Today’s interview is with Mark Collier, who is the Director of Beloved Home Care in Trafford, which is a family-owned business with very strong values and a good ethos.

How would you explain your business to someone who has no knowledge of it?

We support and care for elderly people in their own homes. We offer support ranging from one half-hour visit per day to 24 hours round the clock care and support 365 days a year. We care for people with Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s, MS and a wide variety of underlying health conditions.

Not all clients have a health condition. They may need a helping hand with meal preparation or things around the house.

We provide companionship for our clients which can involve doing a variety of different things including visits to the shops, garden centres, continuing with hobbies and interests and activities in the home such as board games, baking or cleaning.

Our home care services are an alternative to people enabling them the choice to live as independently as possible within their own homes.

How long have you been in this business? And in other businesses?

We are a family business with 5 family members in the business. We started trading in June 2015 after I undertook 12 months extensive research into the sector.

Why did you choose it?

Having worked in a Bank and risen through the ranks, I used to advise many SME’s on business strategies and financial management and growing their businesses. Having been made redundant, I wanted the challenge of running my own business and proving that I could do so successfully. Wendy my wife worked for over 25 years in elderly assessment units within the NHS and along with 2 of our children who had degrees in psychology and business management thought that between us we had the know-how to succeed.

My mother had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for the last 8 years of her life and I had seen first hand the care that was available in my local area. I thought that I could do better and provide elderly people with the best service possible to enjoy their twilight years.

How did you get started?

As mentioned, I carried out 12 months of research into the homecare sector market and prepared a full business plan. I decided to become part of a franchise to start with, then after 4 years struck a deal to leave the franchise and become independent.

How do you attract your clients?

We set out to be the best and wanted to be a trusted provider of home care. As such our branding was tailored to portray this. We delivered leaflets to a lot of households in the Trafford area and when we brought on a client we supported them as best as we could and gave them a service which exceeded their’s and their family’s expectations. I met with many different healthcare professionals in Trafford and shared my vision of my company with them. Work has always come from word of mouth or from various healthcare professionals.

Can you describe your customers?

Elderly gentleman or ladies, living alone or with their wives or husbands. Most clients are in the age range of 65 and upwards. People who have decided that they want to remain at home for as long as they can. They live in Urmston, Flixton, Sale, Altrincham, Hale Timperley and Bowden.

Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years?

As at the time of writing, we are the only outstanding rated Care Quality Commission home care provider in the Borough of Trafford. In one year we want to achieve a further outstanding rating. We want to grow our business by 20% which we can do quite easily without affecting the quality of our service because we already have the resources in place to do so. In the next 5 years, I see us having another office perhaps in Lymm or Knutsford run by one of our existing office staff members. I see our children in the business taking a more strategic and leadership role also.

Which things make you happy as a small business owner?

Delighting our clients. Seeing our smartly dressed professional and compassionate carers giving our clients the best person-centred care and support possible. I love it when a family member calls to say that we have changed their lives and that of their parent(s) / relative(s).

Why do your customers select you over your competitors?

Put simply we are the best, by virtue of our inspection rating and we are the cheapest of all the private home care providers in Trafford. We go above and beyond for our clients and their families. Being a family run business, we are able to dedicate ourselves to this very difficult and time-consuming business.

Customer Retention: how do you keep your customers happy?

We ring them and their families every month. We listen to them. We have great feedback from our carers. We buy them birthday presents and Christmas presents and overall make a fuss of them. They all know that we are only a call away if they need to speak with us at literally any time of the day or night.

Which challenges did and do you face, running your business?

Recruiting the right staff with the right values is the biggest challenge. We receive approximately 200 job applications every month and take on between 2 and 3 new staff from these applications. Our reputation is the most important thing to us. Our staff are our shop window. They have to be the right type of person for us.

Is there any business lesson you learnt through experience that you wish you knew about earlier in life?

Do not go into a franchise. Have the confidence and go it alone from the start.

Do you maintain a good work-life balance?

No, absolutely not. Our service runs from 7am – 10pm 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Need I say anymore other than the fact that I am very hands-on and I love what I do?

Which is your best strategy for time management?

Delegate, delegate and delegate more!