WPA Healthcare Practice: The franchise opportunity

With over 70 franchisees UK-wide, the established health insurance chain is looking to attract people with business acumen and a drive to succeed...

Franchise: Western Provident Association (WPA) Healthcare Practice
Description: WPA are a health insurance company with a team of franchisees working as the local face of WPA throughout the UK; selling, advertising and promoting our health insurance products.
Started in: WPA dates back to 1910, franchising since 2006
Founder: N/A
No. of franchises: Currently 77 franchisees
Coverage: UK
Average cost per franchise: £9,200 + £2,500 returnable fidelity bond
Website: www.wpahealthcarepractice.co.uk

Western Provident Association is a specialist health insurer with a heritage stemming back over 110 years. In 2014 we were voted best for customer service at the Cover Excellence and Health Insurance awards demonstrating our commitment to putting our customers at the forefront of all that we do.

As a not-for-profit insurer we choose to commit our interests to improving customer experiences and ensuring that individuals and companies get the right product for their needs. As a result of our commitment, some of the UK’s largest companies have put their trust in our services and have maintained their relationship with us over many years.

Unique to the industry, WPA has a team of franchisees (healthcare partners) who work diligently across the UK as consultants in healthcare solutions. This offers our customers a face within the local community and endorses our commitment to treating customers fairly.

 Moving into franchising

 So how did you move into franchising?

Historically we had a self-employed sales force, however in 2006 we created a franchise model which has proved incredibly successful.

The franchise opportunity

What makes the franchise different/unique?

We believe in fully supporting our franchisees (healthcare partners) on the road to success. We offer a unique launch package which includes:

  • Full training and support in your region and from head office
  • Financial support programme to help get your practice off the ground
  • Generous professional initial and renewal fees – enhanced in the first two years
  • Quarterly workshops at no additional charge
  • Real time connectivity to WPA IT systems via a bespoke iPad app
  • Back office system designed for healthcare partner use
  • 48 telesales appointments
  • A dedicated mentor to help you establish your practice
  • Membership fees of a local networking group in the first year

What services do you offer?

 WPA offers a choice of health insurance products to suit a variety of needs. This includes full private medical insurance plans and cash plans for both companies and individuals.

Our franchisees work as consultants in healthcare solutions not only selling and promoting WPA’s health insurance products but actively maintaining customer relationships with regular contact to ensure customer satisfaction. Our franchisees use their expertise to manage their customer portfolio whilst growing an ethical successful business.

How big is the market opportunity?

WPA is one of the UK’s most respected health insurers offering excellent value and quality customer service. More people are becoming aware of the importance of private medical insurance due to the increasing demands on the NHS. With concerns about waiting times for treatment, access to specialists, and financial deficits of primary care trusts, the increasing demands on the NHS suggests that 2015/2016 will be one of the most challenging years yet.

Each year 300,000 people leave work due to illness and injury therefore health and well-being has become an important part of company healthcare and sickness absence strategies. A strong benefit package not only helps employers make sure they get the pick of employees at recruitment but can also help retain them.

WPA offers freedom of choice. Choosing when, where, and who to have treatment with makes our products an integral part of the ever changing healthcare systems within the UK.

How many franchisees do you have today?

We currently have 77 franchisees spread throughout the UK.

How is the brand marketed?

Our excellent customer service speaks for itself allowing the brand to grow through referrals and from the hard work of our franchisees in the community as the local face of WPA.

How do you divide the regions?

The UK is split into four regions regions; the South West, South East, Midlands & the North, and North UK & Northern Ireland.  Each region contains approximately 20 franchisees and is headed by a managing director who also runs their own practice.    

The perfect franchisee

What do you look for in potential franchisees?

Our franchisees come from various backgrounds and different walks of life, however they all have business acumen and are driven to succeed. Successful candidates have to have the ability to develop a network of customers, have strong interpersonal skills, and entrepreneurial spirit.

So do franchisees work from an office, or are they home-based? Is it part-time or full-time?

Franchisees can choose to work from either an office or home. Many start by working from home and then progress to office space as they grow their business. The opportunity is a full time commitment.

How are franchisees vetted?

All potential candidates are invited to an open day at head office, if they wish to process further then they will be invited to a regional meeting and days out on the road with existing franchisees. A business plan is then submitted by the candidate which is reviewed by our director of new practice development and the regional managing director.

As WPA are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), there are a number of regulatory checks that are required before you are accepted into the WPA Healthcare Practice.

What do you offer franchisees that sign up?

As well as the franchise launch package listed above we also offer:

  • Business cards and product literature.
  • National affinity relationships with high profile UK brands to help build your business.
  • Promotional literature – flyers, e-shots and posters.
  • Exhibition support – advice, financial support, promotional material, merchandise and equipment.

How much do franchisees pay and what are the ongoing franchise fees?

The cost of buying the franchise is £9,200, plus a £2,500 returnable fidelity bond. The are no ongoing franchise fees or service costs.

Success and growth

How successful are some of the franchisees today?

There are numerous success stories within the WPA Healthcare Practice, in particular Dan Wade – director of new Practice development – who has twice been runner-up in the BFA Young Franchisee of the Year competition.

How is the brand looking to grow?

Our focus is on quality and finding the right candidate for the right area, rather than the growth of the Healthcare Practice. We are currently focusing on four vacant territories throughout the UK for recruitment.

What is the potential of the business?

The success of our franchisees wholly depends on the energy and commitment they put into their business. It is entirely true in saying that you get out what you put in.

What will the challenges be in achieving that?

Although WPA offer extensive help and support, ultimately this is your own business. Many franchisees find it difficult working for themselves initially as they have been used to working in corporate environments surrounded by many people.

What awards had the business won?

WPA won two customer service awards in 2014; Cover Excellence Award for Best Service the Health Insurance Awards for Best Customer Service. These awards display our commitment to putting customers at the forefront of all that we do. We also hold ofr British Standards Institute Accreditations.

Finally, is the company a British Franchise Association (BFA) member?

WPA Healthcare is a full member of the British Franchise Association.

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