Rockland Couple Revive Rockland Right At Home Franchise To Serve Senior Population

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There Will Be Nearly 84 million Americans Over The Age of 65 by 2050

By Tina Traster

An interview with Vishal Patel starts out like a familiar routine with a comic born of Indian parents.

“As a child, we all have dreams,” he said. “Being Indian, you’ve gotta be a doctor, that’s what it was like.” Patel was born in Yonkers but grew up in New City. “Not long ago, I found some old drafts of a college letter I prepared, an admission letter, maybe one I never turned in. I wrote that I wanted to have a career, not as a doctor, but one where I could help people.”

There’s no punchline except that Patel and his wife Leia have recently expanded their Right at Home franchise that now covers all of Rockland and half of Orange County – fulfilling a lifelong dream of helping people who are vulnerable, often alone, who need both help with daily tasks as well as company to soothe the loneliness.

“In my family, all my grandparents were able to pass away at home because of the culture I grew up in,” Patel said. “The family took care of them. But in America, so many people are living alone. It’s very sad.”

Patel and his wife witnessed the tragedy of Leia’s grandfather passing away during COVID alone in a nursing home, without family having access to him. They wanted to learn more about aging in place and in-home care and companionship.

In 2017, after managing hotels for two decades, Patel and his family left Indiana where he was managing Hotel Best Western Terra Haute Inn & Suites, to join his father and the family business, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Fort Montgomery. Like so many who used COVID as a professional pivot, Patel started to hanker to fulfill his mission to help people. In a stroke of luck, the hotel sustained itself during 2020 because the National Guard booked rooms for most of the year while they were working at the testing site at Anthony Wayne Recreation Area.

This gave Patel and his wife time to think and explore options – though their main goal was to purchase a franchise.

“We were looking a sub shops, other restaurants, even cannabis dispensaries,” said Patel. “We played with the idea of building cabins for rentals. But when Right at Home showed up on his feed, the entrepreneur knew he felt, well, right at home.

The Right at Home franchise required roughly $50,000 for the license to operate the Orange County territory, and additional monies to set up a small office. The Patels spent an additional $50,000 to acquire the Rockland territory. Today, the estimated initial investment in a Right at Home franchise is $88,719 to $157,669, according to the franchise website. Franchisees must have access to $150,000 liquid capital to be considered for approval. Additionally, there is a requirement to lease a small office space (600-800 square feet) that serves as a main office for managing the business and recruitment of caregivers.

A typical territory reaches approximately 15,000 to 30,000 people over the age of 65. On average, adults over the age of 60 live more than 280 miles from their nearest child.

“We wanted a franchise because of the speed with which you get your business up and running,” said Patel. “The franchise provides support, training, protected software you don’t have to insure, better rates for bank loans. There are so many advantages,” he said, acknowledging that franchisees do pay royalties. The Patels based their office in Highland Falls in 2020 and took over the fallow Rockland territory in 2023.

The Patels serve about 30 clients – mostly seniors who live alone. It has 22 caregivers on staff. Some clients require visits, others overnight stays. The agency, which does not accept Medicare or Medicaid, charges between $34 to $40 per hour. The franchisee anticipates growing 12 to 15 percent in 2024.

Home health care is poised to become an exploding business.

It is estimated that there will be nearly 84 million Americans over the age of 65 by the year 2050. Increasingly, many older adults prefer to remain in their own homes as they age for as long as possible. In-home care services like Right at Home, Home Instead, and Angels on Call, are growing rapidly as demand ramps up.

Right at Home, founded in 1995 by Allen Hager, a former hospital administrator, has more than 700 locations in six countries and more than 90 support staff located at its global corporate headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. Hager had seen how many older patients were readmitted to hospitals after returning home with no one to care for them. Five years later, he opened his business models to franchisees.

The average annual net billing per office is nearly $1.45 million or more for franchises open more than one year with a 46.93 percent profit margin. On average, a Right at Home franchise makes $1,047,000 in net billings per year. This number is the median net billings per franchise business for 466 of the 483 franchised businesses that operated in all of 2021 (the average is $1,385,000), according the the franchise website.

Patel, who is 45, said he’s personally learned how important it is for older people to stay engaged and feel useful. When he first returned from Indiana to return to the family hotel business, he assumed he’d relieve his father of responsibility.

“I thought I’d come back, help my dad so he can retire,” said Patel. “What I learned was that he needed to keep working. That it was important not to take away his independence. That the more he does, the longer he’s likely to live because he’s not depressed, he feels a sense of purpose.”