BrightStar Care


BrightStar Care differentiates itself with its accreditation

and by providing a range of care.

By Mark Lawton, Knighthouse Media

BrightStar Care aims to set itself apart from the competition, of which there is quite a lot in the home healthcare sector. “We differentiate ourselves in the level of care and the skilled care we provide,” says Pete First, vice president of franchise development. “We do the entire range of care from the most basic to the most advanced nursing care.”

That range includes:

* Companion care – visiting with clients and helping with common household tasks such as meal preparation, laundry and housecleaning;

* Personal care – help with dressing, grooming and mobility; and

* Skilled care – nursing and therapies.

That continuum of care could involve transitional care after a hospital stay, Alzheimer’s and dementia care and medication management. “We do the entire range from the most basic to the most advanced nursing care,” says Jim Kearns, chief technology officer. “BrightStar has a much higher standard of care.”BrightStar info box1

BrightStar Care is accredited by the Joint Commission, an independent accreditation entity in the healthcare world that also accredits and certifies hospitals. BrightStar Care has received numerous awards from the commission, including the Enterprise Champion for Quality Award for each of the last six years for its efforts to promote high-quality, in-home care.

Another difference is that each franchise has a registered nurse as director of nursing. “Most homecare agencies have a nurse on staff,” Kearns says. “We have a nurse in the office who oversees every plan of care.”

Personal Experience

In 2002, Shelly Sun started a home healthcare agency after a negative experience finding home care for an aging relative. In 2005, Sun decided to franchise the concept and BrightStar was founded.

“A lot of people have had some experience with a family member who has needed some care,” Kearns says. “This tends to get people started in exploring an opportunity.”

Today, BrightStar has almost 350 franchises in 38 states.

High-Tech Caregiving

Franchisees benefit from Brightstar’s sophisticated use of technology. Caretakers carry a smartphone or other portable device. When they arrive at a patient’s home, they press a button that says “start shift” which verifies he or she is within a couple hundred yards of the home. If the caretaker is more than eight minutes late, the office is notified. The office is also alerted if the caretaker leaves early or tries to clock out from somewhere besides the patient’s home.

When the caretaker checks in, the device automatically pulls up a plan of care for that patient. If those tasks aren’t completed – and noted on the device – the office is notified. During each visit, the caretaker has to ask five questions to see if the patient has had a change in their condition – for example, a fall – or requires service not currently in the plan of care.

“Especially the elderly population,” Kearns says. “Their condition might change quickly.”

BrightStar is now developing ways to automate communication between the patient and his or her family. If a patient, for example, has three children in different parts of the country, they can check online to see the last time the caretaker visited their parent, when is the next visit scheduled and other aspects of care. “Families want to be involved,” First says.

Franchisee Process

BrightStar looks for potential franchisees with tenacity, grit, determination and a willingness to be coached, First says. “They have to understand it’s a lot of hard work to become a top franchisee,” he says. “Have they ever been involved in managing people? Our largest franchisee has 700 people.”

After filling out an application regarding their finances, potential franchisees talk to franchise owners. BrightStar also offers a series of presentations where potential franchisees evaluate the opportunity and corporate evaluates the potential franchisees.

If a franchise agreement is signed, the franchisee starts with three weeks of training about being an owner, operational aspects and sales. Next the new franchisee works with a training coordinator for the next six to 12 months – depending on when they hit a certain threshold of business.

After getting established, BrightStar offers ongoing support with its field operations team, twice yearly conferences, online modules, a help desk, webinars and regional meetings.

The initial franchising fee at BrightStar is $50,000 and BrightStar collects a 5.25 percent royalty. On its website, the company breaks down the estimated costs for a new franchise. Those includes office space, computers, insurance, legal fees and other expenses. While BrightStar does not offer financing, it will help facilitate a small business loan.

BrightStar takes a multi-channel approach to assist its franchisees with marketing. That includes national TV campaigns, corporate and local websites, social media, trade and industry shows and chambers of commerce.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for franchisees is recruiting and retaining nurses. “The need out there is great,” First says. “You are recruiting all the time. We spend a lot of time on this in training.”

Growing Industry

“It’s obviously growing,” First says of the home healthcare franchising. “There’s not a better category to be in. The population is aging. The first baby boomers are 72 or 73 years old. They will need more care when they get to 80 years old.”

From 2006 to 2030, the U.S. population of adults aged 65 and up will nearly double from 37 million to 71.5 million people, according the American Association of Retired Persons.

Forbes magazine recognized that potential in its 2018 list of Best & Worst Franchises to Buy. Forbes ranked BrightStar at No. 7 among the best franchises to buy that cost $150,000 or less.

For the future, First expects to see an increase in BrightStar’s national accounts such as large insurance agencies and hospitals.

Kearns, too, anticipates more growth. “There are huge opportunities for franchisees to go much further in the skilled care market,” he says.


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