21 March 2019
Looking at agents who are selling home care businesses the numbers and the descriptions of many of the vendors tell a sobering story.
One business agent advises that they have in excess of 180 domiciliary care businesses for sale and other agents, on their ‘to purchase’ list give dates when the care business first went up for sale with some going back to 2017. On others there is the red band stating ‘price reduced’.
There are two care markets in the UK care sector, the publicly funded sector and the private and the fee paying sector. Many of the care businesses up for sale advise that they have a middle to large percentage of their turnover dependent on the public purse.
The public sector does not pay appropriate rates for the care they wish to purchase. There are some council exceptions but overall the low, hourly rates that councils pay is the reason many owners are getting out of the sector.
Many care providers no longer accept clients from the public sector purse, many providers have handed their existing contracts back.
Franchises used to be able to almost rely on the fact that public sector work was available, but this is no longer the profitable hook for a franchise sale.
The problem for home care business owners who need to build up a private client care base is that the private, fee paying, client market place needs a different approach to be successful in customer procurement. Once, on an Approved Provider List with a Council, it was just about waiting for the phone to ring from a social worker either in Social Services or Health, the business had to do little marketing or promotion.
In the private client market, to acquire new customers, a whole new set of skills must be learnt and continually put into practice. This will lead to increasing costs which you cannot assume can be passed on when you are selling care hours on a private, commercial basis.
The private client sector is a highly competitive market place, so organisations need to look at differing ways of promoting and marketing their services, look to financial efficiency, to incorporating flexibility and maybe audit working practices e.g. staff numbers.
The private market looks for extra value, reliability, total person-centred care delivered at a cost that is acceptable, if not, potential customers will walk away to a competitor.
Not knowing the private market and not adjusting to it, will mean more care providers putting their business up for sale in 2019, hoping they can find a buyer.