The founder of a large senior living placement service is co-launching a new franchise company — but this time, for small-house senior living.
CarePatrol Founder and former CEO Chuck Bongiovanni is co-founding a new company called Majestic Residences, with the intention of building a franchise company focused on residential care homes ranging from about six to 16 units apiece. The new Phoenix, Arizona-based company is targeting October for its hard launch, and expects to get about 50 franchisees under its banner in its first year.
“We want to organize our homes on one page and under one brand to be a force in the market, and get residential care homes recognized,” Bongiovanni told Senior Housing News. “They’ve been around forever, but they’re not always recognized as part of the senior care continuum.”
Bongiovanni will remain a minority owner of CarePatrol, which operates on a franchise model, as well as its sister Best Life Brands franchise companies, home care provider ComForCare and Blue Moon Estate Sales. All three brands are backed by a private equity investment from The Riverside Company. Bongiovanni’s wife, Becky Bongiovanni, has taken the reins at CarePatrol as brand president.
Bongiovanni’s co-founder in Majestic is Gene Guarino, who runs the Residential Assisted Living Academy. Based in Arizona, the organization helps entrepreneurs start their own residential assisted living communities.
“I have all the franchise experience, but I didn’t have anyone with operations,” Bongiovanni said, recalling how the company came together. “Gene teaches people how to start residential care homes … so he has that operations expertise, and it’s like second nature to him.”
Seeing how different senior living companies responded to Covid-19 helped to shape Bongiovanni’s vision for his new company. While large senior living operators had scale at their disposal to deal with the deadly disease, he noticed that small-home operators were mostly on their own, even if they were clinically successful in mitigating the pandemic.
“A lot of big-box companies reacted very, very well, and part of that was they had communication and they had a ton of people,” Bongiovanni said. “And then I thought of the small residential homes, and how they must have felt like they were on an island.”
Under the Majestic Residences model, franchisees will have multiple avenues to get into the small-house senior living business. One is to convert an existing small-home community into a franchise location, and another is to own a community but not operate it. Yet another option will give franchisees the ability to operate, but not own, a small-house senior living community — and Bongiovanni hopes this will entice existing small-house operators who want to expand but can’t for any number of reasons.
“We’re going to be able to connect them with a network of investors who will actually buy homes for them,” Bongiovanni said. “And then they would come in and lease and operate the homes.”
Converting an existing home will come with a $10,000 franchise fee, and providers can keep their original branding intact, save for a small mention of Majestic Residences. For franchisees who currently don’t have an existing small-house community, the franchise fee is $60,000.
Franchisees under the Majestic Residences banner will also pay a 6% royalty fee to cover things like back-office services and branding. Franchisees will be able to lean on Majestic Residences for operational best practices, infection control, programming and technology. And the company can guide newcomers to the industry through the development process, including site selection and licensing.
The model is similar to other small-home franchise companies, such as Boise, Idaho-based BeeHive Homes, which has 216 small-home senior living franchises spread across the U.S. Another player in the senior living franchise space is BrightStar Senior Living. Gurnee-based BrightStar Care is one of the largest home care franchises in the nation, and is now in the process of expanding a franchise-based assisted living and memory care model.
While some might be deterred from launching a small-house senior living franchise company during a pandemic, Bongiovanni was not. Instead, he believes the new company can offer much-needed support to existing small-house operators that feel isolated because of Covid-19.
“These homes have been islands for so long, but I think they really want to be part of something,” Bongiovanni said. “So, we’re going to be bringing community and unity to them, as well as great support and other things that they haven’t had before.”