Caring Senior Service was recently featured on an episode of FranchisOR Bust. Scott Suryan, Director of Franchise Development, and Michael Watson, Regional Sales Manager, speak with host Trevor Emerson about how Caring stands out from the local competition.
Listen to the full podcast here or read the transcript below.
0:00: Trevor Emerson
Welcome to FrancisORBust. I am Trevor Emerson here to guide you through the world of franchising with our amazing clients each week. Join me as always.
Katie, I’m here to laugh at Trevor’s jokes and spin the wheel to find out if your business will franchise or it will bust.
0:26: Trevor Emerson
Tune in each week. Don’t listen to me. I don’t know what I am talking about, but that is why I have people on every single week that do know what they are talking about. We are going to tell some jokes. We are going to have some drinks. We are going to spin the wheel and it’s going to be most of all informative for you as a franchisor or franchisee. I super appreciate you listening. If you like it, subscribe, tune in, share, all that stuff, and we can’t wait to see you on the next FranchisORBust. FranchisORBust was sponsored this week and every week by LSM, the world leader in online advertising for the franchise space. Please visit us at www.LSM.works and let us go to work for you and your franchise brand. All right it’s time again. It’s FrancisORBust time. Here I am, your fearful leader, Trevor, coming at ya, ready to roll, and fortunately as always I have my fearless co-host Katie joining us. Katie, good to see you.
Thank you. Here I am, fearless, ready to not say much.
1:41: Trevor Emerson
Oh but if the question is asked watch out boys. When she chimes in watch out. I got to say we are super excited to have two amazing guests today, a FranchisORBust first to have two folks on from the same brand. From Caring Senior Service we have got Scott and we have got Michael. Scott and Michael, thank you so much for being here. How are you guys doing?
2:04: Scott Suryan
Good Trevor, thanks for having us on.
2:05: Trevor Emerson
Absolutely. So excited. So we are going to dive in. We are going to get to understand a little bit about Caring Senior Service. We are going to understand a little bit about what you all are looking to accomplish at the franchisor level, how you are going to grow, some things that maybe make you guys a little bit unique, how you are able to really service you know not only your customers but support your franchisees, etc., etc. So before we get kind of rocking and rolling into all that stuff, if you guys wouldn’t mind we would love to know just a little bit more about Caring Senior Service, what exactly do you guys do, obviously you are caring for seniors which we all very much appreciate certainly, but maybe let us know a little bit about you know what you guys do, what your model is and then we will kind of progress on from there.
2:51: Scott Suryan
Sure. Caring Senior Service has been around for well over 30 years. We were started by a gentleman named Jeff Salter and our business model is very simplistic in nature. We are a non-medical in-home care company that specializes in taking care of folks in their own home. So, a lot of our clinics come from the 65 and over demographic but we can definitely take care of anyone 18 and up and it’s all non-medical so it is al respite care. Whether it is companionship or errands, light home chores, things of that nature we are more than willing and able to do those things.
3:31: Trevor Emerson
That is obviously a service and something that everyone would kind of look at as saying that is kind of any lasting product, right, like there is always going to be a need, if you will, for seniors to be cared for so talk to me a little bit then about you’ve got this large pool of clientele potentially, how do you all go out there and really get the message out and kind of differentiate yourselves in the space to help people understand what they are going to get from Caring Senior Service versus maybe some other folks out there?
4:00: Scott Suryan
As a franchisor looking for franchisees or as franchisees themselves looking for new clients for their area?
4:07: Trevor Emerson
Great question. Let’s do both. Let’s understand both. So, first talk me thorough maybe how it is that you would go about helping a potential franchisee understand the benefits of coming to be a part of Caring Senior Service and then, Michael, this would probably be more for you, how do the franchisees themselves really differentiate themselves and help people understand why it is so important, and why their loved one would be cared for so well with Caring Senior Service?
4:34: Scott Suryan
Okay, what we really talk about with the franchise candidate is super simple in the respect that we’re really transparent, we’re really picky about who we bring in. We are not big fans of churn. We don’t want to get the franchise fee and say “see ya when we see ya”. We’re very unique in the respect of having well over 30 years of the same ownership and again that is Jeff Salter who started believe it or not back in 1991 and he was a computer science major in college. He didn’t even have a health care background but he realized back in 1991 that there was such a need even then for this type of helping that we do with folks. And you know a lot of folks call it senior sitting or adult daycare but it really isn’t. We really want to build relationships with our clients and so that is what we stress to our candidates.
The way we really come across with that is the fact that our owner and our VP both own franchise in our franchise family so not only do they walk the walk but they talk the talk, and that is very rare in a lot of different franchise industries but specifically in our home care industry that there aren’t a lot of folks that have number one owned the same business outright for 30 years without any private equity taking him over, but also number two believing in the business model so much that they actually own a franchise and are actively involved with those franchises, and they are not even necessarily local to our home office in San Antonio. Our VP has got one in Texas and one in Illinois. Our CEO, Jeff Salter, has got five or six. So, they are spread all across the country.
We also talk about something that is near and dear to our heart too and that is our technologist innovation which is hands-down the best in the industry and I can say that because we are truly the only tablet-based home care company in our industry period, and we know this because we built the software and when I say we, I really mean Jeff Salter because of his computer science background, but he built Tendio which is basically our electronic central nervous system and with Tendio combined with our tablet-based technology, we can literally do everything a business owner needs from bringing in clients, bringing in caregiver candidates all the way through to billing and payment, so we can run the entire business off of Tendio on a tablet. That is absolutely unheard of in our industry. So, those few things alone really set us apart from the competition and the fact that we really truly believe that we want to do all the heavy lifting for you. We want you to build relationships. This business, this industry is all about relationships as Michael, I am sure is going to talk about in a second. So, we really believe in a blue collar mentality, work hard, stay humble, roll up your sleeves, get involved and want to make a difference in the community and your client’s lives. Michael, I’ll let you take over the soapbox from there.
7:42: Michael Watson
I think the question for me is what makes us different and what differentiates us just in the space. It really boils down to our owners really have a passion for taking care of seniors. The majority of them come in and they have some type of story that directly has impacted their lives whether it is their grandparents or mom and day, they were looking for care themselves and really didn’t find anything that provided the level of care that they wanted for their parents. The may have stumbled upon Caring Senior Service just based on circumstances within their own lives.
Scott has mentioned Jeff Salter a couple of times and so that is our fearless leader as you Trevor kind of stated that you are the fearless leader but that is Jeff. You know, everything kind of permeates down from him. He started this organization 30 years ago because he was working at a home health care company and he kept getting phone calls where they said, "hey can you take care of mom, I just need somebody to come and cook dinner or I just need somebody to help give her a bath." He said “no, we don’t do that, we don’t do that”, so probably about after the fifth call he said “yes we do that” and he asked one of the caregivers at the home health care company would they be able to go in and help a family with those types of tasks, activities of daily living, and so that is really how Caring Senior Service got its start.
From those humble beginnings it has made all the difference with us because he really didn’t know, like Scott said, he didn’t know much about the medical industry so he just did what made sense to him. For instance, one of the things that we do different than everybody else is that we introduce our caregivers to our clients so management is going to go into the home and make a caregiver introduction and it doesn’t matter if that family has been with us for years every time we get a new caregiver servicing that client the manager is going to go out and introduce that caregiver to the client. They spend about an hour at the home making sure that the caregiver is familiarized with everything that needs to be done and then also just making sure that the family is comfortable with that caregiver. That is just one of the things that makes us different and something that Jeff started doing from the start.
9:56: Trevor Emerson
So what I am taking away from what both of you guys just said is (A) You have got a great foundation. Your foundation is built on someone who had a vision, someone who had a passing for making sure that really putting senior care first and what is needed and what was maybe missing inside of the industry. Michael, like you said, there was a hole there that he recognized and say hey this is the direction we should be going, and really pushed you guys in that direction to really have a service that is excellent for your potential customers. Something I also found interesting Scott that you were bringing up is the technology piece. When we speak to different franchisors that is one thing that we always tend to bring up is how were you leveraging technology. How re you leveraging technology to really be successful? How are you leveraging it to make sure that you are not only providing your customers with a great experience but you’re helping your franchisees be that much more successful because of the technology you are leveraging. So Scott, you mentioned it but maybe unpack it a little bit. What features about the tablet that you’re using and things like that really help the franchisee and then subsequently really help the person that is being cared for?
11:04: Scott Suryan
So it all really boils down to Tendio more so than the tablet so the software that was designed and again it is Tendio is our own proprietary software so literally Jeff Salter created this. Like I said it completely makes a paperless office. The tablet is just a nondescript android just generic tablet but it does a ton of things. Not only can it track applicants so we are talking like if Michael has a care manager at one of the locations that he helps to oversee that care manager can hop on the tablet with Tendio and see where those applicants that our own hub services is bring them to interview for caregivers. So that is huge. That is realtime up-to-the-minute applicant tracking.
It also will onboard that applicant if they get through the entire process including national background checks and thins like that. It is all encompassed in Tendio, and then on the client’s side we can onboard a client. What that will do is we will literally create an individualized care plan for that client. We will also do a home inspection for safety issues, things of that nature, and then on top of that there is a family portal so that loved ones, obviously we have to worry about HIPAA laws, but the loved ones are allowed access to certain information to see how the care plan went for that day or you know is mom or dad or grandma and grandpa doing well. the days of the three-ring binders and the loose-leaf notebook are gone for us. We have been doing this since 2018 and there is nobody out there that even comes close.
We also have the HR function as well. It stays at the house of the client actually, so these caregivers are going to clock in and clock out at the client’s home, the caregiver is going to add the notes from the visit at the client’s home. We also can do referral service management so your marketing person that goes out and findings referrals can add that into Tendio as well too. The caregiver can look at their schedule, the hours they have worked, what they haven’t worked to make sure the days and times jive so that they are getting paid correctly. We can bill the client so every two weeks ACH through Tendio out of their account, and there is also detailed reporting so Michael or whoever at the boots-on-the-ground level can run reports about just about anything.
Last but not least, we have a video calling mechanism within this tablet as well too so as you know in this industry loved ones live a long way away from each other and so maybe they can’t get to grandma’s or grandpa’s doctors appointment so our caregiver is going to take them to the appointment, then there is a video calling feature where that loved one can come in through a video and be there during the doctor’s visit and talk about how we are going to implement the prognosis or what we are going to do for the plan to help them with this new condition that they might have contracted or they need to work on. So, there are a lot of great things inside the technology of Tendio and again if we want to change something it is a phone call to our CEO. It is not a ticket into a third party company somewhere else and wait. This is instantaneous, well I shouldn’t say instantaneous but it is pretty darn quick with change and adaptation. Hopefully that makes sense. I know I kind of get all fired up about (chuckles) about Tendio because I am telling you man it is an absolute game-changer out there and people just don’t know the power of this software.
14:32: Trevor Emerson
I think that is amazing. So from what I am hearing from that side of the world its especially attractive to you know like a potential franchisee who is looking at what are the differentiators between maybe Caring Senior Service and some of the other competitors that might be out there that Tendio platform is really, really helpful. Michael, why don’t you tell us a little bit about maybe some experience you have seen with how that translates to customer satisfaction, you know where the folks being cared for how does the Tendio platform and that process integration that you all have with your caregivers really resulting in better and more improved care for the seniors?
15:11: Michael Watson
Well one thing I can tell you without a doubt that Tendio has helped with and that is caregiver no show, and so in the past, and this is just you know industry wide in the past a caregiver may be late for a shift or maybe something happens and the caregiver doesn’t even show up for a shift. You know, sometimes seniors don’t want to get their caregivers in trouble and so they may not call. Maybe they haven’t had coverage for a couple of days. Well Tendio eliminates that because Tendio allows for the caregiver to be able to clock in directly into the tablet in realtime and it is geofenced and so anytime a caregiver clocks in further than 100 meters from that tablet it is going to alert someone in the office so that allows us to take action really quickly. We are able to say, "okay caregiver A didn’t show up for this shift lets call the client and find out what is going on. Let’s call the family and let them know." In the meantime we’re dispatching another caregiver out there or our care manager is on the way out there to the home, and so it really does minimize the amount of time that a senior may be left alone and that is very critical of course in our industry especially when medications need to be given. Those medications have to be given at a certain time and is generally maybe at the beginning of the shift, maybe at the end of the shift but Tendio allows for us to be on top of it whereas in the past that might not have been the case.
I’m a bit of a dinosaur so I was here before we had Tendio. There were a lot of complaints. We had a cookie-cutter type of platform that was kind of like the industry standard but like Scott said, we couldn’t just call and make changes because that platform was being used in home health, it was being used in home care, it was being used in various different other industries and so if they made a change they had to make it across the board and it would affect everyone. In addition to that, we would be giving away inside information on how we operate, how we function.
17:16: Trevor Emerson
Awesome. You don’t typically associate a lot of excellent technology and a lot of excellent innovation side of technology when it comes to senior care and home care. Those two worlds don’t typically jive together in most people’s perception so I think that one thing I am picking up on anyway which I think is really cool about Caring Senior Service is you all have kind of identified a gap in at-home care and what that could be and then y’all also identified a gap in the technology piece and where that can be and where that can take you.
17:48: Scott Suryan
And Trevor quite honestly what it does, and we haven’t even talked about how it can help the caregiver with learning new skills and things like that and we have a rewards program as well attached to Tendio for the caregivers but what it does is creates efficiencies inside the franchisee’s business so again they can work on their business and in their business at the same time but again it goes back to creating those relationships because we know deep down and maybe it is a little corny but this is how we operate at Caring Senior Service is that this could be your mom or your dad and you want the best for them. You want that caregiver or that company that you are going to pay on an hourly basis that is going to be with your loved one that they are trustworthy, that they are focused on that individual for that said amount of time and this efficiency with Tendio and all the other things that we have going on at Caring Senior Service allows for them to focus on the relationship whether that be with the client or the caregiver or in Michael’s case with all his sales people going out and finding new referrals.
18:52: Trevor Emerson
I love that I am even learning about this because Katie is going to have to start taking care of me sooner than later. When I am fully broken down we can just implement this software and it would be fantastic. (laughs) She is really excited for that day to come. So okay, cool. So you know we have established a couple of points here that are really fundamental and excellent for any successful franchise brand, and that is you have outstanding leadership, you have passionate leadership, you all clearly have a great culture around that leadership or you two wouldn’t be speaking so highly of what that is and how it functions. You have also been able to leverage technology to your benefit both when it comes to attracting new franchisees which is super important for any brand to grow as well as insuring that the franchisees themselves are set up for great success, their relationships are excellent, and you all can really manage inside that ecosystem. Maybe talk to me a little bit then about just where does Caring Senior Service go from here. Obviously you have a great model and you’re on our way and doing well, what are the growth plans for the brand, and where do you guys see yourself in the next maybe five years or so?
19:54: Scott Suryan
If you haven’t heard the stat already I’ll be shocked but if you have it’s even bigger than what we are even saying on a podcast right now but there are 12,000 people a day in the United States that turn 65 years old. It is a massive amount of people and we still have roughly 15 or 20 years more of population surge in this demographic so we clearly know that we are ramping on a very, very big trajectory and we are looking to double our current numbers in all it four years. So, we are going to go from about 50 to 52 to over 100 in four years and we don’t think that’s going to be a problem at all. We know that it is coming into what Michael said we’re finding that the franchisees that we talk to or the candidates that we talk to have had situations where they have had to try to find caregivers. They’ve tried to fine someone to help mom or dad or mom or dad if they are not the client they’re the spouse of the client and they need quite honestly some decompression time so they can go out and run the errands that they can’t do now, so it is only going to get worse and I will be candid, everyone at HQ like I said all the franchisees we’ve all had personal experiences with it so we know it.
At the end of the day we want to bring our best foot forward with everybody so we’re going to continue to strive to like I said double in the next four years. we do national and regional meetings to get the feedback from the franchisees so we can, you know the goal posts move from time to time, so we need to be in sync with our franchisees to know how we’re going to be better not only at the headquarter side of it but as the franchise family as a whole. A vast majority of our clients are private pay clients. We are growing our regional and national alliances right now and we have well over 600 territories available across the continental US and that even includes some states that we’re not in because of licensure issues or whatever the case may be. So we have a ton of growth in front of us and quite honestly we need folks like you and Katie to help spread the word because I think we are a sleeping giant and then just no one knows what we’re about and I joke with folks. We don’t need to be the number one name in the industry. There is room for everybody. A matter of fact, I don’t believe there are enough companies doing what we’re doing right now because of the vast majority of seniors are yet to get here but I joke we don’t have to be the Coke or the Pepsi, we’re okay being Snapple, right? So we just need to be the one that people remember the most. It’s a passion we have not only for our franchisees but for our clients and I think it shows and that is how we kind of live our lives blue collar, work hard and stay humble.
22:37: Trevor Emerson
For sure. Michael do you want to kind of leave us with a few closing thoughts about just what is exciting you or what maybe you’re excited about for the growth and just the broader involvement that Caring Senior Service is having as you all grow and inside the franchise community, etc?
22:53: Michael Watson
One of the things I am excited about is we’re kind of in the same vein of technologist and Tendio, you know, we’re always trying to push forward and allow seniors to be independent. That is one of the things we really push is that you’re not going to lose your independence if you come on board with Caring Senior Service. We are testing some new technology, some motion sensors, motion detector, and some different technologies that look at seniors habits and if a habit changes then we’re alerted and so we are trying to add on some different functions and features that has happened to those types of technologies to make us even better so that we can still have eyes and ears in the home and making sure the family has peace of mind even if we can’t be there physically with the caregiver. So I am super excited about that. We are looking at some additional finance options for seniors to be able to pay for services and so we’re just continuing to look at every avenue possible to try to continue to allow seniors to remain in their homes as much as possible. From the executive team on down our purpose is to allow seniors to be able to remain healthy, happy and at home so whatever it takes to do that, I know Jeff has got his finger on the pulse and just continuing to provide great care for our seniors.
24:19: Trevor Emerson
So guys, Caring Senior Service, I have learned a lot. I think we all have and I think the key here in my opinion if I’m going to wrap it up and put a bow on what we have been talking about and that is we have got excellence when it comes to the fundamental of any successful business and that is strong leadership, strong care level about how you’re going to provide the service you’re going to provide. We are providing it to and really caring about that customer which is our loved ones, our seniors. You are also leveraging technology that is unique in this space which is phenomenal. Anyone who is out there who may be curious about why Caring Senior Service is something that could be unique that technology leverage is there and is something that permeates throughout the experience not just for the customer but also the franchisee and those who are in support roles like Michael with sale, etc, so phenomenal job there and then you know the leadership team like you mentioned actively taking role and wanting to say hey we have got plans, we’re going to grow, we are going to be the industry leader over time in this space, that’s what we want to do and we’re going to get engaged with our community around us to make it happen. So, Scott, Michael, what can I say, it’s going to be a franchise success not a bust. That’s why we’re on FranchisORBust. We want to know that you guys are going to succeed and from what we’ve talked about here today, there is no way that you are going to fail and so thank you so much for being with us. Katie, as always biting questions, and I hope you guys could have handled it and I’m glad you were there to listen. We were exited to have both of you. Thank you again so very much for your time.
25:55 Scott Suryan