Ask Sheila - Archive England

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and therefore is no longer available to answer your social care questions. However, you might still find the answer you’ve been searching for down below.

09th August 2017

Should I buy an existing care business or start from scratch?

Hi Sheila,
I am a nurse thinking of buying either a franchise home care business or one that's already in operation, would you recommend starting one from scratch or buying existing if you don't have any experience.? I have had businesses before but not care related Cheers Sue

Dear Sue,

I think this is a really interesting question.

I do not have a personal position on this and nor am I in a position to offer you specific advice about finance. I can only give you general advice and I think your decision will partly depend on how well you know the area and the contacts that you have there.

A franchise will, of course, supply you with all the policies, procedures and forms that you will need to run your business but if you are starting from scratch with or without the support of the franchise you need to assess where the service users will come from in the early days. Once you are established then that should be relatively straightforward.

A franchise will also be able to advise you about all the details of running a care business such as insurance and support for all the business related issues such as employments law, staff training etc.

If you buy an existing business then the contacts with commissioners should already be in place and you should expect that the income will continue to come in which is always good for a new business.

You should undertake some research with the Local Authority in the area where you want to start your business.

Occasionally a Council will run a closed list of contractors to which new providers can only apply to go on the list at a specified time. As I anticipate that you will want to undertake work for a Local Authority as well as with Private service users this is important information that you need to know.

I was speaking to a colleague this morning and she said: "In terms of Home Care it is very common for councils to operate a preferred provider list which can make getting into a new area difficult as providers need to be accepted on to the list so this is another area where you should ask the Council and she also said that it is probably worth noting that you  should seek legal advice before buying or starting anything."

An important thing for you to find out whichever way you decide to go is how vibrant is the home care sector in the area. I think you should try to speak to one or two providers in the area that you want to operate in as well as your local Council.

Finally, all registered providers need to be registered by the Care Quality Commission. There is helpful information on their website about gaining registration whether you start from scratch or buy an existing business.

The costs involved will also play a part in your decision I expect. An existing successful home care provider will carry a premium I expect and you will need to balance that against the costs associated with owning a franchise.

If you do a google search you will also find advice about both buying a franchise or an existing business although probably not about the care sector specifically.

As you make your decisions I will happy to answer other questions if required.


*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

About Sheila

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and over the years , prior to her retirement she has answered thousands of your social questions. You can still access the many questions below.

For Sheila Scott OBE as the former CEO of National Care Association (NCA), care is Sheila's life. She possesses a strong command of the issues facing the care sector informed by her long career as a nursing professional, the owner and manager of a care business, and as a leader in the care sector.

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