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Right at Home, BrightStar post healthy stats


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“In the last three years, we’ve opened 165 franchises; our competitors have averaged 67 in that same time period,” boasts Eric Little, chief development officer for Right At Home, and he should be allowed to brag.

Right at Home led a strong category with 16.6 percent revenue growth and 22.3 percent unit growth, spectacular numbers and far outstripping home healthcare competitors. Little at first attributes the growth to “the culmination of doing a lot of things right,” but when pressed he lists some specifics.

The theme is figuring out how to serve the aging population with home healthcare services, before the biggest bulge of baby boomers reaches the age when they will need such care.

“You can’t just flip the switch and be ready to serve 78 million people,” Little points out, noting the oldest of the boomers are 69, whereas most of Right at Home’s clients are over 75. “We’re all at this point looking at this wave of boomers about to move into the ranks of our clients, and saying how are we able to best position ourselves to take care of them?”

One answer is a scramble to create brand preference among boomers, and Right at Home’s efforts included its first ever ad fund created last year, for $4 million. That’s spent on TV advertising and online campaigns. Right at Home sponsors the Feel Grand series on PBS with Jane Seymour, which has been a “phenomenal” boost, he says.

The franchise also unveiled the Right Transitions program recently, which uses a research-based approach to reduce the readmission rate of patients to hospitals. That program is a source of revenue for franchisees, because hospitals incur fines if their readmission rate is too high, as well as a way to differentiate Right at Home from competitors.

BrightStar Care is another standout in the space, with 15 percent sales growth and 11 percent unit growth. CEO Shelly Sun’s tactic was to wade heavily into skilled nursing care, which is at a higher level than the personal and companion care typically offered by home healthcare services.

Sun invested $400,000 at the corporate level, and $10,000 per each franchisee, to obtain Joint Commission accreditation for all of the franchises, an effort completed in 2012.

That gold seal allows reimbursement by more national partners. She also brought on a chief clinical quality officer in 2012,  Sharon Roth Maguire, to run its clinical program, again an elevation of the brand.

In 2012 investment in a new technology platform began, to enable franchisees to handle skilled business and the complicated billing procedures it requires. That launch was rocky at first, but the addition of a chief technology officer, James Kearns, has led to smart strategy and crisp execution today, Sun says.

This year’s new addition, Steve Schildwachter as chief marketing officer, makes Sun hopeful for the future, as well. An increase in the brand’s marketing fund last year—“always a delicate issue” with franchisees, as Sun says—has led to a new national TV campaign set to launch September 12. Sun expects all moves to make 2015 another strong year.

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