Editor’s note: Peer-to-Peer is a feature from McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse in which we talk to the leaders in home care, your peers, about their operational initiatives, efforts and ideas. If you think someone in home care would make a good subject for Peer-to-Peer, please email Diane Eastabrook at [email protected].
In the midst of a pandemic — marked by labor shortages and financial uncertainty for the home care industry — Synergy HomeCare managed to shine. In the last 18 months, the Gilbert, AZ-based firm was one of the nation’s fastest-growing franchises, expanding its footprint from 336 territories to 406. That feat earned Synergy a spot on Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2022 Franchise 500 list.
Synergy offers a variety of services including nonmedical personal care, companion care and specialized care for patients recovering from illness or surgery.
CEO Charlie Young joined the company a couple of years ago, following a career in real estate. He talked to McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse about how strikingly similar the two industries are — both evolved from mostly mom-and-pop agencies into franchise operations — and how Synergy is attracting franchisees.
McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse: What was your secret to growth over the past year and a half?
Charlie Young: I think we just out-executed everyone else. We knew there would be high interest in home care and we just continued forward. We continued to invest in the lead generation activities that we do. We fine-tuned our value proposition in what someone gets when they join Synergy HomeCare and we really doubled down on our efforts to communicate with potential franchisees.
McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse: Who are you attracting as franchisees?
Charlie Young: There are three types of franchisees who are coming to us. We have healthcare workers who are burned out and want to still care for people but want to do it in a different way. We have corporate employees who are either downsized or disillusioned with the process because they’ve been sitting at a computer screen for a year and many of those people are moving to new locations …. The third category is just that care-minded, compassionate entrepreneur who has been spurred on by the pandemic.
McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse: You expanded into 70 territories during the pandemic. How do you attract caregivers when there is such a shortage of workers?
Charlie Young: That’s a challenge we’re facing in home care and all of healthcare. But every single marketplace has a market of caregivers. That market may be smaller today than it was two years ago, but they’re still there. So, it’s about execution. It’s also about demonstrating the value proposition that Synergy HomeCare has for the caregiver and it’s about representing the value you can bring to a caregiver’s life. Then it’s about onboarding them and treating them with dignity when they’re there. Our brand is about propelling people’s lives forward. One of the things we teach our franchisees is that you have to treat caregivers as clients, just like you have clients you have to treat as clients.
McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse: You’ve talked about the importance of a referral network. How does Synergy build those relationships?
Charlie Young: We make a promise to franchisees to help. One way is through our referral partnerships. So we use that scale and the distribution that we have across 406 markets. We create relationships with healthcare systems, long term care insurance, and employee assistance programs. On a national level, we’ll work with organizations to help innovate our product and service offerings. For example, we partner with a company that makes robotic pets and we’ll bring that product to all of our franchisees, so they can offer it in memory care. On the local level, we want our franchisees to create relationships with hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, long-term care and assisted living. In our training, we have a sales module that teaches them how to create a referral relationship on a local level.
McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse: For home care companies, like Synergy, how important is it to build partnerships with nonmedical companies that offer transportation, meals and other services?
Charlie Young: We look at it all. We had food service prior to my coming on board. We don’t have anything currently, but all of those things are on the table. We bring a caregiver into the home and we care for the life that is in that home and there are so many ways we can improve that life in the home by bringing other people into the mix. We’re always thinking about that.