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Featured Business: All In Care
Name: Linda Murphy
Ten years ago, there were just a couple of private homecare providers in Ireland. Now there are 130, and one of the big Dublin players is All In Care.
When Linda Murphy founded All In Care in 2004, the homecare industry was very small, as the HSE did much of it at the time.
However, the industry grew through the HSE’s allocation of funding to people to stay at home rather than go into long-term care – much better for the client, and cheaper for the Government.
Linda’s link to the care industry is down to being in the right place at the right time and having a vision for modernising how care is run.
Having worked at selling central heating systems after the smokeless fuel zone was introduced, and while on a few weeks’ off after having her youngest child, Linda was asked to have a look at a care company’s books over a few weeks and sort out the accounts. As it turned out, she stayed there for over a year, and this became her first introduction to the care industry.
Care is far from making a cup of tea, explains Linda. She set up her own business because she wanted to bring quality care into people’s homes, and bring innovations into the industry before they were required. These included a clocking-in-and-out system for staff at clients’ homes, which means All In Care is fully accountable for clients, staff and the HSE, with technology that can see everything in real time. As staffing is such a major issue due to unsocial hours, Linda is involved in a Skillnet that trains people with an interest in care to a BTEC level 5 qualification. Staff is everything, she says.
Her vision for the future of care has resulted in her buying property in Drumcondra, Dublin and developing it into a facility called Steps, which opens in January 2015. She hopes to be able to take people from acute hospitals to Steps to get them back to independent living before going home, ideally without the need for a homecare package.
Interview with Linda Murphy
What was the inspiration for setting up your business?
I could see it could be done 10 times better in terms of regulation and Garda clearance, none of which was required 10 years ago. I decided to set up myself: interviewing people, reference checks, Garda clearance, getting uniforms and ID badges.
How did you initially fund your business?
It was through my own funds. There wasn’t that much to fund – a small office and payroll. Because 90% of the work is HSE funded, we do the work first and then invoice. I’m 10 years in business and I never had an overdraft.
Have you diversified your offering from your original focus or set up other businesses?
I wouldn’t say I’ve diversified; I’ve another business that complements my own business. I have a 30-bed respite and care facility in Drumcondra. I have bought the surrounding property and will be adding another 70 rooms. It will end up being a 100-bed unit. I chose it because it was an old distillery with a preservation order, and I liked the look of the building. It’s an area with a very high density of older people, and [the building] is near the two acute hospitals on the north side – the Mater and Beaumont.
What have been the highlights to date?
The growth in the market and the distillery.
What’s your favourite part of being a business owner/entrepreneur?
If I can keep the clients and the staff happy then I’m happy. You have to care about your employees because they are the company.
How do you achieve a work-life balance?
To be honest, I work around the clock. I am a little bit of a control freak so I am always around the office and what’s going on every day. Stress doesn’t bother me that much. My three children are grown up, and my daughter and son work in the business so I probably see more of them at work than I do at home. They grew up with it; indirectly they were always involved because years ago I would have diverted calls to the mobile or house phone. It’s part of their lives, whether they like it or not.
Are you inspired by any business figures or success stories?
I have great admiration for Michael O’Leary of Ryanair. I think he has done an incredible job in what he has set out to achieve and in bringing competition to the market. You have to give credit where credit is due. He mightn’t be everyone’s cup of tea but, at the end of the day, what he has achieved is absolutely astronomical.
What tools do you utilise that benefit your customers or that make running your business easier or more profitable?
When I was in the business about three years and it was getting bigger and bigger, I got in touch with an IT company and we got together and wrote software, which I have a patent on. It monitors all the staff. Before that, everybody just sent an invoice, but there was no accountability. Who says the carer called? For example, “I knocked at the door, couldn’t get an answer”. With the monitoring system, the carer has to use the client’s own phone, which means they got into the house and clocked in and out. That means all the invoices going to the HSE were supported by the clocking-in system. I developed that further over the years. This year we’ve purchased mobile phones for all our staff, which was a huge investment. Staff members have the care plans for all the clients on their phones, all in real time. Technology is where I have put the biggest investment. It’s needed for the industry.
Do you feel you know what your customers really want? How do you stay updated with this information?
I have met a huge percentage of my clients and keep updated with them all. I listen very carefully to the client and the care staff. If they come up with any ideas that can better the organisation or are better for the client, they are taken on board. It is always constructive criticism. If somebody says “This isn’t being done right”, I ask why and look for a solution.
What has been the biggest challenge your business has faced?
The biggest challenge has been the growth – it’s been so fast.
What do you think the biggest challenge to businesses in Ireland is at the moment?
I suppose finance is one of the biggest challenges for most people. I never had an issue with it myself because I always invested back into the company. Challenges are always going to be there. You can get around them if you’re confident enough in what you do.
What has been the best reward in running your own business?
Job satisfaction; it’s very nice to get emails, letters and calls to say thank you. The success story is for the carers, the whole company. Financially it’s very rewarding and we’re looking at putting some of the profits into a charity for clients who may need it.
What was the main catalyst for growth?
When I started off, once I was given a certain amount of clients by the HSE, and the clients’ feedback got back to the HSE, it gave me more clients. That’s how it grew.
How did you scale/grow your business?
It’s all through referrals. The company could have been much bigger, but I like to have everything in place. I’d rather have 1,000 clients happy than have 2,000 and be dealing with complaints all the time. The reputation of the company is very important to me, not the turnover.
What obstacles to growth have you faced in the past?
Getting the right staff would be the biggest challenge.
How do you get ideas to further your business?
Really just listening to clients and the HSE.
What motivates you to stay running a business?
I am a workaholic, and I know I can change [the care industry]. The care industry has changed over the past number of years and I know I’ve been involved in that. I’m probably one of the first people to have changed it – I brought in the monitoring system and now it’s compulsory.
What’s your vision for the future?
Going from half-hour care in someone’s home right through to end-of-life 24-hour care and being with them all the way. Because you’re keeping continuity.
Do you have a mentor; do you find this has positively impacted on your success?
I’ve never had a mentor. Anything I’ve done I’ve taken upon myself, so I can live with the consequences.
What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
Not to try and grow too quickly. Build up what you have, build up your reputation, give the best quality.
What would be your advice to businesses starting out?
Give a quality product and look after your staff.
What’s your favourite motivational business quote?
The staff is the company.
What, if anything, would you do differently?
I would bring in the IT/phone system a lot quicker. That took a year to write.
I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. If it happens, it happens.
Phone: +353 1 6906560
Interviewed by: Web Content Partners
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