GEM Health Care Services looks to add new Eastern Ontario franchises

Health care
Stock image, for illustrative purposes only.

GEM Health Care Services is looking to expand.

The full-service company offers private health care, home care services, workplace health and wellness, as well as health care institutional relief staffing. It’s also ISO certified – a designation that has helped enable it to bid on provincial government contracts through the Local Health Integration Network. This puts GEM in a unique position among similar-sized competitors, many of which don’t offer full services and aren’t accredited.

GEM has identified several Eastern Ontario territories it feels are ripe, including Orléans, Kanata, Barrhaven, and Kingston: areas with large population centres, several secondary population centres, and within an hour or so drive from downtown Ottawa.

GEM map
Each new potential franchise territory features a relatively sizeable population centre, along with several secondary population centres, and many rural residents: East - Orleans (including Cornwall, Casselman and Hawkesbury); West - Kanata (including Arnprior, Renfrew, Pembroke and Petawawa); South - Barrhaven (including Kemptville, Brockville, Prescott and Greely); and Kingston (including Gananoque, Napanee, Rideau Lakes and Westport).

GEM is looking for franchisees who see the potential of the private health care industry in Ontario – something founder Gaye Moffett admits can be an educational leap, in some cases.

“A lot of people are unsure of what private health care in Ontario is really all about,” she explains, adding that many Ontario health-care services are government funded but privately delivered.

GEM...By the numbers:

  • Year-over-year sales growth averaging more than 10%

  • Mature franchises seeing $1.5 million in annual sales on average

  • Margins average 40%

GEM’s franchise model provides comprehensive training on all operational aspects of running a health and him care services company. This includes recruiting employees, marketing to find customers, financial, and insights on providing the highest level of care. Franchisees, in turn, provide valuable inroads into a local community.

“They need to understand their local area,” says Ken Sparks, the firms’ franchise development leader. “And we provide a comprehensive training package, but ultimately they’re running their own business using our GEM Health Care Services model.”

The best candidates are entrepreneurial risk takers, Ms. Moffett adds, who are also caring people and are good at dealing with others. Potential franchisees don’t even necessarily need a medical or caregiver background.

“You have to have a couple of nurses on your employee roster, but, quite frankly, I’ve found many of the nurses I’ve spoken with over the years quite risk averse.”

GEM chose the territories partially for their proximity to Ottawa, but also because of the mix of urban and rural residents – many in their elder years, in many cases requiring care, and with money to spend.

“Some of the hits we were getting after marketing (GEM’s franchise model) were from rural Ontario,” she says. “So I know there must be a need for private health care services.”

Learn more about becoming a GEM franchise owner here.

Who is GEM?

When Gaye Moffett was laid off by her former employer, back in the 1990s, she says she had just one main thought.

It was time to sink or swim.

“I packed up my things from the office, loaded them into my car, and started to drive home. I was crying,” says Moffett, who eventually became founder, president and owner of GEM Health Care Services.

Ms. Moffett had been a nurse for the past three years at a Toronto-based health care company with operations in Ottawa. She was 45, divorced, and a single mother of two teenage boys, but also had a deep reservoir of industry knowledge and an entrepreneurial fire in her belly. 

“And as I drove, I had an epiphany,” she says. “I thought, ‘Why don’t I do this myself? I have the know-how, the contacts, an asset – my house – and the chutzpah.’” 

After conferring with family and taking out a small loan, Ms. Moffett eventually set up a modest office in the west end. In March, 1994, she opened the doors of GEM Health Care Services at 383 Parkdale Ave.

When her first six months’ gross revenues were over $500,000, she knew she’d stumbled on something potentially great.