July 1, 2014
By Michael Kling
Area families will have a new option for caring for their elderly parents when a local family opens a new home health care franchise in Stratford.
Camille Savoie and her daughter Robin Zacks and son Michael Savoie will own the Executive Care franchise at 3476 Main St., just south of Paradise Green.
Serving all of Fairfield County and parts of New Haven County, the business will offer companionship, personal and medical care to the elderly in their homes. The franchise owners, now seeking state licenses, are shooting for a September opening, said Michael Savoie. The business requires separate licenses for companionship, personal care and medical care.
The family is no stranger to business, having run local restaurants, including Stella’s, for 27 years.
The growing elderly population is creating growing demand for home health care, they said. Seniors prefer to remain in their homes rather than move to assisted living facilities. Plus home health care, even live-in care, is a more affordable option.
The family says home health care is a natural draw for them because of their kindness, compassion and love of working with the elderly. In fact, their love of working with the elderly prompted them to seriously consider entering the health care business before they bought Stella’s.
“Everyone in the industry says they’re kind and compassionate, but we are,” said Michael Savoie.
“We are a people people,” said Camille Savoie, who was a caregiver for four family members in the past.
Still, the franchisees acknowledge that the home health care sector is a competitive and crowded field. Finding and keeping good workers will be the biggest challenge.
The family believes it can draw on its experience running Stella’s, where it retained most of the staff over 17 years.
Unlike many other home health care providers, said Michael Savoie, Executive Care offers medical care, giving them an advantage once they obtain a medical license. They’ll also benefit from the franchiser’s strong support and training program, he added.
“When we walked into the office it was like coming home,” Zacks said.
Home health care is a profitable franchise niche, with gross margins reaching 40 percent, according to a study by market research firm Franchise Business Review. That’s partly because overhead is low since workers are in clients’ homes. While demand will probably remain strong for years, competition will undoubtedly increase.
A federal Department of Labor mandate that home health care workers must be paid minimum wage and overtime effective Jan. 1 may pose a challenge to the industry. Industry groups opposed the mandate, saying it will make in-home care unaffordable for seniors and prompt providers to hire part-time rather than full-time workers.
Executive Care will be able to help the local franchise handle the new law, said CEO and co-founder Lenny Verkhoglaz, since its home state of New Jersey already had the labor rule. Many seniors, he said, prefer to pay extra, rather than have different aides.