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Women in franchising: Home Instead Senior Care's Sarah Warner shares her view

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Inside Franchise Business: women can be leaders in a franchiseWomen are spotting the opportunities to make their mark in franchising, says Sarah Warner, co-founder of Home Instead Senior Care Australia, chatting with Inside Franchise Business for International Women’s Day, 8 March.

Today seven of the network’s 27 franchisees are women operating alone, 11 are couples, and there’s a mother and daughter running a franchise too.

“Women want to do something that gives them more meaning but makes them financially independent,” says Warner.

Starting a business is daunting and not without risk, she points out. Franchising helps minimise that risk. “It’s a proven business system with a supportive, collaborative network.”

Warner was attracted to the aged care sector after experiencing the difficulties of caring for older family members with cognitive issues - her grandmother and father with dementia, and her mother with Parkinson’s.

“We always wanted to run a business together,” Warner says of her goal with husband Martin, who came from a food and franchised background.
It wasn’t until they came across the aged care franchise model that everything clicked. Martin’s experience in franchise development and her expertise in research, marketing and operations are complementary.

“We took the system from the US and Australianised it,” she says.

“Passion and commitment are the key ingredients to success as we provide the training, business system and ongoing support,” says Warner. “Our franchise business model has 14 years of experience, developed from our work here in Australia. We are always growing with the knowledge and ideas we obtain from our international network of partners.

“I think women particularly enjoy and benefit from the engagement and assistance they receive when commencing their franchisee journey from our national team, but also their fellow franchise owners. We then see these women providing support and mentoring new owners who follow them.

“The type of people we look for are caring and compassionate. Some are nurses, some are accountants. We’re looking for people who have life skills and the nous to run their own business. We put a lot in place to nurture them.”

Empowering women in franchising

Warner believes women don’t necessarily think of themselves as leaders when they are leading.  

“We empower our owners to develop these skills. I think women don’t naturally leap into leadership roles.”
Her advice for women investing in a franchise business? “There are going to be challenges, it’s a big risk, and a leap of faith. But what I’ve learned over these 14 years is whatever the challenge, we will overcome it, if we don’t panic and have confidence.”

The key is to assess the risk up front, she says.

“Make sure you take a measured risk, before you start out on your adventure.”

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