Buying Or Selling a Business in The Home Care Services Industry

The home care services industry in Canada is poised to expand greatly over the coming years due to the significant shifts in the baby boomer cohort as they age. The impact on the business for sale market will be immense. The aging population means that not only will more people get older relative to the rest of the population, they will live longer than people ever have before which means that they will require more care to function in their day-to-day activities. Because of this, many industries will develop and thrive who can best serve this segment of the community. This article will examine some of the value drivers in buying or selling a home care services business.

What is a home care services business?
A home care services business in one where the service provider offers non-medical assistance services to the clients. The clients are typically seniors who still live at home and require some assistance, but not nursing home care quite yet.

Some client services may include meal planning, companionship, driving to the grocery store, light house work, assistance with bathing or grooming, incontinence care and so on. The key point to remember is that the business focuses on non-medical care. In Ontario, Canada such services are usually seen as a top up to provincial programs such as a Community Care Access Centre (CCAC).

Caregivers
The actual caregivers are usually Personal Support Works (PSWs) and are usually contract employees and earn an hourly wage of approximately over minimum wage plus benefits. The caregivers are typically matched with a client based on a specific need. For instance, if a client needs a caregiver able to provide incontinence care then the business would work to match the need with the worker.

Scheduling
Once a business grows their customer base to a certain level, then some though to scheduling caregivers with clients needs to be given. Workers’ time must be tracked and logged. Contingencies for sick days, missed sessions and so on need to be planned for. There is usually a time tracking software package that is the heart of the business that tracks the client sessions and is tied into payroll.

Legal Issues
Before you consider embarking on either selling a home care business or buying one, you must consult with an attorney. You need to understand your obligations to your clients and also the caregivers. You need to be cognizant of recourse from any injury, accidents or mistakes. A lawyer should also draft the relevant contracts used in the business including contracts with the customers and workers.

Marketing the Business
As the business owner, you need to have a developed system of how to market to not only the end users but also the family members who are the primary people responsible for the overall care.

As with any business you buy or sell, always discuss with an accountant and lawyer before you commit to the transaction.

Ten Reasons Why The Food Service Industry Needs Retail Audits

Retail audit software helps multi-unit retailers achieve store-level compliance with operational, service and merchandising standards. We couldn’t think of one reason why the food service industry needs regular retail audits, we thought of ten.

1. When preparing and serving food, compliance with standards and regulations is not simply a matter of building a positive customer experience; your customers’ health and safety depend on it. It shouldn’t take a tragedy, public relation fiasco or social media scare to take action. Be proactive and prevent problems before they happen. Protect your customers’ health and safety. Protect your employees. Protect the brand.

2. Studies have demonstrated it is a lot more expensive to gain or regain a customer than it is to keep an existing customer satisfied. Customers have a way of thanking stores that are well run: they come back. Don’t spend money fighting fires. Prevent problems before they happen, nip them in the bud when they do.

3. When dealing with a large number of franchisees, some will invariably execute better than others. A retail audit system helps spot repeat unacceptables, execution laggards and downward trends quickly.

4. You may not need to spend more on merchandising and seasonal programs. You may need to spend better by making sure the programs you already pay for are executed in full, everywhere. A good retail audit system pays for itself. Paper-based processes are expensive, needlessly expensive.

5. To motivate your franchisees and operations staff, you need to engage them. The benefits of the retail audit platform should permeate through the entire organization.

6. Technology is an enabler, not an end in itself. You need the best possible tools to manage your operations. Let a software provider manage your infrastructure so you can focus on what you do best: running your business.

7. Try before you buy. With web-based retail audit software, there is no setup fee, no hardware to procure, no software to purchase and no IT investment to speak of.

8. Measure what you communicate. First, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Second, measurement actually breeds compliance.

9. Failure to execute on in-store merchandising programs alone has been shown to cost the industry between 1% and 4% of sales. Compliance is not a feel-good initiative. Compliance drives your bottom line.

10. Training is necessary but not sufficient. Training alone does not guarantee your standards will be upheld. Train your staff on the one hand, systematically measure what you communicate on the other.

Reasons to Get Into the Food Service Industry

Everybody can become a small business owner these days. They use the internet to make themselves visible, and through it they can reach potential clients that they otherwise couldn’t reach without. Most of the time, however, businesses tend to revolve around being an online entrepreneur or a marketer. These so-called expert marketers actually have a lot of outsourced people doing most of the work for them.

If you want something a little more hands-on, one of the best industries to penetrate is the food service industry. The food service industry is perhaps one of the only few industries where competition isn’t really competition. Everyone likes food, and different food establishments simply mean different tastes. That’s perhaps the first reason to get into the food industry: as long as you are in a good location, offer good food, and don’t overprice, you will always have customers.

Another reason to get into the food service industry is that you can start really small. If you have a lot of capital, for instance, you can go ahead and open up a restaurant. If you have a smaller capital, you can start with a small catering service offering a few set dishes. With proper cash flow management, you can start offering a longer menu. Eventually, you should be able to get your catering equipment in order and even expand whenever you’re ready.

Another good reason to enter the food service industry is that you can stand out with your own original spin on your dishes. If you take a look back at Colonel Sanders, he had simply had a different chicken recipe. Sure, he had difficulty in getting into the market, but once he had his recipe out there, the rest is history. While you may not follow the exact same road that Sanders went through, having your own identity with your food service business will get people talking about you.

Finally, food service businesses typically aren’t that hard to manage, unless you are already a big business. Managing the food service business is easy. The main problems you’ll have would be getting the necessary equipment and finding your first few clients.

As for the equipment, it’s not that hard to find. You can either just go on with your business as usual and setting aside your profits until you can purchase the equipment or you can seek a few companies that offer these equipment for lease. Either way, you don’t have to delay the opening of your business.

Service Industry Lean Manufacturing – Implementation Guide

Non-manufacturing industries have not embraced lean manufacturing to the same extent as those producing a product. Some service industries have found the same principles apply, although the use of lean manufacturing tools is different.

For example, a value added analysis is just as easily conducted with a worker talking on the telephone as someone using one.

The 5S tool can be used to organize the surroundings in the telemarketing office. All materials the telemarketer uses should be organized and within reach without having leave the area. This 5S organization enables the telemarketer to continuously utilize any material in front of them as well as keep an eye on a computer.

The same SMED tools can be used with a administrative assistant as a machine operator. The process map and movement will show the waste in each. The assistant’s travel shows the motion waste. The waiting waste is often huge in any white collar or service job. For example, the waste from waiting on a colleague, manager, supplier, or anyone else can be eliminated. There are ways to minimize it by removing the root cause as well as finding activities to fill the time. These activities should be of short duration, such as data entry, filing, or printing.

Line balancing is easy in a service environment. The key is flexibility. For example, two tellers at a bank may be required 6 out of 8 hours per day, but the trained lean expert or industrial engineer is required to notice it. The additional two hours of waste comes in buckets of 1-2 minutes throughout the day. Again, this time must be filled with value added activities in a standard work format. If the job isn’t standardized, the two individuals may absorb the time and appear 100% busy. There are many other instances where job combinations are obvious.

The value stream map is an excellent tool for service industries. Rather than the traditional macro level view of the system, the value stream map can be used in a department or area of the business. An example would be the service desk at a department store. Begin with the information flow and trigger for activity, which might be a customer. Break the map into various segments showing the few activities that comprise 90% of the work, such as returned goods, request for information, or complaints. Standardized Operations should be utilized for returned goods to minimize motion and waiting, such as a decision flow diagram. If the manager is called a large percentage of the time, the decision flow diagram needs improved. Obviously the 5S and SMED tools are also relevant, as well as root cause problem solving to eliminate the complaints.

Service industries often use kanbans without knowing it, such as ordering supplies. The same pull systems can be used in service industries as the manufacturing sector. The supply distribution center is one obvious example. Inventory waste can be eliminated using pull systems beginning with the end downstream customer.
When implementing lean manufacturing in a service industry, it is important to tailor the training to the business. Most SMED (single minute exchange of die) training is developed using examples of setup activities for equipment. It is easier for people to understand and see the waste in their processes when the training has obvious applicability.

One of the best long term lean manufacturing tools to apply in a service industry is the kaizen event. Kaizen means “incremental improvement” in Japanese. The kaizen team is comprised of a cross functional team developed to quickly and substantially improve a business issue. For example, a kaizen might be developed to reduce hospital check in time for testing. The team might include the individuals conducting the check-in, a nurse, manager, an IT representative, and a couple customers. If the average check in time is 35 minutes (the elapsed time from walking into the building until seated in a private room), the kaizen objective might be to reduce the check in time to 20 minutes within 5 days.

Cellular manufacturing can be used in many service businesses. Rather than placing individual pieces of equipment such as the postage meter, copier, fax, and file drawer throughout the area for everyone to use (and wait on), consider placing these items together in a U shaped cell to minimize movement.

The “One Piece Flow” concept is a great tool for processing items such as quotes, bills, or mail pieces. For example, if four people must review a quote, and the first person processes 500 prior to moving to the second individual, and so on, the cycle time is going to be very long. Also, if the fourth person notices a mistake the other three missed, all 500 are bad and much labor was spent unnecessarily. Moving the piece in a flow of “one” or in small batches minimizes the error cost and reduces cycle time.

Service industries have a terrific opportunity to reduce waste. Sometimes it is simple and obvious, while other times it takes the same creativity as in the factory.