An Interview with Jenna Perese of Homewatch CareGivers

I recently had the opportunity to have a wonderful conversation with Jenna Perese, Franchise Development Manager of Homewatch CareGivers. Here is a recap of my conversation with Jenna.

DS – Jenna, thank you for taking the time to meet with me.  Our conversation will help our brokers understand Homewatch CareGivers on a deeper level, which, in turn, will hopefully generate more qualified and quality referrals for you from our broker network. Let’s get started.

DS – Jenna, what do you feel is most important for a broker to address regarding the referral of a lead in a general sense, whether financial qualifications, skillsets, cultural “fit”, etc. Then, secondly, what information you are looking for from our brokers for Homewatch CareGivers specifically. Do you have a preference regarding the questionnaires provided by our brokers?  

JP – Brokers need to understand that not everyone is a fit for a home care company.  You are handling people at a very vulnerable stage in their lives.  You need compassion. You must also be passionate about the business.  The candidate must be someone who wants to do this for the greater good.  They want to give back to their community, make an impact. Brokers must understand the WHY of their candidate since most people do not come in wanting a senior home care business!

Those brokers that use a shorter form of a questionnaire will also supplement with a robust cover letter that goes beyond the basics. 

DS – Maybe a little discussion concerning the use of behavioral assessments, such as the Taylor Protocol, DISC or Zorakle (that is the one we use). Do you find assessments to be helpful? Why or why not?

JP – We do not administer our own behavioral assessment, but we do appreciate when we get one from a broker, whether it is a Zorakle or DISC profile or another.  We can learn if a candidate is extroverted, or are they friendly and have a more relaxed personality, those that may enjoy building teams (very important in our business).

DS – I mentioned cultural “fit” above, maybe a little deeper dive into that aspect.  A lot of folks have money and business acumen; however, many brokers do not understand where “culture” fits in. Many ignore it entirely. Maybe you can share your thoughts on that as it relates to Homewatch.

JP – Our culture is one of collaboration and caring with strong peer support.  All of our franchisees, wherever they may be located, are willing to share thoughts and help others.  We have a Brand Ambassador Program where franchisees offer to allow other franchisees to visit their location and shadow them.  We offer regional meetings in addition to our main conference.  Everything is designed within Homewatch to foster a culture of comradery, community, and support. We even have meetings where we combine franchisees of sister brands to foster referrals between different business services and possibly even cross-branding opportunities for diversified investment opportunities. We have a Presidents Club which is an invite from the President to  zees not just based upon financial metrics but rather, recognition of those franchisees who benefit the entire system with their energy, and support. 

DS – What should our brokers understand regarding the competitive nature of the senior care marketspace.  We know that there are three different models related to senior care: home-based care, brick-and-mortar and agency referral, then there is medical and non-medical, but even with all of these choices, what can you share that would provide a greater understanding to our broker community?  You can answer in general terms (industry-wide and you can also answer specifically, as it relates to Homewatch.)  

JP – One of the biggest differentiators that Homewatch offers addresses recruitment and retention of caregivers.  We have a dedicated Workforce Solutions Team. The industry turnover rate of caregivers is 77%.  Within Homewatch it is 33%. We can do this through recruitment and retention innovation programs.  We explore the important factors, including: Where do I hire?  How do I hire? How do I retain them? How much do I pay them?  Our owners use many different methods to retain good quality caregivers- positive reinforcement, gift cards and other incentives, some zors offer health benefits.  Annual Caregiver of the Year award. We celebrate 100-day milestone of a caregiver. Additionally, we offer career path opportunities. 

DS – Explain a day in the life of an owner?

JP – Candidates should know that there are two full-time efforts required in this business.  One role is in operations which involve recruitment, scheduling, invoicing, and billing.  The other role is in sales and marketing. Visiting potential clients for diagnostic assessments, understanding, and building relationships with hospitals, physician practices, senior living facilities to cultivate business.  These two positions can be an owner and a hire, or a couple, or hiring both positions from the start.

DS – What should a broker know regarding finances required?

JP – Keep in mind that in addition to the franchise fee of $50K, we would like to include working capital for the first 3 months of operating costs of between $25-55K. This working capital is included in our initial investment range of $92K-$154K.  For financing purposes, lenders tend to want to see a liquidity of $80K, although most of our franchisees self-fund or utilize a ROBS.

DS – What is Homewatch doing to stay competitive and current with respect to process and technology?

JP – We are launching a tech forward solution  that is unique to the industry.  Homewatch Connect allows us to supplement direct care services getting a client into care earlier and keeping them longer in the comfort of their home. The customer will have a box set up with a downloaded app that will allow the customer to get telehealth services and real-time biometric data such as blood pressure monitoring, glucose monitoring and other biometric points that will be transmitted directly to the franchise so that relevant assessments can be made in real-time for the benefit of the client.  Details such as how many times a door is opened can be monitored for those customers who have dementia-related issues. This advanced technology will also allow visibility for family members.  Tech Forward Solutions are truly innovative within the home care environment. We have also realigned our service lines under Homewatch CareGivers Total Care Solutions.  We have a couple new lines that focus on active care and wellness care as well as a more robust specialized services that focuses on higher acuity levels. 

DS – In your opinion, what are the brokers that do the most placements with Homewatch have in common (BAI or others)?  What are they doing to maximize their success with the brand?

JP – The brokers who tend to understand the importance of strong communications with me are the ones who do the best.  Those brokers who see our relationship as collaborative, with strong communications and on-going regular feedback do the best.  We are a team, not just a broker and franchisor.

DS – It would also be nice to know what your most successful franchise operators have in common, their traits, their skill set backgrounds, the type of culture you are looking for. This will further aid in the education of your brand to our brokers. 

JP– Our top dogs first and foremost have passion. They understand the importance of developing a culture.  They are good at building teams; most do not have a medical background and that tends to be helpful.  80% of our zees do not come from a medical background.

DS – What are the biggest challenges that you experience from broker leads?

JP- Quality, quality, quality! Sometimes I cannot even get them on the phone or when I do, they ghost.  This boils down to spending the time needed with the candidate to explain in a bit greater detail about our brand, our culture, the expectations.  Prepare your candidate for my call.  Ideally, I do not want to know more about your candidate than you do!

DS – Jenna, thank you for the generous amount of time that you gave me.  I feel that this interview will help our brokers understand Homewatch at a deeper level, which, hopefully, will result in more qualified leads to you from our brokers!

JP- Thank you!  The pleasure was all mine!

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