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10 years as a Home Instead Franchisee


  • Name: Gavin Morrigan and Michelle Fairless
  • Location: Cleveland
  • Franchise: Home Instead
  • Date launched the franchise: 2014

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your Home Instead franchise?

Gavin: “After completing my degree in business and finance management, I worked in sales/management for Coca-Cola Schweppes. It was in this role I learnt the importance of providing top quality services alongside top quality products.

I worked in various private sector senior management positions and was successful in transferring business acumen to the public sector, leading major workforce developments across large NHS Trusts and helping improve Council run services too before setting up my own business”.

Michelle: “Prior to setting up Home Instead Cleveland, I had a long career in financial services where customer service was exceptionally important in making your brand and products stand out against competitors. Having grown up on a hillside farm near a village with a great community spirit I helped to care for my grandmothers and then my own parents. My experiences with my own family coupled with my working ethos made the decision to invest in a new Home Instead office really appealing, and I knew it was an opportunity that would really benefit those in our local community and keep those families and communities together”.

Can you also tell us about Home Instead? 

We are a leading home care company providing non-medical care and companionship to older people in their own homes throughout our local community.

We launched Home Instead Cleveland back in 2014, having always known we wanted to set up a very ethical business which would genuinely make a difference to local communities.

Why did you go down the franchise route? What made you choose the care industry? And why Home Instead?

We visited the National Franchise Exhibition in Birmingham in February 2014, listened to speakers and visited a number of individual Franchise stands before deciding there and then that the Home Instead opportunity was perfectly aligned to our own individual aims, aspirations and ethics. We never looked back. We set up our own Limited Company in April, completed our comprehensive New Owner Induction with Home Instead in May and opened our Home Instead Cleveland Franchise in July.

With the support and encouragement from other franchisees and Home Instead National Office, alongside our own determination, we stuck to the plan, worked very hard and the turnaround and successes started to materialise and multiply month on month. It took us 17 months for the franchise to start to become profitable.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

We really enjoy being part of such a large Franchise across all parts of the UK with each office in whatever location having their own various opportunities, challenges and experiences. Most individual offices are very supportive of each other and share ideas, issues, challenges, opportunities and best practices readily with each other through Facebook Groups, Franchise Information Centre, Face to Face meetings, Online events, Conferences and Business Update Meetings.  This unconditional support to each other is fabulous and really helps individual franchises promote the Home Instead brand as the best in the business.

When we first started, we were given open access to many other offices who helped guide us down the right paths in addition to the great support, encouragement and tools given by Home Instead UK throughout our journey. We have also helped other new franchises start up and learn from some of the mistakes we made which have been very well received and communicated back to us as to how helpful that advice was leading to much of their own successes.

Provide information on challenges overcome as well as your key successes to date.

We are rated by our clients on homecare.co.uk, the ‘TripAdvisor’ of home care – where we are named as one of the top 20 home care companies in the large, North East of England area. In our Territory area of Cleveland, we have for a few years now continued to be the Number 1 home care company with the highest rating of 9.8 out of 10 and by far and away having the most recommendations. This is particularly touching because it’s based on reviews from the very people we’re here to support: our clients and their families.

When the pandemic started it was a very frightening time. With vulnerable, older people being as it was known at the time to be the most likely to suffer severely or fatally from the disease, they were also the very people who relied upon us, as did their families, on keeping them safe and supported as normal in their own homes. Our 80 or so staff, at that time, had to continue to visit all our clients sometimes multiple times on a daily basis and naturally, our staff were very worried about passing on any virus to their elderly clients.

It was therefore extremely important that we followed all the Government/Public Health guidance that were given to us directly as they were issued, or developed further, and we adopted and implemented every measure immediately and ensured every one of our Care Professional staff followed all the guidances and protocols when visiting clients. We also had to ensure they followed the same rules in their own private lives as well as their own families. No mean feat as guidances changed readily but suffice it so say when the pandemic was really taking a hold in our area amongst the general population, in the first 6 months we conducted over 29,000 visits to our vulnerable clients with not a single case of covid being experienced by any of our clients or our Care Professionals.

We did not ‘lose’ a single client or member of staff during the whole pandemic period. They were truly professional, making many personal sacrifices and it was testament to the management team working night and day, to help make that happen. When the phone rang one Friday night in January 2021 to say we had 75 vaccines being made available to us over the next two days, the office staff made sure everyone was contacted and every arrangement made to ensure our full allocation was taken up. When contacted, staff were crying with relief and joy knowing that the beginning of the end of all the worry and stress was imminent.

100% of our employees took up the vaccine as did our clients and the threat of the worst happening felt like it was coming to an end.  It was an incredibly stressful time for all involved, but everyone went over and above anything expected of them to ensure the utmost safety of everyone associated with our care offering.

How do you retain your best staff and keep morale high and productive; how do you incentivise your staff and recognise success?

Our employees’ feedback is incredibly important to us, so we carry out an independent (and anonymous) survey through WorkBuzz annually. We have been awarded a prestigious ‘5 Star Employer’ award for the last 6 years with fantastic comments and feedback. To know that 100% of your employees are proud to work for the company and feel fully supported in their roles gives me a huge sense of pride that we have created that environment for people to thrive and really enjoy their working lives with personal fulfilment.

We have always looked after our staff well and appreciated them for everything that they do. From hand-written cards to bouquet deliveries to specially made-up gifts as well as monetary bonuses, birthday cards with scratchcards inside, to social events, welcome gifts and often, just a personal ‘thank you’ means so much to our Care Professional staff and helps ensure maximum engagement.

For our office staff we have clear recruitment, quality, community and hourly as well as revenue growth targets that we continuously measure ourselves against and strive to achieve. Each person has their own KPI’s and reports back on their achievements or challenges at our monthly team meetings. Everyone has ownership of their own specific areas of work and ensure all that they do to achieve their own standards complements those of others in the wider team. Only by everyone achieving does the team achieve. On each milestone achievement by the whole team, we pay significant bonuses to all, over and above any expectations. That sense of achievement and getting ever closer to the ‘Top Ten’ Franchises in the network continuously fuels the competitive spirit of each of the team. Over the past few years, we have won a number of National ‘Competitions’ including ‘Think Big’,

Highest Annual Growth and Highest Client Quality as well as locally, ‘Most Community Minded Business’ and ‘Outstanding Service to the Community’. Out of the blue to them, two more senior managers have just been given a quality electric vehicle each to reward them for their drive and commitment for the last few years and commitment to their future careers with us.

The combination of achievement, winning awards as well as monetary incentives whilst still being a friendly and fun place to come to work ensures we retain a highly skilled and productive office team supporting our Care Professionals who then provide outstanding care.”

Can you tell us about any community involvement, including any local partnerships, incentives or charity work you are involved in? 

In 2016 we partnered with The Police & Crime Commissioner for Cleveland; Cleveland Police and the Victim Support Service to develop and roll out a huge series of ‘Protecting Seniors from Fraud’ presentations. Home Instead Cleveland have now conducted over 200 of these presentations to community groups across the Cleveland area, all for free. We explain in detail the many scams and frauds targeted towards elderly and vulnerable people and the practical tools and advice to prevent attendees and/or their families and friends becoming victims of crime.

We have given out over 6000 printed Toolkits and over 10,000 ‘No Cold Calling’ window stickers as well as monthly bulletins ever since to attendees with information detailing latest crimes and frauds happening in the Cleveland Police force area as well as online fraud to regularly update communities.

It is thought we have reached over 10,000 people with our Prevention of Fraud initiative. On two occasions, people rang us to ask for our help whilst fraudsters were trying to defraud them. We rang 999 and Police were able to attend immediately to stop both crimes as they were happening. For this we were awarded a 'Service to the Community Business Award' at the Mayor's Good Citizen Awards which recognised 'Outstanding Contributions to the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees'.

We were also recognised as the ‘Most Community Minded Business’ in the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland’s Community Safety Awards.

We have been fortunate to be in a position to collaborate with some of the leading charities in the area, such as Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind, Age UK, Teesside Dementia Link Services, Dementia Action Teesside, and many more.

Our team is also proud to be involved with Healthwatch, with one of our members standing as a Healthwatch champion. This allows us to make sure that the voices of

our clients are heard, and that feedback is used to improve care. We are also a Stockton-on-Tees health and wellbeing champion, supporting Pioneering Care Partnership to engage with nearly 60,000 individuals a year.

We are also a member of the Dementia Steering Group Network, working alongside other organisations to improve the lives of people living with dementia across the Tees Valley. This includes attending dementia café’s/groups to support and volunteer, hosting events and activities, and helping to shape services and signposting. We are also a member of the Age Friendly Middlesbrough with Public Health, helping improve services for elderly people in Middlesbrough.

We have collaborated with Skills for Care in Registered Managers Networks to improve local authority involvement with older people needing care at home.

We also attend Registered Care Managers meetings to help highlight issues within the industry and to build a network in the sector where best practice can be shared.

Finally, we held a wonderful celebration for the King’s Coronation celebration, where we provided an afternoon tea box for all our clients which we delivered to their home.

Interested and want to know more about Home Instead?

The Home Instead profile outlines all aspects of their franchise opportunity and allows you to contact them for further information or to ask a question.

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