Seniors Assistance Franchise Could Easily Triple Number of Franchisees, CEO Says

feature_cover_1.jpgWhen it comes to growth, this senior assistance franchise wants to see a threefold increase in franchisees.

Based in Scottsdale, AZ, Assisted Living Locators currently has 105 franchises spread throughout 34 states, but there is so much more room for growth.

“We could literally triple our size,” founder and CEO Angela Olea said during a recent interview. “We’re at 105, we could easily be at 300.”

Florida, with its large senior population, and California are areas that are wide open for growth, she noted, along with regions of the country where they haven’t gotten into yet. 

A Different Kind of Seniors Assistance

Assisted Living Locators is a different kind of franchise when it comes to senior assistance.

“The quick analogy of what we do is we’re like a realtor for the elderly,” Olea explained. “We help locate assisted living homes or care communities that seniors need based on a combination of factors that match the senior’s financial, medical, social and location needs.”

Families contact Assisted Living Locators and explain those needs. Then, the company’s assisted living consultants -- the franchisees -- go to work, searching a combined local and national database of communities and homes to find the best matches for the senior’s needs.  They walk the families through the process of comparing choices and helping the family make the right choice for their senior. Ultimately, it’s the family who makes the final decision.

The service is free for the families, with the franchisee getting paid by the facilities when a senior is matched with them and moves in.

Assisted Living Locators has contracts with the United States’ top seniors care facilities including Brookdale Senior Living and Atria Senior Living, as well as thousands of care homes across the country. The company also works with non-medical home care providers if a senior requires that type of service.

Getting Started

Olea’s background is working as a registered nurse caring for seniors. She noted that seniors who would be discharged from the hospital would often end up back in the hospital soon after because they were not getting the proper care after being discharged.

Frustrated, she spoke with a social worker to find out what the process was to get seniors in proper care facilities once they were discharged from the hospital. To her dismay, the social worker told her that all they did was give seniors brochures to various care facilities and left it up to them.

But, none of the facilities that seniors were being pointed to had been vetted by anyone, meaning neither the social workers nor anyone else at the hospital knew if these facilities were any good.

That bothered Olea and she decided to do something about it. She started by researching places in her area that catered to seniors, so she could personally vet them herself. The more she researched, the more she discovered all the options seniors had. Then the proverbial lightbulb went off and the idea for Assisted Living Locators came to her.

“It was a little spark that became an inferno when frustration turned to inspiration,” she said.

In 2003, she created a website and started her database of senior facilities in her local area. Shortly after she launched the business, she started receiving calls from all over the country needing a service like Assisted Living Locators.

That’s when she was introduced to the world of franchising. Together with an attorney from Greenberg Traurig she broke new ground in the referral and placement field.

“I created the first referral and placement franchise in the U.S,” Olea said. “I had to overcome a lot of barriers. There are several other placement and referral franchises that are out there now, but it’s my recipe. I wrote the cookbook.”

The Recipe

Through a lot of brainstorming and trial-and-error, Olea came up with a franchising model that works. Unlike other franchises that are primarily based on population. Her franchise is not only based on population, but also on how many senior facilities are in each area.

Once she established the best way to do things, she started franchising in 2006.

Every new franchisee comes to Scottsdale for five days of classroom and field training where they learn the finer points of networking and how to properly vet a seniors facility to make sure it is good quality and find out what the staff is like, what services they offer, the size and type of the building, how many people live there and any other information that would be useful to families looking for a new home for a senior relative.

After the franchisee returns home, they are privy to a 13-week one-on-one coaching course while they open shop. When they hit certain preset benchmarks in their business, a team from Assisted Living Locators will then travel to the franchisee’s location for two more days of training and help with their business.

All facilities that franchisees visit get entered into the franchises’ Assisted Living Locators Integrated Network (ALL-IN) database.

One of the main reasons Olea wants to triple the number of franchisees is because in this industry, the more franchisees the company has, the easier it is for everyone.

The company has many situations where a daughter who lives in one region like New York will call and want to ask about places for her mother who lives in another region like Florida. Because Assisted Living Locators has franchisees in both regions, the franchisee in the daughter’s location can collaborate with the franchisee in the mother’s location.

“Although our franchisees have territories, they are borderless as far as the assistance they can provide with a shared revenue model,” Olea explained. “They can share the fees that they collect, so they both have a vested interest in helping the family.”

The best type of person for this franchise, she noted, would be someone who cares about helping seniors and who can network and build relationships easily. They also must be a lifelong learner, as it is a young industry that is continually evolving, plus they must be an educator because many people who need this type of service aren’t even aware that it exists.

Our marketing model includes an educational component to make sure that families are aware of this service category,” she noted.

With such low overhead and minimal need for staff, Olea recommends that franchisees work from home. However, if they prefer, they can hire staff and have a commercial office if they want.

With low overhead and high earning potential, plus the opportunity to help people in need, Assisted Living Locators should have little trouble tripling their franchisee count.