Passionate couple works hard to make Nurse Next Door home care a cut above the rest
For almost four years, Todd and Amanda Carwell have used their passion and complementary expertise — Todd is an entrepreneur at heart, and Amanda is a registered nurse — to run a thriving Nurse Next Door home care franchise in Edmonton. Todd says they feel like Nurse Next Door found them rather than the other way around, and we’re sure happy we found them: This past fall, Todd and Amanda were named to our Founders Club, the franchise partners who make the top 10 percent in revenue in the previous year. Nurse Next Door has proven to be a great choice for both of them. We spoke with Todd about it.
What were you doing before Nurse Next Door?
I’m a serial entrepreneur — I’ve had businesses since I was in the 10th grade. I have a Native Studies degree from the University of Alberta, but my main background is in business, everything from landscaping and construction companies to health care. Amanda is a registered nurse, so it was the perfect match. I love business and helping people, making the phone ring. The demographic shifted after school, and as we were looking at different business options, we came across this in Calgary. We met the owner, Travis Tinning, who was very passionate about the culture of the business, helping the community and impacting people’s lives. It was as though Nurse Next Door found us.
How did you find out about Nurse Next Door?
My mother-in-law was working with a business that was putting on shows and organizing events in the community. Travis was a friend of the business owner’s, and they all had dinner one night. They started talking over dinner, and she gave us a call the next day and said, “You have to look at this.” We met with them a few days later. It was serendipity, being in the right place at the right time. We’ve been at it now for going on four years. Amanda is the driving force. She knows the system.
What sets Nurse Next Door apart?
It starts from our intake point [the initial client contact, usually by phone], setting up the caring consult, and once our registered nurse goes in, the language of the consultation has specific things like, when you ask for a bath, you say, “Do you take a bubble bath?” Details like that. We are one step above, and we are always going to give the nicest tea and comfy pajamas. It’s an experience.
The core values and passion to make lives better is not just a business thing, it’s a great life thing. We looked at a few other franchises, but right from the first person you talked to at Nurse Next Door, you could just see it was different, that it was a different business culture that stood out. Anyone could give a bath, but giving a bubble bath — the culture of the business stood out through their branding, marketing and core values.
How large is the need for your service?
I think it’s huge. I think that there is a unique opportunity to work with the existing system; the health care system is great, but it has all these gaps in services. We’re working with the hospital to keep the beds empty, using the hospital as essential care and bridging the gap and taking care of those who don’t need to be in the hospital. It’s not like Nurse Next Door will ever take everything over, but we can facilitate the change.
That is one of the core values of the business — passionate about making a difference — taking care of the little things, conversation, going for a walk, actually listening to each individual and finding out what they individually need. Everyone is different. That is not what health care does now. It is reactive care, whereas we can be preventive.
Who are your main customers?
A lot of times we get referrals from the hospitals because we help keep their beds open and really help drop readmission rates. But we have clients who are seniors, clients who are kids. Our age demographic is 2 to 100-plus years old.
What does your typical day look like?
We have a lot of clients, and every morning, we get in, start the day and see what needs to be set up. We have a good rhythm that has been created, with a few responsibilities you want to make sure you are doing every day, focusing on care. Caring consults are booked in the afternoon. We plan and ask our staff, hey, these are our core values, rate us on a scale of one to 10. We are at 8.9 out of 10 right now. We have a team of about 100 caregivers, ranging from companions to health care aides, and our actual employees that go out keep them with the same person, because continuity is important.
How does your service change your clients’ lives?
It depends on the client, but we make their dreams come true, fill in the gaps and keep them in their homes and do whatever they want. You get to take them for walks, do both simple and big things, it all depends on the situation. When we do our caring consult, we ask what they used to love doing but don’t do anymore, and we do our best to make those things happen.
What do you think makes for a successful Nurse Next Door operation?
The best thing is, you are purchasing a system, it is all set up and laid out for you. All the operations are set up. It has been done for 10 years and done well. Just follow the system. You are getting a great system.
What does franchise ownership allow you to do that you couldn’t before?
I have three young kids, and I have had time to spend with them, and I don’t feel like I’m running around. I’ve learned great business lessons. I’m also learning the importance of passion, and I have great balance in my life now.
Would you recommend a Nurse Next Door franchise to someone else?
If I were to recommend it, it would be for the right person. If it’s something you enjoy, helping people on a daily basis, you can be extremely successful. If you are in it for the money, it’s not for you, but if you’re in it for loving and caring for people, it just works.
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