Meet an Owner: Eric Hicks
Eric Hicks has been a Right at Home franchise owner for the better part of two decades. Since opening up his first Right at Home location in Charleston, West Virginia in 2005, he has gone on to open three additional locations across the state: Beckley, Princeton, and Huntington. Achieving that kind of growth takes a lot of hard work and strategic planning, but for Eric, it has been deeply satisfying to provide the people of southern West Virginia with exceptional home care services.
“I saw this market opportunity years ago and was able to pursue it. I felt like it was going to be an industry that would continue to grow with time, and we’ve certainly been able to leave an imprint on various cities throughout southern West Virginia,” Eric said. “We’ve also been able to serve a lot of people and provide great care that they need at home.”
A Business That Grew Out of Personal Experience
In 2003, Eric’s stepmother had a stroke, which led to a week-long hospital stay followed by a month in rehab. When she was discharged, however, the nurses warned Eric and his brothers that she would require a lot of help at home. They decided to hire a caregiver to make sure their stepmother had access to the care she needed.
“When I started researching options, I was very underwhelmed by what companies had to offer. I had spent 12 years working in the healthcare industry and geriatric care and it started to feel like a perfect opportunity for me to pursue,” said Eric.
Once Eric secured a caregiver for his stepmother, he continued to research home care franchise opportunities and came across Right at Home.
“I looked at other competitors and the thing that really stuck out to me about Right at Home was that it really seemed like they cared about my success,” Eric said, adding that many of the competitor experiences felt very routine and mechanical. “When Right at Home invited me to their headquarters in Omaha to meet with people for Discovery Day, it all felt very warm and fuzzy. They really wanted to get to know me as a person; they wanted to know a little bit more about my past experience; they wanted to know what my thought process was and how much I cared about the business in general. They came across as really supportive, and that swayed me to forge a relationship with Right at Home and bring the service back to West Virginia.”
Putting in the Work For Sustainable Growth
Even now, with 17 years of experience as a franchise owner, Eric knows that he has to show up every day and be committed to doing the work in order to keep all of his territories afloat. He starts his day in the office at 8am and focuses on getting up to speed on caregiving issues before diving into his operational duties.
“I encourage caregivers to include very detailed notes about their interactions with clients and enter everything into ClearCare. I spend about 20 minutes reading through the previous day’s notes to find out what’s happening with our caregivers and clients,” Eric said. “Then I try to read an article or two on what’s new within the home care industry before we have our morning standups.”
The morning standup meetings are held daily in all four offices (with nearly 25 administrative staffers between them!) and consist of round table discussions about what is going on that day. Since he can’t be in all four places at once, Eric records them so that he can stay abreast of what’s going on in each office.
“By 9:30, I’ve read all the notes and listened to all the calls and can jump into the various tasks that I have for each day.”
When asked if he has any advice for potential Right at Home franchise owners, Eric recommends determining whether or not you have the energy for what the job entails before committing to it.
“I liken it to a plane taking off,” he said. “When you first get started you’ve gotta go full throttle and that might mean working 10, 12, 14 hour days. But then you’ve got to be able to back off because once you hit cruising altitude you can’t keep working like that or you’ll burn yourself out. You need to be able to pull back a little bit, hire the best people and then give them the tools they need to do their jobs and be successful.”
Corporate Support for Added Success
When Eric first bought into the franchise in 2005, he depended on Right at Home’s corporate office to help him fill in the gaps with his acquired skill set.
“At first, what I found the most valuable was on the finance side. They taught me how to use QuickBooks which wasn’t something I had a lot of experience with in my previous life,” Eric said.
Over time, however, Eric has come to realize that the true benefit of working with Right at Home goes well beyond technical expertise; they’ve made an effort to staff their corporate team with people who are well-versed in the home care space and can provide invaluable knowledge to new franchise owners.
“When you buy a franchise, the main thing that you’re buying is a name and a set of advisors,” Eric said. “You want a name that the general public identifies with and you also want a set of advisors that have experience in this industry, know the challenges that a franchisee can face, and offer competent advice as to how you can overcome those challenges. Right at Home is by far the best in class when it comes to these requirements.”
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