Ian Thomson, a former City-based equities trader, set up his own business with a Walfinch home care franchise in  Welwyn and Bishops Stortford in 2020. After six months he was in profit. This year, his turnover topped £1million.

“The high demand for home care provides a sustainable income – and you have the extra benefit of helping people in your community, which is wonderful and incredibly rewarding,” Ian says.

Ian started his business after a 12-year career in the City of London. “It was exciting, but I left home at 5.30am and did not return until after 6, and with a wife and three young sons, I wanted a better lifestyle,” he says. He had no experience in the care sector but was attracted by its steady demand and sustainability. Then he heard that you could set up a care business with the support of a franchise.

“I discovered the Walfinch home care franchise and liked the sound of its plans. I got on well with the management and decided that the support it offered would help me change my career into the home care business.”

Culture shock

Ian says: “The culture shock of moving into the care sector was huge. Walfinch provides a strong business model, initial and ongoing training, and support from a team who have decades of home care experience, which helps you adjust.

“However, it’s very different from the financial sector. Finance can be volatile and if you lose clients’ money you may even be sacked, but care is more serious than that – you may be dealing with a life-or-death situation. That’s what makes it meaningful.”

Getting stuck in fast

His early success was partly because of the franchise area in which he started the business. “There are many quite well-off older people around here, and we won a huge number of clients very quickly,” he says. “It was full-on from very early on and I had to get stuck into all aspects of the business, including providing care myself occasionally.”

Now Ian has a team of over 30 carers, and he is devoted to steering the company to greater growth to offer quality care to more people. “In order to make a success of the business I found you needed to recruit a super-competent care manager and you cannot afford to stop marketing for new clients. You also need to keep up recruitment activity to find more carers, but Walfinch supports you with all of those things.”

An attractive sector to swap into

Ian is convinced that home care is a sector that will appeal to more entrepreneurs coming in from other sectors. “I am seeing more people joining the Walfinch franchise who are from outside the home care sector, attracted by the high demand from clients, relatively low cost of entry, the chance to build a stable income and have a career where you can really make a difference,” he says. “I see that attraction growing because the demand for home care is large and increasing – and you can soon build a thriving and personally rewarding business.”

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What does it take to create a £1m-plus turnover home care business? Genuine care for clients and carers, plus global thinking. 

In the case of Walfinch Kingston and Weybridge, that means as far as South Africa.

Tracy Lezar and Kathleen Plough co-own Walfinch Kingston and Weybridge, Surrey. It’s a wealthy area, and over 40 clients pay privately for their high-quality, bespoke care.

How have they managed to grow their Walfinch franchise into a £1m-plus business after just three and half years?

Tracy says: “We love our business and work hands-on in it every day. One of us goes out to meet each new client, and they know that they can call us at any time. I used to be in recruitment and Kathleen was in retail banking so our communication and customer service skills make home care our perfect business.”

Tracy Lezar & Kathleen, Plough

Caring for carers

However, the carer shortage risked holding them back.

“We solved this partly by recruiting carers in South Africa, where high unemployment drives demand for overseas work,” says Tracy. “Kathleen and I are both South African and still have extensive networks there, so people get to hear that we can offer new careers here.”

“We also put advertisements on Facebook and people message us asking about coming to the UK to work in our team,” says Kathleen.

The two business partners interview applicants online and conduct background checks and references, before arranging visas for successful candidates.

Emotional and practical support

“Our carers arrive in a new country, often having left their family behind, to take up work that is usually new to them, because there is no formal home care industry in South Africa. We provide emotional and practical support, and they know that they can call us any time if they have problems,” Tracy says.

Tracy and Kathleen have invested in three cars that new carers can use before they buy their own.

“It’s wonderful to see them discover the rewards of caring, and our clients love them,” says Kathleen.

One recently recruiter carer, who came to the UK from South Africa, says: “Kathleen and Tracy saved my marriage, my house and my car by giving me a job here and I thoroughly enjoy working with them.”

Growth through live-in care

Recruiting carers from overseas has helped Walfinch Kingston and Weybridge expand its domiciliary care, but also its live-in care service. “The market for live-in care has grown fast, and live-in suits carers coming from abroad. Now about 25 of our 43 carers live in, and we expect that number to increase,” says Kathleen.

Live-in care has not only helped grow the income of  Walfinch Kingston and Weybridge but has benefited the local community.

“It goes to show that in-home care you can build a thriving business while earning the rewards of making a tangible improvement to your community,” says Tracy.

“It’s never too late to improve a life,” says Walfinch franchisee, Tiffany Meachim.

“Our client Patrick, who is in his 50s, is prone to balance problems, and was only able to complete ten to 15 steps unaided when he became an hourly care service client with us in March,” says Tiffany, who is managing director of the Walfinch franchise covering Mansfield and Ashfield, Notts.

“After daily visits from our care team, who also accompany Patrick round his village on social calls and help him with physiotherapy exercises, he can now walk up to 200 yards!” says Tiffany.

Patrick has had mobility problems since an accident when he was seven and a stroke ten years ago, so his family were stunned on the day that he got up from his chair and walked upstairs – something he had been unable to do for years.

The Walfinch Mansfield team

Recently his family contacted Tiffany to say how pleased they were to see the huge improvement in his mobility since she and her team started working with him.

Patrick says: 

“Walfinch Mansfield is one heck of a company. Everyone who works there from office staff to carers have been absolutely amazing.”

Patrick is not the only one whose life has been improved by Tiffany’s team. She proudly states: “Recently social services called to say that one of our clients, who is 41 and has a muscle wasting disease, has made so much progress that they had been able to discharge him. They asked us to pass on their thanks to our carers who had help him come so far.”

Tiffany says:

“One of my greatest pleasures as a Walfinch franchisee is hearing stories like this. I often get messages telling us what a difference we have made to clients’ lives. I pass them all on to everyone including carers, office staff and management, because we are all part of one team working together to improve the quality of life for our clients. The results speak for themselves.”

Walfinch is looking for new franchisees, who, like Tiffany, prioritise care quality while wanting to build a successful business. Request more information and get in touch with Walfinch to find out more. 

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“I fell in love with homecare as a postgraduate student. Now as a Walfinch homecare franchisee I’m running a thriving business in a sector that I love.”

Bunmi Ganiyu came to the UK from Nigeria to study marketing at Edinburgh Napier University. Bunmi says: “I did not start out with any thoughts of a career in the care sector but while studying I took a job as a healthcare assistant. I soon discovered that I loved the work.

Making my clients happy made me happy – and it still does.

“Even today, as the franchisee Managing Director of Walfinch Edinburgh South, I still love chatting to our clients when I go out doing spot checks. The rewards in this sector are wonderful.”

The reward

Bunmi who was recently awarded Walfinch’s ‘fastest growing franchisee’ award, frequently hears gratifying stories from clients and their families. 

Bunmi found passion at Walfinch

“Recently we took on a new client, a Pakistani Muslim lady, whose family had been caring for her themselves. Realising that they needed extra help they engaged us, but they were a bit concerned about what it would be like.”

Bunmi sent two of her team: a Muslim lady, and Joseph, a Christian man. “She always greets the lady with “As-salaam alaikum” [The traditional greeting among Muslims that means peace be with you],“ says Bunmi. Joseph explained that she could call him Joseph, as the name is rendered in the Bible, or Yusuf, as the name is rendered in the Quran.

She helps the lady with exercises and goes the extra mile by reading parts of the Quran to her. “The lady says it brings back happy memories for her,” says Bunmi.  

Meanwhile, her family told Bunmi it was the last thing they expected. “They were unaware that such culturally appropriate care would be available,” she says.

How I got into a care career

Once Bunmi completed her Postgraduate Marketing, she stayed in Scotland. “After that, I tried to get jobs in marketing, but it wasn’t working out, so I used my care experience to get a job as care coordinator,” she says. “It meant office work, but it also meant getting out to see the clients, a combination I enjoyed.”

Why the Walfinch franchise?

Three years ago Bunmi decided that she wanted to use her expertise and energy to start her own business in the home care sector. “I concluded that a franchise was the way to go, because you get the benefits of the franchisor’s experience and their extra support.
“I did lots of research and chose Walfinch because I felt that their support would be good. I was right – they helped me find funding for me to start Walfinch Edinburgh South and have provided great support throughout.”

Growing her business

Bunmi has recently recruited six new carers for her team – not easy in today’s market, when carers are hard to find. Her secret? 

“Referrals,” she says. “I generate referrals from carers’ family and friends, which I like because you have a connection to the candidate before you start. That said, Walfinch can also provide a lot of help with recruitment, along with support on other issues.”

Among Bunmi’s team are some students working around their studies, as she did. “I don’t think any of them have an ambition to get into the care sector right now – but then neither did I until I fell in love with it. They may come back to it later, as I did, because it’s a sector that welcomes people with a passion for care,” says Bunmi.

“If you have the commitment and energy to work in the homecare sector, Walfinch supports you to build a thriving business that delivers huge rewards and a good living.”

Care franchisors are always looking for franchisees who have a caring attitude and an aptitude for business. It sounds like a rare combination, but Shilpi Verma knows how to make it work.

Shilpi, whose career includes 17 years in banking, is now the Managing Director of the Walfinch home care franchise in Harrow & Brent. Here she explains how she successfully combines care and business skills.

“Banking and care look superficially very different, but they are both about understanding and meeting the needs of customers,” says Shilpi. “The commercial and team management skills I learnt in banking now help me bring genuinely personalised care to clients, while developing my carers’ careers and building an award-winning business.” 

Shilpi launched her home care business in 2021, and now has a team of 55 people delivering care to 28 clients. She is the third most successful franchisee in Walfinch’s countrywide network of 30. Recently she and three of her carers were chosen as finalists in the London Region of the Great British Care awards, and Vaibhavi Patel won the Palliative/End of Life Care Award. 

Shilpi Verma Walfinch franchise

How does she do this?


“We listen carefully to what clients want, draw up detailed, personalised care plans, carefully match carers to clients to ensure that they will get on well, and make sure care is always delivered to the highest standards,” she says. 

Shilpi is careful to listen to clients’ families too. “We develop a close relationship with the family, so we can have two-way conversations with them, which means we can better respond to their loved ones’ needs.” 

Developing the care team

“Supporting your team is crucial to providing the best quality care, and I am sure that this is one of the reasons why we have a low carer turnover ratio,” says Shilpi.

She takes practical action to develop the careers of her care team with training and support, and offers carers wellbeing reviews, an employee assistance programme, and access to mental health support. She believes strongly in internal promotions, and provides suitable people with the extra training required to climb the career ladder. Her care manager started as a carer and two others have been promoted to field supervisors.

To ensure staff are engaged she commissions regular staff engagement surveys. “Staff often mention the supportive and friendly work environment, and the positive attitude of colleagues and management,” she says.

Shilpi Walfinch team

Regular meetings and measurements

Shilpi backs up her philosophy with concrete actions such as regular meetings with the care team and individual carers, quarterly supervisions and monthly spot checks. “It’s more than the CQC demands, but it maintains high standards and carers have told me they appreciate the support,” she says.

Combining caring and commercial attitudes

“You cannot provide top quality service without a sound, sustainable business model. I learnt that in banking and it’s one of the reasons I chose to start my care business as a Walfinch home care franchisee. They understand what the combination of a caring attitude and business skills can achieve, and their support has been a vital part of our growth,” says Shilpi.

Walfinch is an award-winning UK home care franchise with 30 (and growing) local offices run by franchisee Managing Directors. Its executive team has extensive experience in home care franchising and will be delighted to talk to you about it with no obligations.

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