How a loved one’s personal ailment led a former program manager in the health-care industry to become a co-owner of Nurse Next Door franchise
Owen Brooke became a Nurse Next Door franchise co-owner after his stepmother was diagnosed with dementia. While researching what treatments were available for his stepmother, he realized that he wanted to devote his professional life to helping others. Owen owns and runs his Nurse Next Door franchise location in El Dorado, California, with his father, Robert, who shares his passion for helping those in need.
Father and son Nurse Next Door franchise owners Robert and Owen Brooke explain why they decided to enter the home health industry.
This is his story:
How long have you been a Nurse Next Door franchise owner?
I opened officially in November 2014. I had been working as a program manager in the health-care industry, but when my stepmother was diagnosed with dementia, my father and I started doing research on the kind of care she would need. It got us thinking about getting into this industry. She’s in her mid-50s, so she doesn’t need extensive care right now, but as a former program manager, I knew of the huge need for in-home care.
My father and I are both very passionate about helping others. Once we made the decision to get into this industry, there was a long process of deciding whether to a business on my own or partner with a franchisor. I decided to go with a franchise because it would enable us to get a quicker start and provide the excellent customer service that I would expect, right off the bat. The process is in place in terms of how to operate. I researched about 20 franchises but ultimately decided on Nurse Next Door because I loved the culture, the leadership team and the website.
What sets Nurse Next Door franchise apart?
As a company, Nurse Next Door is customer-focused and -driven to make life better for our customers. The tagline, which I love, is “It’s about caring, not just health care.” I love the 24/7 Care Service Center. It’s such an important tool because in this business, your customers need to be able to reach you 24/7. It’s a huge relief to actually be able to be available 24/7. When someone at the care center picks up the phone, it’s like having a member of your team pick up the phone. They know everything you do, and how to help.
Nurse Next Door stood above the competition in terms of the amount of help they could give. They provide a ton of training. Once you become a partner, there’s a weeklong training session with the corporate team in Canada. There are weekly meetings with a business coach. There are personalized, in-store meetings with the operations director. They provide a lot of hands-on help, and they are available for anything you need.
How large is the opportunity for your business?
It’s pretty large. In our territory, there’s anywhere from 10,000 to 14,000 seniors in our market. Even if I had 0.3% of the available seniors as my customers, that would be pretty good-sized. However, the aging population demographic is expanding, and therefore, there’s a huge opportunity for my business. The biggest challenge is educating the public about what this business does and what we can do for people. A lot of people out there simply don’t know that in-home care like Nurse Next Door exists. Once we get out there and start educating the public, it will be much easier to find people.
Who are your customers?
We serve a wide range of people who have different needs and different ailments. We help people who have mental disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, or people who are undergoing rehabilitation. For instance, we had a woman in her mid-50s who broke six vertebrae in her spine as a result of a bicycling accident. She needed help around the house. We also have customers who just need companionship after a spouse dies. Essentially, that is who we serve: people who require help around the house. It’s not all seniors, though that is the primary focus of our business; it is anyone who needs help.
Do you have a special client that comes to mind?
There is one that comes to mind. My father was talking to someone who told us about a friend of his who could use his services. He was too afraid to take a shower, out of the fear of falling, and so when we saw him, he hadn’t showered in two weeks. He had almost nothing in the fridge, and so he wasn’t eating enough. He was in a lot of pain. He had no family that was nearby, so we provided some much-needed care. He became friends with the caregivers, and I think we improved the quality of his life. We treat our customers like family. Like so many, this man didn’t know that a service like Nurse Next Door existed. In my business, we are always looking for opportunity to provide care to someone who needs it.
What is unique about this approach to home care?
We are not focused on tasks. We don’t give a bath and do the laundry and go home. We look for an intrinsic need in the individual and try to meet that. We want to get our customers to enjoy their lives again. We are here to make their lives better.
When I am hiring a caregiver, I look for someone who lives for the heart. I want my caregiver’s natural reaction to be going above and beyond what is being asked of them to do. We mean it when we say we want to improve our customers’ quality of life.
What does your typical day look like?
It’s a lot of work! I spend a decent amount of time with human relations work, hiring caregivers and finding caregivers and customers. That takes up the majority of my week. Also, when you start out, there’s a lot of legal and accounting work, which I’ve decided to take on myself. You can hire someone to take care of that for you, but I did not.
I know we’ve talked about support a little, but can you elaborate?
There are weekly meetings with other franchise partners, and we get to hear what others are doing. The company provides Standard Operation Procedures. While Nurse Next Door doesn’t focus on state-specific training, there are about 10 of us in the state of California, and if we want to do something, the corporate team will act as a quarterback. There’s also an annual conference where all the franchise partners get together.
There’s never been a question that I’ve asked of them where they said, “Sorry, we can’t help.” They want their franchisees to succeed, and they really are interested in making you successful.
What do you like about the business?
I like doing something that makes a difference in people’s lives. There is no better feeling than helping others in need, which is why I took the risk to do this. I want to go to work and be passionate every day. If you don’t have that part of you that cares about other people, you should not be in this business.
What does Nurse Next Door allow you to do that you couldn’t do before?
It gave me an opportunity to venture out on my own, which I’ve always wanted to do. I get to do it with a reputable company that has my back. There’s security in partnering with a large entity that wants me to succeed.
Would you recommend a Nurse Next Door franchise to someone else?
Absolutely, as long as they are the right fit.
Nurse Next Door is one of North America’s fastest-growing home care providers, dedicated to delivering flexible, affordable and quality care options to seniors. The company sets itself apart through its commitment to “happier aging,” which comes from helping clients re-engage with interests or activities that are often abandoned as they age and become isolated. Nurse Next Door helps clients reconnect.