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Janis Anderson has been named Franchisee of the Year for her domiciliary care franchise.
Janis Anderson has been named Britain’s top franchisee and top female franchisee at this year’s British Franchise Association HSBC Franchisee of the Year Awards. She impressed the judges for delivering a high quality service for customers while propelling her domiciliary care business forward.
Janis [pictured left] is passionate about her Caremark franchise business and says the award gave her careworkers a great boost. “It’s a great thing for the care sector to be recognised in this way. They should be getting good publicity,” she says.
Janis became a Caremark franchisee around four and a half years ago because she wanted to change career. Her background is in venture capital and banking which meant travelling a lot and she wanted to be closer to home and have a job that challenged her. She has a 14-year-old daughter and wanted to spend more time with her. “When my daughter had chicken pox I was in San Francisco for work. I just wanted to be around a bit more, especially for her teenage years. It’s a difficult environment to be a teenager.” Now her work pattern varies, depending on demand, and she can work at times from home plus her office is nearby. Her husband also works for home so there is always a parent around.
When her daughter was born Janis was a consultant, having retired from her permanent City job the year before. She was 39 and decided she wanted to either raise a small venture capital fund in biotechnology, which was her area of expertise, volunteer as a magistrate or have a child. In the end she did all three and was sworn in as a magistrate four days before her daughter was born.
She took no maternity leave because of the nature of her consultancy work and within 10 years she had sold out of the biotech fund. She was still working as a consultant and helping a colleague to build their biotech business, but started looking around at franchises because she wanted to run a business and knew that franchises provided support and back-up.
She wanted a business where she could “make a difference”. “I wanted something where I could be committed and passionate about the product rather than just selling any old thing,” she says. She honed down her choices to domiciliary care and, with her business background, researched the franchises in that sector thoroughly. Janis spoke to other franchisees and looked at the way they operated and the support they were given. She chose Caremark which she believes to be the best of the care franchises and because it was local – she covers Aylesbury – and offered franchisees a lot of support. She was given two weeks of training and has ongoing support from regional managers.
She describes the cost of the franchise as in the upper middle part of the franchise scale, but she thinks it was well worth it for all the help she gets with running the business and keeping up with regulatory requirements.
The first two years were very hard work. “I was on call 24 hours a day all year round,” she says. She recalls one Christmas when there was six feet of snow. “I had to get careworkers to vulnerable people so was driving people around in my 4 x 4,” she says. “I had a hands free phone and was calling my husband to explain how to cook Christmas dinner for 12.”
Janis says running the business was a steep learning curve. Her main focus was on quality. Building a strong, loyal team was “fundamental” and she has employees who have been with her since she started. “They are very dedicated. They offer the best possible service within the cost constraints of the individuals, council and NHS we work with,” says Janis.
She employs 148 people and getting the right people and providing ongoing support and training was vital. Janis spends time with her customers and care workers to ensure quality is maintained and that she understands what staff are facing. “It’s a difficult job; customers may be stressed or in pain. My staff do an incredible job in very difficult circumstances,” she says.
Janis says it is vital that the care industry presents a strong, powerful image and that quality is paramount. “We have an ageing population. People are living longer with more disabilities," she says. "A lot of care providers are excellent and we have to be able to move away from the poor publicity given to a small numbers of providers who are driven by profit. Care organisations are not generally driven solely by profit but by empathy and compassion. Good people will think twice about coming into the industry if they only hear negative things about it. Careworkers deserve to be reading good things about themselves.”