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Guardian Angel Carers (GAC) Case Study

Guardian Angel Carers (GAC) Case Study

Sailing into new waters

Care is a top five UK industry and Guardian Angel Carers (GAC) is one of its leading lights. Founded by double Olympian sailor Christina Handasyde-Dick in 2012 it had, by 2019, evolved into a successful, profitable and award-winning home-care business, with a Care Quality Commission (CQC) ‘outstanding’ recognition, and three branches on the South Coast. 

They were also experiencing increasing demand for their services beyond their geographical parameters. Christina wanted to explore the opportunity. “Demand was through the roof, and I’d been feeling a bit lost and needed someone outside the business to bounce off, and share ideas with, to help me get some structure and organisation into how we moved forward,” she said. 

She approached Flintlock to help.

A model for success

Initially, we conducted a discovery exercise to research and better understand the competitor set, industry and financials. Then, we held a leadership strategy session to interrogate the best route for growth. Two options emerged for consideration. Either a UK-wide network of owned branches or a nationwide franchise network. In looking at all the challenges, it was agreed that franchising was the most suitable route and would provide the greatest opportunity for growth. 

Having clarified the broad direction, we then collaborated with the wider team to develop a brand strategy and marketing plan to support the launch of the franchise business and to get it growing. 

“We’d seen the massive opportunity to grow through franchising” says Christina. “But we’d never put together a structured marketing plan before and we knew that we needed to package our brand up to be able to sell it to franchisees.” 

Utilising our proprietary Spark workshops, we ran mini Sprint-Sparks with the HQ team and short 1:1 Spot-Sparks with key stakeholders and a pilot franchisee. These sessions uncovered key insights that would inform how we would showcase the brand for a franchise audience. We identified that:

  • Guardian Angel Carers was very much a purpose-driven organisation
  • the team had successfully embedded a caring culture around meaningful values, which were being actioned daily
  • they had established a solid set of processes, systems and care capabilities that had proven to deliver ‘outstanding’ care 
  • Christina was an inspirational leader who’d generated collective belief in their mission to ‘Positively Evolve Care’. 

We knew we needed to package these core elements into the heart of the brand in a way that would support the business to evolve from being a locally famous brand to a nationally memorable one. 

So, we built on the mission and values and built in a clearly stated and more emotional purpose: ’Compassionately caring for you’. 

We then created a brand personality and tone of voice to match. Central to the strategy, were three differentiated brand communications pillars that formed key messaging around:

  • Leading Technology
  • Carers who care
  • Restless improvement

These focused on the benefits for franchisees with associated ‘proof points’. Lastly, an audience-led strap line of With you every step of the way was created to externally convey the supportive approach of the business and to reflect the positive experience a prospective franchisee could expect. 

This gave GAC a distilled, clearly articulated strategy and a solid, repeatable franchise proposition that communicated the benefits of investing in the brand for values-aligned people. The brand framework was also designed with a growing network in mind and to enable brand communications consistency wherever it would be delivered in the UK. “The Spark Workshop really helped hone what we’re all about. It was amazing work and a really good foundation,” says Christina.

Positive impact

The newly-formed Guardian Angel Carers Franchise team needed support to move strategy into action. They asked Flintlock to initiate and manage all the initial marketing output. Our role was to help GAC – as a new entrant in the franchise market – to make an impact, to amplify the brand, raise awareness, drive audience engagement and generate franchise leads.

Collaborating closely with the team, we created a marketing plan, identifying the appropriate communications channels, building a strategic content calendar, allocating the marketing budget, and establishing connections and relationships within the franchise industry, including the British Franchise Association (BFA).

We then delivered strategy-led content and creative output in line with our differentiated key-messaging for publication in franchise directories. We also established PPC, Google and social media digital strategies and campaigns; launched Find Out! webinars; wrote scripts for brand videos and press releases and profiles for franchisees that achieved valuable editorial in quality local papers. “It was great to be able to outsource and bring in Flintlock’s expertise to produce marketing,” Christina says. “They provided loads of good ideas that personalised and brought flair to our brand.”

We also wrote articles to support and raise Christina’s industry profile, building on her Olympic story and reinforcing her dynamic leadership and positive contribution to Homecare. We were proud to help the team write a successful nomination that saw Christina receive an MBE for her services to care in 2022. 

Today, the franchise network is growing at pace, often with multiple territories being bought by each franchise owner, and on track for its 2025 target. The franchise team is now well established, with senior leadership positions filled. They now collaborate with a partnership of specialist agencies alongside Flintlock, to deliver joined-up, strategy-led marketing. 

Our work with Guardian Angel Carers is now in its third year and we continue to be strategically pivotal, supporting the leadership team to keep the brand on track and identify ways to unlock growth. Most recently, we have:

  • led discovery and Spark workshops to launch a marketing communications strategy for the brand’s pioneering care-tech proposition that franchisees will start to offer in 2024
  • delivered Brand Marketing Workshops at the 2023 Annual Conference
  • conducted Sprint-Sparks with individual franchise owners to help them develop brand-aligned marketing plans personalised for their area and audience.

With complete strategic clarity, the franchisor is supporting growth for the individual franchisees, as well as the franchisor’s owned-branches, creating a long-term sustainable business model.


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