In this exclusive Q&A, I spoke with Lori Vrcan about what it’s like to be a CarePatrol franchisee along with her husband Todd.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Tell us about your background. When did you realize you wanted to own your own business? What attracted you to the franchise industry?
Lori Vrcan (LV): I’m originally from Florida, Todd is a native of Ohio, and we met in Colorado, marrying five years ago. We ended up back in Ohio in 2018, where Todd had taken a job with a new company. With this change in location, I decided to take a different career path and accepted a job with a national senior living community as a sales and marketing manager.
In that position, I dealt with bogus leads coming in from several online senior placement agencies and some local representatives, along with leads received from my CarePatrol agent. I was most impressed with my interactions with CarePatrol, knowing that each client referred to me was pre-qualified and my community would fit their important needs for care, budget, desire of location and personal interests.
I ended up reaching out to my local CarePatrol office and speaking with the owner, Anthony, who happened to be looking to grow his sales team and hired me. All was going well until Todd’s job in the manufacturing industry was unexpectedly eliminated.
We decided to move forward with our long-term plan to retire in the Carolinas and not remain in Ohio, which was about a decade earlier than we had planned. Charlotte presented a strong job market that could provide opportunities for Todd in the next chapter of his career.
In late August of 2019, I reached out to the current owner in Charlotte to see if their office was hiring, only to find out they had recently decided to sell their business. I shared this finding with Todd and gave it no further thought.
Todd being a ‘numbers guy,’ immediately went to his computer and within a few days of crunching numbers, shared with me, “We really need to buy this business. Not only would it be a great investment opportunity for us, but I’ve seen how good you are working with seniors and I think it would be a great work partnership for the two of us together. Plus, I’m ready for a change and one that feeds my soul like CarePatrol has done for you.”
And that’s when it all began. Our pursuit to purchase CarePatrol of Charlotte was approved on October 16, 2019, and we officially became the new owners on January 1, 2020, working together to help seniors.
FC: Can you tell us about CarePatrol and the services offered?
LV: CarePatrol is a senior placement agency, one that has been in business for close to 30 years and is a no-cost service to the seniors and their families we serve. We assist our clients in finding independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities, as well as in-home care services. We work similarly to how a Realtor works, being there every step of the way and truly becoming an advocate for our clients.
In many instances, we become an extension of their family. We look out for their best interests and pride ourselves in finding the best resources to fit their important needs for care, budget, location and personal preferences.
We also check state records for each community we recommend and recently we have added the service of keeping our clients up to date on COVID-19 history of each community they are considering.
FC: How have you been able to effectively respond to the challenges of COVID-19?
LV: The challenges created by COVID-19 have allowed us to reconnect with some of our referral partners and to meet new partners that otherwise we would have never encountered. These connections are truly an example of, ‘we are stronger together.’
We’ve had the opportunity to connect with local hospitals, delivering our CarePatrol ‘Bags of Love’ to our healthcare heroes with items that have been in short supply (i.e., masks, gloves, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer, as well as chocolate – because sweets help to put a smile on anyone’s face).
We’ve also connected with a manager of social services at a local hospital, where we assisted her in collecting donations for homebound patients in their virtual COVID-19 hospital.
FC: Because community involvement is a big focus for you, what strides do you take to give back to your local community?
LV: With strong limitations in place for marketing outreach and business development, we have brainstormed creative ideas that will aid us in giving back to the community during these uncertain times. In turn, our efforts have helped to fill our calendar and to give our business added exposure that otherwise we would not have experienced.
In the past few months, we’ve volunteered to deliver food for a local food bank, Loaves & Fishes. We’ve hosted an email marketing campaign through Constant Contact, offering to shop, pick up and deliver groceries to seniors who do not feel safe in the setting of a grocery store and/or any retail store.
We’re constantly looking for ways to become involved in our community, but to date, the biggest event we have hosted has been that of the Food & Blood Drive that was hosted in June. We ended up hosting ‘CarePatrol’s Food & Blood Drive’ in the parking lot of our neighborhood grocery store, inviting several of our referral partner businesses (in-home care agency, Realtor, phone service rep for seniors) to be present and to help promote our efforts on their own individual platforms.
The end result was that blood donations were booked solid a week out and several hundred pounds of food was collected for a local church’s food pantry. We were also able to have the retailers located in the same shopping center (McAlister’s Deli, MOD Pizza, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Enrico’s, Clean Juice, etc.) donate coupons for those in attendance, thereby helping to generate business for their locations.
The positive ripple effect generated from the gathering hosted in June has sparked one of our sister CarePatrol offices in Georgia to host a similar drive, as well as the in-home care agency that was present to host the same in Cary, NC and following our blueprint.
Our office is now working to host a second drive in a few weeks and because of the overwhelming success of the first one, OneBlood will be bringing in two bloodmobile buses for the next one. With a second bus in place, our goal is to collect 50 ‘gifts of life’ donations.
We’re also planning a third drive in our territory that covers South Carolina, focused on supporting a local church in that area, while continuing our efforts to collect blood for OneBlood. Referral partner support has been very strong and again, is only strengthening our professional relationships with these sources.
FC: What advice would you offer someone considering a CarePatrol franchise? Any tips you can provide to help them succeed?
LV: Stop worrying about that next promotion, that next pay raise and focus your attention on a job that will allow you to set your own hours and when you go to bed at night, your mind is not racing with worry and stress created by a job that does not give back to you, feeding your heart.
Working with seniors and their families is so very rewarding. Once you’ve placed your first client and begin to see the positive ripple effect your professional efforts create in that person’s life, you’ll never want a corporate job again. And in the end, clients become friends and this transition makes your efforts that much more rewarding.
FC: How can people learn more about CarePatrol and its franchising opportunities?
LV: People can learn more about franchise opportunities with CarePatrol by visiting https://carepatrolfranchise.com.