The opportunity for blending professional experience with personal passions and support the community was too good to pass up for this entrepreneur
As a career educator, including several years as a college campus president, Haley Johnson knew how to run a large enterprise. She knew how to deliver value to stakeholders, work with employees to help them succeed and ensure that day-to-day operations went smoothly.
When she decided to look into owning her own business and settled on an in-home senior care franchise as the direction she wanted to go, she investigated lots of options. At the same time, she wanted to see her own passion for helping the community reflected in a business model, and she liked what she saw in Touching Hearts at Home.
Since opening in September 2018, Haley and her husband, Bryan, have been working nonstop to build their Touching Hearts at Home senior care franchise and are finding success in the growing Nashville area. Here’s how it all came together.
What led you to open your own business?
I was a campus president for many years, working at an institution where we trained people for various careers in the health care industry. And then I had taken a little time off to be a stay-at-home mom and take a break.
While I was doing that, I began looking at what a business for my husband and I would look like. I was looking at starting something and then began exploring franchises that would be affordable for us. There were a lot of concepts! When in-home care came up, though, and I really began to read up on the industry, I didn’t look at anything else. I knew with my background in health care education, and my husband’s career in medical sales, we could handle the networking and marketing — and it would be a natural fit for us. Plus, we both have tender hearts, and this is a business that we could feel good about. We want to connect with people, and this was something we could definitely do as a team.
What was the appeal of Touching Hearts at Home?
We went all the way to the discovery-day process with another franchise and didn’t feel a connection. When we began talking with Scott [Kummel, Franchise Sales Director] we felt more of a connection. Touching Hearts is a family-owned business, and they are very involved with its operation. We also liked that they would give us a much larger territory than some other brands — double the size we were offered elsewhere. There was a whole mindset around giving us everything we needed to be successful and not limiting our income potential. That was a big deal to us, because otherwise we thought we might wind up next to another franchise owner and then we would be competing.
How was the training and onboarding?
It was a very thorough week to start, and then it has really kept going since. We got a lot of great information during that initial phase. While it was a lot to digest at once, it was all very informative and helpful. And since then everyone at the home office is just a phone call or email away, so we have access to more information and assistance whenever we need it.
How have things been going since your opening?
We have been very busy executing our plan. I was heavy on the operations side at the college, so I have seen first-hand how you have to do that, which has been more my role. My husband is a stronger networker, so he’s on top of that side. We had a few contacts in the Nashville area, which has helped us get our foot in the door at a few facilities, and so we have been building out from that.
What skills are vital for a Touching Hearts at Home senior care franchise owner?
You do have to have that operations mind-set, and also a strong willingness to network. It’s going to take both. One person could do it, but I recommend having a partner if you’re going in alone vs. with a spouse.
You also have to be willing to do the advance work, so determination is important. If you have friends and relatives in the care industry, get in front of them. We had enough organic referrals to keep us going the first couple of months, but we had to work to get those.
Also, never be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to other owners, and to the team at corporate. There are people who have been in your situation before, and they can give you wonderful insights if you ask.
Have you had challenges in a tight labor market?
That can be a struggle when unemployment is very low, but we have been blessed. My former college has funneled me students and recent graduates, which has been great. I would suggest that a new franchise owner reach out to local colleges and see if they have students who are looking for evening and weekend work, because those people can take shifts that sometimes are difficult to fill.
We have had good luck with the people we have hired so far, because we are very open and honest with them. They know that our clients depend on us, and we take that very seriously — and they do as well.
What is one “school of hard knocks” lesson you have learned?
To reach out to as many home-health, hospice, assisted-living and hospital facilities as possible, but to be smart about it. If it’s a small entity only discharging a couple of patients a week, don’t focus a lot on them. Spend more time with the larger facilities that have more patients. Figure out who the big players are, because they are going to be the source for more referrals.
Now is the time to join the Touching Hearts at Home franchise family. We are a pioneer in the non-medical, in-home senior care industry, and we anticipate rapid growth for our company as the Baby Boomer population ages. A Touching Hearts at Home franchise business is an opportunity to make a living doing meaningful work as you serve members of your community.