support team that includes HR, marketing, technology, financial and field support professionals is at the conversion franchisee’s disposal from day one to help bring them up to speed on the ins and outs of the FirstLight business model to set them up for success.
For Glenn and Berendes, the future of their business looks bright. “We’re also excited to be paving the way for other independent businesses to join the FirstLight family,” they said.