Pip Wilkins, CEO of the bfs, giving Almas Adam his well-deserved Franchisee of the Year award.
Photo credit: Right at Home
Almas Adam bagged the bfa’s coveted Young Franchisee of the Year award this summer after three stellar years with Right at Home Loughton, the homecare franchise. Although, being one of the youngest franchisees in his network and in an industry outweighed with staff older than his tender age of 27, he’s found his fair share of challenges.
It’s fitting since, as a natural introvert, Adam always has to push himself to get stuck into something out of his comfort zone. For instance, straight after a law degree, the exoticism of working in China piqued his interest before franchising. “I never travelled alone,” he says. “Even with uni I stayed at home – I didn’t really live out. So it was the first time I sort of went out on my own. I went to China for about two months and did an internship there with 70 different interns. It was a completely different culture, [with] different people from different countries.” Indeed, Adam witnessed elderly people racing past on roller skates, practicing tai chi and chiming instruments as part of Beijing’s nightlife. Such exciting experiences reaffirmed he wasn’t destined for a desk-bound life.
So after landing back in Blighty, franchising took hold when his brother proposed partnering to launch ADAM CEX, a franchisee of CeX, the second-hand electronics retailer franchise. “We took a leap of faith with franchising because it gives us the structure we need – not having the experience, etcetera,” he says. “You penetrate a sector much quicker because you get an understanding from experiences and learnings.”
With the help of the franchising model, Adam and his brother expanded to three stores in the company’s first year and six in the third. After such success, Adam was ready to replicate China’s buzzing senior culture in the UK. However, despite cutting his franchising teeth with CeX, his ambition very much lay in uncharted waters. “[I] came across the care sector and wasn’t aware of homecare at the time whatsoever and didn’t have a clue what it was,” he says.
While browsing for a franchisor to steer him in the right direction, Adam found that, for many, the world revolved around money. Therefore, upon meeting Ken Deary, founder of Right at Home, it was a no-brainer. “Him being a franchisor and ex-franchisee was the icing on the cake,” says Adam. “He understands the frustrations, he’s been through it all himself and is someone we could relate to even more. If you’re in the care sector and if your ideal focus is on the quality of care over money – which [is how] Right at Home came across to us – that, to me, implies there’s a standard.”
With his name inked on the paperwork, Adam took his first step with Right at Home – only to find getting customers to take steps of their own presented difficulties. “My brother says all the time: ‘we can’t sell sand to Arabs and we can’t sell ice to Eskimos,'” he admits. “‘We’re not salesmen, we can’t do it.'” However, tackling sales and services was a challenge he couldn’t resist.
Although Right at Home’s intense two weeks of training put Adam through the works, he discovered a silver tongue must be grown naturally rather than learned. “The initial training was amazing but in terms of operational structure everyone’s figuring it out, [at least] in the care sector I think anyway,” he says. “Because there’s no set standard [of] ‘this is how you should have it,’ everyone is different and you play to the strengths of the staff that you have.”
However, not everyone was initally impressed by the young franchisee. For instance, after only a month in the sector his journey was nearly cut short when an inspector questioned his young age. “It was one of the most unorthodox interviews at Right at Home I’d seen,” he recalls. Adam was quizzed like he was a homecare mastermind. “It was pretty much a power-hungry sort of approach,” he says. “I asked my manager what happened and she goes ‘she was asking me about your age, do I think you’re experienced, etcetera.'” But after a trip to Right at Home’s offices in London, Adam easily secured his registration within two weeks.
Playing to his strengths saw Adam secure huge success with digital marketing where traditional networking wasn’t his forte. “And to be honest that reaped me some rewards,” he says. “We started seeing my level of growth was much faster than any other franchisees because I invested heavily into digital marketing.” Moreover, Adam’s tech-savviness fed the success of Right at Home’s new digital care-planning systems, where he led the charge by meeting software companies.
And having now won the Young Franchisee of the Year award, he’s laughing. Deary earmarked Adam for the trophy from the start and, following his lead role in implementing the digital care-planning systems, the youngster’s moment came quickly. “It reaffirms everything that I do to be honest,” says Adam. “I don’t believe age is a barrier, I don’t believe that for a second. I just believe that I’m the same level as everyone else whether you’re 50, 40, 30, 20 or ten, I don’t really care. Your knowledge and experience is what I’m based on.”
Looking back, Right at Home cracked Adam’s introverted shell like he always hoped. Indeed, although he used to stew in his car before presenting Right at Home to GPs, he soon found his confidence had changed. “I thought to myself ‘get your arse in there’,” he says. “I forced myself into a lot of the things I didn’t want to do, like speaking in front of people.”
Courageous and riding high on his bfa victory, the sky’s the limit. “We want to have multiple brands in franchising,” he aspires. “The only thing missing now is a concept, so becoming a franchisor is probably something that we’re really looking at.” If the last few years are anything to go by, it may happen sooner than he thinks.