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Griswold Home Care in Plymouth Meeting celebrates 35 years of helping seniors



PLYMOUTH Griswold Home Care CEO Matt Murphy likes to say that his award-winning company is in the business of providing peace of mind.

“It’s peace of mind to the family that can’t be there to care for their loved one, and peace of mind to the care recipient that needs that little bit of help,” Murphy recently noted at Griswold’s national headquarters in Plymouth Meeting. “There are services that happen — some intense services — with daily living that is the bread and butter of what we do, but the business is really about that beautiful caring relationship between the care recipient and the caregiver. That is the fundamental of the business,” he added about the company celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

The home care industry was ready for some serious trailblazing in 1982 when company founder Jean Griswold, a former geriatric nurse and the wife of a pastor, grew concerned about the elderly population at her husband’s Chestnut Hill parish who were struggling with the chores of daily living in their homes.

“Jean wanted to help people in the congregation who were aging, so she organized people to help them,” Murphy explained. “It was very altruistic… she just wanted to take care of people. But after a while they realized they had a business model and there was a need for a business like this. It was a classic small business story where they’re working out of a living room and decided they needed an office.”

The franchising model was a natural evolution of the desire to lend a helping hand to as many elderly folks as possible so that they could remain in their homes, he added.

“They wanted to be able to help more people in more places than they could physically meet,” Murphy said.

In 2012, the Griswold family sold the business, which had grown nationally at that point, to a venture capital group.

“When the venture capital group came in it kind of jostled everybody who was a franchisee,” Murphy admitted. “Because up to then, the business end wasn’t the important part; the important part to Jean and the family was the client, keeping the client satisfied. And the caregiver was important to Jean as well. And then when you start doing the business calculations there was a change in the philosophy in what Griswold had been, to what the new venture capitalists thought Griswold should be.”

The franchising model is now essentially divided into company-owned offices (or COOs), which are largely in Montgomery County, Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley; full employment (FE, where caregivers are full time Griswold employees with benefits and independent contractors (IC), with caregivers who are not Griswold employees but contracted by the franchise owner and paid hourly.

Stephen Rymal, who has owned and operated Griswold Home Care franchises in Burlington, Gloucester/Salem and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey for 20 years, and is also current president of the Griswold Home Care Franchise Association (GHCFA), said that the typical franchise owner signs on for the long term.

“I have to say most of the franchisees from 35 years ago are still there; this really is a long term relationship,” said Rymal, who makes it a point to meet the majority of his clients personally. “It’s not just buying into Griswold for a year or two and turn around and flip it and do something else. These are people who are committed to doing this.”

As people are living longer, their desire to age in place in their own homes is stronger than ever, Rymal noted.

“They would rather stay in the home they lived in for 30 years and paid the mortgage on,” he said. “However, every family has a different solution on how they want to manage it. Some want to do it themselves and just need a little bit of help with someone looking in on mom and dad, while others are too busy and caught up in their own lives, and they need a lot of help. They may live in another state and they want someone to live with mom and dad in their home.”

Providing in-home care is basically a supply and demand business, Rymal said.

“Families recognize that they have a need for a loved one that needs this kind of care. The supply side is making sure you have people that can provide the care, finding caregivers and matching them up with the clients. The fastest growing part of our population are 80 and over,” Rymal added, “and they want to stay at home. That’s why it’s so attractive to other businesses like ours wanting to get into the space, but we’ve been at it longer than anybody.”

Griswold Home Care was recently named Franchisor of the Year by the American Association of Franchisees and Dealers, having been nominated by the GHCFA.

“What meant the most about the award was that it was our franchisees that nominated us,” Murphy said. “We have 106 individuals that own about 200 locations in 32 states and it’s a phenomenal group of franchisees, people that bought their franchises for the right reasons. I think some (competitors) are getting into this business now because they’re enamored with the (growing) older demographic,” he added. “But there’s more to this than an aging population. You have to want to provide great care.”

Murphy credited a new franchise agreement, arrived at through a year and a half of intensive, largely lawyer-free negotiations between the company and franchisees with strengthening the franchisor-franchisee relationship and putting Griswold on the path to the Franchisor of the Year award.

“Our whole relationship is governed by a franchise agreement, so for all 200 locations I think what really started it all was that negotiation process that we entered into to improve the agreement,” he allowed. “Because of events over the years it had gotten to a point that the agreement no longer reflected the way that the relationship was supposed to work. It was out of date and some things weren’t accurate anymore. We recognized that as the franchisor, and the Association approached us as the home office and asked if we could work on it together. The effort both sides put into it is ultimately why GHCFA made the nomination for Griswold to receive this award.”

Royalties paid by the franchise system keep the company thriving, Murphy noted.

“That’s what allows us to make a profit and provide more services and to grow as an entity and to sell more franchises,” he said. “None of that happens without the royalties coming in. It’s common sense that we would want to have a strong relationship with our franchisees.”

For more information, visit GriswoldHomeCare.com.

Article source: http://www.timesherald.com/business/20170607/griswold-home-care-in-plymouth-meeting-celebrates-35-years-of-helping-seniors

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