INTERVIEW: In conversation with Carterwood

Caring Times discusses the ups and downs of a decade of Carterwood with the founders, Amanda Nurse and Ben Hartley.

This interview was first published in the December 2018 issue of Caring Times.

  1. What made you start the business in 2008 – in a recession?

 Amanda: I was turning 40 in 2008 and I had reached ‘that certain stage’ in my career where I felt that now was the time for a new challenge; and what better than setting up a new business during a recession!

Ben: It was always my ambition to work for myself and to be outside of the corporate world – and to develop products that solved key problems faced by our clients in the social care arena.

 

  1. Everyone in the industry knows the Carterwood name and the “Carterwood report” has become synonymous with quality, to what do you attribute your success?

 Amanda: It has always been about linking high quality data with great service.  We’re both high energy, dynamic and passionate about providing the best advice to our clients, and the business reflects this ethos.

Ben: Innovation is and always has been at the core of the business – each year we aim to launch an exciting new product.  Also, too many consultants are afraid to give a real opinion and we believe this is crucial – it has been central to developing our reputation.

  1. What drove you to work in the health and social care industry?

Amanda: I enjoy working in a vital sector with highly successful entrepreneurs, many of whom have set up successful businesses from scratch.

Ben: We are living under a demographic time bomb with an aging population that will dramatically increase over the coming few years, and I considered that there was a real gap in the market for accurate analysis to improve decision making.

 

  1. What do you stand for as a business / what are your values?

 Amanda: We have three core values: Innovation (which Ben has already mentioned), ‘dare to be different’ and ‘work hard and have fun’.  All three have been developed with our team and really sum up the business to me.  We have a team who work incredibly hard but always retain their sense of humour. It’s genuinely about a totally different mind-set.

 

  1. What are some of the mistakes you wished you could’ve avoided?

Amanda: In the early days we considered pursuing loan security valuations, only to discover that this was an overcrowded market!  At times I think we have been guilty of trying to develop too many initiatives at once, which is challenging!

Ben: Over-servicing instructions in the early days was something that was difficult as we became so busy so fast.  However, ultimately this helped to build our reputation; so, what I first saw as a mistake turned into a positive!

  1. Have you experienced failures and how have you dealt with them?

 Amanda and Ben: Everyone has failures. Our work ethic, energy and ability to adapt quickly have pulled us through ours.

 

  1. Whom do you seek advice from for your business?

 Amanda and Ben: We were both members of a business group called Vistage, which revolutionised our approach.  We also work with external consultants; many of whom work outside our industry but are leaders in their field. This has been invaluable for developing the business. It’s great to be able to discuss challenges with someone external; it gives a clearer perspective.

 

  1. You seem to have a great team and have won the ‘Best Places to Work in Property’ award; so how did you build your team?

 Amanda and Ben:  It’s really simple:  Recruit talented people and give them the ability to flourish. The team are from a wide range of backgrounds and we’ve done everything possible to enable flexibility around working.  We focus on providing opportunities for personal development and career progression; and if someone has a great idea we’ll implement it.  Everyone has a voice, and everyone matters.

 

  1. You have an excellent customer profile. Why do your clients do repeat business with you?

 Amanda: We now have over 400 clients, and I believe it’s about service.  Several of our clients are working to very tight deadlines and we do our very best to incorporate these.  It’s about focusing on solutions and looking at things from both sides of the transaction.

Ben: Much of the work we do is portfolio wide and is bespoke.  We develop a brief from scratch so that the final solution exactly meets the clients’ needs; often within very tight timescales. The quality of our data is also key – it means we provide the best information to enable informed decisions.

 

  1. Where do you see the future of social care?

Ben and Amanda:

Staffing:  A revolution in the provision of care services, with a move away from registered nurses and the development of specific qualifications for care homes.

Marketing: A coming together to enable the sector to speak with a clearer voice; rebranding the sector as one that offers amazingly fulfilling opportunities and career development, and the ability to make a real difference to the people who receive your care.

New development elderly care: Homes increasing in size up to 80 beds; and models developing to provide niche services for those with high levels of acute care. Operators developing a 3-star care model that can operate in more modest areas.  Modular construction evolving to enable new care homes to be developed cost effectively; allowing services to be built in areas aimed at the local authority end of the market.  Technology being embraced to fully enable as many processes as possible to be streamlined.

 

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Health Investor 2017