Caring CEO Interviewed on Franchise My Business

By Caring News

Caring CEO and founder, Jeff Salter, was interviewed by Kevin Oldham on the podcast Franchise My Business. Jeff shares his journey from starting a home care company over 30 years ago to franchising in today's competitive landscape. Jeff highlights adaptability as the key to remaining successful across decades of running a business. 

Read the full transcript below or watch the podcast episode. 


Podcast Transcript

00:00 – Kevin

And we’re back with another episode of Franchise My Business, podcast for franchisors hosted by franchisors. I’m your host, Kevin Oldham. We’re in the middle of season 2. We’re at the beginning stages of it, and one of the cool things that we’re going to talk about is helping others. Specifically helping the other folks in our lives that a lot of times are responsible for us being here. Talking about seniors and talking about elders. I’m talking about what it’s like to provide care to these important individuals, and we all at some point in life are going to have seniors that we care about in our family and if you’re adult children you’re probably going to have to navigate figuring out how to care for them in the latter stages of life. And so I’m excited to have the CEO and founder of Caring Senior Service on, Jeff Salter. You know what we talked about, me not butchering your name (laughter). So we did that and I was like it’s really hard to butcher Salter and then I said “Satler”, so there we go.

01:07 – Jeff

Yeah, it happens. I’ll tell you my son’s first name is Ewan and that gets butchered far more than our last name, so it’s okay.

01:17 – Kevin

Ewan but you named him that, like, I mean you made that decision, right?

01:22 – Jeff

Yeah, my wife is from Scotland so it was to give him some Scottish heritage, but no one in America knows how to say “Ewan” so...

01:32 – Kevin

That’s hilarious (laughter). You know, I don’t think I’ve ever shared this story on the air so I may share it real quick. I have a lot of trauma around people’s last names mispronouncing them. The reason why is because I’m an Internet ordained minister who has officially officiated 2 weddings, 2 weddings for the same family, a friend of mine who has adult children that I have married off. And, the last one that I married off was the daughter. Her last name is Mathias, that was her married name but when I announced them for the very first time on earth as husband and wife I said “Matheas” instead of “Mathias.” Mr. and Mrs. Matheas instead of Mathias. So, I’m going to recover from this.

02:16 – Jeff

So you’ve got your name. You get to use it. You’re known as the last name butcher. 

02:23 – Kevin

You know, my last name’s Oldham, I mean it’s Oldham but it’s spelled like "old ham" so if anybody should really care about last names not getting it right it should be me. So welcome to the show.

02:34 – Jeff

Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

02:37 – Kevin

Yeah, and you’re in Texas, right?

02:39 – Jeff

Yes, San Antonio is where we’re based out of.

02:42 – Kevin

Awesome. So like 20 years ago, well not 20 years ago, 1991, how many years ago?

02:51 – Jeff

33 years ago now.

02:53 – Kevin

33 years ago, 33 years ago you’re in Texas, you’re younger, and you start this business that we’re going to take about today. 33 years ago, 3.3 decades or one-third of a millennium.

03:11 – Jeff

Yeah, it’s crazy right? Every young man at the age of 20 decides he’s going to start a business taking care of seniors, it’s pretty much the dream of every 20-year-old guy.

03:26 – Kevin

And it’s sticks. I mean I think there are a lot of 20 year olds that have aspirations, right? Although 30 years ago starting a business in your 20s, 30 years ago, so we’re in the same demographic, let’s put it that way. It was not normal to go start a business. It was not easy to start a business as easy as it is today in my opinion.

03:48 – Jeff

Today we live in a great economy when someone thinks they’re starting a business by just driving a car so that’s a little different now.

03:57 – Kevin

It is. So what the heck was happening at 20 where this made sense?

04:03 – Jeff

It’s a very interesting story. I get to tell the full story sometimes and I’ll not share every bit of the detail because it is interesting. But the main aspect of it is, I was working for a home health care company and that company provided nurses to go do visits for seniors typically in their home. And as part of that process, many clients in helping seniors through the skilled seniors, seniors would often call and need more help. They needed a caregiver to be with them for hours on end, maybe in the mornings, maybe during the day or maybe overnight. Our process was to give out a list of names to people for free and they could hire them directly and I saw that there was a challenge with that. People had trouble with scheduling. If someone couldn’t make a schedule they didn’t have backup, and they had to screen the people themselves. They had to go through hiring. They had to do payroll, and it was just a lot of work. What I saw most frequently was that people were calling me back saying hey the names you gave me that were great but they couldn’t stay, they didn’t last as long as I wanted to, I need another list of names. Over time I started recognizing that hey maybe someone needs to be in the middle here helping manage this. In 1991 this industry didn’t exist. The senior care industry which is very large today was none. So I...

05:30 – Kevin

What is really nonexistent?

05:31 – Jeff

It was nonexistent. There was nobody in the industry. The biggest player in our industry today, which is a billion-dollar company, didn’t even exist whenever I started my company. So it’s always interesting that journey that companies take in a space at least and for years they get to see it from a unique perspective.

But I saw there was a need and one day a call came in well prior to that I had kind of joked. You can imagine a 20-year-old kid, my job at this company was the assistant secretary so I was like the file guy. I would file papers.

06:10 – Kevin

You were the assistant to the assistant to the assistant to the assistant. I got it.

06:13 – Jeff

Yeah, they finally left me start answering the phones, so I talked to people that would call and ask for lists. And I would give them a list of names but I would tell the nurses, I said “you know what, I’m going to start my own company. I’m going to do this scheduling for people.” And I remember very distinctly the nurses kind of all chuckling because this 20-year-old kid thought he was going to start a company like oh yeah, what do you know. And so one day a call came in and a woman whose mom was getting home from the hospital and she needed someone to be with her at night. I said, "The company you called doesn’t provide that service, but I have my own company and I can get a caregiver out there for you tonight. If you give me about 30 minutes I’ll let you know who that is going to be." And she said, yes, and I was like, "oh my gosh, I wasn’t expecting a yes that easily." I got off the phone with her. I called the caregivers that I would have normally just given away for free and said, "Look, I’m starting my own company. Would you like to work for me?" And, the third person I called said, "Yes I’ll be happy to take that job." I said, "Okay great, here’s the information. I’ll meet you at the house tonight at 7:00." I called the client back and said, "We’ve got your caregiver, I’ll be there at 7:00," and from there the company was born. So it’s kind of an amazing way of doing it.

07:40 – Kevin

Simplicity. One customer, one case, you see one opportunity. You made 3 phone calls and got a yes, meet me there. I mean talk about a proof concept like getting your minimal viable product. You know, we have all these names now for getting a business off the ground. I have mentored a lot of early stage startups, finding product market, fit and all this. You’re like no man, it’s like I just put myself in the middle and meet the dude there, make a couple of phone calls, and here were are 30-something years later in business.

08:16 – Jeff

Yeah, yeah.

08:20 – Kevin

Guys, listeners do not overcomplicate business. Sometimes it is so hard to get out of your own head. But here you got this 20-year-old kid whose like you know what, you probably didn’t know any better. You’re probably like man we should monetize this. This is a valuable service. I’m going to solve a lot of problems, and it was a very simple and elegant solution and that was the launching pad for your business. Customer number one. That’s really cool.

08:52 – Jeff

Yeah, I own that story and I own the fact that I came to senior care with a perspective that few others claim to come from. Many of the founders of other companies in my space have an origin story which is much different. Theirs is related around caring for their parents and to just solve a problem. I saw the opportunity. I said, hey this is an opportunity here and it wasn’t strictly money. It wasn’t money motivated. It was I can solve these people’s problems and that’s doing the right thing. But I quickly fell in love with what I do and that’s what’s allowed me to stay doing it now for 33 years because I like every aspect of what we do. Even the difficult challenging times that we face, I still find that it’s worthwhile because we’re doing something really important and it matters to people.

09:42 – Kevin

No, I mean it does. I think about like senior care when done correctly has to be one of the most noble vocations out there, you know. Because you go back to these sayings like “respect your elders” and all these things. And what they’re really saying is it’s not respect them, what it is respect, respect the fact that without them we wouldn’t be here and we will be them one day. Like everybody is heading in the same direction. And so, I think it’s such a cool like industry that you’re in. I do have some near and dear experiences like the loss of a parent, but through that process before losing them trying to figure out what the options were, right. And I’m not going to lie man, it was overwhelming. It was challenging. It was scary as the adult kid trying to navigate this right. So it’s cool that there are beacons of light out there that can kind of be like a problem solver for adult children or if it’s the senior themselves whose engaging you.

By the way, most of the time is it like the adult children who are reaching out to you? The typical caretaker or do you have like direct seniors who are reaching out and saying hey we want your services for ourselves. What’s that look like?

11:01 – Jeff

Our statistics show that it’s kind of half and half. 50% of our clients are directly the consumer, the person we’re going to be caring for or their spouse, and the rest is going to be family members, children or some extended family member that is responsible for helping out.

11:20 – Kevin

Yeah that’s cool. Let’s talk about the footprint of your organization. So, you have about 50 locations, is that correct?

11:29 – Jeff

Yeah 51 locations in 17 states.

11:33 – Kevin

17 states. Geographically are you guys extended in the south or are you more oriented in the south, the southwest or are you all over based on where opportunity resides and you guys find a great need there.

11:46 – Jeff

That’s really because we started in Texas. We have a pretty good presence in Texas with I think 17 locations here. But then we have California, we have 2 locations in California. We have 4 locations in New Jersey and then kind of all points in between we have locations. So we have a wide variety and a wide swath.

12:09 – Kevin

Texas is such a great market. Like every new franchise system that I’ve been involved in that’s where we start first. Like we just launched a franchise system that is in Flower Mound, Texas. The last company I was involved with was in Dallas. It’s a great market to go prove. You know, the viability of your model. I don’t know why. Like Texas and Florida, well Florida is awesome because there’s a lot of people there.

12:33 – Jeff

Yeah with Texas it’s the same. You’ve got good markets, large markets. You’ve got a really friendly business environment. You’ve got good employment laws, so it’s perfect. And Florida is similar to that. It’s just friendly to concepts.

12:49 – Kevin

Yeah, even like Florida, no state income tax woot, woot. You guys have that in Texas?

12:53 – Jeff

No, no income taxes.

12:54 – Kevin

The same in Texas. Your property taxes, yeah. Tax, tax, tax.

So let’s talk about the type of people that you guys attract from an operator perspective, from a franchisee perspective. Who are your operators? Are they people that are kind if mission-driven and they’ve had a certain cause that’s allowed them to be here. Are they more like opportunistic from a business opportunity perspective? Both, all the above none of the above?

13:25 – Jeff

It’s kind of all of the above. I think that we try and take the approach of you know I got into the business, didn’t have this call in to serve seniors initially. It was because I wanted to solve problems and I saw that it was a business opportunity. So we have tried to remain true to that and not to try to become that you’re a company you can only do if you’re mission driven. I feel that anyone doing this would have to be heartless to not eventually become mission driven. You end up like you love what you do. You experience what you do between the clients and our caregivers, that’s the thing that oftentimes people don’t associate with this type of business is that one, we’re solving the problems for the senior, we’re helping those families with peace of mind because now they’ve got someone involved that can help share the burden and help relieve that burden. I call it a burden because families won’t call it that. No well-minded kid is going to call their aged loved one a burden. But the reality is that it’s a lot of extra work that gets thrust upon us at some point in life that we weren’t expecting. So we help families but then on the caregiver’s side you know it’s great because every client we get we employee 1 to 5 caregivers depending upon the needs of that client. So we’re a job creator type of business and we’re helping with a group of people that typically really do need the work and that they appreciate the work, and they’re hard-working people. Our caregivers are fantastic. They care about what they do. They want to work and want to help, and the fact is that we’re actually helping transfer that wealth almost from the senior to the caregiver in the fact that she’s now got a full-time job. She is able to afford for the costs of living. She is able to help her children go through college, whatever she is trying to achieve and that’s a real aspect that people don’t always appreciate as much as I do. You know, I don’t own a thing. I don’t have any possession as someone in 33 years without the hard work of a caregiver at the end of a line. She is doing the work to help the company succeed, and I very much appreciate the work that they do and know that they are really who make us who we are.

15:48 – Kevin

Yeah, that’s cool. I think the same way. Because a lot of times we don’t get to meet the people that benefit from our businesses. When you’re in the franchise space it’s one of the challenges. It’s like man you’re a couple of degrees removed from the end customer, the person being served by your innovation, your concept, whatever you want to call it, and you know you’ve gotta look at this when you wake up everyday it’s like, "man I have multiple customers I’m coming to serve every day. I’m coming to serve the people who invested a lot of money to bring this concept to their local market, the franchisees. I’m serving the people that they serve. I’m serving their employees." I mean these folks you don’t get to know because you’re just typically serving the franchisees. And you recognize that without them it’s like man the business doesn’t really work.

16:43 – Jeff

Yeah and we’re a little different in a number of ways. That is from a franchisor perspective, you know I owned and operated multiple locations for nearly 11 years before we became a franchisor and I still today own and operate those locations so I have teams that work with me and some day-to-day but I am regularly attending team meetings with caregivers. I try and get the opportunity of doing an intake with our senior clients still today when I can when I’m visiting locations. So I try to keep my finger on the pulse and really stay involved to know that is going on. As a franchisor it also means that every decision I make as a franchisor is going to affect my business directly because i don’t do anything that I wouldn’t expect my franchisees to do. So I’m locked stepped with the way that they’re operating and we’re operating our offices in the same way.

17:40 – Kevin

Yeah. I always, you know, we have a good question that we always ask ourselves as a management team at my last company which was a family of franchise brands. We would always ask ourselves like if we were looking at a new initiative or something, anything, any change in the business we would say, "Is this good for our existing franchisees, yes or no?" This is a very, very good litmus test to determine whether or not we’re going to, so you built some software a couple of years ago. So the very first question that’s asked not is it good for the perspective franchisees, not is it good for our customer, because if it’s not good for the people that we basically our customer, the person that we have the financial relationship with, right, and that’s our franchisees. Probably 99 times out of 100, it’s going to be a no. There may be that one thing where it’s like man, yeah you’re right this doesn’t benefit them but it makes filling the blank and solves whatever problem. It’s a cool lens to look through and something that’s always stuck with me.

18:38 – Jeff

Yeah it’s smart. I know we include them in that. We look at it from client, caregiver, staff, franchise owner, and then us. We’re the last in line. If it’s something changing that makes our job easier then we’re not starting that. We’re the last.

18:59 – Kevin

You know, typical business owner stuff right? It doesn’t matter what business you’re in the others are always thinking they were the last, the least important.

19:08 – Jeff

Yeah, yeah.

19:09 – Kevin

Which if you’re service-minded which you’re in the service biz, man. You’re in the business of taking care of human beings. What’s more important than that whether they’re young or old, whoever they are, right, taking care of humans. Taking care of humans. You’re going to be last. There’s going to be a lot of people who have needs before you, and you’re patient. You’re willing to do the decades of work which is super cool.

Forget the franchise stuff, like what is the secret to longevity? As a guy whose been in my company for a decade and I do have aspirations to have at least another decade, like what do you think has kept you on the same path for so long? It‘s rare.

19:54 – Jeff

I think it’s a pretty, I don’t have an answer that is going to be different than others that have answered it in the same way and that’s enjoying what you do. You know, I absolutely enjoy what I do. I have the benefit of being an owner which I think is fantastic. In a franchise system, we get to create that level of ownership for others. Being an owner means you get to control your destiny. It’s in your hands at least. And, it’s up to you to be successful or not. And, I thrive on that opportunity. I believe that give me the ball, I’m going to make it happen. I need a team around me to work with me but I’m also going to be able to be that leader and make stuff happen. I absolutely enjoy every aspect. Again, you need perspective. The first caregiver ever hired, I was there. I was there when we launched our second location. I was there when I launched my fifth location. It was there that I decided to become a franchisor and every step of the way I had to change my role dramatically. What I was doing that I enjoyed as an entrepreneur with one location was fulfilling but then the second I got two locations my job completely changed. I wasn’t as involved with the clients. I had to focus on something else. When I had five locations it was completely different than running two locations. I tell people the story that is an interesting one because of my age at the time. When I moved from Odessa, Texas which is far west Texas for those people who don’t know Texas.

21:23 – Kevin

I know where Odessa is. You’ve got the huge like skyscraper in the middle of nothing, right? The low country.

21:29 – Jeff

It’s exactly. Yep, and I graduated from Odessa and my claim to fame is that I graduated in the class of Friday Night Lights 1989, so if you’re familiar with that book and the people in that book, those are all my classmates.

21:45 – Kevin

No kidding.

21:47 – Jeff

Yeah. My second location though was in McAllen, Texas, which was basically 8 hours away and I had to drive back and forth between those 2 locations. I could have flown. I could afford to fly but what I couldn’t do is that I could not rent a car. They would not let me rent a car because I was too young to rent the car back then. The point to that is that you have to find parts that you enjoy with the business because I was driving every other week 8 hours one way. I’d spend 2 weeks in the office, drive back to the other location for another 8-hour drive.

But then becoming a franchisor meant now that I had changed positions again. A franchise company doesn’t do what the service is that you’re franchising, you know. It has other people involved. So I had to once again reinvent myself and find the joy in that role. I often tell people that I long for a simpler life sometimes when it was just running one location and helping people directly and feeling that impact but I find that you know I could only help so many people when I did that and to become a franchisor and successful in that process we’re now serving so many more people than I could have ever done without the franchise model and to me that’s absolutely fulfilling and an important role in society, if you will, in that sense and a bigger picture. So longevity is about being excited about what you’re doing, enjoying what you’re doing and knowing that it makes some kind of a difference.

23:27 – Kevin

I love the fact that you’ve been pliable yet you’ve reinvented yourself out of necessity. The business pushes you in one way and you’re willing to accept that and provide what the business needed even if you didn’t know exactly what it was, you had to figure it out. But that’s really cool because I think a lot, and maybe this is the difference between entrepreneurs and people who aren’t but entrepreneurs know that stagnation and staying comfortable is going to be the death of us. I still say it’s not completely different. 365 days from now I’m going to be irrelevant, it’s just a fact. Particularly in the industry I’m in which is marketing and digital, it moves. Everything I knew a year ago is substantially outdated, the basic concepts. It is what it is. This is awesome. This is cool. If people want to learn more about you and maybe operate their own location or something, what’s the best place for them to go to learn more?

24:25 – Jeff

The best way to learn about us and my journey is to go to our website But me personally I have a linked-in account, Jeff Salter. You can look me up there. If anyone wants to reach out directly that’s an easy way to connect with me. Our website shares a lot of what we are, who we are, what our history was, and is, so that’s a good way for people to reach out.

24:50 – Kevin

If I’m still the host of this show in 7 years we’re going to be back for your 40th anniversary because it’s rare and it’s cool and it’s noble, and in a world where I think there are a lot of people that switch projects all the time, and things like that, it’s just cool. It’s really cool. I‘m super thankful that you came on the show and showed us a different way of doing business which is, hey man, like you can commit your career to one company and lean on it and have a full life, and there’s something that is elegant in the simplicity around that even though it has been anything but simple.

25:28 – Jeff

Yeah hopefully in that 40 years. I don’t know if they told you what I did for my 30-year anniversary, what we did there.

25:37 – Kevin

No what was it? Did you jump out of an airplane?

25:40 – Jeff

No, no. I rode a bike to every single one of our locations across the country. Over four months I rode 9,500 miles to visit each location. So that’s all I did.

25:53 – Kevin

We should have started with that story because that could have been the whole episode. Are you a cyclist by the way, or does that...

26:02 – Jeff

I decided to pick it up and then do it so it was, maybe I’ll have a follow-up episode in the future to talk about that but it was a crazy journey and an amazing experience.

26:17 – Kevin

Why’d you leave the gold for the end. All right, we’re going to wrap up the show. We’re going to trade notes. I want to hear about this because that sounds like the type of crazy thing that I would do just because I love surprising people I love, things that nobody else really thinks about doing. So man, that’s really cool and we’ll have to have you back on the show later.

26:35 – Jeff

Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. It’s been great.

26:38 – Kevin

My pleasure. We appreciate you. Ladies and gentlemen, you know the drill, if you’re a regular listener. Two forms of payment, number one share the show with somebody who cares. Share it, share it with someone who cares. Text this episode to somebody right ow. Number two, smash the subscribe button. It’s the only way we know that you’re listening. Until next time, I’m your host Kevin Oldham. Have a phenomenal week and be well.

Tags: Caring Senior Service News