Six years ago, David Ellenwood and his wife, Evelyn, started Sunny Days In-Home Care out of their Pennsylvania home. Sunny Days' revenues have grown 15x since their first year of operation and is now one of the largest home care agencies in the state. To continue sharing what they have learned, not only are they starting to franchise their business model, but David has shared his top 3 success tips for other home care agency owners.
Tip #1: “Step outside the box and don’t be afraid to try out new ideas.”
David describes himself as the type of person that does not always hold to traditional ways of doing things. The home care industry is constantly changing, so David embraces creativity and isn't afraid to try new things when it comes to how he runs his business.
Take the cases other agencies won't: "I am not afraid to invest time and money into trying things. They don't always pan out. One thing that I have done that not a lot of agencies do, is take on clients that are difficult or that have short hours of care. We have gained a reputation for doing this, so many referral sources send us their clients first."
Keep the care personalized: Additionally, Sunny Days has implemented a horizontal management style that includes ten field managers who work with clients in geographical territories in order to ensure that any and all issues can be addressed immediately -- including taking over an open shift if necessary. David explains that this model “continues to give our company a small company, personal feeling because the client and employee have someone close by that they can get in contact with. We also get a lot of clients from other home care companies because if there is a call off it is not getting covered. We are not perfect in this but we do it much better than our competitors."
Be creative with caregiver retention: When asked about caregiver retention, David says they are able to keep turnover low by prioritizing the caregiver experience. Caregivers are regularly recognized by earning incentives and bonuses based on performance. "We give bonuses for perfect attendance each quarter. We also give a yearly recognition to those caregivers that do not miss work. I think caregivers and our office staff like working for us because of what we stand for and how we give back to the community -- for example, we provide 20 meals to clients at Thanksgiving, and give 60 blankets and gifts to our clients at Christmas. We also allow our caregivers to work many hours and try to keep them within a certain area and with certain clients so they are comfortable with their schedules."
Tip #2. “Find your niche.”
Businesses have limited resources and a focused niche helps to ensure that the resources are allocated efficiently. Home care itself is a niche industry and Sunny Days has an added specialty of serving Medicaid clients. His team spends time and effort developing effective methods that provide the best care for Medicaid clients.
Tip #3. “Find a mentor.”
David explains that a major benefit of being a franchisee is that you have a constant mentor who is invested in your success. The franchisor has laid a lot of the groundwork so that the franchise can expand. Sunny Days seeks to act as a mentor to franchisees. In fact, when someone signs on to become a franchisee, Sunny Days will mentor that franchisee and shares best practices he's learned from his own experiences -- such as keeping costs down by having a home-based business for the first few years. Sunny Days also invests in new franchises by putting $10,000 toward their marketing efforts. This is something David does for each new franchisee in order to help them succeed and says, “we are dedicated to making them successful.”
The ClearCare Advantage
“ClearCare puts all you need to run your agency right there in front of you. Even the field managers have anytime anywhere access by using tablets so that they can access client, caregiver, and billing information when they're in the field." David migrated to ClearCare when they had just 35 clients and says ClearCare has helped cut costs and raise margins while managing his growing pool of 300 employees, including 10 field managers -- who each manage 600-1500 client care hours per week.
Picture: David and Evelyn Ellenwood, Sunny Days In-Home Care at the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award Ceremony