Interview with Rob Cantrell of Senior Helpers

Doron Straus | Corporate Trainer – Business Alliance, Inc

I recently had the good fortune to speak with Rob Cantrell, EVP of Franchise Development for Senior Helpers.  My conversation with Rob was very interesting and quite insightful.

DS: Hi Rob and thank you for taking the time to speak with me about the Broker-Developer relationship.  It is important that our brokers understand what it is that developers look for in lead referrals and generalized expectations from the broker network.  Thanks again for your time.  Let’s get started.

DS: What do you feel is most important for a broker to understand regarding the referral process, in a general sense, whether it is financial qualifications, skill sets, cultural “fit” or other aspects. Then, secondly, what information are you looking for, from our brokers for Senior Helpers specifically?

RC: On the top of our list would be financial requirements followed by readiness.  The candidate must have a sense of urgency. Ideally the broker will help set expectations through a timeline since we are looking for a 60–90-day max for a commitment.  Anything longer, as the saying goes, “time kills deals.”  There are occasional outliers.

DS: Do you like getting a questionnaire or application of sorts from the brokers?

RC: Yes, I do appreciate a questionnaire. I do focus on financials, job experience, military background, since we do participate in VetFran, timeline (sense of urgency) and other interests that they have checked off by rankings.  I like getting into a good conversation for background details of that candidate.

DS: Let’s talk about behavioral assessments, such as DISC, Taylor Protocols or Zorakle, which is the one we use at BAI.  Do you find assessments to be helpful?

RC: We certainly appreciate your assessments, but we have our own called Predictive Index. It focuses on Dominance, Extroversion, Patience, and Formality and identifies 17 different personality types and attributes.  It helps us learn about a person’s management style and it helps us in presenting to the client. We also use it to match candidates with other franchisees as they go through the validation process. There are three personality types that will have a low probability of success, where one is an absolute “knockout, the “artisan”.  The “artisan” is passive, has a hard time making decisions and gets “caught in the weeds.”  The survey helps us learn how someone will be an operator and how they will conform to rules and structure. If your brokers want to do give an assessment, let them summarize the results of the assessment and send it to me, rather than sending the full Zorakle.  That would be helpful.

DS: You mentioned cultural fit previously.  A lot of folks have money and business acumen, but many brokers do not understand about cultural fit. Can you share your thoughts on this?

RC: We want businesspeople who are passionate about “doing good by doing good by others.”  Many of our franchisees have a loved one, a senior parent, who is using the senior care services, that is a common thread among most of our franchisees.  Our franchisees want to help others, they are “people persons.” It is more than just about the money.  They have empathy and business acumen.

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 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 Senior Helpers. As a corollary to that question, where does licensing regulation play into this marketspace with respect to what a broker needs to know?

RC: Our model requires an office space, typically starting at around 1000sf, set up with a room that looks like a bedroom, complete with DME (durable medical equipment).  It is set up to act as a training area so that all franchisees can train their caregivers on site.  There are a lot of brands in this space, I would suggest that brokers have their top three and stick with them.  If I work on a candidate that looks at 2 other brands, it’s a ringer for me, I can easily differentiate our brand. We are a non-medical option.  With medical, you have much higher liability along with a much higher cost of entry that is associated with a medical option. Even though we are non-medical, we offer extensive training and can certify caregivers in a host of other areas, such as dementia, Parkinson’s, COPD and Stroke.  These are genuine certification programs; our Parkinson’s certification is done with Johns Hopkins. Our Dementia and Alzheimer’s certification is part of our Senior Gems program, which is endorsed by both the Alzheimer’s and Dementia foundations. So, we are kind of an in-between model medical-nonmedical.

As for licensing, some states do require an RN to be on staff, but the franchisee does not have to be that person.

DS: What is Senior Helper’s doing to stay competitive and current with respect to process and technology?

RC: We have a software program that will tell the probability of the trajectory of a patient that they are on, health wise and then we can share that information with the caregiver.  It’s called “Life Profile” software and it is a fact-based program that scores the senior on their current condition compared to other seniors.  Another program we have is called “Hierology.”  It is recruiting software with AI. It provides scheduling as well as other features. We also have a virtual college with 300 courses, many required by the states that offer career pathways for caregivers to promote them.  We constantly want to build up our caregivers with continuous advancement opportunities.

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

RC: Strong communication with me in the back channel is very important.  What is going on with the client?  There is a lot of “sling and stick-it” mentality where brokers think that the developer will close everything, so let’s just throw stuff to see what sticks. There also needs to be that trust factor between the broker and the developer. One of your brokers that we have a lot of success with is very good with that!  It is important to build relationships with franchisors.  If you do that, we will respond to you very quickly (again, referring to one of our successful brokers).

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.

RC: Our best owners build an environment among their entire team. They appreciate their team and build a subculture.  They invest in people, care about people.  They are leaders, take charge. They are the “pied pipers!” They understand the people connection. They are empathetic and compassionate businesspeople.

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

RC: No money, slinging stickers, and lack of spousal support

DS: Lastly, if there is anything else you would like to add that you think could benefit the brokers.  Not so much a pitch for their candidates, but rather, about what information would benefit our brokers.

RC: Get to know your candidate. I hate it when I know the client better than the broker! Be sure to understand their fear, identify their pain points, mitigate their fear.  Truly care what is best for your client, not just looking at the dollar sign.

DS: Rob, thank you so much for spending this time with me.  Hopefully the benefit will be mutual in that our brokers will gain a deeper insight as to what a franchise developer looks for and expects and a benefit for you as we will put this interview in front of our broker network and hopefully our network will better understand the professionalism and benefits of Senior Helpers.  Thank you and have a nice weekend Rob!

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