Native of India used childhood difficulties as fuel for health care passion
David Sandhu spent the first 15 years of his life in the states of Haryana and Punjab in northern India. He is the son of an Indian cab driver and British factory worker who split up when he was 3, leaving his grandmother, aunt, and uncle to raise him. As a child in boarding school, young David had trouble with communication and reading comprehension due to developmental delays as a result of being a premature twin, and the only one to survive the delivery. But he was never diagnosed or formally treated. The village lacked adequate medical facilities and couldn’t provide resources to rural areas. He saw his young grandmother and uncle pass away due to lack of health care resources. He joined his father in California’s San Fernando Valley in 1986, when he was 15. His experiences touched off a passion for making a difference through health care. Sandhu earned his nursing degrees, worked in various sectors of the health care system and later started a health advocacy company in Orange County. He opened his Nurse Next Door franchise in May, and he’s thrilled to have found a franchise business that provides support and a proven system while still allowing him to fulfill his passion for health care. “I found a better way,” he says, echoing one of Nurse Next Door’s core values.
What were you doing before Nurse Next Door?
I started a company last year called Southern California Health Advocates, which helps clients who need help with complex healthcare issues of all kinds: not being able to figure out how to get a specialist, for example. It’s still open, but not long after I began exploring some other ways I could work in the healthcare sector; it can be very difficult to succeed with startup businesses. Before I started that business, I worked as a nurse for 18 years, starting in 1994.
Why did you want to open a franchise as opposed to a start-up?
That was actually my first job, working at a 7-Eleven. As my kids were getting older, I was concerned about the economy … and I was very afraid that most businesses don’t do well. I knew that franchise systems are in place for years, and they have systems that are tested and people to help you. I didn’t know a lot about franchising. I had no idea you had franchises other than 7-Elevens and gas stations, things like that.
How did you find out about Nurse Next Door?
I consulted a business coach, who did an assessment of my interests and aptitudes, then compiled a list of small business and franchise opportunities she thought I might be interested in. There was a yoga place, Postal Annex, a staffing agency, and Nurse Next Door was fourth on list. Something about the name alone resonated so much with me. So I started researching and learning about the culture, and I soon learned that Nurse Next Door’s culture was already so embedded in me, it was like it was already part of me. I heard John (DeHart) speak about the company, and the culture of caring was probably the most important to me, the core values. It was the, “It’s about caring, not just health care” mentality. You just don’t see that. In the modern medical model, we have forgotten how to care. And John had this passion in him that was contagious. He’d been doing this for 10 years, and he still wanted to change the system, and I wanted to do something to help people. It was about making a difference, and this company made a difference!
What other home care franchises did you look at? What set Nurse Next Door apart?
I looked at Right at Home and Comfort Keepers, those two. What set Nurse Next Door was, of course, the culture. Here were folks who were so passionate, they wanted to change healthcare. How did they do this? They have a 24/7 healthcare center. No other agency has that. It’s like a lifeline. It’s so important because it’s not just helping clients, it’s helping the franchise partner. I can take a break. I can be with my family. You couldn’t do that with any other agency.
How large is the need for your service in your area and in general?
People need this service. There is such a great need right now because you need people to fill in a lot of gaps in care for seniors and the elderly. There’s a lot of gaps there. I’ve seen this my whole career, where agencies were never focused on non-medical stuff. I don’t know why we don’t spend more attention to caring, making sure our clients have a meal, and they can go out and do something fun. Especially here in Huntington Beach and Orange County, kids are moving away after they finish school because they can’t afford to buy a house in this area. So we have seniors who need care, absolutely.
What qualities do you think a Nurse Next Door franchise owner needs to succeed?
Having prior experience in the healthcare industry is beneficial; however, it isn’t crucial. The keys to becoming a successful Nurse Next Door franchise owner are admiring people and being passionate about making a difference.
What does franchise ownership allow you to do in your personal life that you couldn’t before?It provides something that is very important to me: work-life balance. For example, yesterday I was able to spend an unplanned day with my family. That’s something I would have had trouble scheduling before as a case manager.
Would you recommend a Nurse Next Door franchise to someone? Why?
I would. There’s no other healthcare agency like it. For someone looking into healthcare, if you want to grow personally and make a difference in your life and the lives of people, this is the best company because the culture allows you to do that.